American Geek Beauty Pageant!

Jeff and I take some halfhearted malicious fun from watching the Miss America pageant every year. We never mean to watch it, and we never realize when it's about to air. But each year, somehow, we manage to channel-surf right before the pageant begins airing and one of us says, "Oh, hell, we'll get a laugh or two out of this, grab dinner and bring it in here!"

My two pre-show predictions both came true, to my sardonic amusement:

  1. Miss Arkansas is constitutionally ineligible to get into the top 5, much less win the pageant. I should know. I'm from Arkansas
  2. All Miss New York had to do was show up, and she was in the top 5 based on sympathy vote alone.

I am pleased (somewhat) to announce that I was more correct than I expected.

I suppose it's tactless of me to be amused by the entire spectacle, but it's hard not to be. After all, at the beginning of the pageant, each contestant had seven seconds to chirp out some lovely fact about their home state—and, this year, most of the factoids were related to politics or government. I bit back a chuckle and thought, "Yeah, but how many of you actually knew this stuff before your publicist told you?"

There were changes to the show, which mostly didn't matter and did nothing but amuse me further—except for the final bit of judging. This year, instead of the secluded booth and one-at-a-time questioning, the pageant organizers had a Jeopardy-style Q&A.

Jeff and I looked at each other and said, "Oh, this is going to be bad."

  • What U.S. monument has the quote "Give me your huddled masses…(etc)"?
  • What is the highest judicial authority in the United States?
  • Who was the first black U.S. Supreme Court justice? (Dammit, the answer is NOT Clarence Thomas! )
  • What award-winning TV star, who is diabetic, spoke recently to Congress about something having to do with diabetes? (I admit that I didn't know, but managed to reason out the correct answer.)
  • How many U.S. Presidents are currently alive?

Hint: The Statue of Liberty. The Supreme Court. Thurgood Marshall. Mary Tyler Moore.
Oh, and all together now: Ford-Carter-Reagan(sorta)-Bush(1)-Clinton-Bush(2).

The eventual winner did get all of the questions right. The others missed a varying number of questions. Thankfully, no one missed the Supreme Court question, but every other question had at least one contestant answering wrong (and there were one or two in which the majority of the contestants got the answer wrong).

It really makes me screech and howl, this does. I just find it deliciously ironic that the pageant organizers feel the need to defend themselves as a "scholarship organization." It's one of those statements that is so patently horseshit that I can't even begin to take it seriously.

You get young, beautiful women and put them in a competition where they spend thousands of dollars (gowns, travel, hair, makeup, personal trainers, etc.) in the hope of winning, at most, something like a $30,000 scholarship when they can't even manage to pass the equivalent of a multiple-choice high school civics exam?

I've really never heard of anyone whose collegiate performance was determined by how good they looked in a bikini and high heels. While a college student, if I had run into such a person, I certainly wouldn't have included them in my study group…

Hey, I'm allowed to say all this: I'm round and not particularly good-looking. You wouldn't want to see me in a swimsuit, trust me—but I've been through enough scholarship interviews to know that this was no scholarship interview.

If they'd just admit that this was a beauty pageant with a cash award, I'd have no problem with the whole spectacle. I have respect for people who are willing to call a spade a spade, even though I may not agree with the uses of said aforementioned spade. I could heckle all I want without any feelings of guilt.

Perhaps what we need is some kind of Geek Beauty Pageant.

  • Preliminaries: code submissions and signed certificates of caffeine tolerance will be required.
  • First elimination: your final score in a selected few video games will be multiplied by the absolute value of your vision correction (in diopters).
  • Appearance: there will be a logo-emblazoned-t-shirt modelling competition.
  • Talent competition: Everyone will receive their own computer. The first contestant to hack into the sound and lighting system and broadcast either a) an obscene message in Morse code via the lights or b) techno via the sound system will be declared the winner.

The final interview will be worthy of televising if nothing else: the top five contestants will each be given a 20'x20' canvas and a box of rotten fruit. There will be only one question: "Why does Microsoft suck?"

All contestants will answer at once, using verbal and nonverbal communication. Screaming and ranting is encouraged. This is an endurance contest: last woman standing and screaming coherently will be declared the winner.

The winner will receive a month's worth of Jennicam credit card numbers, a lifetime supply of Red Bull, an invisibility cloak, and an eternally-loaded Nerf gun.

That would rule.