Wednesday, May 06, 2009

White Trash Extravaganza

Some readers may already be following the adventures of Carrie Prejean, who failed to win the Miss USA pageant, and blamed the gays. 

During the presidential campaign, our beloved godfather warmly admonished us to express our sentiments here politely, and with a minimum of vulgarity.  Sadly, we do not find that there is any way to do that in the Prejean matter, which is itself a study in bad taste.

Fortunately, the guy who writes the gossip blog Egotastic has apparently neither a godfather nor a superego, and so is able to be as blunt (and as vulgar) as he wants.  He expresses our feelings quite nicely, so click the link above if you won't be offended.


mark said...

The original incident causing this great teapot tempest was a wonderful example of ambush judging, a genre closely related to ambush journalism.

Father said...

"Ambush judging"? I think that misses the point. Sure, it's fair to ask why anybody cares what a beauty-pageant contestant thinks about one of the more difficult ethical and legal questions of the moment.

On the other hand, the real questions are (a) why do we have beauty pageants, and (b) if we are going to have them, why anybody bothers to ask the contestants about anything much beyond diet, makeup and baton-twirling, their readily apparent areas of expertise.

But all that said, if -- by some freakish codicil of the social contract -- there is an agreement both to hold these contests and to ask contestants about matters in which there is no reason to believe they possess any particular knowledge, I'm not sure gay marriage qualifies as an ambush. I'm no expert, but haven't these poor women been asked for decades how they plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma?

This isn't very different (and imagine the public response to a contestant whose answer to that was along the lines of "Give all the land back to the Palestinians" or, closer to the mark, "God already gave the land to the Jews."

mark said...

Actually, the point is: Why do you suppose that particular judge asked that particular contestant that specific question? It had nothing to do with the "beauty pageant" or the "contestant" and everything to do with the "judge" and opportunism.
As to other young women in beauty contests having been asked for a solution to the middle eastern dilemma, that would be silliness rather than opportunism, and it is quite different. Here the judge used the contest, the contestant, and the opportunity, to provide himself with a bully pulpit, much as some "journalists" use interviews as opportunities to aggressively promote their own ideas.

Father said...

You obviously know more about the incident than I do, and I'm tempted to defer to your analysis.

But I won't. And here's why:

It *is* comparable to all the other times that pageant contestants have been asked questions to which their answer is certain to be irrelevant. Do you think that judges who have over the years asked about the Middle East, the environment, the Cold War and the Bomb weren't doing the same thing -- trying to add a false air of relevance to the stale spectacle of a pageant, by asking about things that interested themselves? Of course they were.

Now, here's the difference. According to the unwritten rules of the ritualized drama (at least I assume they're unwritten), the contestant's job is to answer with the blandest possible generalities -- "I just long for the day that everybody can live in peace," or "I believe the Russians love their children as much as we do." (Okay, the last one is from Sting, who was the beauty queen of overrated 80s rockers).

For better or worse, this contestant didn't do that. She could have, if she had wanted, but she didn't. She gave what seem to be her honest thoughts on the subject -- which happen to be thoughts shared by roughly half the country, and maybe a bit more. To some of them, she's probably a heroine now.

There's nothing wrong with doing that. I sort of wish that it were the custom, although it's clearly not. These idiotic shows would be a smidge less idiotic if the women were invited -- and accepted the invitation -- to talk seriously about difficult subjects. It could be called the "Charlie Rose Event."

But when you don't play by the rules -- including the unwritten ones -- you should probably expect to lose the game. (Although in any case, the publicity here will give her a far bigger career than she had any reason to hope for otherwise. Look at Vanessa Williams, who lost the Miss America crown for some nude photos taken with another woman. Big sexy scandal -- and she's one of the very few Miss Americas still in the public eye.)

But, bottom line, I simply can't agree that what makes this story interesting is either the question or the judge. To the extent that a story about a beauty pageant can be interesting at all, this one is interesting because of the contestant and her answer.