There are two big reasons that people still watch beauty pageants, as archaic as they are today: The first, obviously, is pretty women in bikinis.
The second is the chance for those beautiful women to say something spectacularly outrageous or controversial once they open their mouths in the interview portion of the competition — a moment fans were duly rewarded with, when Miss South Carolina Teen USA Caitlin Upton replied, in 2007, to a question about how many people cannot locate America on a map: “I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps, and uh, I believe that our education, like such as in South Africa and uh, the Iraq, everywhere, like, such as.”
A meltdown like Upton’s is rare for pageant competitors, who are coached to be poised when they answer their questions — whether those questions are about their personal aspirations, or about more complicated political topics. No doubt, some Twitter users may be playing “stump the beauty queen” for the Miss USA pageant on June 3, which is crowdsourcing a question from Twitter under the hashtag #AskMissUSA.They’ll be taking questions through the live telecast, at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. Submissions so far include:
Here’s guessing they won’t be using that last one (which, full disclosure, was submitted by a friend).
In the meantime, you can evaluate how well the contestants will fare by their answers in the pre-interviews, when they were asked the same four questions. Here are some of their responses:
If you could be great at one thing, what would it be and why?
• “Oh my gosh, I really, desperately want to be Lady Gaga when I grow up. But I can’t sing.” — Miss Tennessee .
• “It would be something involving science. Albert Einstein was a pretty cool guy.” — Miss Rhode Island
• “If I could be great at one thing, I wish that I could sit in front of a mirror or a makeup mirror in general and spend more than just 20 minutes to a half hour looking at myself and actually take the time to put my makeup on and do my hair, because after a while, after that 20-minute mark, I’m like, OK, tinted moisturizer, slab of mascara, lip gloss, out the door. If I could have it that way, it would be perfect. So I might need to work on that. “ — a heavily made up Miss Arizona isn’t fooling anyone.
What is the one thing you do that drives people crazy?
• “I overthink everything, and I over-analyze every single thing that goes on in my life. Everything. So, it drives people nuts. I have OCD.” — Miss Nevada , who probably does not actually have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
• “Something that I do that drives people crazy — especially my roommate — is, I chomp my gum. Um, and you have to chomp your gum because that sugar gum only lasts for like, two seconds, so if you don’t chomp that, then you’re not gonna get the flavor.” — Miss South Dakota
What is your view on the pornography industry?
• “Hey, I mean, if you like it, go ahead and enjoy it.” — Miss New York
• “My view on the pornographic industry is that it’s an industry that’s interesting. I mean, I personally don’t find it interesting — well, I’m not a viewer, I guess you could say. But I know that a lot of people do watch it, and I think, this is America, and because it’s America, if it’s legal, you can do what you want with it.” — Miss California .
Do you believe marijuana should be legalized?
• “I don’t know that I am the end-all-be-all on the answer to the legalization of marijuana, but I do think that from what I understand about the issue, people are at a place where they abuse the privilege to have perscriptive [sic] drugs.” — Miss South Carolina
• “It is the number one cash crop in Kentucky, over tobacco sales, so I think that the government could profit from it annually.” — Miss Kentucky (She’s echoing her state’s lawmakers here, who want permission to grow it legally).