Feature

Is Miss America irrelevant?

The attempt to restore an iconic pageant to its former glory

The Miss America Pageant needs a makeover, said Elwood Watson and Darcy Martin in The Philadelphia Inquirer. It has staged comebacks before—from the Great Depression, for example, and the Vanessa Williams/Penthouse magazine scandal. But this year’s gimmick—mimicking popular reality TV shows—won’t restore the old mid-20th century glory. Going “the tawdry" route will only speed Miss America toward oblivion.

You can't blame the producers "for wanting to hip things up a bit,” said Chris Nashawaty in Entertainment Weekly. “After all, there's nothing in American popular culture that's as hopelessly square as this wheezy old soap opera.” But if the new queen crowned—Miss Indiana, Katie Stam—wants to put her reign to good use, her first official act should be “to put this dated contest out of its misery once and for all.”

Come on, said Jerilyn Dufresne in Examiner.com, the organizers are clearly trying make the pageant “more relevant and more fun.” This year they invited the audience to count the number of times world peace was mentioned, and pick the contestant with the best spray tan. “That's a far cry from a contest that took itself way too seriously for most of its almost 90-year history.”

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