Title

Introduction

Document Type

Editorial

Publication Date

1-1-2004

Description

The Miss America Pageant has provoked a wide range of responses throughout its history. Time critic Richard Corliss wrote, "It’s gaudy it’s fake, it’s real, it’s live! We hate it. We love it!"1 Former Miss America Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Leonard Horn referred to the pageant as a competition that "promotes healthy competition and breeds character among young women."2 Robin Morgan, feminist scholar and former editor of Ms. magazine, responded that it was "the classic entity where racism, sexism, and homophobia are merged into one."3 Corliss’s comment captures the kitschy, glitzy, carnival-like atmosphere that he experienced while covering the pageant, while Horn’s invokes the years of training, hard work, and competition that most of the contestants endure before having a chance to wear America’s most coveted crown. Morgan’s critique attacked what she sees as the perennial blond-haired, blue-eyed, heterosexual, Barbie doll-like archetype that the pageant has rewarded for most of its history. These few remarks constitute a small sample of the broad spectrum of sentiments proffered by observers of the pageant. Such varied reactions no doubt indicate that the pageant touches a nerve in the American psyche.

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