May 25, 2010

What The Miss USA Pageant Says About Us

missusa-sidebyside.jpgi am completely disgusted that she would do this for free


I.


And that's why it is ridiculously obvious that when the Miss USA Organization, co-owned by Trump and NBC television, released a racy video lingerie photo shoot of this year's contestants... the sole purpose was to pump up the ratings for this Sunday night's telecast of the 2010 pageant on NBC.

No.


miss usa ratings.JPGThis past pageant got 6.6M, which is the same as last year.

You may be tempted to think that these scandals are blown up in the media in order to boost ratings for the pageant.  Yet while everyone knows about the controversies, you can't find one person (other than me) who actually watched the pageant.  The marketing has all failed, from Vanessa Williams to Carrie Prejean.  Why would they think seeing half naked women in lingerie would entice me to want to watch them fully clothed?  Whoops?


IIa.

The photos seemed designed to generate controversy and buzz about the pageant, TODAY's Matt Lauer suggested to pageant president Paula Shugart. "Yes, to some degree it's marketing," Shugart admitted

Wrongolongoria.  The controversy isn't to get viewers to watch the Pageant, the controversy is to get viewers to watch the Today Show.

Shows don't operate on their own, they're soldiers in a standing army.  Miss USA is run by the Miss Universe Organization, owned by Donald Trump and NBC Universal, which is co-owned by GE and Vivendi.  That means the Miss USA pageant can be enjoyed as a loss leader for MSNBC, NBC, USA Network, Bravo, A&E, Hulu, Activision/Blizzard, and Universal Studios.

And rival media is free to capitalize on it if they want. Oh, is she Muslim?  Then off to Fox News and Glen Beck and etc.  You think CBS is talking about it because they want to boost NBC's ratings?

Whenever someone talks about a television's show's ratings as if they have valuable information, punch them in the mouth.

IIb. 

Small aside: if the game is eyeballs, then it becomes less relevant that they get the facts straight once you are watching; only that you watch.


fox miss usa.JPG

Is this what the Miss USA represents?  It used to be all -American girls, the leaders of the future.  These are the leaders of the future?

If you're watching this Fahrenheit 500 deliver the business news from a bar, you're probably not worried about accuracy.  Why do I suddenly want a drink and a plane ticket?


III.

CBS News, unaffiliated with the pageant but hey, it's news, right? gets to ask, "Are Rima Fakih's Sexy Shots [of her in the stripping contest] Any Worse Than The Lingerie Photos?

The answer, obviously, is yes, they are worse, they are much worse, and by worse I mean much better.  If I have only one click left, I wanna see the stripper pole.  Lingerie?  What is this, the set of Falcon Crest?  Bring on the pole.   

"Americans are a puritanical lot that can't handle sexuality."  Oh, no, they handle it just fine, otherwise it wouldn't be everywhere.  They just can't handle it when they're with other people.

When you're by yourself and the sex scene in a rated R movie comes on, do you change the channel?  "It seems wrong to watch the expression on her face change as she mounts him.  I choose to turn away."  

But with every passing year of marriage those scenes frustrate, you try to avoid them.  Not when you're Alone, of course, but when you're watching with your spouse: you worry it is reminding them how inadequate you have become.

It happens also when you're with people you're not intimate with.  Are they watching how you are watching it?  If you're too interested, will they think you're a pervert, and if you appear bored, will they think you're a prude?  So there's dead silence as everyone in the room  pretends they're not pretending.

The word for all of this is shame.

It's perfectly normal to feel this way.  But you chose this world, this is the one you wanted.  What kind of a world is it where we want sexuality in everything, have normalized sexuality in everything, but are ashamed to be caught looking at it?  

A world that prefers to be alone, of course.

IV.

A quick word on the homosexualization of public sexuality, or, what's up with all the naked guys in ads and movies nowadays?  Is everyone gay?  No.  Otherwise it wouldn't work.

When a guy gets caught watching a naked girl in a movie, he's got some pretending or  explaining to do.  When a guy gets caught looking at a naked guy in a movie, he still gets the signifier of sexuality to use any way he wants, but without the shame.  That the ladies might like it is an added plus.


david beckham Armani.jpgSon of a bitch... Posh Spice is smoking hot


V.

 
There's a simple reason why the stripping pics are "worse" than the lingerie pics:  she was told to pose in lingerie; she chose to strip on her own.

If there is one thing that makes Americans-- or at least the media, which both reflects and creates American tastes-- nervous, it isn't sex, but sex that it can't control.

Maybe it's a uniquely American thing, maybe not: as long as sex/iness comes with a price tag, we're ok with it.   Controlled, manufactured, artificial-- safe.  Lingerie shoot?  "She had to do that for the pageant."  Oh, so that's the answer.  It's not real.

But if she's caught stripping for fun, then... what does that say about me?

The feminist argument is it sets a standard for women that they are forced to at least wonder about.  "How can I compete?"  But it's worse for men.   Playboy is fine.  Girls Gone Wild drives us bananas.  "They do it... for nothing?  They're willing to get naked on camera for nothing... yet every time I try to be nice and buy one of them a drink, they won't even look at me... I don't get it, I don't get it..." 

Wanton displays of sexuality leave no room for rationalizations.  "That kind of girl only wants a rich guy."  But she did it for free.  So?

America tends to be deferential to prostitutes and porn stars, because it understands them.  It's powerless against sluts. 

Which is why we call them sluts in the first place.

---

http://twitter.com/thelastpsych









Comments

No, we call them sluts beca... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 12:11 PM | Posted by AnonyMouse: | Reply

No, we call them sluts because they destroy our Darwinian self interest. Men who cannot find faithful sexual partners have no strong stake in society. Thus the ghetto.

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Almost everytime I'm finish... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 1:14 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Almost everytime I'm finished reading your posts I'm questioning my worldview. I would like the answer to the question, "So?" now. Thanks.

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"It's perfectly normal to f... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 1:17 PM | Posted by Justin: | Reply

"It's perfectly normal to feel this way. But you chose this world, this is the one you wanted. What kind of a world is it where we want sexuality in everything, have normalized sexuality in everything, but are ashamed to be caught looking at it? ... A world that prefers to be alone, of course."

Long time lurker, first time poster. And this kind of observation is exactly why I read this blog semi-religiously. Amen, 'alone', amen.

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Res ipsa loquitur...<... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 2:07 PM | Posted by VA psychiatrist: | Reply

Res ipsa loquitur...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnTyvqYT3Y8

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I'd contend that most "slut... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 2:15 PM | Posted by Stephen: | Reply

I'd contend that most "slutty" behavior comes from "normal" girls, not career sluts.

Almost anyone will do almost anything for free if they can be made to feel as though they chose that outcome. We have an amazing ability to go with the flow of events, then do some cognitive clean-up afterward by reclassifying our actions to get rid of any annoying dissonance.

I think our irritation as American males with the sluts we can't control (and we don't really want to anyway) is actually disappointment in our own inability to go with the flow and, every once in a while, refrain from intellectualizing events as they happen.

We want to be man-whores sometimes but we can't get over our own hang-ups long enough to get into a primal frame of mind. We don't want to control sluts, we want to be liberated enough to be them.

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Note to self, check ID.... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 2:36 PM | Posted, in reply to VA psychiatrist's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Note to self, check ID.

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"We want to be man-whore... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 3:08 PM | Posted, in reply to Stephen's comment, by Justin: | Reply

"We want to be man-whores sometimes but we can't get over our own hang-ups long enough to get into a primal frame of mind."

Very well put. This puts me in mind of "The Game"... if you've ever read Roissy's amusing, prolific and disturbingly single-minded blog about his interpretation (and practice) of the Game, you'll recognize an extremely obsessive, detail-oriented mentality. Dare I use that overwrought diagnostic buzzword of the moment, it's an Aspergerian approach to seduction, and it's about as far as you can get from the primal frame of mind that Game-players are supposedly aping when they put their highly rote and specialized form of seduction into practice.

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The only reason anybody wat... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 3:59 PM | Posted by Jen: | Reply

The only reason anybody watches anything called a "beauty pageant" is that our entire planet has been built on the platform of patriarchy, for the most part anyway. I am glad you posted the chart and statistics on the ratings and how few people are watching, but that millions are watching at all is disturbing to me as a woman and a human being who believes in equality. It's not just that these things set unrealistic expectations for women, which women cannot ever meet in reality, therefore leading to low self-esteem, eating disorders, etc, but it's that there is a fundamental ridiculous injustice in women being valued for our bodies above all us. Little girls shouldn't be growing up in a world that teaches them they should aspire to look good in a bathing suit, and let their brother aspire to be a rocket scientist. We really need to evolve a bit more.

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I meant to say, "above all ... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 4:01 PM | Posted by Jen: | Reply

I meant to say, "above all else", not "above all us".

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If a beauty pageant can cau... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 6:35 PM | Posted, in reply to Jen's comment, by HedgeMage: | Reply

If a beauty pageant can cause one such serious problems, one is probably pretty screwed up to begin with.

I was the fat girl growing up. I got over it. I had Barbies. I knew about and sometimes watched pageants on TV (the sacrifices we make to be "one of the guys"). It didn't take me long to figure out that if you glop on a ton of make-up and prance downstage in skimpy clothes, you are asking to be judged by your appearance. If you help build a woodland fort, keep up with the boys on dirtbikes, and kick their butts at computer geekery, you are asking to be judged on other merits.

I grew up on a hog farm in a very traditional (and sexist) rural town. I never fit the most popular female ideal, but I found a niche all my own.

We're all narcissists. We're all good at showing others what we want them to see. If we choose to show what *is* great about us instead of what we think others think would be great, we do all right.

People who let some vague notion of society's expectations sway their values and self-image really need to evolve a bit more.

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analyze this guy<a... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 7:32 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

analyze this guy

http://dailyuw.com/2010/5/25/death-and-life-soo-chun/

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Jen,The principle ... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 9:08 PM | Posted, in reply to Jen's comment, by MM: | Reply

Jen,

The principle of equality, which you claim to believe in, is one of the reasons women are valued for their bodies and nothing else in our society. This principle, put into action in a society, leads to individual rights for all, which liberates women to do what they want to do. If their decision to compete in a beauty pageant is morally reprehensible to you, it's not because there is any lack of equality or freedom. Quite the contrary, it's because there is an abundance of such equality.

In other words, if you're going to support a woman's choice to be a rocket scientist (on the principle of equality, that is), then you can't deny a woman's choice to be a beauty pageant contestant without contradicting yourself.

It's time to look elsewhere for the ills of our society. Lack of equality is not the problem.

-MM

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It's funny that you mention... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 11:04 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

It's funny that you mention the homosexualization of sexuality to eliminate shame; that's exactly what happened years ago with Japanese shojo manga.

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FACT: men who are worried a... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 12:31 AM | Posted, in reply to AnonyMouse's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

FACT: men who are worried about finding long term partners are, evolutionarily speaking, losers. From an evolutionary perspective the best men easily find mates to reproduce with, many of them.
Monogomy and women being faithful and pairing up with just 1 man was invented for loser males, FYI. The winners don't have to worry about the faithfulness of women quite as much because they get so many women that in the long run it doesn't matter. The loser dudes are the ones who are bitter and jealous and terrified of females who are sexual.

Just, yea, massive FYI.

Not "our" darwinian self interest, but rather the self interest of males who very well know they ain't first choice.

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Oh and TLP, I want to congr... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 12:32 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Oh and TLP, I want to congrats you on this blog entry, as this is the first time you blogged about a gender issue without being borderline misogynistic.

I approve of the majority of content written above.

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LOL what a joke. Yea, I'm s... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 12:35 AM | Posted, in reply to Stephen's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

LOL what a joke. Yea, I'm sure the ladies are lining up for you, "if only you would stoop to the level of a slut".

So if a hot 22 yr old girl asked you to come to her apartment, you would turn around and say, "NO! I, madam, am not a slut and refuse your uncouth advances. Find a morally repugnant man to solicit for reckless casual sex."

O PLZ brudder, we all know that's a straight up lie.

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MM that is a load of garbag... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 12:43 AM | Posted, in reply to MM's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

MM that is a load of garbage.

If the popularity of beauty pageants were a sign of sexual / gender equality, then by logic their popularity and prevelance would increase with other trends of sexual egalitarianism. This is not the case at all. Beauty pageant are much less popular the more options women have for self actualization. Who in the motherfuck wants to starve themselves and act like a moron and an asshole when they could instead go to school and become a real person?

It's sorta like ghetto kids shooting for the NBA and ignoring school. They do it because they feel hopeless and do not realistically believe they can assimilate in mainstream society and get a real education and stuff.
Women who bank on sex and beauty are women who do that because they perceive themselves as having very few other options... who in the fuck wants to depend on some other person for money and support, when odds are good he will neglect you or arbitrarily dump you on the street like Dino from the flintstones once you reach age 35 or 40.... assuming he marries you at all.
Sure there is always that one girl who marries a gazillionaire, or who actually becomes a famous model, but most women who make a career out of being a piece of art or a toy for men end up with nothing, used up, haggard, 40 and fucked over, etc etc.

So, sorry bud-d-die gonna have to dis-a-gree.

The # of females who orient their identity and lifestyle around pleasing and entertaining men seems to very strongly and solidly correlate with a decrease in options for independence and self sustenance any other way.

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Oh and, re: naked men in me... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 12:46 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Oh and, re: naked men in media, I don't see that as a way of eliminating shame. I see that as people trying to make money off of the subset of viewers who are sexually attracted to men, i.e. gay males and women with high sex drives and such.

In "shojo manga" this is obviously the case, as all japanese cartoon porn has the shame built in already. You can't de-shame that which is inherently shameful and pathetic.

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"The only reason anybody wa... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 4:45 AM | Posted, in reply to Jen's comment, by Start The Machine: | Reply

"The only reason anybody watches anything called a "beauty pageant" is that our entire planet has been built on the platform of patriarchy, for the most part anyway." Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum.

"I am glad you posted the chart and statistics on the ratings and how few people are watching, but that millions are watching at all is disturbing to me as a woman and a human being who believes in equality." (my italics)

No cigar. It's not important how few people were watching. It's important how few were watching relative to the other choices. Feel free to click the link to the Nielsen ratings page, should you decide you care to figure out what actually happened rather than simply identifying information which seems too reaffirm your chosen worldview/excuse.

Spoiler alert: the season finale of America's Funniest Home Videos kicked the shit out of the Miss USA Pageant. Of course, you're no aspiring rocket scientist, so I'll give you some context:

The year is 2010. While AFHV once dominated the market for three-minute home movies of average people injuring and/or embarrassing themselves, those same movies are now widespread that you literally have to go out of your way to avoid them on the web. Youtube alone houses thousands of videos of teenagers jumping off roofs, all in one convenient location, available 24/7. benevolently distracting millions of young girls from their low self-esteem and eating disorders. Just enough to keep them from clicking the 'back' button, but not enough to keep them from yawning.

Which is funny, because in 1998 the moment you stumbled across something humorous on Geocities, you thought you'd won the goddamn lottery. Eager to share your newfound wealth with friends and family, you forwarded the video/animated greeting card/chain letter to everyone you knew, that they too might know your joy.

But that was then, and this is now. Gone is our innocence. How sad is it that nobody gives a shit about your link to a video of a 15-year-old trying to break a beer bottle on his own skull? Well, a Youtube search for "beer bottle to the head" returns 1,380 results. Chances are they're not missing out. Nobody is, not anymore. We've all seen it, and we've seen it all.

And yet...

The season finale of America's Funniest Home Videos kicked the shit out of the Miss USA Pageant.

Really? That show still exists? Whatever, there's probably nothing else on. I'll watch it. This low self-esteem/eating disorder/family isn't going to ignore itself.

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Spare me the Darwinian alib... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 6:04 AM | Posted by Ben: | Reply

Spare me the Darwinian alibi. I'll accept a Newtonian/Einsteinian excuse for the fact that you're stuck on this planet, but there's a limit to how much you can blame your behaviour on your genes. If I propose to you a game where I win $50 for every card drawn except the 2 of diamonds, and you win $1 for that one card, would you play? If yes, commit yourself. If no, why not? Perhaps because you have a brain, can critically reflect on the rules of the game and decide for yourself?

No one will hold you responsible for breathing, having a libido of some sort, or shivering in the cold. That's biological. Identifying yourself or another as a slut and engaging in the behaviour you consider appropriate to that attribution, though, is all you. You might be convinced that you're stuck playing Darwin's game, but you're still responsible for the moves you make.

Some wise @$$ once wrote, 'All of our actions have a blast radius, and other human beings are in it.' - Other human beings, not just long, repetitive strings of common organic molecules. Get it?

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Could you please do a dedic... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 8:30 AM | Posted by Mark: | Reply

Could you please do a dedicated post on your point #4 above?

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MM has pwned the comment bo... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 9:05 AM | Posted by medsvstherapy: | Reply

MM has pwned the comment board on this one. Jen: you can submit your cmment to your women's studies professor for extra credit.

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"If the popularity o... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 9:14 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by MM: | Reply


"If the popularity of beauty pageants were a sign of sexual / gender equality, then by logic their popularity and prevelance would increase with other trends of sexual egalitarianism. This is not the case at all. Beauty pageant are much less popular the more options women have for self actualization. Who in the motherfuck wants to starve themselves and act like a moron and an asshole when they could instead go to school and become a real person?"

Enjoyable (although, admittedly, a bit primitive) rant, but you missed my point. I wasn't focusing directly on beauty pageants in my post, but I was instead focusing on the idea behind them: that is, the worship of the woman's body over her other attributes (the poster's comment I was replying to said we needed to evolve if we still consider the woman's body as her greatest asset). Just because beauty pageants are on the decline, however, doesn't mean that that valuation is gone from society. In other words, with increased equality, women just have more options to strut their stuff. It's empowering until they realize that it's not.

Beauty pageants, thongs, strip-clubs, internet porn: this is the outcome of a free and liberal society (of course, there are also women CEO's, lawyers, doctors, etc.). More equality and more freedom will only allow more of this phenomenon. So, again, the focus of people opposed to how women are valuated in our society shouldn't be pushing for a more equality (unless by equality you mean the stripping away of the rights of men, which wouldn't be real equality at all).

-MM

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I wonder, do we prefer to b... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 9:55 AM | Posted by Wonders: | Reply

I wonder, do we prefer to be alone. I guess, it does seem that way. hmmn ok well if i'm making a preferential choice I'd like to know who is running this show cause I sure would like to peruse the other options...

And for giggles, I laughed a little at the comment about a room full of people pretending not to pretend - funny cause when a sex scene comes on telly and i'm in the room with someone other than my husband, I can practically feel the people in my head trying to pull the shutters off to escape. I wonder that my face must look so funny while thats happening....

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I wonder if I'd have just t... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 10:06 AM | Posted, in reply to VA psychiatrist's comment, by Wonders: | Reply

I wonder if I'd have just thought that was far out cool before I had my over-sexualised Alone goggles on.... man those girls got energy

I wonder if the parents have considered what it is to teach such young girls how to move their bodies in sexual ways to attract attention... do you think it even crosses their minds?

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