Battle of the Lightweights

Let me put one thing out right in front. I could not care less about beauty pageants. I was briefly interested earlier this year when a student at the local University of Indianapolis, who by all accounts is a fine young lady, was named Miss America, but I moved on to other things pretty quickly.

In spite of my professed apathy, I could not help but be fascinated, in a gory-car-wreck sort of way, by the controversy surrounding Miss California USA and Miss USA runner-up Carrie Prejean. What's strangely fascinating about this is how it caused a number of political and social lightweights to flex their meager head-shake and chuckle inducing muscle.

In one phase of the Miss USA pageant, Prejean was asked about same-sex marriage by "celebrity blogger" (now there's a job description we didn't need) and lightweight #1 in this saga, Perez Hilton.

Let me say now I could have happily gone to my grave having never heard of Perez Hilton.

Hilton, who is gay, loudly blogged about Prejean's opposition to same-sex marriage rights. I tend to disagree with Prejean, but she has every right to her views. But shrill denunciation like Hilton's only drives me to be more supportive of her right to expression.

Lightweight #2 is Prejean herself. (Sorry to pile this on after your runner-up finish in Miss USA, Carrie, but your not even the #1 lightweight in your own story.) Prejean, could have just ignored Hilton, but instead went out of her way to stake out for herself an acre of moral high ground on the gay marriage issue. That all but assured that anything risque or embarrassing in her past would almost certainly come to light, which brings us to . . .

Lightweight #3: Nik Ritchie. He is the proprietor of the aptly named blog thedirty.com. Ritchie's forte seems to be publishing amateurish photos of scantily-clad women and then engaging readers in deep, philosophical gender-related questions along the lines of, "Ya think those are real?" and "Would you do'er?" Nik did us the "public service" of publishing at least two topless photos from a fashion shoot done when Prejean was 17 years old. I checked them out. She's hot. There's a teasing glimpse of the side of a breast, but this is nowhere near porn.

Ritchie recently tried to boost his journalistic cred by openly defying a cease and desist order demanding he remove Prejean's photos from his site. Sorry, Nik, but these aren't the Pentagon Papers. You're still a lightweight.

I was so fascinated by this story that I forgot to check last Monday if Prejean had actually lost her crown over the photos. The final authority on the matter was Donald Trump, and the Donald has decreed Prejean shall not lose her crown, which I think is probably as it should be. On one hand, if she had ever looked down the business end of a Nikon with no bra on, and she clearly has, she was lying by not disclosing this to pageant officials as contractually required. On the other hand, the photos are pretty tame in my view, with no fully-visible "naughty parts" and a cutesy "girl next door" pose and expression.

The Donald is no lightweight. In fact, there's more gravitas in his ample toupee than in the total combined body mass of the other three people mentioned thus far. And I believe he was smart not to dethrone Prejean and thereby grant her instant martyr status among right wing conservatives. Quite simply, the story goes away faster if she stays right where she is, and the last thing we need right now is a junior Ann Coulter.

Sarah Palin briefly vied for the spot of Lightweight #4 by pouring her derision on "the liberal onslaught of malicious attacks" against Prejean for her views. She went on to congratulate the Donald for letting Prejean stay on as Miss California USA and for standing up for her first amendment rights. Palin and the rest of the far right must learn to accept that mere disagreement with their platform does not constitute an "onslaught." Palin also failed to cite any actual abridgment of Prejean's constitutional rights. The First amendment guarantees free speech. It does not guarantee the right to be heard, agreed with, or liked.

No, Sarah, I've award the Lightweight #4 slot to Shanna Moakler, co-director of Miss California USA, who resigned in protest of Prejean keeping her crown. Moakler wisely seems to have stayed clear of the semi-nude photo debate. She is a former Miss USA and went on to be a Playboy centerfold, which I guarantee you was a lot more than "semi-nude." Moakler aspires to make a bold statement on gay marriage rights by walking away from the pageant which allows a person holding contrary views on the subject to keep her crown.

I feel certain this "statement" was already drowned out by the several states which have recently legalized same-sex marriage to one extent or another. I presume Moakler will now return to her sizzling acting career, which numbers 20 movie and TV guest roles in the last 13 years. Good Luck, sweetheart.

No comments: