Tuesday, January 24, 2006

From Slate
How Google makes it easy for the government to spy on you

Miss America goes to Vegas: blah

Now off free TV, I give it about five years before it goes under like America’s Junior Miss did recently

Beauty contests are in themselves unobjectionable celebrations of healthy desire. This one is rather silly, most so when pretending to be first and foremost a scholarship contest (how many women go off to university wearing bathing cozzies and heels?) and trying to be hip and conscious of feminism (watch some of the production numbers from the 1970s for craptacular fun).
Miss District of Columbia glowed orangely, her tan putting me in mind of former New York City Public Advocate Mark Green. Miss Virginia spoke of her community service: "I'm a beauty queen who hangs out at maximum security prisons. It's incongruous." Accent on the gru. Miss Texas had platinum hair and a uranium smile.

Only since 1997 have contestants been permitted to don bikinis for the swimsuit competition. This year, all of them did, and it still managed to be anti-erotic. The pageant might objectify women, but it certainly doesn't turn them into sex objects. "Physiological specimens" is closer to the mark. There is an infantilizing force at work that denies standard-issue desire. Reviewing the telecast for the
New Republic in 1957, Philip Roth remarked that "all those lovely legs are really girls … who, when asked what they admire most, will talk to the flesh's distraction about their brothers and their daddies."
Nudity in itself isn’t sexy. The evening-dress part has some potential there but the same thing happens:
Half a century later, nine of the 10 semifinalists flowed onstage for the evening-wear competition with their fathers at their sides and their accompanying voice-overs ripe with filial devotion. Miss Oklahoma: "I chose my daddy as my escort." Miss Virginia: "All of us here are sort of our dad's girl." How about you, Miss Alabama? "I don't know if I'm really a daddy's girl, but we do have a special relationship. ..."
I see a book or at least a research paper/doctoral thesis here.

Vanessa Williams is about the only winner people still remember.

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