Miss America goes to the boonies

After half a century on network television and a decade of declining ratings, the Miss America pageant is going to the boonies. It's moving to country music cable channel CMT starting in January.

A CMT programming head said "the Miss America pageant and country music actually are similar in their appeal to the people of the ‘American heartland’ and their embodiment of the American dream and small-town values." Quixotically, he added that he’s hoping to lure a younger audience to the pageant.

But country music isn’t what kids are listening to these days. Take a look at America’s Top 10 current songs and you’ll see pop and hip-hop. No country there. The truth is poor ratings meant that no network wanted to touch the pageant with a ten-foot pole. And Donald Trump’s Miss USA isn’t fairing well either; its April airing on NBC attracted a dismal 8.1 million viewers.

Truth is, people are bored with the fake, good-girl image of these pageants. Back when we didn’t know much about our public figures — remember when they were virtuous and mysterious? — the pageant was popular. I remember spending a few evenings as a kid watching those shellacked beauties parade onscreen. It was mesmerizing. But now, the contestants seem overly manufactured and perfect. There’s no real drama, no spontaneity, which we’ve come to expect in today’s reality-show era. The show-starting big number seems like a holdover from those bad Vegas b-shows. The hosts’ gags are too scripted. And hot women in bikinis? Yawn. They don’t even warrant a protest, because nobody takes these shows seriously anymore. It would be more interesting focus on the women who didn’t win, and what they really thought about it.

CMT can have its pageant. But its “embodiment of small-town values”? I bet the majority of small-town Americans can’t even name the current Miss America.

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