The Epitome Of Organizational Incompetence: The Miss America Pageant Decides Not To Be The Miss America Pageant

The ever-popular Miss America talent competition!

Now, don’t get me wrong: I believe the Miss America Pageant should have been euthanized decades ago. An  anachronism from the heyday of the Atlantic City Boardwalk, the beauty pageant seemed clunky, demeaning and embarrassing when I was a kid, when we had to watch the smarmy Bert Parks sing “There she is, Miss America!” while the winner’s tears washed her make-up down her cheeks. The talent competition was ridiculous; the answers to the judges’ questions were beyond parody. The women, however, did look smashing in their gowns and swimsuits. At least that was something.

But it was essentially a meat show, as my college roommate indelicately put it. The Miss USA and Miss World contestants were hotter, if dumber, and I always felt embarrassed for those women too. And don’t get me started on the Miss Teenage America pageant.

If you are going to have a Miss America Pageant, however, then you have it, and accept the fact that it’s wince-producing. If you don’t want to have such an event any more, then you kill it, that’s it. You don’t suddenly announce, “From today on, the Miss America Pageant is a trout fishing contest!” Isn’t that obvious?

Apparently not.

The organization cleaned house last year after former CEO Sam Haskell and other board members were found to have made sexist and generally oogy comments about  the physical appearance, intellect, and personal lives of pageant participants.  Everyone was shocked–shocked!—to discover this. Imagine: middle-aged heterosexual men running a beauty pageant actually had impure thoughts about the women involved! Who would have seen that coming? Freaks!

The response of the organization was to signal its virtue, make amends, and hire a replacement for Haskell with an agenda and biases completely antithetical to the entire concept of a beauty show. That would be Gretchen Carlson, a former winner of the tiara but more importantly the Fox Blonde who blew the whistle that ultimately exposed Roger Aisles as a sexist pig, and Fox News as a brutal hostile work environment for any female more attractive than Greta Van Susteren. Despite being perfectly happy to ride her own swimsuit triumph to a six-figure job at the news network most notoriously  interested in pulchritude for its distaff hires, Carlson has become a Miss with a mission. No more ogling! No more lookism!

“We are no longer a pageant,” Carlson told Good Morning America on Tuesday. “We are a competition.”

A competition of what? She says that Miss America will no longer judge women based on their physical appearance. But this is, and has always been, a beauty pageant. If beauty doesn’t matter, what will? Does Carlson really think there is any competition involving old, fat and homely women that will attract an audience? If the Miss America Whatever It Is doesn’t require beautiful women, why can’t men enter? If you take the female form out of the equation, isn’t limiting the contestants to woman pure discrimination? Men can sing, dance and answer pompous questions about world peace as well as women can.

What the organization did in hiring Carlson is the most incompetent decision any organization can make: choosing a leader who does not embrace the values, mission and traditions of the organization she is being asked to lead. This is like hiring a Commissioner of Baseball who announces, “From now on, we’re playing soccer.” If I wanted to be mean, I would say that this is like electing Barack Obama President, but that would be unfair. A bit. It is more like Ford Motor Co, hiring a CEO who declares, “We’re a bicycle company!” Or the NRA choosing David Hogg as its President.

The Miss America Pageant is dead, and its executives should admit it.  Hiring a leader who is dedicated to killing the thing makes no sense.

43 thoughts on “The Epitome Of Organizational Incompetence: The Miss America Pageant Decides Not To Be The Miss America Pageant

  1. As soon as I saw this on my news feed I had the almost the exact same thoughts. I have a feeling as soon as they see a huge drop in ratings, things will change again and Ms. Carlson will be looking for another position.

    • This might not work: as the NFL is discovering, once you offend your base, you might not be able to come back.

      Do they really think advertisers will pay for a women’s competition?

      We get those in everyday life.

      • Is this even debatable? Miss America lost its network contract years ago. Nobody watches MENSA competitions; we already have “America’s got Talent”…what the heck does a women’s competition that doesn’t involve beauty have to offer that isn’t already plentiful elsewhere, or isn’t boring? Maybe Gretchen has mud-wrestling in mind.

        • To be fair, there is one sport that has redeemed itself for the ‘rather watch paint dry’ category, at least for me.


          But not the ‘watch the rich playboys prance around the manicured lawn to muted applause’ kind. The new TV show called Topgolf, which grew out of the urban golf driving ranges, is actually engaging and entertaining. It has fast scoring, drama, and requires talent.

          And, while it uses golf clubs, balls, and (so far) players, it ain’t your daddy’s golf game.

          Which means it ain’t golf, which is still too boring for words.

          (As an aside, my favorite comment, upon finding someone watching the Golf Channel in the break room, is that I bet I would beat their rating with a ‘Paint Drying’ channel. “Over here, we have a nice exterior Sherwin Williams in ‘Desert Tan,’ on exterior Hardy Plank. Beside that we have a Glidden ‘Deep Purple’ on drywall for those think of adding excitement to the kid’s room…”)

  2. Kind of reminds me of when TSR (former publisher of Dungeons and Dragons) brought in Lorraine Williams, a financial planner who understood nothing about game design or creative writing, to try to restore the company’s fortunes. One of the first things she did was purge the core books of any content that might offend fragile parents or fundamentalist Christians, which led to accusations of caving to angry moms. The next thing she did was threaten to sue gamers who passed their own creations around too freely. She also failed to see the danger posed by the expanding collectible card market, and in the end she was forced to sell the company, once the most profitable gaming company in the US, to the makers of one of the very card games that had dominated the market. Trying to turn something into something it’s not usually results in its destruction.

      • ” Hiring a leader who is dedicated to killing the thing makes no sense.”

        Er.. have you noticed who Trump (aided and abetted by a GOP controlled Congress) put in charge of the EPA? Or FCC? Or Dept of Education? Or….

        It makes perfect sense if you wish to hollow out something, leaving only a shell. A bit like the behaviour of certain parasitic wasps.

        • But that’s NOT what the Miss America Pageant’s management wants to do. The Administration’s view of the EPA is hardly a secret.

          Cheap shot with the Education Dept. US public education stinks, and college is a fraud. There are a lot of versions of “Education”…the facts that DeVos has aa different philosophy that the hacks that have ruined the schools doesn’t mean she is supposed to destroy “education.”

        • It makes perfect sense if you wish to hollow out something, leaving only a shell. A bit like the behaviour of certain parasitic wasps.

          Excuse me… but progressives have been weaponizing those agencies for decades, perverting them for political agendas.

          If you want to use the wasp analogy, then Trump is bug spray.

      • Thanks. I guess I’m showing my geek years here. I still have a ton of 1st and 2nd Edition D&D publications and a loooooong run of Dragon magazines. I ceased keeping up with it even casually when Wizards of the Coast (the acquirers) started on the third edition (they are now on their fourth) because I was getting both too old to play (I was at that point 30 and a practicing attorney) and too mentally inflexible to relearn the rules a second time. I do still do my fantasy writing, though, when I have time.

        • I loved D&D…one of the Great Games, in my view: along with chess, poker, Scrabble, Go, and Diplomacy. I’d play a game tomorrow if I was asked. I also loved being a Dungeon Master, but the prep took so long, I might as well have started a novel.

          • Risk, and the more complex big brother, Axis and Allies. Both are simple enough to learn in two sittings, and varied enough to produce many play sessions and engage for hours each session.

    • Didn’t watch in the first place. Airheads! Still, as Jack said, it’s a beauty pageant…why try to remove beauty from it? Primarily because Gretchen Carlson is in charge.

        • Oddly enough, we talked about this very subject at my local bar last night. Pretty much that consensus…a TALENT contest? It’s steadily-shrinking audience will now disappear, as will the Pageant…er, uh…CONTEST.

        • Since she’s a former beauty pageant competitor herself, I think Gretchen Carlson is saying, “This will be a beauty pageant. And despite appearances, these girls are all brilliant, talented, humane models of the best the human race has to offer. And it will be exciting to see which of them wins these wonderful prizes. In other words, it’s a beauty pageant. Same as it always has been. A masquerade. An exercise in delusion.

            • SHAZZAM! First time I’ve had to try posting a second time, using Firefox:

              I guess what I am now waiting to see is whether there will ever again be TV, Internet etc. advertisements for authentic “meat shows,” aka “beauty pageants [contests],” as us old white guys used to know them. And whether such shows will ever again be broadcast without restriction or hindrance (lawsuits, court injunctions, Civil Rights Commission orders…).

              To say, like some “high priest of social justice,” that contests for deciding which woman is the most beautiful in a school, in a company, in a city, in a country, in an endeavor (in public, on TV?), or in the world, are “demeaning to women,” is simply blasphemy against common sense and common humanity. It’s a misandrist Big Lie and wannabe-“weenie”[eunuch]-enabling power-tripping for the sake of attempting to establish a new order of oppression – an order hostile to sexual orientation, actually. Beauty contests are ethically neutral, actually. Jack’s cringing since childhood at the Miss America pageantry notwithstanding, it is actually possible – and in my opinion, is simply ethical celebration of a positive aspect of humanity (namely, the appreciability of persons’ appearances) – to ritualize displays of “beauty” (or, let’s just be blunt and direct, and call it “parades of good-looking, attractive-appearing persons”) and appreciation thereof, with no harm to anyone (except perhaps to phobic, self-doubting, snowflakey, power-obsessed, control-obsessed contrarians). Jack and I probably share an instinct to flinch in alarm at the idea of “teen beauty pageants.” But attempts at indulgence in the one (a meat show of underage females) are not signals of lack of virtue that justifies compulsory avoidance of the other (meat shows of adult women).

              It’s a tragic day (if it has arrived) that the mere thought that women are beautiful to look at, in various manner of dress (and undress) – so beautiful, in fact, that men (and not few women) actually like to rate or rank relative beauty among contestants – is considered some breach of ethics, or “sin” of some kind, according to some perverse predominant value system. Well, I won’t be thinking differently, or apologizing for it, either. So, if any of you guys (fellow white heterosexual males around my age) find out I’ve been thrown in the clink for “assault by misogynist exercise of eyesight” or somesuch, I hope we can stay in touch so that you can smuggle to me a few issues of Maxim or Victoria’s Secret advertisements or such. Because now, having known of the beauty of women for a lifetime, I refuse to self-enforce ignorance of, non-recognition of, and muted, even non-celebration of, that eternal and Blessed reality, that is, that beauty. [mops drool after surfing YouTubes of yoga pants…]

              • I guess what I am now waiting to see is whether there will ever again be TV, Internet etc. advertisements for authentic “meat shows,” aka “beauty pageants [contests],” as us old white guys used to know them. And whether such shows will ever again be broadcast without restriction or hindrance (lawsuits, court injunctions, Civil Rights Commission orders…

                There are always DVDs available from on the Internet…

  3. It’s kind of like the Boy Scouts becoming the Boy And Girl Scouts. It’s self-mooting.

    So the Miss America Pageant is now going to be about inner beauty, I guess. The thing is, inner beauty isn’t as easy to discern as outer beauty, which was kind of the whole point. We’d all like to believe that we’re all beautiful in some way, but good luck trying to sell that to the Dallas Cowboys or Hooters. Or Fox News, or… any news company all the way down to your local Eyeball News service. When was the last news person you saw that looked like an ogre but had the velvet voice of Jim Nance and made you think, “He’s beautiful on the inside!”

    None, ever. Which again, is kind of the point.

    Look, ethically, I get it. Beauty contests are all shallow and about showing off anatomical parts that make men (mostly) want to act like pubescent tweens and recognize a crane isn’t really necessary after all. And of course, the wives are all about the answers to the “questions” as if that reveals the inner soul of the contestant, and the dresses, and we all lie to ourselves and virtue-signal to each other for the sake of appearances. “Oh, her boobs weren’t really that big, you know, and her butt was kinda flat. That dress was way over the top, and how dumb was that answer she gave?” Right. Virtues R Us.

    But I guess I just wonder what the hell is wrong with a little shallow oggling of pretty women? The downside is it can make some morons think it’s okay to objectify all women, but most of us understand the difference between artificial made-up hotness and what really inspires meaningful relationships, even mostly physical ones. It just seems that these days, women want to make men oggle them so they can degrade us for doing so, and point it out as an ethical failing.

    I liked it better when women used to enjoy being oggled. Good times…

  4. I respectfully disagree with your analysis, Jack. This woman very well may not have any plans to change the Miss America pageant in any meaningful way. This is likely not incompetence, but slime instead.

    It has well been understood that these pageants are beauty pageants, and women have complained about them for as long as I have been old enough to know about the pageants. I, and another girl I know, have gotten multiple invitations over the years. Neither of us would have had a chance in hell of winning a beauty pageant. The paperwork we would get talked about what was required, how things were judged, and what we would be expected to do. The paperwork would talk about how a swimsuit competition and a ball gown competition were expected, but that they didn’t actually have any effect on the results. The girl who proved herself best with the talents, skills, intelligence tests, and interviews would win, not the prettiest. As a note, no one seemed to ever talk about how the winner was always a total knockout. Many people actually believed that this was a talent competition, not a beauty pageant.

    Consequently, this woman’s statement that “We are no longer a pageant, we are a competition,” does not convince me that anything will be different. She is simply saying what they’ve claimed for years. As a former winner herself, I bet she believes it, as many of the finalists always seemed to. Many people will support her #MeToo stance, perhaps even believing the claims she makes, while allowing the Miss America “competition” to go on, because “it isn’t about beauty anymore.” This allows the organization to save the organization, save face, and save money, all while shamelessly virtue signaling.

  5. Any possibility the Miss America Pageant’s relevance will evolv…I mean…follow the singularly focused nature and uniqueness of purpose that describes the Mr. America competition: skivvies leaving nothing to the imagination, popping veins, freakish musculature, man-tan, ‘Roids galore, and a narrowly defined…um…target audience?

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

    • I would not mind these competitions as much of they had eye candy competition of men as well. However, the over muscled, steroid driven look of Mr Universe I find more creepy than attractive. Maybe the guys should show off a non-gym talent and how they look in a tux, too? Strong drug/enhancement testing should also be included for both competitions. If I wanted fake muscles, they might as well wear a rubber bat-suit.

  6. “Creepy.”

    Ya think?

    ”Maybe the guys should show off a non-gym talent and how they look in a tux, too?”

    Guys like that have precious little time outside a gym, and I’d venture a guess it occupies their every thought there as well.

    A tux? Hah! Try finding a tailor that could craft a garment with + 27 inch drop and shoehorning those kinds of thighs and calves into the britches.

    “Strong drug/enhancement testing should also be included for both competitions.”

    Actually, there are any number of drug-free, “Natural” being the more innocuous term, competitions.

  7. I think you wrote a great post based on the history, the way it’s been done, and the thing people expect it to be. But I don’t think that’s particularly cognizant of the future. These people that made these decisions, that signed off on this plan certainly know the risk. They knew what they were and decided to risk changing and adapting into something new.

    If Sports Illustrated hadn’t changed (just a little) we’d never have gotten Kate Upton into the spotlight. She was considered too big and fat according to psycho modeling standards.

    I’m really intrigued by these changes. If you want a traditional pageant, Miss Teen USA, Miss USA, and Miss Universe are still there. Miss America will potentially be completely different and just as important. I don’t really want to get into what I think I expect from this venture or how it will operate, and I probably still won’t watch – but I’m glad that there’s now a scenario where people are thinking differently, evolving and that there’s a chance I can be surprised with the unexpected that doesn’t involve Steve Harvey.

  8. Dunno, Tim. You need numbers to create an audience, and thus attract advertisers. I think we just heard a giant flushing sound, and the next three years will feature switching in the bowl as they approach the whirlpool in the middle.

    Gess we can sit back and watch the results to see who is right.

      • ”This is what happens when you put somebody with an agenda in charge.”

        This mean you’re not a fan of “Everyone Gets A Trophy And A Hug?”

        The results of that approach speak for themselves…

        • No I am most emphatically NOT. I am in favor of folks being responsible for their own behavior, which will not happen if we all get “participation trophies”.

          • ”I am in favor of folks being responsible for their own behavior, which will not happen if we all get ‘participation trophies’.”

            You do realize that will put the kibosh on everyone being special, with the far-reaching externalities (bruised feelings/weepy reality/micro-aggressions/second guessing, et al) ensuing therefrom being damn near incalculable?

            Wait a minute.

            “If everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless.”— David McCullough

            Never mind

  9. Bert Parks was on a snorkeling boat with us during a trip to Hawaii. This was in the mid-eighties. Needless to say, he wasn’t in his tux although he probably could still look passable in one at the time. He wore black swimming trunks and a tremendous all over tan. He was very serene, not standoffish but kept to himself and the people on the boat left him alone. He looked like a Buddha sitting there at the stern of the small boat. Way past his prime, but his prime was in evidence in his twin thirty-something sons who were with him. Coal black hair, dark eyes. What Bert must have been years ago. A couple of studly Adonises. If you needed someone to be Bert Parks, Bert was your man.

  10. “Miss America” is going to have to disappear from the event name. Because if it doesn’t disappear, then I am sure Gretchen will agree, the “contest” will “miss America.” “Most Excellent And Powerful Single Young Ms. Gurrrl” and “National First Young Lady” (as a deliberate slap at Ivanka TRUMP) come to mind for fitting replacement names, in this Woke Era.

    Now that I’ve “gone there:” Will the unmarried condition and status traditionally connected with the “Miss” title no longer be a requirement? Will “Ms.” now be mandatory? Will divorcees, now single, be permitted to compete? Will Muslim contestants be permitted to wear their traditional all-covered-up clothing throughout? At the moment of “crowning” or awarding “first place,” will there be any kind of kiss bestowed by anyone on anyone? (And, where on the body of the kiss-ee will that kiss be placed?) Will there be a crown, or tiara, fitted to wear for a “victory walk?” Will the winner be allowed, if so motivated, to don instead of a tiara, a baseball cap that says “Make America Great Again?” Will there be a new theme song? Will it be sung by an individual, a choir, a small vocal group, or will it just be instrumental the first year, with lyrics by the second year? How will judges be selected? Surely Gretchen will answer all our questions, in time.

    • About that cap-vs.-tiara question I asked above: I made my unwokeness too obvious. Oops. Surely, a winner during the presidency of TRUMP will opt instead to wear one of those pink pussy caps.

      That would be consistent with the new national culture of obligatory virtue-signalling: If you know you have an audience – if you even suspect you have an audience (and, just in case, you would do best to presume that you ALWAYS have an audience) – then you had BETTER signal at least one of the known acceptable virtues for a citizen of the greatest, most social justice-aware democracy on earth.

  11. The only way that the Miss America “Competition” contestants will not be judged on their looks as part of the unspoken criteria is the blind fold the Judges and completely sequester them preventing them from seeing anything during the entire competition.

  12. Concerned with the long term effects on the culture of the physical objectification of women that beauty pageants would inevitably emphasize, only two years after the birth of the Miss America pageant after wrestling with the implications, the Southern Baptist Convention published this in 1926:

    “WHEREAS, The purity and sanctity of the home depends upon a proper respect for and safeguarding of our girls; and

    WHEREAS, “Beauty contests” and so-called “bathing revues” are evil and evil only, and tend to lower true and genuine respect for womanhood, emphasizing and displaying only purely physical charm above spiritual and intellectual attainments,

    THEREFORE, We, the Southern Baptist Convention do deplore and condemn all such contests and revues.”

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