The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Miss Universe As A Cultural Touchstone

Posted by BigWords on August 16, 2009

The extravaganza known as the Miss Universe Pageant returns, and I’m not sure what to make of proceedings. I’m straight, so the idea of looking at women in skimpy clothes isn’t unheard of, but the way these shows operate doesn’t do anything for me. Really, take a look at the women participating in the show. Go on. Click the link and take a look. Done? Right, lets examine what’s wrong with this idea.

Firstly, the contest is all about looks. You won’t see figures like Beth Ditto among the competitors, and that is extremely divisive in a world which already stigmatizes women who don’t spend three hours in front of a mirror before they leave the house. I’m not sure what message we (= men) are meant to take from these kinds of events, but I’m sure it isn’t a healthy message, and it certainly isn’t one which women (in general) want to promote.

Maybe I’m being too critical about the show, but I really can’t see how being judged on appearance and servility to an outmoded concept of ‘perfection’ is of any benefit. There are ways for women to show their equality, but appearing on this type of a program diminishes the work that intelligent and amazing women are doing. I’m not saying the contestants are dumb… far from it. There are women who have used these events as ways of making money to get through college.

The blame for these shows (flesh markets might be a more apt term) is squarely on the event organizers and the television producers willing to demean people for ratings. This is only a small part of the larger problem in modern pop media, where whorish attention to individuals is used as cheap and titillating entertainment. Big Brother, American Idol and other ‘reality’ shows are also symptoms of the disease running through television like a bad-taste ebola.

Should these shows be banned? No. I’m against censorship, but ignoring the existence of bad taste and car-wreck television should be advised as a way of stifling the output of crap. If we stop watching, then they will stop making the bad television. Simple.

Unrealistic expectations are being foisted upon the minds of girls watching these shows, and a direct line between the representation of women in media and the rise of eating disorders is clear to anyone who has looked at the corollary data. With the rise of glossy magazines and shows which focus on appearance, more girls turn to calorie-counting, purging and all the other weight-control freakery that does not lead to attractiveness to the opposite sex. We don’t want stick insects on our arms.

Turn off the television and read a good book. Hell, read a trashy paperback, whatever you have lying around… Just keep the television off.

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