Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Miss Universe: Miss Sweden Has a Point

The Miss Universe pageant isn't without its problems. For one thing, the sticky fingers of Donald Trump are all over it. Then there's Miss Mexico's original National Costume of Death, the withdrawal of Miss Sweden (though I can't say I blame her) and the rigging that keeps Miss USA in at least the top ten every year to encourage Americans to watch. Oops, I wasn't supposed to know about that last one, was I? Even with all the scandal and the Trump involved, however, I was still able to find some things to enjoy about the bloated, elderly contest.

The broadly interpreted "national costumes." Some of them made sense, like Miss Cyprus' classic toga, and even Miss Australia's swimsuit and Miss Canada's hockey gear paid homage to their national pastimes. But why was Miss Bahamas dressed as a police officer? Is it because the rest of the world knows more about the Bahamian legal system than about the rest of the islands' culture, thanks to the Anna Nicole case? And why did Miss Slovenia's national costume look like she ripped up Kayne's Miss USA dress? My favorite costumes, though, were the ones with props, like Miss Korea's drum and Miss Tanzania's giant pot, because the women could use those to take out their competitors backstage. Fierce! You might have noticed that I didn't even mention Miss USA. I had to save her for last. She was dressed in a sparkly Elvis jumpsuit, complete with red, white and blue guitar. And while I support the guitar, for reasons already outlined above, there is a case to be made that Elvis impersonation is not merely an American thing.

The co-hosts. No, not the insipid banter between the hosts, who this year were Vanessa Minnillo and Mario Lopez, but the hilariously different ways that the writers come up with for them to call the finalists up to the Circles of Judgment at the front of the stage. "The wait is over… Thailand!" "You wished for it, you got it… Mexico!" "Around the world to… Nicaragua!" "Let go… Brazil!" There is a part in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest in which a kid reading tennis scores comes up with increasingly ridiculous ways to say "defeats," and that's what this makes me think of. And I hope all two of you in the reading audience who have read Infinite Jest enjoyed that reference.

The judges, who included Nina Garcia and James Kyson Lee, both very cool. In fact, they may be too cool for this pageant. Nina! James! Blink twice if you've been kidnapped and forced into servitude by Donald Trump!

Miss Tanzania. In addition to having the giant pot which I've already mentioned, girl is bald, and looks like a million bucks. Go, bald lady!

The "contestants exploring the country" montage. Poor girls had to wear their sashes outside of their life jackets, presumably so the organizers can determine what action to take if a contestant falls into the water. "Eh, it's only Miss Turks & Caicos. We'll swing by and get her on the way back." (Also, I swear I saw the contestants riding Segways through Mexico City at one point. You can't make this stuff up.)

The evening gowns. There were some great gowns, like that of the winner, Miss Japan, and then there was Miss Korea's, which looked like she was wearing a figure skating outfit with a long skirt. And this year, Miss USA fell on her butt. She recovered gracefully, but it was bound to happen to one of them. I'm only surprised it wasn't Miss India, who had to clutch part of her skirts with a death grip just to mince down the runway.

The judges' interview questions. Most of them were actually insightful – okay, pageant insightful – questions, like a lesson that the contestant learned as a child or whether it is more important to follow one's heart or mind. And then James Kyson Lee had to go and plug Heroes by asking Miss Korea what superpower she would want to have. Come on, James. You're above that, aren't you? And as many times a day as I'm sure you get that question, why would you want to inflict it on anyone else?


Colleen said...

Uh, thats a GOURD shes holding, dude. Come on.

Also, who won then?