Miss America, R.I.P. (Again?)
Whether you looked at the old Miss America Pageants as television's last outpost of genteel feminine civility or as a surreal parody of actual human behavior, you will acknowledge that they had a style all their own. No imitator ever quite captured the nuance and the attitude of Miss America, which as early as the 1940's had separated itself from the 'beauty pageant' pack and become a unique mix of the America we had ... and the America we wanted.
It is precisely because of this historic singularity that the producers of the projected 2007 Miss America Pageant should do the right thing and kill the ol' girl in her tracks.
According to an announcement posted Monday on MissAmerica.org, the Miss America Organization officially kicked off the 2007 Pageant with a news release introducing the taping of a 7-part Finding Miss America documentary in Las Vegas, from September 8th through 13th. Camera crews will follow 52 women as they make their way through the swimsuit, talent and evening wear competitions. The edited footage will then be aired over a week on Country Music Television in January.
Viewers will be invited to call or visit CMT.com to vote for their favorites. The 15 winners will compete in the finals, which CMT will air at a date-to-be-determined in January.
Officially, as noted, this seven-parter is a "documentary." But is there anyone else out there who thinks that this thing has the very strong aroma of reality TV? Yes, it's true that both documentary TV and reality TV have shared the same turf for quite a while. But it's also true that the Miss America people are as unlikely to go as far as the other pageants in terms of viewership-boosting devices. There's little if any indication, for instance, that Miss America contestants will be invited to have, say, a bucket of fish guts poured over their heads, as the 2005 Miss USA contestants were.
But Miss America needn't go that far to stop being Miss America. It's no longer America's pageant. Hasn't been for years. It's now just another nomadesque TV production being peddled to whatever big town can promise enough glitz and glitter to make it temporarily competitive in today's TV world.
For better or for worse, there's obviously a market for this kind of show. Just as obviously, such a market can be created without having to drag Miss America into it. Like some old basketball player in danger of staying on the court too long, Miss America should be permitted to take one final bow and leave the building with one of the 20th Century's greatest pop culture scrapbooks. She shouldn't have to kick around on the fringes of cable TV universe until one day she just spins off into deep space.
Some will agree with your comments, dear David, others will chastise you for them. Either way, kiddos, the bottom line is simply that Miss America's relevancy is no longer that which it once was. It is, in effect, a mere dinosaur --- and the sooner they --- and we --- acknowledge that simple truth, the better it will be for society in general.
As always, I wanna know what you think, America. Gimme an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com.