My New Book!

My New Book!
My New Book!

Thursday, September 9, 2021

September 9, 2021: PageantStudying: Trump

[September 7-8 marks the 100th anniversary of the first Miss America pageant in Atlantic City. So this week I’ll AmericanStudy histories and stories of pageants!]

On two uncomfortable realities that the Former Occupant forces us to confront.

One of my happier recent accomplishments is that I’ve managed to write more than 8 months’ worth of 2021 blog posts with very few mentions of the Orange Boil upon Satan’s Buttocks. While I’m breaking that trend a bit today, I don’t want to dwell on the Trumptastic details themselves any more than is necessary. So if you need a refresher on the deeply disturbing stories about Trump’s time as the owner of the Miss Universe pageant (across nearly two decades until he was forced to sell in 2015), here’s a link that covers many of those stories; then come on back for some broader and hopefully less Trump-centric contexts and takeaways.

Probably the most disturbing of those stories is Trump’s consistent references (confirmed by other pageant employees) to his going backstage to ogle (“inspect,” as he oh-so-cleverly put it) the contestants in various stages of undress. That would be disturbing no matter what, but it becomes significantly more so when we learn that many of those contestants were underage—as, of course, was that first 1921 Miss America about whom I wrote in Monday’s post, 16 year old Margaret Gorman. While as far as we know the Atlantic City businessmen who invented that 1921 pageant didn’t blatantly and purposefully walk in on Gorman and her peers while they were changing (although I’m honestly not sure if we would know if they had done so; we know about Trump’s behavior because he was crass enough to admit it and then it was confirmed by others, not because it was initially reported anywhere else), the entire premise of the pageant—and of every such pageant about which I’ve ever read—was to ogle these young women, to examine and judge their “beauty.” Worth noting that many of them, in the past and in the present, have been extremely young if not, indeed, legally underage.

That’s by far the grossest story from Trump’s Miss Universe days; but the story of how the 2013 Miss Universe pageant ended up hosted in Vladimir Putin’s Russia is in many ways just as disturbing. It’s of course disturbing for all that it meant about future candidate and President Trump’s ongoing relationship to Putin, the overt subject of that hyperlinked article. It’s certainly disturbing as a reflection of how many American businesses, businesspeople, and other power players have cozied up to Putin’s autocratic and murderous regime over the years. But in terms of this week’s topics, it’s also quite disturbing to realize how much pageants such as Miss Universe are bought and owned—not only by their literal owners/CEOs like Trump, but also by those who pay for the right to host the events. Which is to say, to follow up my prior paragraph, for the right to ogle these young women—quite possibly backstage (this was a Trump pageant, after all), but most definitely on stage and likely at multiple other events and moments throughout the pageant. As with so many societal ills, Trump’s version might be more blatantly gross, but it reflects broader and deeper realities to be sure.

Last PageantStudying tomorrow,


PS. What do you think? Pageant histories, stories, or contexts you’d share?

No comments:

Post a Comment