Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Editorial: Reigniting the spark of Miss World

I am taking this post to say something that I could have done personally by email, but I think that words can be more powerful if you say them openly, so I am going to take this space to express some concerns that I and probably many people and fans also have.

The first thing I did when the 60th Miss World finals were approaching was checking out all pageants from 1997 to 2009. Who could ever forget the magnificent Miss World 1998 with that amazing floating stage in the Seychelles? Or the long runways of Miss World 1999 graced by perhaps one of the very best groups of contestants the pageant ever had. I still remember the Miss World 2000 girls parading with many popular songs remembering the last decades of a millennium that we were going to say farewell. One year later, South Africa offered one mesmerizing and exotic spectacle with Miss World 2001. Then 2002 had a slick and modern show that was the last amazing production the Miss World organization ever did. Yes, the last one.

From 2003 all the way to 2010, the show feels like a canned production, same everything every year. It has become a slow paced show with little screen time for each contestant and full of awkward silences. From a variety show, it became an announcement show. I was expecting a 60th anniversary show that would always be remembered, something even better than Miss World 2000. But what we got was very disappointing: a carbon copy of Miss World 2003-2009 editions with recycled dances and recycled music. This makes me ask myself: Why Miss World lost its spark? I honestly don’t know. As a fan, I feel very disappointed at this because you can sense that the great dame of beauty pageants is losing its beauty. I still have hopes that this will change, because if this worrisome trend continues, I don’t think there will be a long future.

At the end, Miss World is a TV show. We know that it is heavily advertised as the most watched annual event in the world with an audience of 1 billion people but a show must consider the opinions of the viewers in order to be successful. Many TV shows are examples of that. Reluctance to change does not lead anywhere, things become stagnant and outdated, and that leads to boredom.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want Miss World to become a copy of Miss Universe. Let’s take Miss America for example. The oldest and most traditional pageant in the United States have kept their purpose for many years already and they recently revamped and modernized the pageant with a spectacular show that scored high ratings and great reviews. They recognized the need of going with the times, embraced change while keeping their beliefs, and they achieved success demonstrated by getting a TV network to show the event once again. They did not need to make themselves another Miss USA.

Straight to the point, I want the production of Miss World to revamp the pageant. I am completely sure that this is a widespread desire among pageant fans. 

Now I will get a bit more personal about what I would like to see. Isn’t there a better way to solve this than mixing the best of previous editions?

Miss World 2009-2010: Dances of the World
This is a recent innovation and it works greatly. It shows the great cultural diversity that the world has.

Miss World 2001-2002: Delegates Introduction
I don’t know about you, but if I were a director, I would not like to see my contestant with a 1 second introduction after spending thousands of dollars in her preparation. The introduction needs to be changed. There is too much time wasted with pre-pageant videos that would be useful for showcasing the girls individually. Miss World 2001 and 2002 offered a great introduction. Having the girls parading individually with face and full body camera shots was a great idea. The personal videos are not necessary though.

Miss World 2003-2010: Fast Track Events
It is quite a great idea to showcase beauty in different perspectives. It would be better to have the winner announced from a Top 3 during the final telecast. Knowing the winner beforehand takes away the suspense.

Miss World before 2002: Celebrity hosts
Steve Douglas should keep working as the events director. His work there is impeccable since the pre-pageant activities of Miss World are always beyond excellent. But leave the hosting part for experienced celebrities. Jerry Springer, Ronan Keating, Pierce Brosnan and many others before 2002 brought magic to the show. 

Miss World 2000-2001: Interviews in the sofa
It was such a great and creative way to get to know the girls. It gave elegance to the show.

Miss World 1999-2002: Soundtrack
The soundtrack of the pageant during these years was very well selected. Miss World 2000 featured oldies and Miss World 2001 featured recent hits. Miss World 1999 and Miss World 2002 featured very modern and stylish original scores in touch with the sophistication of the pageant.

Miss World 1997: Evening Gown competition
The sudden cut from 25 to 7, or 20 to 5 without on stage competition does not look well. The common question is: How were they narrowed down? 

The judging process should be more transparent. We don't know how the semifinalists are chosen, how they are narrowed down. There is no preliminary competition and no scores are shown in the final telecast anymore. This takes away so much credibility to the pageant.

Swimsuits are already judged in Beach Beauty and they should not return to the stage, I do agree that swimsuits are for the beaches or pools. An evening gown competition with the song from an invited artist would be a great way to show a small competition in order to narrow down the semifinalists to the group of finalists. Then the finalists could be interviewed in the sofa like in 2000 and 2001. 

Miss World 2002: Semifinalists announcement
It was very suspenseful and organized unlike 2010. Viewers should be tense, anxiously waiting to find out if their contestant will advance further, instead of getting ready to hibernate.

Miss World before 2001: Finalists backstage
That was something unique. It was great to watch the victorious girl walking from backstage to join the Top 3 and receive the crown. It was quite an iconic Miss World moment.

I have to make clear that this article is not meant as an attack, this is rather an expression of concerns from a fan that wants the best for the event. I don’t want people constantly calling the pageant a snoozefest. Today those people are right, but I want them to be wrong in the very near future. 

Something that I’ve always admired of Miss World is Beauty with a Purpose, and that is something that should always be continuous. It is the essence of the pageant and what makes it unique among the rest. It takes away the superficiality that often surrounds beauty pageants. This is the ONLY thing that should never change, for the rest… it is time.

The Times of Beauty Est. 2008