Beauty Contest Ethics, Diversity Ethics, Bizarro Word Ethics: The Miss Teen America Pageant

Teen USA finalists

Bizarro World Ethics is a useful if mind-melting concept. Since Superman Comics’ Bizarro World contains a backwards—literally—civilization in which everything is the opposite of the way it is on Earth, the ethics are necessarily backwards too. What is right, in a culture where the populace not only says hello for good-bye, but also eats the plates while throwing away the food? Can wrong be right in such a weird place? Does right become wrong? Or is the whole idea of ethics impossible in Bizarro World?

Beauty contests today are like Bizarro World. They are inherently anachronistic, embodying the correctly discredited concept that beauty equals virtue. They also are based on the fiction that beauty can be objectively qualified and compared with sufficient precision that a decision holing that  gorgeous Contestant D, who is Asian and brunette, is objectively more beautiful than gorgeous black Contestant C, gorgeous Hispanic Contestant B, or gorgeous white Contestant A isn’t arbitrary and completely subjective. Bodybuilding competitions and dog shows have the same problem, as do the Academy Awards. For pure, obvious stupidity and dishonesty, however beauty contests beat them all. This is why the topic has inspired some terrific film satires, like “Smile,” “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” and even “Little Miss Sunshine.”

We all know—don’t we?—that beauty contests are really just excuses to give guys a chance to gawk at scantily dressed pulchritudinous women. This is what makes Miss Teen America the most icky of the breed: the contestants are scantily dressed women who consent to being lust-objects for men the age of the their fathers and grandfathers. What is ethics in such a spectacle? The whole enterprise is constructed of unethical components.

The Miss Teen USA pageant was pronounced ethical, for example, after announcing they would discontinue the swimsuit segment of the competition, replacing it with a parade of the contestants in athletic gear, because the swimsuits made the young women look like sex objects and eye candy.  You know…not like this:

missteen outfit

Muuuuch better. No dirty old man is going to be salivating at that.

But over the weekend all that good publicity for pretending to be about something other than rewarding lovely teens for being walking pin-ups on national television collapsed when this diverse. multi-color, multi-ethnic  group of beauties..

2016 Miss Teen

…was narrowed down to these five finalists, the best of the best, the fairest of them all, after all the numerical scores were tallied and checked and double-checked:

Miss-Teen-USA-2016 five

This caused some unhappiness among the diversity police, as you might imagine. Tweeted super-model Chrissy Teigen, who looks like this..


“Wow how can we choose from such a diverse bunch”

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Affronts to Animal Dignity

"Boy, will you look at those idiots watching this? Where is their sense of dignity?"

The Washington Post recently published a photo of an oddball attraction at a minor league baseball game in Harrisburg, PA. A capuchin monkey, garbed in jockey attire, was riding a border collie—really, really stupid, though “really stupid” is the frequent standard of minor league baseball promotions generally. This means that when a club executive suggests, “Hey, howzabout we have some monkeys riding on dogs, like in little saddles?” and the response from the management team is, “That’s really stupid, Ed,” he’ll say, “Great! Then it’s a go!”

I found the picture rather grotesque, but it never occurred to me that the gimmick was unethical. Oh, I assumed that PETA would find it unethical, but PETA believes it’s unethical that animals aren’t allowed to vote.  Several indignant readers wrote to the Post, however, protesting that the photo was “offensive” because it celebrated unethical conduct, the conduct being, apparently,“insulting the natural identity of these animals.” “Monkeys riding boarder collies is just wrong,” wrote one of the outraged. Continue reading