Perhaps it’s fate. The week I reopen my blog just happens to be Miss America week? Aren’t I just… lucky. But it’s okay. Great. Fantastic. Gotta get back in my peculiar swing, and what’s better than a shallow reality competition celebrating traditional beauty ideals? My… favorite.
But I guess I can get it out of the way. Miss America has been in my backlog since my magnum opus on Honey Boo Boo, a comparison I’m sure I’ll pay for. I always knew I’d be murdered by pageant queens, why not sooner than later?
Luckily, I’m not the first stop on the murder promenade. This past Sunday, host Chris Harrison claimed Miss America is “the longest running reality competition in TV history.” Hoo-ray? What a proud lineage? He even told some losing contestants “See you on the next Bachelor.” To even fleetingly compare Miss America to the likes of The Bachelor is worthy of a pump to the skull.
Luckily, Harrison’s reality factoids were completely overshadowed by bizarre animal encounters.
Speaking of, did you see that Miss Florida slapped a freakin’ shark? I like to imagine her yelling, “Well, I NEVER” and bitch slapping that apex predator. Not making accusations, but if I go missing… Sunshine State.
So if Florida wins Miss America Fear Factor, Miss Virginia would certainly lose. When asked for a factoid, she apparently just screamed “TERRIFIED OF FROGS!!!”
And to round out animal weirdness, Miss Massachusetts was…
She was also…
In other weird news, we have… oh no, not you again! But I defended Waffle House!
Other than those gems, it was mostly corporate synergy.
Let me run through these. Miss District of Colombia was introduced as “from the home of ABC’s hit TV show Scandal, it’s handled.” Miss Tennessee was “from the home of ABC’s hit show Nashville.” Miss Wisconsin was “from the frozen tundra, where the cold never bothers us anyway.” Kudos for not ending that with “See Anna and Elsa from Frozen this fall on ABC’s hit TV show Once Upon a Time!” NBC would have jumped on that like a cheetah on Miss Massachusetts.
So we have reality weirdness and corporate interest. What else? Oh yeah, puns. Lots of puns. Which I just love.
The official queen of puns is Miss North Carolina. I might hate puns, but this is fantastic. The fine wine of punnery. The kind of pun that takes a lifetime to prepare. Seriously, this is epic scale. Prepare for this.
“Hoping to be the best of all… I’m Miss North Carolina, Beth Stovall.”
So what do I have to defend here? Miss America can’t be that bad, right?
Cue Taylor Marsh of the Huffington Post, in an article titled, “Miss American Pageant Shaming: A Feminist Trap.“
A Huff Po Women’s Blogger? Aw, this’ll be good. Marsh is gonna highlight all my feminist feelings, like how the patriarchal judging panel institutes rules for grading women on the traditional basis of feminine traits, thereby treating them like cattle at the county fair and telling girls that these are the Barbie-like beauty standards that they’ll need to adhere to in order to bolster a male-centric society filled with shame and encapsulation for non-white non-males. Preach it, Marsh!
“I just wish the critics knew the subject they were ridiculing. It’s also long past time to put down the notion that being in the Miss America Pageant is anti-feminist. Though it is another example of why so many women won’t embrace the word. If I’d followed The Feminist Handbook I likely wouldn’t have gone to college.”
Whaah? Wait, whaah? Back up.
Firstly, Taylor Marsh was Miss Missouri in 1974. Secondly, she’s written a lot about feminism. And thirdly, she had this experience:
“During the Miss America Pageant I came out of the Chalfonte-Haddon Hotel one day and was greeted by a N.O.W. protester (National Organization for Women) who asked how I could degrade myself like that. ‘Do you want to pay for my college tuition?’ was my response.”
Marsh admits it’s hard to believe Miss America is still around, but she doesn’t understand how feminists can rail against it with such vehemence. Should women be forbidden from using looks in pursuit of success? Are skills and intelligence the only things that matter in everyday life? For some women, isn’t that just a different cage?
I guess I can see the point. And let’s not pretend one can’t lead to the other.
According to real testimonials, pageants can lead to self-discovery, confidence, public speaking skills, marketing skills, poise, dedication… Heck, Erika Harold, Miss America 2003, graduated from Harvard Law School and is now running for Congress. All because of money and skills earned during Miss America. If anything, we could use more Miss Americas in Congress.
Miss America isn’t perfect, but it’s undeniably good for some women and girls. Respect where it’s due.
Beyond that, we’re just dealing with a rather shallow television show. Far from heinous. It actually provided quite a few laughs, which is more than I hoped for. Overall, Miss America is fine, enjoyable television. More than worthy of a defense.
I mean, one of the talents was ventriloquism. It hardly gets better than that. Respect where it’s due, Miss Ohio.
P.S. While researching on Miss America’s website, I continually got this ad. It’s either a sign or a warning.