The Miss America pageant was a big deal in the 1960s when I was growing up in Williamsburg, Virginia. Every year the family gathered around the TV set as we assiduously scrutinized the contestants, 18 or 19 year old women dolled up to be ageless icons of poise and beauty. Talented, too. Among other things, able to effortlessly traverse the stage in sky high heels.
The pageant has experienced many controversies, and gone through a lot of changes over the years. Certainly, its centrality in American culture has faded. It left Atlantic City for Las Vegas, and then returned again to this struggling remnant of a seaside resort. A relic, perhaps, of those simpler times that never were.
Now, we are witnessing yet another Miss America spectacle — it turns out the leaders of the organization are a bunch of sexist louts. Quelle surprise! A bevy of former beauty queens has called for resignations.The CEO was just suspended.
Jennifer Weiner writes in the New York Times: “It might not be enough. Nothing might be able to remove the stain of so much hateful, crude, sexist talk. It might be that we’ve seen our last weeping, rhinestone-crowned Miss A. making her way down the Atlantic City walkway.”
Meanwhile, our crude lecher-in-chief, whose sham embrace of Atlantic City left it defiled and desolated, remains standing. “Make America great again.”