Now I'm not someone who sits around with a tiara on holding my souvenir program from Miss America while I just "absolutely die" who gets into the top ten, but I do like watching the pageant. I even did shows with a Miss Delaware and went to Atlantic City to see her compete in her talent prelminary (which she won). So you can imagine my surprise this year when all the networks shunned this tradition and allowed the Cable Country Network to pick it up. Okay, so maybe they didn't think it was entertaining enough, even after they put the talent portion back in, but imagine my horror when I turned on network TV last night to discover that there was two hours of a spelling bee? That's right, no Miss America networks but a spelling bee? - Don't Get Me Started.
No one can deny that Miss America over the years has taken some wrong steps. As the before mentioned situation with the removal of talent for a year or how about when they made all the girls (fuck it, Gloria Steinam, that's what they are - girls - even though some look so old you could swear you saw them on a commercial for Polident) when the girls went bare foot in the bathing suit competition? Horrible, bad ideas. What we need is a cheesy singer that comes on, then the girls parade about culminating in a minimally choreographed opening number that makes you wonder if any of the girls can really dance and who it was that took money under false pretenses as a choreograph to create
the number. We need some talent, some evening gown, swimwear and a single question - winner picked among tears and good night. I think the pageant ran into trouble when it started with all the high tech crap showing scores like they were batters for the Yankees. Another bad move was the, "let's meet the family segments" where they would show the girls actually bowling with disabled kids - I'm sure she hangs with every weekend. What we want is a smiling, good looking girl who can speak and clog dance a little. Is that so much to ask for, huh?
But no, you networks executives demand more, you need the excitement of let's say, poker? We all know how amazingly interesting that can be to watch but now you've done it. You've really done it. Before, with the network's help, little Asian girls could dream of playing their violin or piano in a gorgeous evening gown but now what do they have to look forward to? They can finally be on television spelling words that I don't even think should be allowed. Knadeil? A German/Yiddish to English word meaning dumpling? You're going to tell me that's a bigger accomplishment than playing The Devil Went Down To Georgia on violin in sequins? I think not.
And yet, the similarities of the two events are shocking. They had the "let's meet the family" segments, they had the "dun dun dun" suspense music, they had the commentary spoken so low you thought you were watching golf and yes, there were even tears. Now I'm not saying it's not great to encourage kids to know how to spell or to have spelling bees but for God sake, I don't want to see them on network television. I'm not sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see if they'll make it through spelling a word of latin origin meaning to skin a cat. But you put a gal in a sequined leotard up there trying to catch a flaming baton and my blood pressure goes through the roof!!
Maybe I just miss the glitz and glamor. I mean, they couldn't even dress these kids up. They were wearing their school uniforms or khakis. Maybe if they had dressed them up and given them a rap-like opening number where they're all spelling at the same time like a great Opera piece or something. See, that's all we're really asking for, a little entertainment with the learning and maybe just maybe at the end of the whole thing they could have them walk the stage as letter shaped confetti fell from the heavens. It just needs a better director and producer but as I'm writing this I do see its potential.
What did the networks see? Some executives were sitting around banking on Akeelah and the Bee, the movie Starbucks got behind without realizing that a bunch of caffeined up people who can't even spell "latte" don't give a shit about some spelling bee movie. Starbucks has moved on (to a stupid ass tropical theme that makes you long for Harry Belafonte, not his daughter, or the stupid decor pieces they've put up) but the network was stuck, they had already signed the bee and had to air it. I can only imagine how great the ratings were and I'm doubtful they've signed the bee up for another year but maybe a cable network like the Food Network can pick it up next year and theme the words so that they spell words like, "oregano". Networks be ashamed of yourselves, no Miss America networks but a spelling bee - Don't Get Me Started!