Miss America is Not the Problem

I am sitting at the Budvar Bar, basking in the glow of writing what might be a really good story. It might not be — a review and edit a few days from now will determine that — but right now I feel good about it. I’m not supposed to be working on short stories right now, but there are going to be days like this.

On the television is the Czech version of Miss America. The Czechs, still being old school, have no problem with the fact that being sexy is an important qualification. They know that people are tuning in to see hot women in small clothes. With that in mind, I considered the Miss America pageant. Its television ratings, apparently, are plummeting, and the event is caught in a hard place where they used to sell it with sex but they’re not allowed to do that anymore. Judging women by their physical appearance is now only done shamefully, in secret. By everyone.

It occurred to me that while the Miss America contest is getting less and less sexy, the US Congress is getting better looking every election. So while we cringe at giving some woman an ultimately meaningless title on the basis of her looks, we will not give a man or woman the power to declare war on another nation unless they look like a professional athlete or a model. It’s not that I care much about the idea of Miss America, I just wish we’d apply that same queasy skepticism where it really mattered.

2 thoughts on “Miss America is Not the Problem

  1. First addendum: Forget everything I just said. Right now one of the contestants on Miss České is demonstrating her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation skills. She can declare war on me any day.

    Second addendum: There’s a reason the Czechs emphasize sex. The talent portion of this contest has been continuously hilarious. Much like congress.

  2. That’s a pretty amusing parallel. I’d never thought of it before.

    At the end of the “Communist Museum” in Prague, there’s a picture of Vaclav Havel giving a speech to congress after the Velvet Revolution. The caption read “Vaclav Havel’s speech to US Congress is well received.” In the center is Havel, looking dishevelled and resolute; and at the top left stands Dan Quayle, perfectly coiffed and wearing a dazzling, practiced smile, oozing self-satisfaction. The contrast could not be more stark: in the foreground is a passionate, almost powerless, but fierce leader, surrounded on all sides by well dressed, pretty, fatuous mannequins. Ick.

    Maybe we should make the candidates wear swimsuits for the debates. Except, double ick.

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