Ladies and Gentlemen… Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth!!! – It’s a Train-Wreck of epic proportions, a Poop-Storm no one can fathom, an Utterly Cataclysmic tiraid of emotions, currently known as Miss America 2.0.
With deference to the great PT Barnum (and of course, the fabulous Hugh Jackman), I believe the current conversation throughout social media regarding the Miss America leadership, the state volunteers, and anyone who’s currently competing, has previously competed, or watched their daughter/granddaughter/sister/niece/bff/bae/boo/etc compete at any level of the Miss America Organization, can easily be classified as a Circus-Media-Frenzy which I would call, “The Greatest Show”.
And by the looks of things, scores of pageant fans “can’t look away” and are fully engrossed in this organic and astonishing spectacle – madly shoving handful after handful of popcorn in their mouths, while the rest of us fuss and flutter about in our fake tiaras.
It’s a little outrageous, to say the least.
And while I know it’s really “the main event” to all of us in the deep end of the pageant pool… Truly… Very few people outside of our little world could give a rip about the internal struggle that’s going on right now. Which is what makes it so gosh-darn hilarious (seriously people – take a breath – shake your head and laugh… it’s just a pageant)!
But that’s where it all started… I CAN’T EVEN CALL IT A PAGEANT ANYMORE – it’s now a competition!!! And if that were the only change taking place – I’m more than certain we’d all be hunky-dory, wiping away our mascara-laden happy tears, and getting along just fine. Unfortunately, nobody’s happy! Mainly because one set of fans LOVES all the changes, the other set of fan HATES all the changes, and those in the middle are left begging from the back of their parade convertibles, “Can’t we all just get along and have WORLD PEACE???”
In order to summarize how we arrived in this inauspicious position, let me outline all of the changes which have been announced by MAO leadership in the last 34 days…
- No longer a pageant, now a “competition”
- An all female board of directors
- #ByeByeBikini (no more swimsuit competition – see previous post here)
- Evening Wear is now to reflect the “Red Carpet” instead of the usual pageant-stage-friendly types of dresses (but at least it still exists)
- The scoring changes for the competition in September now reflect Talent weighed at 50% of your prelim score (the remaining prelim competition looks like this: Private Interview 20%, Onstage Question 15%, Evening Wear/Red Carpet Questions 15%)
- The Finals Night scoring sees additional changes along with MAO bringing back the ever-controversial Final Ballot (Composite Score 25%, Talent 30%, OSQ 25%, Evening Wear 20%, then the judges rank the Top 5 finalists to determine the winner)
- We’re now calling them “candidates” instead of contestants (like a political campaign for a job)
- Preliminary Awards will now be given for Talent and On-Stage Interview
- During OSQ (on-stage question), it appears the young women will be having a “discussion” – not simply answering a question about their personal platform.
- I also see several places where the candidates are supposed to aptly express their aptitude for the job of Miss America (and I’m wondering if that’s going to be somewhat reflective of a morning talk-show? Or maybe more like a blend of Shark Tank and The Bachelor – but I digress…)
And to be honest – there are additional changes including a new set on the Miss America stage, the judges are going to be able to interact with the candidates from a new position (um yeah – I’m back to the feel of a morning talk show with numerous guests being interviewed at the same time), we’ll finally have a live parade of states for the first time in Lord knows how long (instead of previously filmed at different locations around Atlantic City), and this one is the most interesting of all… The show will provide, and I quote…
“A more intimate execution that is highly energetic, fun, entertaining and allows the candidates to showcase their personality and intelligence.”
I have no idea what that means – but for me, it certainly sounds better than the same-ole, same-ole predictable broadcast we’ve been used to watching. Kinda like adding a bearded lady to the opening act – Lol! (… settle down… it’s a joke people… go rent the movie and you’ll see what I mean…).
Now… Interestingly enough, while all of those changes are taking place on “the main stage” – there’s been another Circus-Side-Show brewing in Ring Number Two…
Buckle up Junkies – We’re just getting started.
Four women recently stepped down (or rather, were asked to do so by MAO leadership) from the Miss America Board of Directors, including 2 former state titleholders and 2 former Miss America winners. Those four women released a statement regarding their departure from the Board (which you can read here), and then MAO leadership released their own response to their original communication (which you can read here).
That brings us to the third portion of this 3 Ring Circus – the “Vote of No Confidence” and request for EVERYONE on the Board of Trustees to RESIGN, from 22 State Directors (which you can see here). The main beef from these 22 State Directors is, and once again, I quote…
“We were promised transparency, competence and adherence to the best practices with good governance… In our opinion their leadership has demonstrated that “Miss America 2.0” is simply a new title for the same old tactics of obfuscation and fear-based governance.”
Subsequently (and by now, somewhat predictably), 29 former Miss America winners (plus 3 others formers who now sit on the board) issued their own statement of unification and support for the new leadership and current direction (which you can see here).
Like I said… It’s a social media fiasco.
As usual, I’m not here to offer my personal comments on the changes themselves – My job in the online blogging pageant/competition universe is to observe, take a few jabs at the wackos on all sides of the arguments, offer some rationalization, and try to provide a teeny bit of perspective to an otherwise inflammatory situation.
Wish me luck.
The Cast of Characters:
This is the Greatest Show
The Ring Leader – PT Barnum
The Miss America leadership represents Hugh Jackman – The Greatest Showman himself, with killer creativity and amazing ideas, pushing for change and daring to envision something greater than has ever been seen on the Miss America stage before. With a strong will to succeed and an exciting thrust of enthusiasm behind him/them, these ladies in leadership are daring to envision the kind of Miss America they believe the world will respect and is ready to receive. And it’s about time…
The Steady Rock on the Homefront – Charity
Conversely, PT Barnam’s wife Charity (Michelle Williams), who is sternly devoted to the MAO program (her husband’s dream), represents many of the state directors and THOUSANDS of volunteers across the country. She/they often seems to be asking the question, “Why is all of this necessary? Why we fixing things that aren’t broken? And why do you feel the need to mislead me, in order to get me to follow you? It’s too much – too soon – and I’m not convinced it’s even necessary.” And frankly, she’s got a point.
In addition, the State Directors claim the leadership lied by saying ABC was going to drop the telecast of Miss America this year if MAO didn’t dump swimsuit. And MAO leadership is saying they didn’t lie about it – but either get on board or get out of the way of progress. Miss America is on life-support, and we’re doing everything we can to keep her relevant in this new day and age! Meanwhile, the State Directors don’t mind progress, they just don’t want to be lied to about how to best achieve progress… it makes it feel like a personal agenda (not cool) rather than a necessary element of success (understandable, if accurate). Whew. Pass me a Margarita already.
The “Acts” within the Show (everyone’s got an act)
Meanwhile, you’ve got 51 state titleholders which were crowned using an entirely different set of criteria when they won their state competition – AND – Several state titleholders who were selected before the announcement of “no more swimsuits” was even made! For those of you competing for the title of Miss America 2019 later this September and you happen to be reading this post, please remember what my friend Leighton Jordan (Miss Georgia 2012) said in one of my favorite podcasts…
“God is going to bless 1 person with the job of Miss America, and He’s going to save 50 of us from it!”
For those of you doing your best to maintain homeostasis while this whole thing unfolds, keep that in your back pocket and pull it out when you need it. This too shall pass. *wink*
Dear Lord… In this analogy, the audience consists of everyone debating every twist and turn of this improbable drama in front of God and everyone. You’ve got former Swimsuit Winners who are up in arms about Talent now being worth 50%. You’ve got MAO loyalists who remember when Talent was actually worth 50% back in the day and are thrilled to see it return. You’ve got current competitors who are re-thinking whether or not they even have a shot at becoming Miss State because their Talent is sub-par. You’ve got parents who feel guilty because they didn’t put their child in ballet classes at the age of 3 (how can they possibly compete now???) – or they feel defensive because their daughter is extremely articulate and has devoted her life to community service work, but it’s not fair that she doesn’t have a “stage talent”.
I’m going to stay here for a little while because in my mind, these arguments are varied and interesting… After all, before American Idol, America’s Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance, and The Voice – Miss America was the original reality show. And in case you weren’t around in the 80’s, the Talent was quite good when it was worth 50% of one’s score!
The problem is, because of the rise of numerous live talent shows over the last 15 years, young women with killer talent DON’T NEED to participate in Miss America anymore (they can just go to one of the reality shows mentioned above). Further – it’s nearly impossible for Miss America to compete with those reality shows because she gets ONE NIGHT on TV (and 90 seconds of Talent) compared to every one of the programs mentioned above, which gets up to 40 EPISODES of continual audience participation and momentum.
However – on the flip-side, if the television audience can no longer be captured by young women in swimsuits, then they’re certainly going to have to be captivated by something worth watching – and frankly, I’m fairly certain a stellar talent is going to grab more ratings than a superb interviewer on TV ever will (yes, yes, even though “the job” of Miss America is that of a spokesperson. I know, I know).
Like I said… The audience (like the elephant dung) is all over the freaking place. Most of us know it’s ridiculous to think everyone is going to somehow be happy with the new show – but the problem is, many people in the audience have been dutifully punching their tickets for DECADES, in hopes of one day seeing their favorite contestant win the main event in AC. They feel slighted. Ignored. Pushed aside by former winners who claim to know best, when in many cases, those in the audience have given 20, 30 or even 50+ years of their lives to this organization.
Trouble is (as PT Barnum knows), if the show is any good at all – You’ve got to have more people watching in the stands than directly participating in the show. Otherwise, you’ll never make a profit. Which brings us to where we are today…
Here’s the problem… We’re missing Zac Ephron (Phillip Carlyle)
Zac’s character in the movie “The Greatest Showman” is the bridge between the current leadership, the acts on stage, and those in the audience. Lots of people are trying to play this part on social media by responding to inflammatory posts, but the problem is – MAO needs to get 22 State Directors back on board for some positive PR and to help carry the water with their new vision. Now, perhaps that’s all taking place behind the scenes and this Junkie simply doesn’t know about it. But from where I’m sitting (albeit the cheap seats), without an intermediary, the poop has already hit the fan… It’s just a matter of time before the stink starts to permeate the building.
Therefore, at this point, instead of me continuing to babble on like a banshee – I’d like to turn this blog into an interactive post…
I’m curious… Let’s pretend YOU are the State Director for your respective state… Considering the fact that Miss America 2.0 is primed and ready for a new direction, I’d like you to give me 3 sentences regarding the Top 3 things YOU would do (things you’d change/keep/new ideas/etc) for Miss America 2.0 – and do you support a vote of No Confidence in the current leadership, or not?
Feel free to make your comments below or on any of the respective social media platforms where you originally found this post. You can also email me at ThePageantJunkies@gmail.com.
As for me and my house, I’m about to find me a big ‘ole bag of cotton candy and a blue-raspberry covered snow-cone, then glean some insight and tally the total of your responses…
After all – This is the Greatest Show…
Carrie Lakey is kind of obsessed with Miss America…
So are 22,000 of her closest friends.
As an avid fan of the Miss America Organization, Carrie began
publicly predicting pageant winners over 10 years ago.
Now, she’s galvanizing an online movement of fans
known as “Pageant Junkies”.
Learn more about the Junkie Nation
by clicking here.