Friday, April 24, 2009

Poor Little Beauty Queen

For Carrie Prejean losing the Miss America Pageant could prove to be a brilliant career move. Most people can only name Vanessa Williams when they try to think of previous pageant winners and she was best know for having her title stripped when nude photos of the aspiring entertainer surfaced. While the ordeal must have been terribly humiliating at the time, Vanessa ended up getting more publicity than other winners and she parlayed that into a successful recording and acting career.

Vanessa Williams was OK as a singer cranking out a few pedestrian pop hits and she was a fairly decent actress once she stopped milking the cameo circuit and focused on the craft but her she’s best known for the Miss America debacle. Long after people have forgotten about most winners, Vanessa Williams was the center of attention.

Miss California, Carrie Prejean, didn’t win but she managed to grab all the attention by stirring up a controversy when guest celebrity judge and shameless media whore Perez Hilton asked her for an opinion on the legalization of gay marriage. Her response:

"I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage and, you know what, in my country and my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be between a man and a woman.”

Besides the fact that she sounded inherently bimbish, as most beauty contest participants do—come on, they’re making a living on their looks—the statement wasn’t exactly something to call the ACLU over. The problem is that the Miss America Pageant is all about politics. Neutral politics. Fluff is the key.

Prejean has been making the rounds on all the talk shows insisting that she lost the contest because she had the courage to speak from the heart. She’s also been thumping the bible angle pretty consistently which means she’ll soon have a talk show on FOX probably bridging the time slot between Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.

People like Perez Hilton say she’s just a dumb bitch with a bad dye job as if that distinguishes her from the rest of the pageant circuit. Those leaping to her defense talk about liberal bias and freedom of speech.

For me it’s not about liberal bias. I’m a liberal and I couldn’t care less about marriage. I suppose if two people really want to get married they should be able to, but I don’t know why they want to ruin a perfectly good relationship by wrapping it up in red tape. I also think that people who are opposed to gay marriage are, without exception, idiots. If you think gay marriage is wrong you just aren't thinking enough. That includes Carrie, but I really don't have a problem with what she said because I've accepted the fact that I have to share this country with a lot of idiots. I tolerate it because it's illegal to run around punching people in the neck just because they're ignorant.

The problem I have with Carrie’s pity party is that she has nobody to blame but herself. She has a right to speak her mind. She has a right to form an opinion. But if you opt to put those two rights together and people don’t like the result you are subject to reprisals. Freedom of speech is not free of consequences. You and your opinion are not entitled to respect. That's something you earn by being informed and expressing yourself thoughtfully.

Prejudice is wrong. It’s not fair to look at somebody and judge them based on things that are beyond their control but the manner in which you express yourself, be it through word or deed, is something that you can control. When you speak, that provides the people around with an opportunity to judge you. That's the way it's supposed to be. Martin Luther King dreamed of a world where a person would be judged, not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character. When you open your mouth you reveal the content of your character.

The trick to beauty pageants is to remember that it’s all superficial. Miss America should really be labeled Miss Future Trophy Wife. We want her to look good, demonstrate a mildly interesting talent and possess just enough intelligence to not embarrass her powerful husband when she is forced to open her mouth in social situations. When you’re asked a question at the Miss America Pageant you’re supposed to form a coherent sentence that glosses over the issue, and then bat your eyes so people remember that your real purpose in life is to be pretty.

Truly intelligent women don’t enter these pageants. Could you imagine somebody with Tina Fey’s wit being asked a question about gay marriage? I’m opposed to gay marriage because I think it’s unfair that the man of my dreams—conscientious of his looks, impeccable style, neat, polite, able to help me pick out a dress or even do my hair in a pinch—is gay. Totally not fair. Why am I stuck choosing between the chronically flatulent frat boy and the guy who wears throwback jerseys?

We’d all laugh, but she wouldn’t win because deep down beauty pageants are chauvinistic. When women are beautiful, talented and smart it threatens us. Not just men, but also other women. Nobody should have it all. That's why even the talent portion is repleat with a number of usless superficial talents. Has a Miss America contestant ever rebuilt a transmission or belched the alphabet during the talent portion? Nope. It's always sub-collegiate gymnatics, baton twirling or some average musical skill. Nothing meaningful or funny.

The ironic thing is that Miss California didn’t pull off looking smart, she just didn’t have the sense to keep her politics neutral. She didn’t pander to the crowd that controlled her destiny as a Miss America contestant, but she still pandered. Her audience was just too busy watching NASCAR at the time.

Some people are really happy with what Miss California had to say. They agree with her and she will soon become an iconic figure in their circles. She will become a conservative media darling and easily have a better career than the Barbie doll wannabe who edged her out. So it’s probably not a good idea to feel sorry for her. If she planned this, I have to give her credit for recognizing an opportunity but I suspect she’s just another dingbat regurgitating the same neo-conservative bile her dad spews at the dinner table everyday. Either way, she’s set for life.

1 comment:

secondsout said...

Every time I hear a story about a beauty pageant contestant, I always wonder, "who gives a shit?" Beauty pageants seem so outdated to me, and so weird. Parade some dopey, hot girl up on stage, judge her looks and "talents" against everyone else's and declare some hot girl the hottest of them all.

Your comment that you can only remember one Miss America winner is somewhat telling. Maybe there was a time when it was a celebrity thing, but now it's fairly obscure. The only other ones I can name were Debbye Turner (1987), who was from my hometown, and Heather Whitestone, who was deaf.

Fact of the matter is, it's only slightly classier than a wet t-shirt contest. The wet t-shirt contests are, perhaps, a bit more honest.