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Awkward Miss Estonia, American Girls Losing the Fight Against Gravity, and Friends

First, bienvenue and merhaba to my first visitors from France and Turkey, respectively.

Second, I promise this will be my last post about beauty pageants for awhile. I swear.

With that said…

One of the things that I enjoy about watching a beauty pageant is its spontaneity, and with Miss Universe, it’s even funnier, since it’s on a global stage. Horrid talents amuse me, and some of the most defining pop culture moments of the year happen in beauty pageants, from wretched talents, awful final question answers (Miss Teen South Carolina and Miss Utah being special moments of complete WTF), and of course, everyone’s favorite, falling over.

Walking is probably the easiest thing in the world for most people to do, yet somehow some of these young women can’t even do that. Well, they can, but sometimes gravity is just not their friend. And when it happens twice, even funnier. Let’s revisit Miss Universe in 2007 and 2008, shall we?

In 2007, Miss USA Rachel Smith had made it to the evening gown round in Las Vegas, and while Sean Paul played in the background, she tripped and fell on her rear end halfway down the runway. An audible “ohhh” erupted from the American audience as she fell, but she gamely got right back up and continued walking as if nothing happened. She even made it to the next round over girls that stayed on two feet, which some people were up in arms about. Then, in 2008, Miss USA Crystle Stewart walked onto the Miss Universe stage in Vietnam in her evening gown and made history by falling again, and this time not even as gracefully as her predecessor. In some ways, this was even worse: Stewart had barely made it onto the stage with her feet when she met it with her bottom. As she got up and walked it off, she actually clapped for herself to keep the audience energy up and maybe help them forget the last five seconds (Note to Crystle Stewart – it didn’t. Nice try. Still love ya though homegirl). Something was clearly wrong as she tripped a little and almost fell a second time while turning to walk down some steps, and you can see her grasping at her dress, which was clearly the problem here.

Unfortunate? Of course. Statistically probable? Almost nil. Hilarious? YES.

And then, there’s my favorite beauty pageant contestant of all time. She didn’t place and she didn’t do anything particularly spectacular, but she won my heart.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Kirke Klemmer, AKA Awkward Miss Estonia.

https://i1.wp.com/www2.vietbao.vn/images/vi55/the-gioi-giai-tri/55117917-loandt227MissEstonia.jpg

Derp.

First of all, your name is Kirke Klemmer. There are three “k”s in your name, which is one more than kohmakas, or the Estonian word for “awkward.” Your first name is kind of like Kirk, so for some reason I picture Kirk Cameron, who is an absolute nut. Your last name is Klemmer, which is just funny, and when combined with your first name, is extremely funny to say out loud. When I put your name into Google Translate, it comes up as Norwegian for “church clamps,” which is a completely random phrase that is also funny.

Second of all, you’re from Estonia. The most random country in the world. I can’t think of a single famous person from Estonia. When I think of Estonia, all I can imagine is you and a country full of people like you, frolicking around the countryside without a care in the world. And all of you have funny somewhat Nordic or Russian-sounding names.

Third, look at you here. You are pretty and have a nice smile, but something else is going on behind those eyes. That something just might be nothing, but that’s all right with me. If you took some lithium to survive the evening , I don’t blame you. In fact, you should have received some sort of award for being making it through without falling asleep or interrupting the telecast with what was probably an epic acid trip. Your hair is styled in devil-may-care curls that make me want to say “yodel-ay-hee-hoo.” Your dress is something else. It is the color of puke. And the fabric makes it look like a rug, right down to the fringe at the bottom. It looks like something one might wear in the North – with a jacket, of course – with a kind of woolly texture.”Puke, “Woolly” and “Miss Universe” are not things that go together.

The glory starts at 2:50, when we see her for the first time. She’s the one dancing awkwardly in the yellow skirt, spinning in circles. She has an expression on her face that says, “I have no clue what I’m doing but my body is just moving around and I’m smiling like they told me to.” Then, about eight seconds later, we actually get to meet her. She’s playing with her skirt, staring off into space, and turns to face the camera at the last moment. In a monotone that sounds like she’s so strung out she might start guffawing at any given moment, she says “Kirke Klemmer, 22, Estonia” and lifts her hands to the world as if saying “I present you with my imaginary unicorn, which is ironically how I’m getting home tonight.” Also, honorable mention for looking particularly out of it: Miss Slovenia. At 8:19, she returns to the screen, bobbing around and making derpily perky Miss Czech Republic look somewhat normal in comparison. 8:21 is her shining moment, where she is seen in the background, blithely doing what looks to be the hokey-pokey in her own little bubble by a column, completely lost in her own little world. She appears again about ten seconds later next to Miss Chile, playing with her skirt and looking nowhere in particular. Sadly, that’s the last we see of her all night, but she was fun while she lasted. I can imagine her wandering around backstage, licking walls or asking people where her lollipop went.

I did a quick Google search for her and I couldn’t find much, but according to a casting website, she got a degree in acting in 2013 from Tallinn University and is doing something in London. She has a Facebook but it doesn’t have much on it but a current picture of her with another girl looking incredibly derpy in black. I’d add her as a friend, but that would be weird since I don’t actually know her. If anyone reading this does know her, tell her to contact me because she just looks like a barrel of fun. Maybe if I type Estonia a few more times, I’ll get a visitor from there. Estonia. Estonia. Estonia. Estonia. Estonia. Estonia. Estonia. Estonia. Estonia. Estonia.

And that’s my tribute to Kirke Klemmer, Awkward Miss Estonia, briefly featured while possibly stoned on the Miss Universe stage in 2006, possibly stoned right now, and awkwardly dancing through my heart.

Estonia.

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Miss Universe 2013 Missed the Boat

That’s right, you heard it from me. I watched the whole thing twice; once live from Russia online, and part of the NBC telecast. Overall, it was not the best thing I’ve ever seen. I thought that the presentation was just fair, the talent was mediocre, and some of the placements were completely wacko, in addition to some of the other production shenanigans. But there was some good and interesting television as well.

First off, before I go into too much detail, congratulations to Maria Gabriela Isler of Venezuela for the win. I wrote in my previous post that I liked you, and that even if it meant another win for Venezuela, she’s clearly a good choice. Apparently, the entire nation of the Philippines was going NUTS over Miss Philippines, Ariella Arida, who got waaaay further than she should have, in my opinion. The ratings probably skyrocketed for NBC, so I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if those politics kept her going. But back to the point – Good going, Ven, you did your country proud and you seem pretty cool.

  • The opening was delightful in comparison to previous years. The national costumes were featured (yay!) and it wasn’t so much, “Hi! I’m Miss Angola! Bye!” – they got to step up to the microphone and say their full names and hometowns. Seriously, it’s the least you could do for girls who flew all the way from the Caribbean to stand on the stage. When Philippines got up to speak, you couldn’t even hear her.
  • Announcement to the Philippines/Vietnam: not distasteful in the least. But why not go out and just say, “hey, here’s Miss Philippines, if we put her on your screen for ten minutes solid and then put her away, will you be quiet?”
  • Top 16: No Africa, no Oceania, and worst of all, no Israel. They finally pick a girl of winner caliber and she stayed put. Oh well, at least she’s still Miss Israel. Also, Poland was forgotten about, as well as new girls Myanmar and Azerbaijan. Homegirl Russia also missed the cut, which is pretty rare on home turf. Obvious ins were USA, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Brazil. Pleased to see Switzerland, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Ukraine, and Dominican Republic. Not too surprised about Spain, India and Indonesia. Great Britain hasn’t placed in awhile, so that was good for her, but Costa Rica and China? I was cringing at those two. Kinda knew the online voters pushed Philippines through.
  • Swimsuits? Not the most flattering nor tasteful this year.
  • Evening gowns were uneventful, no major trips or falls.
  • Ecuador’s reaction to being in the top 5 was kind of striking. She really didn’t expect it – no one did – but she actually managed to give Ecuador it’s highest ever placement by just making the top 5, so I imagine people down there are happy for her.
  • Final questions? Completely asinine, with abysmal answers. This had no impact on anything.
  • Philippines’ reaction to being eliminated was interesting – kind of a half-smile/half-frown thing, letting her guard down for a minute.
  • Final moment was HILARIOUS. I don’t quite know what happened up there, but it seemed like a case from the movie Miss Congeniality when no one can hear or think. The camera went to Spain, then to Venezuela, and they were just kind of standing there talking about goodness knows what, and then Spain was whisked away and the crown and sash came forward for Venezuela and instead of an ugly cry she did the exact opposite and did a full-on bug-eyed crazy scream that actually made me think of her as an awesome human being for having a normal reaction and not knowing how the heck to deal with it.
  • The crowning moment of the night? The crown, which kept falling off Venezuela’s head, so much so that she just gave up and took it off at one point. Props to her for the quick reflexes to catch it before it crashed into a million pieces. My theory? Maybe her hair wasn’t sprayed too much and there wasn’t anything for it to latch onto.
  • What happened to Miss Congeniality and Miss Photogenic? Did anyone else notice that any mention of that was completely excised?
  • Also, the credits coming on too early sucked – she was literally crowned with the words “DONALD TRUMP” on her forehead in big white letters. Irony, or just bad planning?
  • Oh, and the whole million dollar swimsuit thing? What was that about? I thought it looked pretty horrible even on Miss Universe 2012, Olivia Culpo, and she was covering it up with a fur stole the whole time. So what it’s an expensive swimsuit – it probably can’t even get wet, which defeats the whole purpose. And also…with that million dollars, couldn’t you have done something, oh, I don’t know…charitable? Or good for the environment? Who needs a million dollar swimsuit? Especially an unflattering one.

In ten words: Blah show, Ven again, but deserving this time. Greasy crown.

Aaaaand, now it’s time to get some work done. Ha.

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Masterpiece YouTube: Not Your Average Beauty Queens, feat. Queneerich Rehman & Alyse Eady

That’s So Jacob presents: Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 6: The Talent Portion of the Competition

One of the best parts of watching a beauty pageant is watching the section called “talent.” It’s mean to use quotation marks, but it’s true – these women might be beautiful, intelligent, and work for good charities, but not everyone’s cut out to be a performer.

But it’s fun to watch them try.

Most pageant performances are passable, a good deal are ghastly, a few are good, and only a very select few are what I would refer to as incredibleAs in, I would legit pay to see someone do this onstage. Popular choices include song and dance. Usually, that song is something operatic like “Nessun Dorma” that very few of the ladies can hit. You’ve gotta be able to store all that air somewhere inside that body of yours, and that place is not in your boobs or your butt. Even worse than opera are renditions of popular songs in a completely different style than what they were intended for. Exhibit A: Every single woman at Miss America who’s ever performed “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as Edith Piaf rather than Judy Garland. (Retire that song, America. It’s enough.) Dance is another popular choice. I’m partial to ethnic dance or some good Latin, jazz, or tap numbers that actually showcase some coordination or cultural awareness. Ballet and modern do not work as well. Frankly, ballet is pretty boring onstage unless you’re like one of those ballerinas on acid like in Center Stage or something. And modern? Well, you can pretty much get away with rolling around on the ground and yelling these days, so no points for you.

The next level up would be that of instrumental music. Piano is pretty traditional, but is boring to watch, unless you’re Liberace. Which I hope that none of these ladies are. Harp, guitar, violin, sax, or drums are usually a good choice, because you can move around or use some showmanship, and it’s interesting to watch. The odder the instrument, the better. I’d love to watch some girl one day play the tambourine like the useless youngest sister on The Partridge Family. Or maybe even the triangle.

And then…there were Queenie and Alyse.

First up is Queneerich “Queen E. Fresh” Rehman, Miss Philippines in Miss World 2012.

WHOA MAMA. This is some hardcore legit performance right here. It starts with some falsetto singing, but gets better and better. Not only is this lady insanely pretty, but she can beatbox.

Beatbox.

GENIUS.

Why had nobody thought of that before? Beatboxing has been around for ages, and if beauty pageants care anything about breaking stereotypes or being more “current,” as the case may be (and always is)…wake up and smell the coffee because Ms. Rehman is burnin’ down the house right here. Screw all the ladylike nonsense of ballet and singing Barbra Streisand songs – I want to see Miss Belgium break down a rap or Miss Ghana doing a hip-hop routine or…okay, maybe not twerking, per se, but how about something like crazy jump rope tricks or acrobatic dance or an old fashioned dance-off. Make it edgy and hip, and then maybe you’ll see your flagging ratings raise. And you know what else? Miss Philippines had a long ponytail and a gold outfit – no one would dare to call her unfeminine, and if someone did, they’d probably get the beat thrown right back into their face. The compilation is exquisite as well – for someone who doesn’t care much for pop music, she certainly got a lot of the basics from the 90s, 00s, and today, so kudos to her for the smooth transitions.

Next up, probably my favorite beauty pageant performance of all time: Alyse Eady, Miss Arkansas (a few years back as well).

Again, wow. Just wow. Ms. Eady clearly spent a lot of time on her craft and her presentation, because it is fantastic. Ventriloquism is something I couldn’t even begin to attempt, and I didn’t even see her lips move once!

Unfortunately, the Miss Universe pageant (like Miss USA) does not contain a talent portion, so, sorry ladies! You’ll have to leave your ballet shoes, bongo drums, and bass guitars at home for this one.

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I Predict An Earthling Will Win: Miss Universe 2013

It’s that time of year again, and this time, on Saturday night, the eyes of the world will be on Moscow, Russia, for the biggest beauty pageant of the year, where one woman will reign victorious as the most beautiful woman in the universe and the rest will just be a bunch of losers with a lot more frequent flier miles. And this year, cold losers. What was Donald Trump thinking when he planned an event in December in Russia? Granted, it’s a lot more interesting than Las Vegas, but couldn’t they have chosen, like, Tahiti? Or Australia? Or even Italy, which is just as cultural and probably a lot warmer this time of year?

The hosts this year are Thomas Roberts (?) and former Spice Girl Mel B. Andy Cohen, who’s pretty annoying anyway, boycotted the pageant due to Russia’s stance on homosexuality. This year, 86 ladies will participate, and for the first time in over fifty years, Myanmar, and for the first time ever, Azerbaijan, a small country bordering Russia. Though there are a lot of beautiful girls this year (an unusual amount, I think), it’s still all about politics. Kosovo had to bow out due to it not being recognized by Russia as an independent country, and Albania withdrew in solidarity. Uruguay couldn’t even get a visa, for some odd reason. I have a feeling we’ll see a lot of Europeans in the finals this year.

They give out awards for congeniality and photogenic-ness, so I thought I’d give out my own awards.

The “Aren’t You In My History Class?” Award: Girls Who Study in the USA

  • Angola (Vaumara Rebelo) is studying business at Miami-Dade College in Miami, FL.
  • Bahamas (Lexi Wilson) has a degree in biology from Langston University in Langston, OK.
  • British Virgin Islands (Sharie De Castro) graduated from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX.
  • Chile (Maria-Jesus Matthei) graduated from college in Miami, FL.
  • Ghana (Hanniel Jamin) is studying at Radford University in Radford, VA.
  • Guyana (Katherina Roshana) is a college student in Long Island, NY.
  • Haiti (Mondiana Pierre) is a college student in Miami, FL.
  • Myanmar (Moe Set Wine) has a degree from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA.
  • Nicaragua (Nastassja Bolivar) studied at Miami International University in Miami, FL.
  • Trinidad and Tobago (Catherine Miller) graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, GA.
  • Turks and Caicos (Snwazna Adams) graduated from St. Thomas University in Miami, FL.

Maybe Angola and Haiti can carpool once neither of them wins. (Sorry, girls, but I don’t think it’ll be you this year.)

And, for good measure:

The “You’re Not From Around Here, or Are You?” Award: Girls Born in a Different Country From the One They Represent:

  • Guyana (Katherina Roshana) was born in Brooklyn, New York, USA.
  • Israel (Yityish Titi Aynaw) was born in Chahawit, Gondar, Ethiopia.
  • Italy (Luna Voce) was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Nicaragua (Nastassja Bolivar) was born in Miami, Florida, USA.
  • Russia (Elmira Abdrazakova) was born in Zhelezin District, Kazakhstan.
  • Turkey (Berrin Kekliker) was born in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.

So, not that many this year.

Traditionally they have a top 15, and this year, 1 more from the Internet viewers to make it a top 16. I’ve picked my favorites, which probably means that they will be clapping come Saturday night.

In alphabetical order:

  1. Brazil (Jakelyne Oliveira) – she’s pretty, if not a little plastic-looking.
  2. Curacao (Eline de Pool) – kind of looks like Jeannie Mai, and very pretty for a country that’s barely placed in the past.
  3. Czech Republic (Gabriela Kratochvilova) – hilarious in her YouTube video and looks like she’d actually be fun to hang out with.
  4. Guatemala (Paulette Samayoa) – she seems funny from her interview, and she’s kinda cute.
  5. Honduras (Diana Mendoza) – Her name is Diana Mendoza. There’s already BEEN a Miss Universe named Diana (Dayana) Mendoza. IMAGINE THE CONFUSION.
  6. Hungary (Rebeka Karpati) – I don’t know why, but I think she’s kind of adorable. No real other reason.
  7. Israel (Yityish “Titi” Aynaw) – Obvious reasons, and she’s also drop dead gorgeous. Also, she’s gotten a lot of buzz already for being the first black Miss Israel, meeting and dining with Obama in Jerusalem, and visiting the USA. Also, she looks great even in candid shots.
  8. Japan (Yukimi Matsuo) – she’s a comic book artist, and a really talented one at that. I like people who are multi-faceted and she seems like one of them.
  9. Myanmar (Moe Set Wine) – it would be hilarious if Myanmar made a huge comeback. She seems plain and there’s absolutely no chance she’s going to actually win, but she might get the Internet spot.
  10. Namibia (Paulina Malulu) – her name is funny, and she has a lot of experience as a beauty queen, so she’s one of the more qualified, if we’re going by that.
  11. Poland (Paulina Krupinska) – already tapped as a potential winner, I really like all of the pictures I’ve seen of Miss Poland. Much like Israel, she can’t take a bad picture.
  12. Puerto Rico (Monic Perez) – she seems rather intelligent, and speaks Russian in addition to English and Spanish. I know Puerto Rico usually wins and I root for the underdog, but I wouldn’t be mad if this girl wins, as it’s been almost a decade since a Miss Puerto Rico won.
  13. Switzerland (Dominique Rinderknecht) – Miley Cyrus totally copied her haircut, and in her YouTube video, she keeps a balloon in the air for a really long time using just her breath. Either she’s really good at following directions, or full of hot air. Either way, a fun girl.
  14. Thailand (Chalita Yaemwannang) – I’d love to see how many ways the press will mispronounce and misprint her name.
  15. Ukraine (Olga Storozhenko) – another girl from a nearby country with good relations with Russia. She looks very dainty and ladylike, in contrast to the current Miss Universe, who’s pretty and relatable but wasn’t my choice last year.
  16. Venezuela (Maria Gabriela Isler) – another girl, like Puerto Rico, from a country that’s had more than its share of winners, but just look at this chick, she’s gorgeous, and if she wins based on her beauty alone…well then, that’s not the worst thing to win based on, since she’s competing in, you know, a beauty pageant.

I have a few more pageant-related posts in the works (it’s not an obsession, I swear, just a fascination), but I’m really hoping for some history to be made, or at least an awkward final question answer.

 

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I Like Bad Puns And I Cannot Lie…

…and pop culture references as well.

I know that just about every has some level of tolerance for bad puns, but mine is particularly high. When other people make them and they work, sometimes I can’t even think of that person without associating them with the pun they made. When I make a bad pun, usually I roll my eyes along with the rest of the world but inside, I’m cheering like I just scored a goal at the World Cup…of life. After all, what is language but a system of communication that is inherent fun to poke fun at and play around with?

As someone who’s been in school for the last, um…all of the years of my life, my usual form of writing is that of the essay/paper variety. I once read somewhere that even in the most serious of papers, the title is where the author gets to have fun; it’s the only gray area in the whole paper. It’s a shame that the one time that I actually was praying for a bad pun title was for my master’s thesis, nothing came to me and therefore the title is terribly boring. But, then again, it is an accurate reflection of my mental state at the time: just string the words together like so many popcorn kernels on a Christmas tree decoration.

So with that said, I’d like to share a list of my favorite bad pun titles I’ve produced as a writer.

  • She Works Hard For the Funny: Examining the Role of the Lady’s Maid in the Works of Moliere. UMass Amherst, 2009. Pretty self-explanatory. I guess I was feeling Donna Summer that day.
  • Tennessee, Anyone? The Life and Literature of Tennessee Wiliams. Program notes for a production of A Streetcar Named Desire that I dramaturged at the Audrey Herman Spotlighters’ Theatre in Baltimore in 2010. Many thanks to Fuzz and Sherri for controlling their rolling eyes. Or at least while I was around.
  • The Edge of Glory: Love, Loss, and What We Hear in A Little Night Music. Program notes for a production of A Little Night Music that I dramaturged at Spots in ’11. Based on Love, Loss, and What I Wore – something that exists, but have no idea of what it is. A book? A play? An article? Someone’s to-do list?
  • Looney Toons: Art, Media, and the Dreyfus Affair. University of Houston, 2011. This was about political cartoons and their role in influencing the outcome of the Dreyfus Affair in France. Reference is obvious, but I can’t remember if I was watching anything when I did my writing or not.

I’ve got another one that I can’t share right now that’s so good that it hurts, but it will appear in a future post.

To all the Bad Pun Lovers of the World: Don’t be shy – spread your wings and squawk on with your bad selves.

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There She Is?: Miss America 2014, The Day After

Usually, Miss America comes and goes without much fuss, but this year brought the controversy to a whole new level, and it’s a nasty one.

The show itself provided its usual “Miss America” moments:

  • No tripping, but several missed cues by contestants, most notably Miss New York (Nina Davuluri) – when she was called for talent, Miss Georgia (Carly Mathis) accidentally got up and walked toward the stage to sing and was told to turn back. In Davuluri’s defense, she was probably too spellbound by the lights, the adrenaline, and the moment to react, and earlier in the night as she made the top fifteen she had a similar moment, in complete disbelief that her state was called. Mathis, fortunately, got a chance to sing a few girls later. (Spoiler Alert: She was not good.)
  • Miss Kansas (Theresa Vail) in all her tattooed glory, which I found kind of distracting instead of AMERICAN. She did look great though and seemed like a tough but fun chick.
  • Some beautiful gowns, particularly Miss Maryland (Christina Denny) and Miss Minnesota (Rebecca Yeh).
  • Some fantastic talent performances, the highlight of which was Miss New York (explained further below). Other standouts were Maryland (she sounded good, but she didn’t pick a particularly challenging song to sing), Minnesota (great on the violin), Miss Oklahoma (Kelsey Griswold) who did an interesting musical theatre number, and poor Miss Florida (Myrrhanda Jones), made to twirl her batons with one leg in a brace (which she did, impressively)
  • Some pretty wretched talent performances, mostly Georgia‘s country-western interpretation of “On My Own,” and Miss Texas (Ivana Hall)’s off-key, totally un-sultry rendition of “Fever,”
  • For once, everyone tackled their final question well (except, obviously, Florida)
  • Since Brooke Burke-Charvet skipped her hosting gig this year in favor of Dancing With the Stars, Lara Spencer stepped in and was utterly inept at the job. (Even Gretchen Carlson did better than her!)

Although ALL THREE of my hometown girls (MD, TX, WI) made it, the ultimate winner was Miss New York, 24-year-old Nina Davuluri of Fayetteville, NY, a University of Michigan graduate of Indian descent. She is the second consecutive winner from New York, the second ever Miss America of Asian descent (the first was Angela Perez Baraquio of Hawaii back in 2000), and most notably, the first Miss America of South Asian descent. Although her evening gown was kind of meh in my opinion, she looked great in a swimsuit, answered the final question fairly well, and put on a show during the talent portion with a Bollywood number that brought both the wow factor and a healthy expression of culture. It also fit well with Davuluri’s platform, one of diversity, which is becoming more and more pivotal in the changing nature of American society. What we today deem “minorities” – Latina/o, South Asian, East Asian – will soon be the majority, and in certain parts of the country, they are already prevalent.

Within hours – actually, minutes – Twitter and Facebook were all in a tizzy over Davuluri due to her race. She was being called “Miss 7-11,” “Miss Al Qaeda,” and even “Miss Terrorist” by mean people on the Internet hiding behind screen names. She was facing intense scrutiny by the micro-media which was dangerously tilting its way towards the mainstream media. To top it off, she’s a) American-born, raised, and educated, b) Indian-American (not Arab), c) a very talented Bollywood dancer, d) Indian-American (not Arab), e) a great public speaker, and finally, f) Indian-American! NOT ARAB! There’s a difference, people. Yes, her skin is dark, but she’s lighter than a Kardashian on any given day. Middle Eastern does not = South Asian. Get a map, Miss Teen South Carolina 2007 probably has some. Also…did you even watch the show? Did you not see WHY she won Miss America? Not because of her skin color, but because of her fitness, her talent, and her poise. Her skin color was probably the last thing on any judge’s mind.

My thoughts were pretty much the complete opposite of everyone else’s. I thought that Davuluri’s win might actually be a boost to the image of the South Asian in America (although I have heard that the Indian-American community and India itself is quite pleased and appropriately celebrating her win). I thought that maybe people would become more curious about Indian culture and want to learn more about issues in the Indian-American community. I thought that people of other minorities would embrace the new Miss America and see her as not only a champion for Indian-Americans, but for minorities (and minority women) everywhere. Most importantly, I thought that people would think that this isn’t such a huge deal after all – a pretty girl won Miss America, she’s Indian, so what? Is there a rule somewhere stating that Miss America can only be white, with blonde hair and blue eyes? I can only imagine the uproar when a Native American, a Native Hawaiian, an Inuit, or (the horror!) a Latina wins Miss America.

I thought we were beyond that, America. This was a disappointing and shameful reaction. I wish Nina Davuluri the best of luck as Miss America 2014 – she’s beautiful, she’s talented, she seems nice, and overall, she won the competition fair and square.

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There She Is?: Miss America 2014

Since 1921, one of our great American traditions has been that of the Miss America pageant. It was started as a business plan in order to keep tourists longer in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and has now evolved to become one of America’s most treasured traditions – but in recent years, one of America’s most forgotten about traditions. At one point, there was a parade with floats, featuring the ladies in period swimwear, something that should make a comeback – and could, based on today’s fashions (Side Note: they had a “parade of shoes,” but it just looked like a bunch of girls elevating broken legs in convertibles in random dresses instead of vintage swimsuits). Miss America used to be a representative for the country, and a symbol for fashion, service, and talent, almost like a female version of the President. For the last few years, however, due to financial reasons, it’s had to relocate to Las Vegas, taking with it some of the kitsch and charm and making it more like the Donald’s Miss USA pageant. One year it almost lost television coverage, until it was saved by, of all channels, CMT. This year, even in light of Hurricane Sandy, it has moved back to Atlantic City, where it all started, so expect that to be mentioned more than a few times tonight.

So, this year’s contestants are, as usual, a fun bunch. Miss America gives out several awards each year, so here are mine:

The “Small Town Girl” AwardMiss Nebraska, JaCee Pilkington. Coming from tiny Minatare, Nebraska (pop. 816), if she wins, she will be, without a doubt, the most famous person to come from there. Heck, if she makes the semifinals, they’ll probably erect a statue of her in the town square. And given that it’s Nebraska, it’ll probably be made out of corn.

The “Sentimental Favorite” AwardMiss Iowa, Nicole Kelley. She was born with one arm, so that’s something.

The “Your Parents Named You What?” Award – Miss Florida, Myrrhanda Jones. Seriously, Myrrhanda? I get the biblical reference, but did you really think about how many times your daughter would have to spell out her name?

And of course, the best bit of trivia from this years competition.

The “You Thought You Could Get Away With Sending The Same Girl To Represent Two States Award” – Miss California and Miss Hawaii. Both are sending a girl named Crystal Lee. I can only imagine the hilarity and/or utter annoyance and confusion that ensued in Atlantic City. To top it off, they look pretty similar. In my mind, they’re pulling switches and pranking all the other contestants, and confusing the heck out of all the handlers. If they become the final two, I will laugh for days.

And now, my picks:

Of course, my hometown girl, Christina Denny, Miss Maryland, from Owings Mills. She’s super cute, so I think she’s got a shot. Next up is Ivana Hall, Miss Texas – though she’s not from Houston, I won’t hold it against her. This year’s Miss Wisconsin is Paula Kuiper, who is from Madison, where I currently live, so that’ll be fun to see if she wins. I’m not one of those pageant-crazies, but I did watch some of the videos, and Miss Vermont (Jeanelle Achee) seems like a pretty cool chick, if not derpy. Vermont has never even placed, so here’s hoping.

Here’s also hoping that someone makes history, trips over her evening gown, or at least has an amusing answer to the final question. Good luck, ladies.