Ok, I suppose it’s time to write about my disappointments in the Miss America pageant before it becomes passe.
Disappointment #1 – Miss North Dakota Ariana Walker being left out of the finals. I was heartbroken by this. She was my #3 candidate and I was even compensating for the fact that she’s from, well, quite literally the middle of nowhere. If I had gone with my heart rather than my head, she probably would have been my first choice. I don’t think any contestant worked harder or was more prepared to be our next Miss America than she was. At least it seemed that way to me. That’s not to say that I necessarily disagree with the judges’ decision to leave her out. Like I said, I didn’t watch the preliminaries except for the bits and pieces that were made public. Maybe the numbers just didn’t add up. I saw her evening gown and swimsuit competitions and she looked great in both, so I suspect she was weak in the one area where a Miss America must excel: talent. Her talent was contemporary lyrical dance. Maybe she wasn’t a stand-out dancer. But she clearly has an exceptional talent for things that I would argue are more important qualifications to being Miss America than dance skills: inspiring others, serving as a positive role model, articulating her message, and representing herself and those she serves with grace and dedication. That is why I was very disappointed that she did not make it further in the competition. However, the future is bright for Ariana. She is only 20 years old and working toward a doctorate in physical therapy. I am sure she will continue to touch lives wherever she goes.
Disappointment #2 – The eliminated contestants voting to “save” a finalist from elimination. This was a bad idea! Actually, the concept itself was not so bad. How it was done was the problem. At the end of the swimsuit round, three contestants were culled out for elimination: Miss Virginia, Miss Alabama, and Miss North Carolina. Rather than having the eliminated contestants vote in secret, like any civilized competition would have, the contestants were asked — with no prior warning — to line up behind the contestant they wanted to save! The result was, at best, total chaos, and at worst, public humiliation for the two contestants who were “voted out.” Not to mention that the two “losers” would be sent backstage to sit uncomfortably with dozens of contestants who had just voted them out of the biggest competition of their lives. I cringe when I think of the look on Miss North Carolina’s face when she realized that far fewer contestants had lined up behind her than the other two. She was struggling to hold back her tears. Miss Alabama was the “winner” of the spectacle, but what did it prove? Not surprisingly (given that she still had the lowest score), Miss Alabama was eliminated the very next round. The “Survivor-style” charade improved her finish from ‘top 15 finalist’ to ‘top 13 finalist’ with an asterisk beside it — “saved by fellow contestants.” In other words, that whole popularity contest was really for nothing. All it did was lead to . . .
Disappointment #3 – Miss Alabama’s evening gown. When Miss Alabama emerged from backstage with what looked like a giant wreath hanging from her shoulder, the room that I was in erupted with disapproval. Although being a man, I could only stare helplessly at the TV like a color-blind person trying to decipher a traffic signal, something told me that dress did not look right. I was disappointed.
Disappointment #4 – Anti-blonde sentiment! When I began studying this year’s contestants, I was stunned by how many strong blonde contestants there were. Ten, yes ten, of my initial list of top 20 candidates could have played Dagwood’s comic strip wife. And I was even leaving some out. Miss Utah was a preliminary swimsuit winner and Miss Virginia was chosen as a finalist. I also considered Miss Wyoming and Miss Washington for my list. That is fourteen competitive blonde contestants right there. To my dismay, only one blonde (Miss Tennessee) made the top 10, and none made the top 5! Now I can understand that the judges would have a tendency against them this year since last year’s winner was blonde, but this was ridiculous. Of the first three contestants to be selected for elimination (AL, NC, VA), all three of them were blonde. And of course, you can guess what Miss North Dakota’s hair color is. Wasn’t it Martin Luther King Jr. who proclaimed that Miss America contestants should not be judged by the color of their hair, but by the content of their character?
Disappointment #5 – The end of Arkansas’ Miss America finalist streak. This year was the first time in five years that my home state did not make the top 15. And never did I imagine the streak would end with such a wonderful contestant like Miss Arkansas Kristen Glover. I guess I should have seen it coming when Miss Alabama stole Kristen’s tap dance song before the competition began. Yes, amazingly, both Miss Arkansas and Miss Alabama both performed tap dance routines to the same song — “I Got Rhythm” — in their state competitions. I know, what a coincidence. Well, two contestants are not allowed to use the same song at the Miss America pageant. So based on the trivial fact that the Miss Alabama pageant ended earlier than the Miss Arkansas pageant, Miss Alabama was allowed to keep the song, and Miss Arkansas was forced to learn an entirely different routine just months before the competition. The end result was that Miss Alabama made the finals, and Miss Arkansas did not. Despite this incredible bad luck, we are very proud of Miss Arkansas for being a Quality of Life Award finalist, and for not complaining in the least for getting the short end of the stick. Shame on you, Miss Alabama! We will get our revenge in football next year.
Disappointment #6 – Miss Colorado Diana Dreman being left out of the finals. Sadly, the much-anticipated mother-daughter Miss America final night drama never came to pass. However, Diana will still be known as the very first Miss America daughter to ever compete in the pageant, and that is something she can always be proud of.
But my biggest disappointment is that the pageant is over. Now I have to find something else to do for the next 359 days . . . any ideas?