Thursday, December 22, 2005

YOUR MOTHER'S MISS AMERICA? Of all the updates I've posted on the status of the homeless orphan that was the Miss America pageant until Country Music Television offered it a new home, this one doesn't give me the oogies. According to the NYT (something of a graceful old lady herself), CMT has elected to ditch the various ridiculous embellishments that have been haphazardly pinned to Miss America's bosom over the years, electing instead to return to the pageant's roots.

This may sound odd from an organization that has moved Miss America from Atlantic City to Vegas and from September to January. But as the article points out, CMT viewers are something of a traditional crowd. And traditional crowds will welcome the return to tradition. No more casual-wear competition. No more O-Town (farewell, my Ashley Angel!) and Clay Aiken. No more multiple-choice civics quiz, the results of which always served to indicate that no matter how much scholarship money you throw at Miss America, she still doesn't know a darned thing about how many U.S. senators we have.

What are we getting back? Actual full-length talent performances, in all their cringeworthy glory. Evening wear with sashes displaying the name of the contestant's state. A swimsuit competition without real-time voting as to whether there should be a swimsuit competition. And, in a truly fabulous development, the return of the Miss Congeniality title, absent since 1974.

For the first time in many a year, I'm feeling a little optimistic about Miss America's prospects. The dream of a million more-than-pretty girls may still come true.

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