Beauty pageants are one of those vestigial pieces of American culture, like radio station top 10 countdowns and your grandparents’ casual racism, that is somehow alive and well, even though they probably should have died off a long time ago. In an era when we have access to any musician in the world on YouTube, we watch pretty young women perform mediocre musical acts every year during the talent portion. In an era when we have access to the thoughts of every public intellectual and journalist on Twitter, we are treated to the contestants’ often laughable perspective on political issues. In an era when all of the pornography on the Internet is a click away, we are supposed to find women walking around in a bathing suit thrilling.
The goal of the Miss America Competition is the crowning of the perfect woman, or as the cheesy lounge song that plays during coronation claims “our ideal.” When our culture is finally beginning to realize that there is no ideal woman, and that the concept of beauty is as subjective as the concept of our favorite food, the exercise of co-eds parading around in bikinis and then showing us their talent falls somewhere between absurd and creepy.
And yet, the Miss America pageant is still alive and well as a celebration of everything it means to be a basic bitch. These ladies may not be the best at any one thing, but they are OK at a bunch of stuff and look good doing all of it. As we continue to hope that the next generation will put this sad tradition to bed, and that one day the Miss America sash will take its rightful place in a museum, let’s take a close look at 10 Ways the 2015 Miss America Competition proved beauty pageants shouldn’t exist.
The Corny Opening NumberABC
Every year, Miss America kicks off with an unbelievably cheesy opening number. Actually, “opening number” is a generous description. In lieu of an actual song and/or dance routine, we get the contestants plastering on their best smiles and introducing themselves with a one-liner that would make a VFW comedian cringe. This year, they split the opening among five boring locales, including a golf course and shitty beachfront complete with prop beach balls. This year, the girls managed to came up with some of worst one-liners since #hasjustinelandedyet, including “From a state that has frequent earthquakes, I’m here to shake things up.” And “Popcorn. Get your popcorn. From the state that brings you 20 percent of the world’s popcorn….”
I’ll be honest. I don’t even remember which godforsaken flyover state popcorn girl was from, but if your state’s claim to fame is corn, it is time to move as soon as you can afford that Greyhound ticket.
Kevin O’Leary Leering at the WomenABC
Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary filled the time-honored role of “aging perv” in the show’s panel of judges, leering at the women throughout the proceedings. When he got to ask a question during the Q&A portion of the show, he slowed his speech and spoke in the same tone that you would use when addressing a mentally challenged Labrador Retriever.
The Hysterical Winning ReactionsABC
One of the least feminist aspects of beauty pageants is the reactions of contestants advancing to the next round. The contestants train themselves to act out a hysterical half-feint as their fellow contestants hold their arms. The goal here seems to be to convince audience members to come running with smelling salts, worried the advancing girl has come down with a Scarlett O’Hara-size case of the vapors.
Nick Jonas’s Nonsensical SoundbitesABC
Nick Jonas’s role as pseudo-DJ was one of the oddest bits of the night. It was presented as though he “chose” the run-of-the-mill top 40 songs that were played throughout the evening; the show behaved as though “Worth It,” a song played ad nauseum this summer everywhere fine Jagerbombs and appletinis are sold, was somehow a vintage pick from Mr. Jonas’s private record collection. When he wasn’t presenting flimsy justifications for the soundtrack, he was offering illuminating musings on the evening such as, “It’s like Cinderella at the ball.”
Contestants Name-Checking Instagram and Blake Lively as Fashion InspirationsABC
In an attempt to make the eveningwear portion something more than a mere glittery meat market, the girls’ walks were accompanied by voiceovers offering their perspective on fashion. Surprisingly, young women from North Dakota and Arkansas didn’t come off like they just got back from Fashion Week. The contestants that didn’t mention their mom or sister cited a litany of basic bitch fashion inspirations such as Instagram and Blake Lively. One contestant offered the hot fashion tip that you can find high fashions and then look for similar things at more affordable stores. All of you fashion bloggers out there can feel free to use that hot take in your next blog post.
One Contestant’s Fact About Herself: She Witnessed the Inauguration of President Obama.ABC
If attending a party is an achievement, why didn’t one of these girls mention the time they did coke with John Mayer in the back of his tour bus when he played that state fair in Topeka and she was competing for Little Miss Kansas Dairy Maid 2014?
Another Contestant’s Fact: “6’1” Without Heels.”ABC
It was the girl who did the nurse monologue your friends from high school are sharing on Facebook today. I would mock that monologue here and now if I didn’t fear a legion of medical professionals leaving comments below beginning with the phrase, “As a nurse, I’m offended by your dismissal of our difficult and demanding profession….” I don’t care if you worked a 14-hour shift last night only to be condescended to by an asshole doctor, that monologue was still corny as shit.
Miss South Carolina Doesn’t Support A Ban On Military-Style Assault Weapons.ABC
After the next national tragedy, take comfort in her argument that “education” is what will prevent the next mentally unstable person from mowing down a group of innocent people in a public place. As far as I can tell, more education on military-style assault weapons is probably not the move.
After A Number of Thoughtful Questions, Miss Georgia Got A Deflategate Question…and Won.ABC
Though questions were asked about Planned Parenthood, the Republican primary, and Black Lives Matter, the girl who got the question about whether Tom Brady cheated was ultimately crowned. To be fair, she greeted the question with the appropriate level of side-eye that told us that she definitely wasn’t reading comments on Deadspin articles for a week leading up to the competition.
The Scholarships are Bullshit.HBO
If you have any familiarity with Miss America, you know that scholarships are a huge part of Miss America’s awards and mission. For many people, this perceived support of education is that only defensible aspect of the pageant which offers a version of feminism about as progressive as a 1950s home economics class. In case you missed John Oliver’s excellent takedown of Miss America’s scholarship initiative a while back, check out his clip here.