The XX Factor

Shoot Your Way to a Sash and Crown

With Miss America a mere shadow of its former self and Miss USA perennially mired in salacious controversies , isn’t it time for a new, wholesome pageant, something that more accurately represents our new, Tea Partied America? A pageant in which contestants must demonstrate knowledge of the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence? A pageant in which contestants adhere to “minimum standards of modesty” by wearing one-piece bathing suits? A pageant in which contestants must know how to use hand guns and administer CPR ? A pageant whose prizes include a Corvette, a full-length mink coat, and a lifetime membership to the NRA?

If you said yes, yes, yes and yes , Mother Jones has discovered the pageant for you.  It’s called “Miss Liberty America,” and while it’s a little hard to ascertain certain facts from the organization’s Web site-like, how likely is this thing to actually debut in 2012, and what should we make of the prize package, which includes “Undisclosed Salary” and “Complete Dental Care”?-one thing is clear. According to the pageant’s founder, who contacted the Mother Jones blogger after his first posting on the topic, the Miss Liberty Pageant is not, officially, a Tea Party event . It is, she says, an event for mainstream America, for “the meat of America,” an event intended to bring people together rather than tear them apart.

Once upon a time, for better or worse, that’s what the televised crowning of Miss America was. Indeed, before the fragmentation of media, that’s what broadcast television was-a shared cultural experience.  That world is gone, and the mission of Miss Liberty America (“to promote Liberty, the military, and the documents of our founding fathers”) only underscores what a culturally fragmented country we live in. And it also leaves us wondering: Where the heck can you get a one-piece bathing suit anymore?

Photograph of the first Miss America (1921) by Wikimedia Commons.