Monday, July 14, 2008
Reflections on beauty.
I'm chagrined to admit that I watched/skimmed portions of the Miss Universe pageant last night. It was the first time in many, many years that I had seen a beauty pageant on tv. I have a few observations...
1)Donald Trump now owns the Miss Universe/Miss USA organization and it shows. He's managed to turn a tacky dinosaur turd of a travesty into a sleazefest of epic porportions. The majority of contestants look like high end call girls or porn stars, and in more than one case, several looked suspiciously like they might be tucking penises between their asscheeks. At best, it was like a two hour video magazine version of Maxim. Oh, and Donald Trump, Junior was the first judge introduced. The rest of the judges were a Who's Who of banality. Ethnically, they were dominated by Americans and Europeans. I don't think there were any African judges...there was a Bollywood actress and a local Vietnamese official in a cheap suit.
2)The show was in Vietnam this year and it was interesting to note that pageants are still loyal to their roots of being primarially a marketing tool to boost tourism and trade; it was two hours of promotion for the Vietnam Board of Tourism with dozens of shots of tourist spots and western style beach resorts. And the efforts the show took to AVOID mentioning the war or the presence of communism couldn't help but remind me of "The Germans" episode of Fawlty Towers and I sort of hoped John Cleese would make an appearance at the pageant to stage whisper from the sidelines, "Whatever you do, don't mention the war!!"
3)The first elimination of the show brought the number of contestants down to 15. They consisted of Miss Australia, 6 Europeans, 4 Latins, 2 Asians, 1 African and Miss USA. Despite the fact that "white" people are outnumbered by people of Asian and African descent, only 4 of the 15 were not of whole or partial European ethnicity and the two black contestants, Miss USA and Miss South Africa were both very light skinned and both could quite easily be cast in a remake of "Imitation of Life". Whenever the camera pulled back for a long shot of the 15 standing on stage, it was difficult to discern the individual ethnicity of the contestants; they were various shades of Spray Tan raging from Light Tan to Medium Light Tan. The majority of the women had the same brunette hair weave trailing halfway down their backs; the Barbie Doll/Porn Star hairstyle is still popular in pageant culture. There were two blondish girls, no redheads and no short hair. I'd say about half the girls had had some work done; more than one pair of breasts failed the natural bounce test as they strutted across the stage. The make-up was tranny fierce; the sweet, natural faced girl next door look is apparently an anathma in the modern pageant world. The next two cuts brought it down to the final five consisting of 4 Latins and Miss Russia. For the 5th time in 57 years, Miss Venezuela took the crown and doubled her chances of being offered a gig as a Latin American television hostess or becoming a mistress of an Andean junta leader or jungle drug lord. (I keed, I keed; Dayana Mendoza looks like a lovely young woman...and one who desperately needs to eat a cheeseburger or two.)
4)Jerry Springer and Scary Spice were the hosts. Both have horrible accents and neither one has the sufficient hosting charisma necessary to preside over a two hour television event. Springer shouldn't be allowed to leave the studio where he shoots his freak show, and Scary is adorable but her cocky, cockney brashness works best when she's working off the cuff. He might be a twit, but Ryan Seacrest is very good at this sort of thing and I longed for his dwarfish, fey presence.
5)oh, and I missed it, but for the second year in a row, Miss USA took a tumble on the Miss Universe stage. I'm guessing that foreign papers around the world printed the story with the caption, "Like their President, Miss USA takes tumble on world stage"