Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Decline of the Miss America Pageant

Laura Vanderkam writes about the declining interest in and ratings of the annual Miss America pageant:

But the biggest challenge, by far, has been the public’s declining interest. In the late 1960s, Miss America was one of the top-rated broadcasts each year. In 1996, NBC dropped it because of low ratings. ABC picked it up, then declined to renew its contract in 2004, effectively kicking Miss America off network TV.

There are many theories about the pageant’s decline and, in 2002, I offered my own in a
USA Today column: “Once, the competition at least had pure Sports Illustrated-swimsuit-issue appeal,” I wrote. “Now, it’s a search for a girl who’s pretty but not overwhelmingly pretty; talented, but only in a parlor-after-dinner way (usually she sings or plays the piano); intelligent, but not dangerously so; and who will feign interest in the most politically correct cause imaginable.” As I said then, “the pageant has become a search for the nation’s most inoffensive woman.” There are a lot of bad TV shows out there these days, but even so, I doubt that concept would make it off the napkin and into production minus an 88-year history.

My wife would, with all justification, not approve of me watching a show that constituted leering at women. But with even that consideration aside, I've always found the Miss America and Universe pageants incredibly boring.

All the women look exactly alike: the same dress, swimsuit, hairdo, and vacuous smile. They're so similar to each other that they're not attractive.

Beauty is found in individuality, not uniformity.


John Wilks said...
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RERC said...

I would also add that there's a whole pageant subculture out there. It's this thing your crazy stage mother enters you in as a child, and then you just keep progressing through it into your 20s.

Nothing spontaneous about it. No people in it that you'd want to hang out with. It's the worst in narcissism and a lot more.

The only people interested in pageants these days are the people entering in pageants.

John said...

Yeah, teaching toddlers that they have to comform to a very precise concept of beauty can only be damaging.

I'll take women's chessboxing over Miss America any day.

DogBlogger said...

Friends and relatives of mine competed in these types of things when they were of age (and some of them won). By and large, they seem to be more like grooming contests than beauty contests because they're so specific about what's proper.