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Thoughts! About! Miss Teen USA!

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I used to love pageants. That’s right. Loved them!! When I was around, oh, eight or nine, they were top of my list. My sister and I would beg to stay up and watch Miss Universe. I can’t say we ever appreciated the finer points of the show. You know, those finer points. I’m sure you can think of some. No, for us it was all about picking favourites. Or ‘bagsing’, as it was referred to in our home. You may have called it something else. (This is not to be confused, of course, with ‘bagging’. If you have been bagging pageant contestants, well… that’s your business.)

We had a similar sisterly ‘bagsing’ game involving the Sears catalogue. We’d go through it and bags an outfit per page. Not that we actually got the clothes we pointed to – it was all about the race to choose. You had to pick fast. It was tense. And if you were too hasty, you ended up with some flashy monstrosity that had caught your eye, but which proved on closer inspection to be not as desirable as it first looked.

Which brings me to last night’s Miss Teen USA on NBC. Coming to you this year from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Town motto? “Our past is your present”. See, TV can be educational! Before yesterday, I didn’t know that.

So I thought I had the pageant formula down pat, but wow, was I surprised! Turns out this one had eight (8) judges. Who knew?! The panel included experts such as the guy who plays Tommy Lee’s roommate on the upcoming NBC reality show Tommy Lee Goes to College. You know you’re scraping close to the bottom of the barrel when you use non-celebrity has-beens from shows that haven’t even aired yet.

But back to the pageant. Here’s a quick re-cap. White teeth. White teeth. Prom-style dress. Blonde. Blonde. White teeth. Chandelier earrings. Blonde. Tan. Tan. Strapless gown.

And that’s all you really need to know. Sure, there were a few unexpected details. Miss Kansas and Miss Oklahoma had suspiciously grapefruit-like boobs. The girls toured an alligator farm, and a biomedical research facility. Miss Michigan aspired to be Secretary of State and had hobbies that included eating sour candy. Miss Ohio – the eventual winner – explained that education was important, because people can tell by looking at you whether you have one. (And they say pageants are shallow! Pshaw!)

We also got to meet last year’s winner, a delightful specimen who told us about the places she’d visited as Miss Teen USA. Like Thailand… and Guantanamo Bay. Guantanamo Bay? Yeah, and it was especially fun, because she got to jog with the Marines! Cool!

Now that you mention it, pageants aren’t so different from being tortured and illegally imprisoned without trial in a secretive facility. There’s sleep deprivation. Curfews. Rewards for good behaviour. You’re interrogated on a number of subjects, like world peace and your home state. And then there’s the enforced dress code. I bags the orange jumpsuit!

For the record, I had bagsed Miss Virginia, but she didn’t even make the top five. Next year, darlin’. Our past is your present. And don’t you forget it.

Can’t get enough teletart?
There’s plenty more where this came from.

About teletart

  • Paul

    We can make fun of George Bush too, but he is still the leader of the United States. Too much poking fun, and in the exchange the truth doesn’t come out. These young women who compete in pageants can be anyones daughter. In addition to being attractive she usually is an excellent student, active in volunteerism, and liked by her peers. She is the valedictorian, cheerleader, math wiz, and athlete. She represents the best we have in the nation. It sure beats getting pregnant at 16, dropping out, and taking acid!

  • Victor Plenty

    What a low standard for “best in the nation.” Better than teenage pregnancy, and drug addiction? Faint praise indeed.

    I’d set a higher standard for “best in the nation,” like maybe genuine achievement in science, engineering, or the arts. There are a few kids, maybe not many in our country, but a few doing such useful things at the age of 16. Many of these teens are also excellent students and active in volunteerism, but not so many are liked by their peers, because if you do something useful with your time like science or engineering everyone calls you a nerd.

    If we really cared about promoting what’s best for our nation we’d get 50 of them together on prime time television to talk about what they do, and make sure they had scholarships to our best universities.

  • teletart

    Well said, Victor.

    Paul, I’m not sure how “thou protesteth too much” is a refutation of what I said, but never mind. You know, we don’t disagree on some points. Obviously we do disagree on others.

    I’m sure that many pageant contestants are bright, charming ladies. (Though if they’re that bright, I don’t see why awarding scholarships is such a big deal – won’t they be getting them anyway?) Of course, we’re not really judging them on their scholarly achievements. Does this bother me? In a specific sense, no. TV is full of fluff, and pageants are just more of it. I’ve admitted (!) to watching them myself and enjoying them, in a manner of speaking. But okay, yes – in a general sense, they do bother me.

    My concern isn’t with the girls themselves – which is what you keep coming back to. It’s nice that they’re such stellar citizens. Good for them. I couldn’t care less. I’m more concerned with the underlying audience assumptions that pageants help to cement, and it’s those assumptions that I’m trying to get at in dissecting your posts. Particularly the thinking that posits girls as passive objects to be admired, versus active men (who participate in war and sports, in your examples).

    There’s also a kind of insidious paternalism that justifies leering at the teens by constantly bringing up their achievements and those damn scholarships. I’d almost be happier if we were just open about judging them on looks alone. At least that would be honest. Instead, we cloak what is essentially ogling in “acceptable” terms (and no, I’m not making a value judgement on ogling).

    We also establish a kind of template for what perfect teenage girls should be: thin, gorgeous, white, flawless, smart, sweet, similar and compliant. If you critique this, you somehow become an enemy of women’s ‘achievement’, because the girls happen to be good students. Huh?

    Let’s turn the tables and see if I can make my point more clearly. We’re now watching America’s first Mr Teen USA. Fifty-one buff, beautiful boys are parading in front of us in bathing suits. All of them between 15 and 19… mmm, lovely. Just when boys are at their most fresh and unspoiled. They’ve got those nice lean bodies that boys have, before they hit their twenties and start to get beer guts and back hair.

    A few of the 15 year olds haven’t developed fully yet, so they’ve had pec implants put in surgically. But so what? They’re gorgeous, and they take my mind off things like war. What’s wrong with that? Anyway, it’s not like we’re merely looking at these boys – we’re celebrating their achievements. Most of them are good students! Some play in their school bands. And better yet, we’re going to give the winner a scholarship! Yeah! Not because his 16 year old butt looked divine in those trousers – though it did – but because he’s so together. He answered our questions about baseball with total composure.

    In fact, we’re going to make this an annual event, to celebrate the boys’ status as model citizens. If anyone’s bothered by it, they’re just unpatriotic. Or ugly. We’re giving these boys a chance at scholarships, for god’s sake! We’re furthering their educations! Having them showcase their firm, hairless bodies in bathing suits is a small price to pay for that privilege. Besides, they’re proud American boys. Let’s be proud with them.

    Does that sound any more ludicrous to you? If it does, you should think about why.

    Jeez, still no takers on the Guantanamo thing.

  • Bob A. Booey

    Paul, you really need to get out more. What pro-Bush, pro-pageant, pro-cheerleading for conformity Up-With-People part of the country are you from?

    But thank you for provoking our wonderful Teletart into sharing her intelligence.

    ABC had (has?) a really good, wholesome, genuinely positive show called “The Scholar” this summer where kids who were actually good in school and not eye candy were competing for an Ivy League scholarship and being advised by college admissions officers and professors. I never watched it and it struck me as a little boring because I have no attention span, but that’s the kind of quality TV that you should get behind rather than getting so riled up about lech-fests like Miss Teen USA.

    I think most TV is moral predation and deliciously entertaining exploitation, particularly reality TV, but that show was one of the few examples where I thought it seemed like it was doing actual good. Shows like “Extreme Makover: Home Edition” and the similar rip-off Amy Grant “Make a Wish” show premiering in the fall on NBC aimed to get the right-wing Christian types to tune in do seem to help people, but even those smack of manipulating sentiment for ratings.

    That is all.

  • Duane

    Good responses to Paul up there Teletart. The scholarships exist so people who take Paul’s point of view can justify the existence of pageants. It’s all about checking out bikini babes, laughing at the “talents,” and the morbid hope that young women with perma-smiles will screw up their anwers to inane questions —

    Q: “Having participated in this pageant, what would you say is the most valuable life lesson that you will take away?”

    A: “Well, Skip, I’ve met so many wonderful people with such a diverse range of backgrounds and I think that getting to know them has given me so many new perspectives on how to achieve happiness in our world that is currently facing so many problems and I think I am now better prepared to leave here and pursue my goals of world peace and inspiring eating disorders in teenaged girls.”

    Let me tell you something about the judging. When I was first married, my wife and I used to watch the Miss America program. Every year for five or six years staright. Not Miss Universe, Miss World, Mrs. Galaxy, Mrs. Soccer Mom, Ms. Lesbian, Ms./Mr. Trans-sexual, Ms. Thunderthighs, or any of the others. Just Miss America.

    When the contestants were first paraded out for the TV viewers, the wife and I would pick our Top 5 states. We weren’t allowed to change our vote based on the “talent” sequence of Q&A stuff. Just the first parade-around. Every year, I was damn close to picking the finalists. How? It’s 95% about looks. And a particular kind of look. The look is not especially sexy. Too sexy, no go. It’s a certain kind of look that I can’t really describe, but I know it when I see it. This shit is awful. It’s insulting to one’s intelligence to hear this scholarship crap.

    I didn’t see “The Scholar,” but from your description of it Bob AB, it should go away. It cheapens the value of education. Anything TV co-opts gets cheapened. When I was in college one of my relatives used to encourage me by saying that one day I might get on Jeopardy, and I just took that and thought about about what an empty goal that would be, and how many other people in the country thought that the only value of a hard-earned education was the chance to win a few thousand dollars on some fucking TV show about how much trivia you can summon from your memory banks before one of the other two trivia experts beats you to it.

  • horror

    what a pathetic bunch of losers!!!!!!!

    no, not the miss teen contestants, but you pathetic a-holes who have nothing better to do with you lives than quibble with complete strangers on this lame-ass blogsite.

  • Victor Plenty

    “Horror,” consider this: now you’re one of us.

  • Duane

    Yeah!!!!!!! You people must be bored outta yer minds to be worrying about this kind of bullshit. I will never post anything here because I am busy doing really really important stuff.

  • Paul

    I am now CONVINCED that most of you bloggers are sick folks with nothing better to do then to disect lovely teen girls who are doing what is fun for them. People watch for a variety of reasons. Why on earth would anyone watch Golf? Yet some numb nuts do.

  • Paul

    I’d rather watch paint dry then sit through another episode of “The Scholar”.

    When is Miss Universe?

  • Victor Plenty

    Paul, nobody is dissecting anybody. If you want your ideas to be taken seriously, you will have to come up with better ways of defending them than calling everybody else sick.

  • Paul

    First off Miss Teen USA is not a scholarship based pageant. Miss America is, and many others as well. Miss Teen USA is the largest national teen pageant because it is on NBC, produced by the Trump Organization and NBC, awards over $60,000 to the winner, and hell it’s alot of fun for the participants. I knew a young lady who competed in it 4 years ago. She had the time of her life. She now is studying at NYU in hopes of becoming a neurosurgeon. Lot’s of smarts there. She regarded her experience as just one of many fun ones she experienced while a teenager.

  • teletart

    **teletart throws hands up in despair**

    For the record, Paul, Miss Teen USA does give out scholarhips – the winner gets one to “The School for Film and Television”, and there’s also a Cover Girl scholarship awarded for $5000.

    However, it’s nice that the girl you knew had fun. When the fortuitous accidents of genetics entitle you to fame and prizes, who’s complaining? And I’m sure it is fun for some of them. For others – the ones on strict diets, with fake breasts, and pageant coaches that critique their every nuance – maybe not so much. And you know who it’s really not fun for? Those guys in Guantanamo, imprisoned and tortured while Ms Teen USA 2004 jogs laps with the Marines.

    I knew I could get that in there somehow!

    I also noticed that you didn’t have any thoughts on my points about passivity. Or homogenous images of perfection. Or about my idea for staging Mr Teen USA. It seems so unfair that we’re denying boys the chance to have fun too. Whee! But perhaps we should just leave things at that. Considering that you’ve indirectly called me ugly and sick, I suspect that you’re not going to be entering into any kind of thought-provoking debate on the issue. (And all I asked of you was a pirouette in a Speedo! Sigh.) You stick to your ‘fun’ guns, and I’ll stick to mine.

    Until we meet again,
    mwaa haa haa haa haa
    ;-) teletart

  • Paul

    YOu can start Mr. Teen USA if you like. Probably a great market for it. When I think scholarship pageants I think of Miss America and America’s Junior Miss. Scholarships to universities. I was not thinking of the scholarships offered to an acting academy, or the Cover girl scholarship which actually is a cash award.

    PS Bet those marines enjoyed jogging with Miss Teen USA. Beats jogging with each other!

  • Eric Olsen

    I think we need captions for the crowning of Miss Guantanamo sequence

  • Victor Plenty

    Admit it, Paul. Teletart kicked your white-bread butt.

    About those Marines, there’s a good chance at least a few of them have little or no interest in Miss Teen USA, and would much prefer to jog with each other. Remember: don’t ask, don’t tell.

    My verse is light green
    And it is flaming red
    My verse is a wounded stag
    Who seeks refuge on the mountain
    Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera
    Guantanamera! guajira Guantenamera!

  • Paul

    Now THAT was really a dumb comment, but when you run out of subject matter you tend to veer off the subject.

  • Bob A. Booey

    Paul, what normal, heterosexual, even remotely functional man is a passionate defender of beauty pageants? I could see some overweight hausfrau couch potato being addicted to them, but you’re (at least nominally) a man. Grow a pair and find something else to defend so passionately. You’re too old for this nonsense. Get off the couch and find something better to do with your time than leching after girls who are half your age and 1/5th your weight. I think being obsessed with underaged teen beauty contestants is far sicker than someone blogging intelligently about the quirks of such contests.

    Go take a walk, exercise, and lose the man boobage so you can fit into your eveningwear. There’s no way Paul’s attractive at all and I’ve already given him a 2 for personality. You better have a good talent, Pauly.

    I guarantee that NYU chick will not be a neuro-surgeon, if she even gets into medical school after writing her essay on “How I Flirted With All My Professors to Barely Pass Chem and What I Learned From Being A Beauty Queen.”

    That is all.

  • Bob A. Booey

    Here’s Paul’s self-description, to give you a little background:

    “I’m a screaming right-winger. I admire CEO’s and oppose homosexual marriage. I read The Nation sometimes, but read National Review more often.”

    That is all.

  • Paul

    Hummmm… I’m 6’1″, 195 and pretty rugged guy. I think your response is much more suspect than mine. I say live and let live. Do what the kids want to do. I have two sons and a daughter. All bright kids. If my daughter wants to enter a pageant I’ll allow it. She’s pretty, talented and damn sight smarter than most of you. Aloha from Maui.

  • Paul

    Bobby boocrap,

    I’m a democrat from Maui. Loved Kerry, football, hate abortion, for the death penalty and love kids to do what is fun for them if their not hurting anyone. You guess wrong.

  • Bob A. Booey

    Paul, I’m glad you think anyone who could possibly criticize beauty pageants is “sick” and “suspect.” The great irony would be if your daughter were someday in a pageant and old men like you were ogling her in a bathing suit. I’m sure you’ll be very proud.

    That is all.

  • teletart

    Not that I want to prolong a discussion that I think ran out of steam some time ago… but I’m not a fan of personal attacks. Critique the argument, the comment, the point made or not, but this kind of – dare I say it – catfighting is just tedious. teletart demands more than this! Jeez, it takes a woman to step in and be logical. You menfolks are just too emotional!

    And Mr Bob, much as I’ve enjoyed some of your contributions, your opposition to pageants doesn’t mean I’ll give you a free teletart pass to indulge a whole other set of prejudices. Like your assumption that beauty equals not only stupidity, but an easy ride to the top… thanks to being an easy ride. Not fair. Typing contestants as vapid whores is as dangerous and insulting as presenting them as the golden future of America.

    And that really is my final word. Oh, apart from a nod to Victor for enlightening me about Guantanamera. I had no idea about the connection! Now it seems obvious. Duh.

  • Bob A. Booey

    I do NOT catfight. I argue. I’ll spank you. The honeymoon is over, Teletart :)

    Hey, I like vapid whores :) Honestly. And I get crap all the time about my various opinions about women’s hotness, which is a very important thing, ladies.

    In all seriousness, though, there’s a rank anti-intellectualism about the whole pageant experience. It reeks of phoniness and I’m convinced any woman who says things like “it really motivated me to seek my education” is really self-deluded or dishonest.

    I don’t mind them as much as you do probably, Teletart, but I recognize them for what they are.

    That is all.

  • Bob A. Booey

    Education is a value for its own sake, and beauty pageants have no relationship with educational achievement whatsoever. My point was that any woman who thinks there’s some connection is the type who would think that her looks would get her by in college, which quite obviously wouldn’t work.

    You’re still a wonder wrapped in mystery tied up in a bow of joy, my darling. Let’s never fight again, OK?

    That is all.

  • Pageantfan

    I just stumbled across this site after doing a search on pageants.

    I’m a 24 year old, YOUNG, red blooded, very active (and productive) American male, and definitely see the interest in beauty pageants.

    To all you who have made a profession about a 2 hour special you sit and MOCK on T.V; have you *really* done your research on it? Met the girls, attended the pageant, seen documentaries of it’s history/read books regarding it? No, instead you went to, viewed the prize package icon …and made the most talented generelizations about a topic most of you have NO clue about.

    That is the far sadder crime here..when people go on rants and raves about an issue they know nothing about. People who talk..just to hear themselvestalk, gotta love it.

    Yes, we are ALL entitled to an opinion…EXCEPT for pro pageant fans? Interesting, as everything they say get’s disect to the utmost degree, turned, switched, flipped, and then a whole new spin is put on it. (especially this PAUL gentlmen, who gets deemed an “old geezer perv” no matter what he says..even though his points are pretty clear cut and mean well)

    I love the one poster who sees pageants as the falling of the American society..then backs it up with a “…BUT let me reaffirm and make clear that I DON’T want pageants banned!” Uhh..and with that comment folks shall we disect anti pageant fans as uhm…bipolar?

    I also love how “reality t.v shows” like “Survivor”…”Big Brother”…and “InX:rock star” where people, short of giving away cash to the needy, do ANYTHING…and everything to win $

    Do you all realize how much charity work, community service, and money these titleholders raise after they “strut their stuff in a two piece bikini”?? Millions. Ofcourse, that is …”fake” right. Heck, it’s fake airbrushed money. Go do your homework on that department as far as pageants interst in giving back (though the talanted “spinners” on here will find a seemingly inspiring way to put a twist on that as well.

    Does beauty matter in beauty pageants…YES. Do we all care about our looks..anyone who says they don’t is not a liar but sure doesn’t face the TRUTH of human nature that being attractive is a want, and is…a HEALTHY want (by billions) For beauty pageants it does not end at “beauty.” That is the start and finish…the middle ground is that complete package..hence, very RARILY does the most beautiful girl win a Miss Universe title. It’s the girl with an X-factor…

    That X-factor is likability, charm, charisma, character, aura, and sincerity. None of which can be taught in a text book..or on a blog by pompous folks who truly PRIDE themselves on their being superior to a “fake barbie wanna be ditz”

    Imagine…while that “fake ditz” is strutting her stuff on national T.V with a viewing audience of 1 billion in 125 countries..getting modeling contracts galore, promotions, ad campaigns, AND furthering her educational goals…you people are thriving off by “poking fun” Funny conceot when you “step back and give it some critical thinking” as one poster mentioned.

    Truth being..pageants are harmless…pageants are tradition…and pageants are nothing more then FUN fluff. Passionate anti pageant folks see it as far greater significance on a sub culture then it really is. RELAX…and stop being so uptight…instead of judging others who do WHATEVER they feel comfortable in doing(harmless to others of course)..hone in on your own interests..talents…and achievments.

    Oh! and if you don’t like it..GUESS WHAT…My BASIC cable offers 400+ channels with THOUSANDS of viewing programs per day…simply pick up that convenient channel surfer…and find another program with strangers on it you can scrutunize and scream they’ll burn in hell for their conveying all the deadly sins, and how you are furthering your success in life with your brain power..and *Blah ..yada…barf reflex!*

    BTW~ Over 25 million Americans had SOME kind of cosmetic procedure down in 2004 alone…Pageant girls who have an interest in looking good, being confident AND well rounded..are *obviously* a breed of their own (insert eye roll facial expression)

  • Stephy

    Beauty contests are harmful!!!..Why do contestant need to wear swimsuit, like bikini….it doen’t seem can show they are intelligent and beauty contests had influence women as sex object to men and it had contribute violence to women….beauty contests should stop right now.

  • katie

    i think that there should be a mr.teen usa!!!

  • Adam

    I am disgusted that we picked Miss Teen USA Montana… she didn’t even define INTEGRITY correctly. What are we teaching kids today?

    I think the kids on Laguna Beach are better role models… they usually use their big words correctly like on that movie Clueless.