“A pretty girl is like a melody/ that haunts you night and day/You can’t escape, she’s in your memory/by morning, night and noon/She will leave you and then come back again/a pretty girl is just like a pretty tune.”
But what did Irving Berlin, privileged old white man that he was, know? He composed a good part of the Great American Song Book, plumbing the hearts of the people, male and female, whose spirits quickened at the sight of a twinkle in the eye of Miss America (and were willing not to take offense at the sight of a shapely drumstick and a well-turned ankle).
But Professor Berlin didn’t know much, according to Grandma Grundy, the spoilsport now in charge of the Miss America Pageant. Ms. Grundy, whose stage name is Gretchen Carlson, the chairman of the newly reconstituted trustees of the Miss America Pageant, and to her shame was a Miss America of yesteryear. To her further shame, she too had a pretty face and a nicely turned ankle, and no man averted his eye when she walked past.
But from now on, says Ms. Grundy, there will be no more bathing suits, bikini or otherwise, and even the modest evening gown is not modest enough. This will make even Muslim ladies eligible. If they want to wear a burqa, that’s OK. The judges, if they’re crass and curious, will have to guess what’s inside.
“We’re not going to judge you on your appearance,” Ms. Grundy reassures the prospective Miss Americas, “because we’re interested in what makes you you.” Ms. Grundy says many contestants have told her that they “don’t want to be out there in high heels and swimsuits.” This certainly explains why so many young women insist on wearing overalls on the beach.
Instead, says Ms. Grundy, who as Gretchen Carlsen chased Roger Ailes out of his job at Fox News after he did something oppressive to her, perhaps speculating on what was under her burqa.
Instead, girls who want to be Miss America without revealing all, or at least 90 percent of all, will participate in “an interactive session” with the judges (with chaperones, we hope) where “she will highlight her achievements and goals in life and how she will use her talents, passion and ambition to perform the job of Miss America.”
Changes in the evening gown competition will enable contestants to dress as they please, and no one will be judged on looks or dress, says an executive of the pageant. “It’s what comes out of their mouths that we care about.” But a bag lady, it seems to us, even if she recites “Plato’s Republic,” will have a difficult evening to keep a television audience.
Grandma Grundy says she’s not worried about losing the audience. Girls in bathing suits are boring, she says, and viewers will be more interested in recitations from great works of literature, politically correct politics and declamations on current events. Ratings won’t count.
Well, good luck to all, but we think Irving Berlin had a point. Little girls grow up in the most delightful way, and a pretty girl will survive as a melody, whether the Grandma Grundies of the world like it or not.
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