The recently-concluded Miss Universe pageant has left a lot of Filipinos frustrated and, let’s face it, bitter. Some have vented on their socmed accounts blaming biased judges (of course, dear), Jam Magno, Rabiya’s lackluster performance, Jam Magno, the lifeless performances of Olivia Culpo (baka kinulang sa kanin), and Jam Magno.
The Miss Mexico win also left a bad taste in the mouths of many who were rooting for a different candidate. Haha reacts were rife when then Mexican beauty queen Andrea Meza stumbled on the question: If you were the leader of your country. How would you have handled COVID-19 pandemic?
The response?: “I believe there’s not a perfect way to handle this for situations, such as COVID-19. However, I believe that what I would have done was create a lockdown even before everything was that big. Because we lost so many lives and we cannot afford that, we have to take care of our people. That’s why I would have taken care of them since the beginning.”
People laughed, forgetting that this is what their leaders did, put countries on lockdown upon lockdown upon lockdown. People made it appear that the response was worse than it was (“Ang layo ng sagot” said one).
Which goes to show that sometimes, we tend to be harsher to beauty queen candidates than our own politicians. Let’s not kid ourselves. Beauty pageants are, by and large, still a multi-billion industry capitalizing on women’s beauties and bodies (the fact that there is a friggin’ swimsuit competition where half-naked bodies are paraded, and where superficial beauty and height – and that certain look – are still JUDGED with SCORES).
But we act, come Q & A, as if brains is a major prerequisite (no dear; it if were, people with doctorate degrees and scientists would be a shoo-in) in an event that curates women’s bodies and faces during the preliminaries.
We expect beauty queens to come up with solutions to gender inequality, the pandemic, the war in Palestine, and the racism in the US.
The fact is, we just PRETEND that we care for their advocacies.
Look at the natcos competition.
Who can remember how bets from other countries turned segment into a political campaign? Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin unfurled a scroll “Pray for Myanmar”, as she expressed solidarity with protesters rallying against Myanmar’s military junta, which seized power last February.
Miss Universe Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong used her metaphorical 15 minutes of fame by carrying a power anti-racist message on her cape (“Stop Asian hate”), while Miss Universe Uruguay Lola de los Santos unveiled a rainbow skirt in solidarity with the LGBT community.
Not a word, not a whisper from the general community. Everyone was busy making memes about the Miss Malaysia Francisca Luhong James natcos (“Dinala buong bahay!” one would-be wit quipped).
Filipinos – even those from the LGBT community – didn’t raise a peep about the political messages, yes, even Filipinos who think themselves to be political.
What does this prove?
That the Miss U pageant, whatever it is, is still by and large a commercial enterprise. People watch it not for political messages but to rate women based on how well they carry their gowns, their swimsuits, their costumes.
The advocacies are there to appease the feminists and social justice warriors and the pseudo-advocates.
And it shows that if the platform is problematic, messages, no matter how well-intentioned, are lost in the furor.