Monday, June 17, 2013

The Vicious Cycle Keeps On Turnin'

If you had asked me over the weekend when the Miss USA Pageant was, I wouldn't have been able to answer your question.  Turns out it was just last night, and I knew this for two reasons:

1.) People were talking about Miss Utah on Facebook;


2.) There's a video clip of her answer to a question that has quickly become very popular for all the wrong reasons.

If you haven't seen it yet, take a look below:

Some of you may hate me for posting a video of such stupidity, and for that I'm sorry.  But I had to say a little bit about this video, and get into the bigger picture for a bit.

The first thing that came to my mind once I had seen this video was the notorious clip of Miss Teen South Carolina from a couple years ago.  Even when that video became an internet sensation, my reaction was the same to this clip:

Why do we still have these beauty pageants?

I'm asking that as a genuine question hoping to find a real response.  Do the networks and sponsors still really make enough money off this crap?  Is that why we're subjected to these offensive and fairly misogynistic shows?  Twenty years ago they were sort of relevant, but now they're just fodder for the entertainment world.  Who really cares about who "wins" these contests?  They're nothing but free advertising for makeup and clothing brands.  Nothing is really at stake.

Part of me even feels bad for the contestants in these pageants.  I only pity them to a certain degree, considering the kinds of answers we get to questions in the interview round.  They're clearly programmed to use fire words like education, jobs, America, and gender roles.  They babble on for a minute or two using those words thinking that will lead them to getting votes from the judges.

Just who are these judges at these pageants anyway?  What kinds of qualifications do they have to adequately judge these contestants?  As much as I hate ice skating at the Winter Olympics for being roughly equivalent to these beauty pageants, I can expect that many of the judges in that event are former ice skaters.  They know the skills involved in all the moves an Olympic skater needs to perform, so they have some qualifications.

But this lady who asked Miss Utah.....who the hell is she and why should I care?  How is she more qualified than anyone else to judge these pageants?

There's a bigger problem here with these pageants that I don't think most people stop to consider.  That problem is the parents of these contestants.  These women are very likely competing in beauty pageants of some kind from the time they're in kindergarten, and I can't imagine many of them dream from that moment they want to follow this course for their lives.  What's disturbing is the kind of lengths they'll go to in order to get their kids involved in a beauty pageant, and this clip from the movie Bruno will make my point for me:

That clip was one of two parts of Bruno that I found to be funny, but this was funny for all sorts of horrifying reasons.  These parents don't care about what they have to agree to in order for their kids to get into show business, and the joke is clearly on them for being so dumb that they'd allow their kids to be involved with heavy machinery, live animals, and other dangers so the kids would have a chance at a big break.  The social implications of this clip show what kinds of families many of these beauty pageant contestants could have possibly grown up in.  I'm not going to surmise that the majority of contestants follow this pattern, but I think it'd be naive to assume that all of them got started because of their own desires.  The parents want to live vicariously through their children's careers, and the vicious cycle perpetuates itself.

I guess I answered my own question from earlier as to why we still have beauty pageants.  Designer makeup and clothing brands will always market themselves, but the big driving force is having parents who want their kids to be the most beautiful one in town.  There's nothing wrong for parents to take some pride in the accomplishments of their child or children, but it's the crazy ones who push their kids into career paths such as Miss USA that keep this garbage coming back.

Unfortunately the reality is that as long as these pageants are still on TV, we're bound to get more nonsense responses like Miss Utah's or Miss Teen South Carolina's.  I can only go on ignoring useless TV programs like these, but I sincerely hope that no one I know turns out to be like the parents in Bruno.