The XX Factor

Does Anyone Actually Watch Miss America Anyway?

Miss America has been a vagabond pageant for the last decade or so, getting repeatedly booted from several networks until 2008, when it landed a less-than-ideal home on cable network TLC (after a brief stay at the even less desirable CMT in 2007). Just yesterday, reported that TLC no longer wants airing rights of the antiquated contest . Sam Haskell, head of the Miss America organization, insists the pageant has plenty of other options, but as the beauty contest now faces its third network shake-up in three years, the question must be asked: Who actually cares about Miss America?

I wrote about this last year , during the height of the Carrie Prejean scandal and a slew of other beauty contestant gaffes, and in my mind the answer remains the same. What began as a fairly legitimate contest on the boardwalk of Atlantic City in 1921 no longer has a place in a culture wherein showcasing your talent doesn’t come at the price of subversively selling your bikini bod. In other words, Miss America has no relevance as the talent-awarding meritorious contest it purports to be because there are a gagillion multitalented women in Hollywood, in media, and in the public eye for us to admire. And guess what? It doesn’t work anymore as a skin-baring fest, either-compared with what typing “xxx” into Google will get you, the pageant is like watching a church service. Not to mention that in the pages of men’s magazines, hot celebrities are usually holding up a sheer sheet to their naughty bits, far more flesh than the contestants of the Miss America Pageant show marching across stage in a swimsuit. The only thing pageants have provided in the last decade has been plenty of viral-video material in the popular misogynist genre of “Look at this stupid girl.” (I’m sure you recall the train-wreck that was the Miss Teen USA contestant’s “such as the Iraq” answer -yeah, she’s now on The Amazing Race .) But that’s about it. The relevance of beauty pageants has faded. I’m betting they’re not long for this world.