by Walter Brasch
There's a cat fight going on in the Miss USA operation--and it isn't pretty.
It began when an openly gay judge asked Miss California, Carrie Prejean, what she thought about same sex marriage. Prejean, a student at San Diego Christian College, said that although she recognizes and accepts that others may believe in same-sex marriage, "I think I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman." That created a firestorm of publicity for the Trump-owned organization. A large minority of Americans said they supported Prejean's opinion. A large minority said she was reciting biased lessons of intolerance; Perez Hilton, the judge who had asked the question, on his blog called Prejean "a dumb b*tch." However, several prominent gay rights activists defended Prejean's right to her opinion.
Pageant officials had ordered all of its contestants not to mention God on their applications or at any public event. Apparently, openly believing in God could be seen as detrimental to an organization which holds its beauty contest in Las Vegas, also known as Sin City, USA. Prejean's view about gay marriage, she later said, was based upon her religious beliefs.
Prejean was second in the Miss USA contest itself; her views may have cost her the national crown.
The Miss California organization claimed that since the pageant in April, Prejean missed scheduled events and lied about pre-pageant semi-nude pictures of her, all of which showed her back and only a portion of a breast. A month after Donald Trump had strongly defended Prejean and her right of free speech, he approved the pageant stripping her crown. Prejean, who said the Pageant's action was retaliation against her views, sued for libel.
In October, the Miss California organization countersued, claiming Prejean owes it $5,200 for what it claims is a loan it made so she could get breast augmentation. In its countersuit, the organizers and officials claimed Prejean "attempts to cast herself as a virtuous young woman and the victim in a supposed conspiracy against her." The suit also accused her of having a "new-found notoriety [and] an inflated sense of self." This, of course, is the organization headed by a man who beneath a blonde pompadour enjoys firing reality shows contestants. This is also an organization whose backstage manipulations could make Chicago politics or New York's Tammany Hall organization appear to be little more than grade school cliques.
The Miss USA pageant claims its contestants are "savvy, goal-oriented and aware." In a pompous arrogance of self-deceit it even claims that contestants "display those characteristics in their everyday lives, both as individuals, who compete with hope of advancing their careers, personal and humanitarian goals, and as women who seek to improve the lives of others." The organization, like the Miss America contest, also requires its contestants to be single, never married, never pregnant and, apparently, never nude.
What it doesn't require is that its contestants have natural beauty or wisdom. There are coaches to train them in voice and poise. There are coaches who train them in what questions will be asked of them, and how to respond in the most circumscribed way possible to avoid showing they have any opinions. There are coaches to tell them what bikini, ball gown, or casual wear looks best on them. There are hair dressers and makeup artists. There are weight coaches and trainers--since pageant officials and their public audience undoubtedly believe that anyone over size 4 is morbidly obese. The contestants go to suntan parlors, and slather lotions and sprays to get an even tan to pretend that they're sun-drenched gorgeous. They use double-edge sticky tape to keep skimpy clothes from falling from almost-emaciated bodies, as well as to enhance whatever it is that needs enhancing or reducing. They get cosmetic surgery on cheeks, belly buttons, and their breasts, apparently to enhance or modify whatever genetics--or, in the case of the highly religious, whatever God--has given them.
Like any good media celebrity, Carrie Prejean has written . . . or co-written . . . or had someone else write an autobiography. This one will be published in November. The Miss California organization has just assured increased sales by publicly demanding all royalties from the book, because its stable of cookie-cutter perfect beauties can't say, write, or do anything without its permission, even after they are dumped as employees.
Unfortunately, cosmetic surgery and breast augmentation are something it does approve.
Walter Brasch's latest books are Sex and the Single Beer Can: Probing the Media and American Culture and Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush. Brasch is a syndicated award-winning columnist, author of 16 books, and a university professor of journalism. You may contact him through http://www.walterbrasch.com]