Sunday, January 31, 2010

There She Is... So, What?

Saturday night was the Miss America pageant. What? You weren't home watching? Neither was I. And, looking at the ratings, neither was anyone else.

I used to love the Miss America pageant. My sisters and I used to wait for it for weeks, dreaming what the gowns would look like, what the hairstyles would be, and hoping at least one contestant would attempt "Ave Maria" with disastrous results. On the actual night my Mom would make us a special dinner of finger foods that could be eaten in front of the television without ruining the carpet. Then she would watch with us, wrapping our hair up in socks so it would be curly for the next day.

I come from a very sarcastic family. However, during the Miss America pageant, all of that was turned off. We were all rooting for the contestants, envious of their poise, and wondering what miraculous things they would go on to do. We were all under the spell of Miss America.

I don't know when that spell was broken. Actually, not broken, busted to all hell. Now, no one watches the Miss America pageant. And, if they do, it is to make fun of it, or play a drinking game.

I am not trying to defend the pageant, or to knock drinking games. I'm just trying to figure out why something I love in my childhood is now a cultural joke. I know it's not because we have become more feminist. People might say that, but it isn't the truth. My Mom was, and is, a feminist. The mothers of all of my friends were bra missing, Gloria Steinem loving, armpit arm wearing feminists. All my friends loved the Miss America pageant though, and all their Moms watched with them.

I think what really has happened is pageant overkill. When I was a kid the Miss America pageant was the only one out there. Then there was Miss Universe. And Miss U.S.A. And Miss Teen U.S.A. And local pageants. And reality television shows about local pageants. Now, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a potential pageant contestant -- especially if you are in a trailer park. And really, you shouldn't be swinging a dead cat anyway.

I wish I could say I will eventually watch the Miss America pageant with Meg, eating Vienna sausages and mandarin oranges. I doubt that will happen though, and not only because Vienna sausages and mandarin oranges are disgusting. It isn't because I won't want to watch, or spend time with Meg, but because I don't think it will be on. I think these are the last days of beauty pageants. They have reached critical mass, and will soon start dying off. And with what they have morphed into, with the spray tans, and the 2 year old girls worried about "making weight," I don't think that will be a bad thing.

I hope Miss America waves gracefully as she leaves the stage.

14 comments:

Jules said...

What? COPS was on.......

KAM said...

We always watched Miss America, as kids, too. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that we only had 4 channels on our TV....

Kim said...

I am NOT a Miss America pageant fan. You can tell me all day long how it's a scholarship program and how the girls are judged also on talent blah, blah, blah, but let's face it-- it's a beauty contest. Come on, there's a swimsuit competition. Of course, this may just be coming from someone who was never one of the "pretty girls"....

Janine@Shelf Life said...

Oh, I LOVED the Miss America and Miss Universe pageant. Right away I would pick my favorite. It was a big event in our house.

Of course, that was back when Barbie was really popular too. Girls did girly things - like play with dolls and watch pageants. And we aspired to such things as accessories and tiaras.

Ah, the good ole days.

just making my way said...

I used to like watching it as well. I would pick which one I was routing for, the whole deal.

I actually noticed it was on the other night and thought, "Huh, maybe I'll tune in." And then I slapped myself and watched Mythbusters all night.

erin said...

My family used to watch it every year as well (sans my dad, of course).

For awhile as a little girl I was going to be the miss america who broke the mold. I would tell my mom that I'm going to be beautiful, smart and funny (I guess implying that none of the women competing at the time were any of those things).

AND my talent was going to be singing and signing Beatles songs.
Give me a break.. I was 6!

It is sad though. I watched a mini moment of that toddlers and tiaras show and all I could think of was that poor, abused and very much dead little jon benet. Makes me so sick.

Sandi said...

I remember watching the Miss American Pageant growing up. I think it went to hell when the fired Burt Parks for younger blood.

Tracie said...

We watched it every year when I was a kid. But, similar to KAM, we only had 3 channels so there wasn't much of a choice.

Summer said...

I think Toddlers and Tiaras has ruined the whole thing for me. FREAKS.

Little Girl Big Glasses said...

I think reality TV ruined it. That and the Gong Show used to be the only shows with "real" people instead of actors...it was fun to root for them even if they were plastic barbie doll bitches. Now, every show has hot chicks vying for votes. No fun anymore. PS - What's wrong with mandarin oranges and vienna sausages?

Alyssa said...

I think Miss America USE to be a good pageant i.e. the girls were interested in money for school and noble causes. Today it is just so fake and played out. Did you ever watch the show were the little girls are 2, 3, and 4 years old and in pageants...that is who is growing up to compete in Miss America today GROSS. I am very glad I found your blog and I will be back to visit again soon I love it!

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

It's true; Miss America was a big deal back in the day. Before they were all fake and porn stars, or at least, before we knew they were. I do enjoy those kiddy pageant shows; they are unbelievable!

Rassles said...

I might have respect for Miss America contestants if they actually, like, could complete a sentence without sounding ignorant. Or if they all kept the face they were born with (come on, it's all plastic surgery and fake teeth). Or if their answers weren't pre-written and memorized. What's the fucking point?

That alone is different. More people have plastic surgery now, just like more people have phones and computers compared to twenty years ago. There's no real girls up there, it's just a bunch of robots desperate to be beautiful.

I think it's sad.

Heather said...

Two words - JonBenet Ramsey.

And I do still let my kids eat mandarin oranges. Now I feel kind of weird about that.