Monday, May 11, 2009

Sanctimony among thieves... Or, blow-up at the booty pageant?

WE HAVE A REGULAR contributor who often prefaces comments about particularly absurd or ironic situations with the chat-inspired acronym WTF!?!? Your host, of course, would never stoop to the use of such street-slang...but in this case it's awfully hard to avoid screaming the words themselves.

To sum up: Miss California USA, Carrie Prejean, first got into hot water on pageant night for the unforgivable sin of answering a "gotcha" question with an honest answer: She voiced her belief that a marriage should be be
tween a man and a woman. That stance alonewhich, by the way, aligns her with the majority of Americans* in poll after pollput her crown at risk. Now comes word of the existence of semi-nude photos of Ms. Prejean, and the pageant has gone ahead and appointed a so-called alternate Miss California who, we're told, will assume the title-holder's "ambassadorial" functions. It's beginning to appear semi-inevitable that one day soon, Prejean will hear pageant co-owner Donald Trump shout "You're fired!" Meanwhile, our friends in MSM are making the most of it all, savaging Prejean via clever headlines like "Who's the Boob Now?", yuk yuk. (Prejean, like many such pageant entrants, had breast enhancement.)

Correct me if I'm wrong...
but isn't this one of those "beauty" pageants where women strut on-stage in tiny swimsuitsas in photo, leftwith about 89% of their total surface area exposed? And isn't this one of those pageants where, during said swimsuit competition, there's always that moment when each contestant swivels her derriere to all those viewers throughout the world and strikes a jaunty little booty-pose? So Trump et al are miffed because a woman who recently displayed her attributes in a bikini for millions of random viewers once took a few sultry photos for someone else?

Is this a joke?

Or could it be that everyone's just a wee bit nervous about what pageant sponsors and advertisers may feel compelled to do for "public-relations" reasons?

What's more, is there anyone who doubts that the impolitic nature of Prejean's feelings on same-sex marriage is what unleashed the hounds of self-styled justice? I'm sure th
at even as we speak, her detractors continue to scour every single moment of YouTube vid, every offhand reference to her on Facebook or Twitter, hoping to find the slightest whiff of further scandal. And, of course, they're aided and abetted by their allies in media, who can live off a story like this for months. What we seem to be forgetting is that "real women"you know, the ones pageant directors spend all that time talking about when they give inspirational lip service to what these pageants supposedly symbolizeshould be allowed, if nothing else, to speak their minds. What is the message to American women (and men as well) when a person can't even say what she really thinks without risking the firestorm that has fallen down on Carrie Prejean?

And so I must give forth with a heartfelt: WTF!?!?

* though not this American. Search the blog and you'll find a half-dozen posts where I weigh in on this subject. Frankly, I don't understand why the hell the average American cares about whether gays marry, or even feels like he's entitled to a say in the subject.

35 comments:

Elizabeth said...

"about 89% of their total surface area exposed?"

How did you arrive at that number, Steve? (LOL)

BTW, I hear they are circulating photos of Miss Carrie microwaving kittens.

Noadi said...

May have been an honest answer but if you see the video it was a bumbling honest answer. From my understanding of pageants (which is quite limited) the point of the questions is a test of public speaking and ability to be interviewed, she failed that. Her subsequent circuit of conservative talk shows and radio bemoaning her persecution is getting pretty tired.

I do see the fuss about her photos as incredibly ridiculous. I might see a point if she had posed nude or done pornography as reflecting badly on the pageant's image but lingerie doesn't do that.

Steve Salerno said...

Noadi: I agree that she didn't give a particularly good account of herself in a public-speaking sense. However, giving her the benefit of the doubt, I think she probably realized the instant she began answering--and she knew what she was about to say, and the overtones/implications of same--that she was in deep trouble. And I think her synapses probably went into momentary overload.

What I'm saying is, I don't think it's fair to dismiss Prejean's gaffe as a "map-challenged" moment, a la that previous beauty contestant's fumbling reply.

Anonymous said...

The gay community used to mock marriage and plead for acceptance of diversity.

Now the gay community is demanding marriage rights for themselves while crushing any attempts for a diverse opinion on the subject of gay marriage - if you are not for gay marriage, then you are a hateful bastard who must be destroyed.

The Mormons and Catholics who came out against gay marriage in the recent California election will come under a relentless, withering attack. Oddly, the Islamic religion (we all know how they treat gays, don't we?) will not be targeted at all.

Will there be one Hollywood celebrity willing to speak out about the tactics of the gay community? Nope. Not one.

Anonymous said...

I think she looked much better as a natural brunette with real boobs - no?

Londoner

RevRon's Rants said...

I think it makes as much sense to legislate the parameters of a marriage as it would to legislate guidelines for communion. Marriage is a religious ceremony, and should be structured any way the sanctioning church chooses. Legislature has no business in the matter.

By the same token, civil unions are legal contracts, structured according to guidelines set by the state. The church has no business getting involved.

We run into problems when either body attempts to usurp or inappropriately influence the working of the other. As we've seen, there are people aligned with church or state who would impose their own personal values, in direct conflict with the intentions of the founders. I don't find it particularly surprising that the gay & lesbian community now exhibits a degree of militancy once reserved for those who opposed them. Are their actions appropriate and/or justified? I think it is a purely subjective matter, and one's answer speaks as much to the individual as to the question.

RevRon's Rants said...

I get a kick out of the way we puff up and posture when a contestant in a *beauty pageant* expresses an opinion we don't like, or especially when one capitalizes on the very "qualities" upon which the pageant is based. Let's get real... contestants are judged on their looks, and all that's really required of them intellectually is for them not to stick their perfectly pedicured feet in their perfectly shaped mouths.

Consider Vanessa Williams. She got her title taken away because she had posed for some erotic photos before ever getting involved in the Miss America machine. Lost the other 11%, posed with another woman in a series of erotic (but not pornographic, IMO) photos, and she's suddenly not good enough to "represent America." What hypocrisy! I'd wager that more people know who she is, and enjoy her performances, than are able to name the woman who assumed the title of "Miss America." And I'll bet fewer still can remember what *any* of the past Miss Americas stood for, the exceptions being those few who made headlines for expressing opinions. I think that says a lot more about the rest of us than it does about the contestants.

Anonymous said...

Steve -

Miss California could have derailed the uproar over her answer by beginning her reply with this simple phrase, "Like our president, I believe....

See below for the president's opinion on gay marriage. I guarantee you no one would have uttered a word against her.

From lesbianlife.about.com
Although Barack Obama has said that he supports civil unions, he is against gay marriage. In an interview with the Chicago Daily Tribune, Obama said, "I'm a Christian. And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman."

He said he would support civil unions between gay and lesbian couples, as well as letting individual states determine if marriage between gay and lesbian couples should be legalized.

From the White House Web site: President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

Anonymous said...

RevRon said:
"I don't find it particularly surprising that the gay & lesbian community now exhibits a degree of militancy once reserved for those who opposed them"

"Militancy"? That has been a tool in the homosexual movement since day one. It's just that their message has changed from 'We're here; we're queer and we're in your face!" to "We are just like you!"

Well, allow me to state the obvious: "marriage" has a definition; and it's always been defined as a union between one man and one woman.

And when the marriage penalty - higher income taxes for married couples as - opposed to two people shacking up - went away, the gays decided they wanted to be "married". They want spousal insurance coverage; survivor benefits from pension plans and automatic inheritance rights in the event of death without a will.

It's all a money grab. And diversity of opinion is not tolerated: when people vote to reject the idea at the ballot box, the gay thugocracy takes over.

I bet they'll go after Obama soon.

Sarsabu said...

She seemed to be heading off on a Miss South Carolina waffle until she miraculously got back on track. Cause she was honest........hmmmmmmmmmm.

Just watched her with Hannity and she said that God had caused her to change her direction and give the honest answer.

If only God had been at the 2007 Miss Teen whatever contest. (S)He probably was watching the baseball or even some good ole Gaelic Football that evening.

The same sex marriage thing has been battered to death at this stage. Whatever IMHO - next problem.

Steve Salerno said...

Sars: I would agree with you--"let's move on"--except that it has become a (socio)political football that can undo careers. I am very much pro-gay marriage...or maybe I should say I am decidedly not anti-gay marriage. Still, I think a person should be able to voice an opposing viewpoint without being marginalized/demonized.

RevRon's Rants said...

"I think a person should be able to voice an opposing viewpoint without being marginalized/demonized."

Aw, hell, Steve. It doesn't matter *what* viewpoint is voiced, there's always going to be someone ready to jump on their self-righteous soapbox and deride the person. Whether it's the homophobes, the militant gays, the abundantly pious, or the decadently depraved, there are elements of every ideology and lifestyle that live to rant and control others. Not gonna shut them up, so we might as well ignore them and live our lives as we see fit.

""Militancy"? That has been a tool in the homosexual movement since day one."

Guess the gay community here was different from wherever it is that you live, anon. When I was a teenager, the last thing anyone wanted was to have their homosexuality made public. The militant attitudes emerged in response to the systematic oppression of gays & lesbians, both socially and within the legal system. I wouldn't worry too much about them queers, though. Even we redneck Texans have realized that they don't rape our kids or destroy the fabric of society.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you heard by now but she gets to keep her crown. Now we can all sleep at night.

Elizabeth said...

Londoner,
I too think she looked better with brown hair and natural boobs.

BTW, only in America the sight of an exposed female breast(s) can cause such a public stir and massive commotion. C'mon, a boob is a boob is a boob. And only a boob.

But, thank God, Donald The Holy, the arbiter of all things classy and elegant, put the matter to rest once and for all. And, as Anon said, we can finally sleep at night. Phew. Another serious national crisis averted (though just barely -- no pun).

Steve Salerno said...

Yes, but all boobs are not created equal. And the natural female breast is a very beautiful thing, not just for its aesthetics but for its overtones as well.

Steve Salerno said...

As I think about this, though, I'm still troubled by the idea that Prejean might have been denied the crown-of-all-crowns--which is to say, the Miss USA title itself--because of concerns over her feelings about gay marriage. (She was the first runner-up.) I know that in the larger scheme of things, the Miss USA Pageant is just a silly flyspeck, but I still wish we'd stop doing that: Which is to say, I wish we'd stop penalizing people in one area for their thoughts and beliefs in another (totally irrelevant) area. This often happens in the workplace, of course, where workers are denied advancement (or even fired) for reasons that have nothing to do with their competency at their jobs per se. Even more tragically, it happens in courtrooms, where defendants are convicted largely because "the jury didn't like them."

Then again, as my wife never fails to remind me, "That's just human nature. You can complain about it all you want, but you're not going to change anything."

Elizabeth said...

Apparently Keith Olbermann read your blog, Steve, cuz he too used the Miss USA (non)affair for his new segment called "Countdown's WTF Moment." For somewhat different reasons, however:
http://tinyurl.com/pxfcgc

Going back to boobs: the fact that they are/can be beautiful should be another reason to dispense with prudery and stop being (acting) offended by their sight. Women sunbathe topless in other civilized countries and no one raises an eyebrow (though I suspect some eyes get fixated -- and why not). Here an exposed boob, even of a nursing mother, is the stuff of moral outrage and national debates. It makes no sense.

It also makes no sense that Miss USA is being chastised for those "racy" photos (and even less that she claims now to be "betrayed" by her photographer -- really? poor thing...)

Have you seen those pics? I have. And I think it's utterly ridiculous to call them racy, given the proliferation of hardcore porn all around us. They are totally innocent (but there is no bra and they show a nipple or two, oh no!)

As to her views on gay marriage or whatever else, I'm sorry, but who really cares about Miss USA views on anything? Why even pretend that she is supposed to have "views"? This has nothing to do with her "qualifications" for the job and it's time we dropped the pretense. IMO.

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz: You're probably right about the Irrelevancy Factor of the pageant as a whole, and thus the "views" of any of its participants. Still, I think it's a bit silly to ask people what they really think, then punish them for answering. This also goes back to those situations I alluded to in the workplace, where a boss will ask you for your "honest" opinion about something...then punish you (if not fire you) for having an honest opinion that differs with his/her own.

Incidentally, to this point I'd merely read about the flap over Prejean, and not seen any of the coverage on TV (believe it or not), so it was only last night that I learned her name is pronounced pri-ZHAN. I should have surmised as much, given my six years of French. But I didn't. Too many years of Brooklyn, I guess.

Debbie said...

"But, thank God, Donald The Holy, the arbiter of all things classy and elegant..."

LOL!! Thank you for the wonderful laugh first thing this morning, Elizabeth. I really needed it today.

"Melissa from Missouri" said...

I don't see why you write off the pageant contestant views as irrelevant. In the first place that strikes me as patronizing of you. More than that, these women are sold to us as role models and ambassadors, as you put it in your blog. Just as we want our president to represent us in a particular way, which is why many of us considered Bush an embarrassment, we want our pageant winners to represent not just beauty but certain enlightened beliefs. Just being a brainless bimbo doesn't cut it these days, even in a beauty pageant.

Steve Salerno said...

Point taken, Mel-from-MO.

Anonymous said...

Steve, please don't insult everyone's intelligence including your own by apologizing for this woman. You had it right the first time, she's a bimbo from a beauty pageant and your attempts to legitimize her into a cultural hero or heroine are strained at best. It doesn't really matter what she thinks, whether she's pro or con gay rights or any other issue, I'm quite sure her thoughts aren't worth the wholesale cost of the few ounces of silicone pumped into her fake, soccer ball boobs.

Elizabeth said...

I'm with the last Anon, Steve. Miss USA candidates are not chosen or compete based on their intellectual merits or achievements or views of any sort (that's why this woeful activity, asking about their "views," is the last thing on the pageant's schedule, if I'm not mistaken).

And are they really our role models? I don't have daughters, but if I did, I'd sincerely hope they'd not choose for their role models Miss USA contestants. (Next in that hierarchy: Playboy Bunnies?)

Let's not pretend it is so or put undue pressure on these young women whose job is to look pretty, move gracefully and smile a lot. They are our "ambassadors" only in the looks department (their post-pageant charitable activities are essentially photo-ops and ads for another Trump enterprise).

Speaking of "Playboy:" I heard, in passing, about some dramatic changes to come. Does it mean Hugh Hefner will finally put his pants on?

Elizabeth said...

Oh, whatever you think about Olbermann, you should see his WTF?!? Moment about Miss USA. He says it all.

And what a laugh it is to watch Prejean now posturing as a martyr for freedom of speech. WTF? I also notice the cross on her ever-so-modestly-covered-now chest, in addition to her exhortations on God and Satan involved in her Miss USA adventures. WTF indeed.

If I'm not mistaken, she did not wear that cross when clad in the skimpy bikini on the pageant's stage, no? So was she under the influence of God or Satan at that moment and during others associated with this sorry enterprise?

But now all of a sudden she has remembered how pious and religious she is -- and uses it as a shield and a PR trick (with generous help from Trump's PR experts, no doubt), along with her "Free Speech!" laments.

This whole thing is crass and laughable, Steve, not worthy our attention beyond its unintentional entertainment value. IMO, of course. And no, I don't see how it bleeds into more important social issues associated with free speech, tolerance, etc. This is just a publicity-generating farce.

Elizabeth said...

Unrelated to the post, but you've gotta read What Makes Us Happy by Joshua Wolf Shenk from "The Atlantic."

Dimension Skipper said...

I guess it was only a matter of time...

Sarah Palin backs, relates to, Miss California

Rational Thinking said...

Elizabeth (7.08)

That's an extraordinary article - thank you for the reference. Still digesting!

RevRon's Rants said...

"we want our pageant winners to represent not just beauty but certain enlightened beliefs."

Guess that's why they pretty much all claim that their goal upon winning is to foster world peace, end hunger, stamp out illiteracy, work with disadvantaged kids, etc. At the conclusion of the pageant, I wonder how many viewers can actually even remember what any of the contestants had to say.

IMO, such spiels are about as credible and pertinent as the "bio" page that used to accompany every Playmate of the Month (I am assuming they still do that, since I honestly haven't even seen a Playboy magazine in years). Eye candy in the final analysis, but perhaps a bit of a "profile" makes them seem less 2-dimensional. At least the Miss America winners don't have staples in their midsections. :-)

RevRon's Rants said...

A thought just occurred to me... How many folks reading this blog actually tune in to these beauty pageants because they want to hear what the contestants have to say? Honestly...

Elizabeth said...

"How many folks reading this blog actually tune in to these beauty pageants because they want to hear what the contestants have to say?"

Ron, as many as those who buy "Playboy" for thought-provoking articles.

To think of it, it may be the same population...

Steve Salerno said...

Ahh, my Elizabeth, the casual--and sometimes misguided--assumptions we make, based on our own biases and perceptions.

First of all, here's the best set of demographics I could find for the actual site, MissUSA.com, where one would expect there to be at least a slight skew unnaturally favoring males over females (i.e. as opposed to the actual viewership of the show. As we all know, men like to surf the internet for--seductive?--images):
http://tinyurl.com/okhkvx

You will note that that the gender bias for the site is 56% male, 44% female. This suggests to me that the actual demographics for the show would be (at least) 50/50. Traditionally, it is women, not men, who watch the pageants. (Not straight men, anyway. Gay guys like pageants.) I remember seeing a stat once--I apologize for being unable to look it up--that the old Miss America pageant was "chosen for viewing," to the tune of over 79%, by females. Men watched only as a captive audience.

You will also notice that in the current breakdown, 37% have "no college," 44% have gone to college, and 19% have gone to grad school. Maybe not what you were expecting? ;) (And hey--you watch American Idol, dontcha?!)

And may I also add--while we're dumping gratuitously on Playboy--that through the years, the magazine has given readers the likes of John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Truman Capote, Le Roi Jones, Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut, Saul Bellow, Stanley Elkin, Nat Hentoff, P.G. Wodehouse and Margaret Atwood. Not too shabby.

Elizabeth said...

"through the years, the magazine has given readers the likes of John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Truman Capote, Le Roi Jones, Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut, Saul Bellow, Stanley Elkin, Nat Hentoff, P.G. Wodehouse and Margaret Atwood."

And one Steve Salerno, let's not forget.

BTW, my Steve, my previous comment was a joke. But thanks for the stats anyway. :)

(Yes, I do watch AI, faithfully, as well as So You Think You Can Dance, coming up in a couple of weeks. Can't wait! I do not watch beauty pageants or other reality shows. Don't read Playboy's great articles, either, unfortunately -- not enough time, I'm afraid, what with so much TV 'n all ;)

Steve Salerno said...

For some reason that I can't quite explain, a few readers (one in particular) have been sending me links to pix of various beauty-pageant winners, and I'm struck by one unmissable truth:

They all...have...exactly...the same...boobs. Those ridiculous, artificially shaped melon-like implants.

I don't get it. I just don't get it. Somebody please tell me why that is attractive. Even if the baseline standard is "you have to have large breasts," what is wrong with naturally large breasts? You're telling me there aren't any young women in America who fill the bill (or the bra) without surgical intervention?

Elizabeth said...

Steve, Bill Maher has something to say re: your last comment and this post in general:
http://tinyurl.com/r7guea

Elizabeth said...

Now this is news not to miss, Steve -- and it falls under the "Whaaa...?" aka WTF category:

"Saudi Arabia Holds 2nd Annual 'Beauty Pageant'

07 May 2009

Nearly 200 Saudi women will be competing as contestants in Saudi Arabia's beauty pageant, which begins this coming Saturday.

Now in its second year, the number of pageant contestants has nearly tripled from the 75 women who participated in 2008. The pageant is open to women between 15 and 25. The winner and two runners up will be announced in July, with the queen taking home $2,600 and other prizes. The runners up get $1,300 each.

In Saudi Arabia's only beauty pageant - called the "Miss Beautiful Morals" pageant - the judges don't care about a perfect figure or face. What they are looking for is the contestant who shows the most devotion and respect for her parents.

"The idea of the pageant is to measure the contestants' commitment to Islamic morals... It's an alternative to the calls for decadence in the other beauty contests that only take into account a woman's body and looks," said pageant founder Khadra al-Mubarak.

"The winner won't necessarily be pretty," she added. "We care about the beauty of the soul and the morals."

The contestants will spend the next 10 weeks attending classes and being quizzed on themes including "Discovering your inner strength," "The making of leaders" and "Mom, paradise is at your feet" — a saying attributed to Islam's Prophet Muhammad to underline that respect for parents is among the faith's most important tenets.

Pageant hopefuls will also spend a day at a country house with their mothers, where they will be observed by female judges and graded on how they interact with their mothers, al-Mubarak said. Since the pageant is not televised and no men are involved, contestants can take off the veils and abayas they always wear in public."

Full text:
http://tinyurl.com/qtaspz