Are we Ready for A Transgender Miss Universe Winner?

Anita Green grabbed headlines earlier when she was named the first open transgender woman to compete in Miss Montana USA. The 26 year old beauty queen aspirant would only be the second transgender woman to vie for a state title in Miss USA after Arianna Wenzel in Miss California USA 2013. Back in 2012, then owner Donald Trump has openly allowed transgender contestants to compete in Miss Universe (and consequently in Miss USA & Miss Teen USA). This was after Jenna Talackova was initially barred from joining Miss Universe Canada that caused major uproar. While people may see this as a move towards the right direction, I thought that Trump did that just to gain publicity for the pageant not out of altruistic reasons.

Gabriela Isler, former Miss Universe 2013 from Venezuela (in a statement attributed to her) said that, “there is more to being a woman. We were born female, we experience menstruation cycle for decades, we struggle to be recognized in a mad men era too, we nurture life. That is what Miss Universe is about. You don’t buy womanhood.” The Venezuela beauty told Hufftington Post that transgenders “should have their own pageant, I think, and maybe they can realize [that] in this pageant, Miss Universe, or the other pageants [were] made for women.” Owing perhaps to the narrowing area of opportunities for women to excel, her statement can be deemed in support for naturally-borne females. On the other side of the debate was Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo who had no issues against transgender women competing in Miss USA or Miss Universe.

I am on the fence regarding this issue. It is a bit difficult to allow transgender women into the pageant as it may alienate traditional pageant followers who still believe that natural-born females should compete. Yet with the “diversity” that the MUOrg seems to be shoving out on our throats lately, we have to be inclusive of all women of shapes and sizes, and yes of different forms. On a personal note, I think that transgender women should compete in pageants that are specifically designed for them and elevate it into a world-class competition like the Miss Universe pageant, although I do not have any problems seeing a transgender female in MU competing for the title. 


SOURCES:
* http://www.elleuk.com/life-and-culture/culture/news/a38422/miss-montana-usa-first-openly-transgender-contestant/
* http://people.com/bodies/first-openly-transgender-miss-montana/
* http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/14/miss-universe-transgender_n_4276209.html?1384462830

Advertisements

Rachel, Keysi and Kara: the Early Miss Universe Crown Contenders?

A couple of weeks ago I posted a write up about three pageant powerhouses (Venezuela, USA and the Philippines) and how they are gearing up for the upcoming international pageant scene. This led me to ask if are they also the early Miss Universe frontrunners?

Rachel Peters, 5’10”, 25 years old – the proverbial beach babe, the girl with the bangin’ body and the “easy to get along with’ attitude. But don’t let that fool you. With her work as an events organizer reveals a sense of discipline and professionalism. She even has worked with superstars like  Katy Perry, Jessie J and Christina Aguilera under that capacity. Not to mention that she completed her International Baccalaureate at the British School in Phuket, Thailand and graduated with a Bachelors degree in Business, Tourism and Events from La Trobe University in Australia. 

Keysi Sayago, 5’10”, 23 years old – the Miss Venezuela mold breaker. Being one of the only three women of color to win the Miss Venezuela title is surely a conversation starter. Then add to it her open involvement in protests for better governance, rallies against violence and economic injustices in her homeland. Surely you get not your typical Miss Venezuela winner who are trained to be politically neutral. Keysi seemingly is the type of girl that would do good with the title and use it to speak out for her chosen advocacies.

Kara McCullough, 5’10”, 25 years old – the nuclear scientist. She is the girl with the ‘heavy resume’, the girl with the proverbial brains and beauty. Kara represents the type of woman that the Miss Universe organization is looking for. Relatable, real and with accomplishments that can propel the organization towards a more modern definition of a pageant girl. 

It is no coincidence that these three ladies represent the countries with the most number of alpha pageant crowns. With pageant training as hardcore as that of an Olympic sport it would not be a hardsell to have all of them in the top 3 of Miss Universe. They may just redefine the Miss Universe title and make it modern and more relevant to this day and age…

Venezuela, USA & Philippines: Gearing up for Another Pageant Season

Venezuela, USA and the Philippines: they are three of the world ‘winning-est’ countries when it comes to beauty pageants… and with the approaching international pageant season starting this September, the world is anticipating if will they acquire more crowns this year?

Except for the United States, the three countries has won crowns from four of the biggest international pageants around: Miss Universe, Miss International, Miss Earth and Miss World. Venezuela is of course in the lead with 22 wins. If the Philippines manages to win two crowns this year, then it would take over the number 2 spot among the countries with the most overall wins. The USA has 14 crowns while the Philippines has 13, though USA has more runners up with a total of 59.
While all three countries are yet to select reps for Miss Earth and Miss World, their respective reps for Miss Universe and Miss International are regarded as heavy contenders. Shanel James was just recently crowned Miss US International 2017 while Rosangelica Piscitelli was appointed as Miss Venezuela Internacional several months ago. On the Miss Universe front, nuclear scientist Kara McCullough is easily a shoo in for the semis while Keysi Sayago is still undergoing her transformation for the pageant. Miss Universe Philippines Rachel Peters has started her training. While Binibining Pilipinas International Mariel de Leon is gunning for a back to back win.

These countries seem to be leagues ahead in terms of wins but other countries are thirsty as well.  It will be interesting to see how things will unfold in the months to come. 

Has Miss USA/ Miss Universe Lost its Showmanship?

After the recently concluded Miss USA pageant, fans are left wanting more from the pageant. And with the changes in both Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, we ask the question: Has Miss USA/ Miss Universe Lost its Showmanship?

In a report by Variety.com, the Miss USA has suffered a double digit decline in ratings:
The 2017 Miss USA pageant saw a significant decline in the broadcast ratings for the second straight year, according to Nielsen overnight data.
Airing on Fox from 8-10 p.m., the pageant drew an estimated 0.8 rating in adults 18-49 and 2.9 million viewers. Compared to last year (1.1, 4 million), that is a decline of over 27% in both key measures. Last year’s pageant was down a similar percentage compared to when it last aired on NBC in 2014.
We ask, why is that? Sashes&Scripts would like to try what the two pageants this year have missed and why loyal followers of the MU pageant system feel alienated with the changes that the MUOrg is doing.

Miss USA 2017 started out with a very exciting premise yet it was within that premise we all saw the hints of the decline in the entertainment factor. Michael Jackson One gave a major boost in the energy levels with a spectacular opening performance, then went donwhill when the 51 girls weren’t given enough camera time as they only paraded the stage while their states are called. I thought that is was a poor way of not showcasing the ladies as it looked like a cattle-call of livestock before they are butchered. After the first slaughter is done, or rather after the first cut is finished, the 41 girls who did not make top 10 would only have a split second of exposure on the tube during the swimsuit and evening gown performances… that  is if they are lucky enough to get caught by the camera. None of them would get a moment to shine onstage as no congeniality or photogenic awards are announced during the live telecast.
Even the top 10 are subjected to the same treatment by not giving enough airtime to the SS and EG portions. Pageant fans know that the org is looking for a spokesperson for their winner, but they shouldn’t be denied to see an actual competition happening onstage. This treatment is nothing short of the Miss World would just parade the girls in their gowns and then just call in the next girls who made the next cut…  


Unlike the Miss Universe 2013 pageant in Moscow, the Miss Universe 2016 pageant in Manila (though aired on January of 2017) had only two musical performances that night and was subjected to the same rushed pace from opening to swimsuits and gown. The Moscow edition of the pageant gave something that was decidedly missing in the two MUOrg pageants this year: entertainment with major showmanship. The 2013 edition became memorable because several factors: 1) local flavor on the marvelous stage design which allowed the viewers to “experience” Russia, 2) musical guests (with more than enough airtime if I may add) of international caliber like Panic at the Disco, Emin and Steve Tyler or Aerosmith, and 3) enough stage exposure of the girls while competing in their swimsuits, evening gowns and Q&A. 

This is why the 65th Manila edition of the Miss Universe pageant didn’t live up to the Moscow edition in terms of finals night production, it did not have all three elements present from the 2013 pageant. Thankfully the local audiences were able to carry every pre-pageant activity with such energy that coursed through up to the finals… and thankfully Boyz 2 Men had a great following that it saved the musical production of the show.
Then we should also talk about how all those redundant videos and interviews ate up precious airtime. If the MUOrg really wanted to re-brand the pageant to have empowered and outspoken women, then they should just remove the redundant video intro of the candidates during the announcement of the semi-finalists and just do a good ol’ fashioned one-on-one interview. Because having three Q&A segments (even if you rename the final Q&A as the “final word”) doesn’t fool the audiences one bit… you have 3 Q&A’s, we get it…

Miss Universe 2016 finals felt rushed and even more so in Miss USA 2017. While pageant fans may be welcoming of the fact that the MUOrg wants to make the pageant more relevant by selecting smart, empowered and articulate women, the same pageant fans also expect a great show out of the finals.
Final word: pageant fans go watch to see the girls onstage and not more of pre-taped videos or a 3-5 second exposure in their swimsuits and gowns. If the production team finds how to incorporate that into their new formula, then all will be good. All we want is simple: A good show with the girls competing for the title.


SOURCE:
TV Ratings: Miss USA Pageant Tumbles Again in Second Year on Fox

My Miss USA 2017 Review: Notes on the Production

This year was not a particularly spectacular show. And for the first time in several years, I was left feeling that something was missing in the telecast.

RUSHED. That is how I would describe this year’s competition. It’s the same feeling as if you have a taxi waiting for you and you have to get through a three-hour program as fast as you could or pay the surcharges. In the exception of Michael Jackson One’s opening performance everything else felt too fast paced and it started right during the opening when the girls were shooed unto the stage.


Yep, no intro of the girls this year and they look like sheep being lead to pasture onstage. I wish they put back the contestant introductions next time. The swimsuit competition was so fast that the camera work was a bit off…like the cameraman didn’t know who/where to focus on. And poor girls, they seem to have been cut down from a 12 second exposure to a 3-5 second pasarela. I wonder, how were the judges able to score them properly in that short window frame.
Same goes during the evening gown where Brett Eldredge seems to only have a just a couple of minutes onstage. And this vein continues even during the final look of the top three girls where they each have a collective exposure of like 16 seconds? And was it just me or did anyone else felt a misfit with Pittbull for the final look? I thought he would be a better fit for the swimsuit segment as his songs have energy to keep the crowd going during that segment.

So here is what I’d like to suggest:
1. Bring back the candidate introductions where they say their names, age and profession, hometown & state. The rest of the girls that didn’t make top 10 looked like set decorations with such a rushed treatment on their tv exposure.
2. Have a theme for the opening in terms of color/material/embellishment so that the girls would look great on-stage. Having different swimsuits is okay as every girl has a different body type but for the opening number, it would look good to have a theme.
3. Reduce the videos being played and do an actual proper interview for the semifinalists. The one question being asked during the announcement of the semifinalists is too short and shallow to really get to know the girls better.
4. Instead of a top 10 do a top 12 semifinalists. It felt like the pageant cut down the semis to only 10 girls because they wanted to save airtime and filled it instead with pre-taped videos (which for pageant fans, it’s been viewed several times already).
5. Give ample time for the music performances to really be enjoyed by the audiences like the pageant used to. Gold standard is still the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, though it did go overboard with the allotted airtime.
6. We really need to see more of the girls competing with their SS & EG performances or we can see the risk of having the pageant looking like it already had a predetermined winner. That is the art of showmanship. Pageant fans want to see the girls in their pasarela to see who really trained hard and performed well.

Overall it was a 6 out of a possible perfect 10 for this year’s production. There is much to be desired from the pacing that the pageant went in the snap of the fingers without anything memorable that sticks to our minds about the girls’ performances except for the interviews.  I just hope that the rushed feeling of the pageant wouldn’t translate to the Miss Universe pageant this year.

 

My Miss USA 2017 Review: The Winners

My gut-feel that a black-to-black win is a high possibility this year and I was right. Though I predicted South Carolina’s Megan Gordon to win, I am absolutely ecstatic with Kara McCullough as the new Miss USA!

I always thought that the Miss USA pageant is very unpredictable and I always had difficulty getting the winner right. But this time around I got 6 of the 10 semi-finalists which is the highest number I had in years! If we factor in the girls in my spoilers list, that’s a whopping 8 out of the 10! With that being said, I was pleasantly surprised that they have a very diverse set of semifinalists this year. Five African-American girls (who dominated the semis) made it alongside an Indian, a redhead, a couple of blondes, and a native American Indian (Alaska) comprising the top 10. Not to mention that they have diverse professions as well, from being a lawyer, a scientist, several dancers, a sportscaster, and a number of students.

I have to say that the Miss USA girls this year have improved tremendously in terms of their walks. Collectively as a group, Class of 2017 have much better pasarelas compared to previous batches (yes, I’m talking about you batch 2015, lols). Notable in the swimsuit segment are Minnesota and Illinois for wearing swimsuit with sleeves/ jacket. But my favorite in this segment is Meridith Gould of Minnesota who looked stunning in her swimsuit. Personally, the EG was dominated by District of Columbia’s Kara McCullough who looked like she was breezing through the stage. Her choice of gown was a fashion win for it looked flowy and effortless on stage. Though I’d also give high points to Chhavi Verg of New Jersey and New York’s Hannah Lopa for their EG presentations.

4 out of the 5 finalists are women of color! And I am loving it. This reflects what the org is aiming for and I knew that instance that they are looking for a woman of diversity to be Miss USA. Then came the Q&A which separated the crown worthy girls from the rest. Illinois’ Whitney Wandland was a bit lost in her answer and I didn’t know the point that she was driving to. For Megan Gordon of South Carolina, I thought gave a great answer though the delivery seemed to be unsure towards the end. She actually started strong and flustered a bit at the end. The Q&A were dominated by Meridith, Kara and Chhavi, IMHO. Minnesota, DC and New Jersey delivered their answers with conviction and clarity. It was no wonder they were named top 3.

After the top 3 girls hurdled the final Q&A, I thought Kara got it in the bag and that Meridith would be her 1st runner up. So when Minnesota was named 3rd placer, I knew the black-to-black win for District of Columbia is happening. And it did! As a final thought, the takeaway from this year’s pageant is one simple thing: Be of substance and a strong resume to bring along into the pageant world. Substance over surface…

My Miss USA 2017 Review: The Non-Inclusions

At the back of my head I had that nagging thought that the facially strong girls would be left frozen at the back with the changes being seen in the MUOrg and that indeed materialized with several fan favorites missing the semis.

Despite being my favorites, I had a feeling that North Carolina’s Katie Coble and Pennsylvania’s Cassandra Angst might miss the cut if Miss USA is just gunning for a top 10. And I was right as they were the first casualties of the first cut. Katie had the face of a Victoria’s Secret angel and she resembles Rosie Huntington quite a bit mixed with a little dash of Helena Christensen. I believe that she probably made the cut if there were 12 or 15 girls in the semis this year. Pennsylvania’s Cassandra, for me at least, is the most stunning girl facial-wise in this year’s batch. I had a feeling that the behind the scenes might have done something for her not to have made the cut or perhaps her weak pasarela. Nevertheless, these two girls would have made a difference in the competition had they entered the semi-finalists.
Nevada’s Lauren York was also a missed the first cut, but hers was not a surprise for this blogger. For some weird reason, I really never saw her as a major contender for the title compared to the likes of Megan Gordon, India Williams, Meridith Gould or even Allee-Sutton Hethcoat. Perhaps it was because I found her resume not as strong as the other girls I mentioned. I thought that there were stronger girls than her in the competition which was the reflected during the finals. The biggest shocker for me was the non-inclusion of Utah’s Baylee Jensen who was a Communications Major with a dual Minor in Sociology and Criminology. Not to mention that her mom Gretchen Polhemus was a former Miss USA herself. I thought Baylee had something to add to the table specially with her background as a dancer, athlete and most importantly her background in criminology.

“Substance over Surface” that seemed to have been the order of business to make it into the semis. That was perhaps the reason why these lovely ladies missed the top 10…