One Gersh Kuntzman (like there’d be two Gersh Kuntzmans, or Kuntzmen, or whatever) complains in the Brooklyn Paper that Miss America always seems to come from some place like, well, Oklahoma:

Look, I’m not going to pick a fight with my friends in Oklahoma. It’s not Miss Oklahoma’s fault that she’s the latest in a long line of airy blondes with middle-aged-lady hairstyles, a talent for baton-twirling and vaguely Southern accents who have hijacked the notion of American beauty.

This year, it was supposed to be different. By sending the raven-haired, tap-dancing, no-nonsense [Bethlene] Pancoast to the contest, New York was saying “no” to the beauty queen-industrial complex that drives this, our nation’s most illustrious pageant.

Unfortunately, the pageant said “no” right back.

Pancoast, of course, is far too gracious to accept my premise that the Miss America Organization is not only biased against beauty, but also against the northeast (which hasn’t won since 1984).

Let the record show that Bethlene Pancoast is indeed hot. (Actually, every woman from Brooklyn I’ve ever met has been hot, but this is too small a sample to be considered Useful Data.)

And I wouldn’t for a moment suggest that there’s any connection between the following isolated factoids:

  • The Pageant is carried on Country Music Television.
  • Ms Pancoast lives in Brooklyn, one of five boroughs of the City of New York, which has no country-music radio station.

Nor does she herself suspect a fix:

I really don’t think there’s a bias against us. The thing is, pageants are a much bigger deal in the South. They train for them. A lot of girls down there do it from a young age.

I admit here that (1) I haven’t watched one of these things in thirty years or so, inasmuch as they always seem a tad creepy to me, and (2) Kuntzman may well be right about the notion of American beauty having been “hijacked” — certainly the last time I was in Los Angeles, where beauty is a primary currency, all the Major Babes looked more or less alike.

Still: nyah.


  1. MikeH »

    2 February 2007 · 3:36 pm

    Kuntzman doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The previous Miss Oklahoma/Miss America, Jennifer Berry, was an airy brunette.

  2. Mister Snitch! »

    2 February 2007 · 6:17 pm

    “The thing is, pageants are a much bigger deal in the South. They train for them.”

    She’s absolutely right. On the other hand, growing up in the Northeast is terrific training for a walk-on in The Sopranos.

  3. Winston »

    3 February 2007 · 6:51 am

    I hope no one takes this comment for other than how it was intended. The Miss America Pageant is, always has been, a beauty pageant. A physical beauty contest. While Miss Pancoast is a very attractive young woman, she does not match well with the benchmark American ideal of beauty, which can be seen on the covers of every glamour magazine, in every TV commercial, in every TV show and movie. It’s not just the pageant, it’s all of American culture. Conceded, the entire ideal thing is probably all wrong, but it is reality. So the whiners need to get over it.

    By the way, what the heck is “A Cappella Tap Dance”?

  4. McGehee »

    3 February 2007 · 6:59 am

    It’s not just the pageant, it’s all of American culture.

    Which originates in L.A. and … New York.

  5. Mister Snitch! »

    3 February 2007 · 8:15 am

    “A physical beauty contest.”

    No, an appearance in Penthouse is a physical beauty contest. Miss America holds to some ideals (whether one agrees with/likes them them or not) of comportment. That’s the problem Northeast types have with winning that contest – their ideals of how to carry oneself, how to demur, how to relate to men, etc., are so markedly different than the standards of the contest.

  6. CGHill »

    3 February 2007 · 1:09 pm

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but were I inclined to tap-dance, I probably wouldn’t be singing simultaneously.

  7. John Salmon »

    3 February 2007 · 3:32 pm

    “The thing is, pageants are a much bigger deal in the South. They train for them. A lot of girls down there do it from a young age.”

    Lesson: Your value as a female is completely tied up in your looks. Wonderful.

  8. CGHill »

    3 February 2007 · 3:47 pm

    There’s a sweet spot somewhere in between “sorta cute” and “obviously Photoshopped.” (I wonder if Adobe is perturbed by this verbing of their trademark as Google seems to be about theirs; further, I wonder if the Grammar Police will be on my case for using a noun like “verbing.” Or is that a gerund?)

  9. McGehee »

    4 February 2007 · 8:18 am

    You’ve nounified “verbing!”

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