Monday, December 21, 2015
Is Miss Universe still a thing?
I just love news stories that aren't really news stories, but nevertheless manage to make it to the top of the headline roster because the alternatives involve a curious mixture of Donald Trump, Justin Bieber, Josh Duggar's wife and the red-track-suit guy who used to dance up a freaky storm in the background of countless old SNL sketches.
Case in point: the Miss Universe pageant, which last night crowned Miss Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, its queen of the ball for the next year. Host Steve Harvey - perhaps best known as Richard Dawson's new-millenium-wannabe Family Feud host - apparently misread his cue card at the penultimate moment, and mistakenly called Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez, as the winner before order prevailed and the tiara found its rightful home.
As you can imagine, bedlam prevailed, countless tears were shed, no less than three presidential inquiries were initiated and a koala bear may or may not have been sacrificed to the Pagan gods. We're still working on that last one so please don't quote me. Either way, it was an ugly, ugly scene of double-sided tape and fake-smile betrayal that should burn supernova-bright for at least the next eight minutes.
As pageant purists - hey, they still exist - call for Mr. Harvey's head and as The Donald himself weighs in on how he would have handled the situation (free tiaras for all!) it's becoming painfully apparent to all but the most Berk Parksian fans of this long-irrelevant "tradition" that this was anything but a mistake. In actuality, it's a public relations masterstroke, a brilliantly conceived and executed move designed to firmly shove this pageant - and indeed, all pageants - back into the cultural mainstream. For at least the next eight minutes, anyway.
See, if Mr. Harvey had read the name as intended, then the pageant would have received the kind of polite and limited coverage befitting a cultural relic of an era when Hugh Hefner reigned supreme and beauty was indeed skin deep. Country, name, polite applause, see you next year. Maybe.
By turning the crowning moment into a three-ring circus, however, Mr. Harvey and his pageant overlords have succeeded in making their anachronism of an event go viral. And in the age of social media, going viral matters far more than doing the right, polite thing.
I'm sure Miss Colombia will be rightly ticked off for a while - not because she "lost" a contest that was never a contest to begin with. But because she'll forever be known as a pawn in an ill-conceived attempt to convince us that "competitions" like this are anything but the sad spectacles of yesteryear they've always been. Not even a globe-spanning controversy can change the brutal reality.
Your turn: What would you do if you won the crown?