Thursday, June 7, 2007

Miss Universe 2007: Pageant in Review (Part 1)

After 7 long years, an Asian was finally crowned Miss Universe. This is a bittersweet moment for a continent that has been deprived of this right in that span of time. For a time being, people thought that the direction the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) was heading for (under Donald Trump) was to that which would benefit the Latin American countries. And why not? Didn't MUO put as part of the prize package of Miss Universe a part in a telenovela by Telemundo? Certainly, only Latin Americans would benefit from this. Would the Spanish speaking countries want to see an Asian in a telenovela?

But it turns out that the speculations were not going to happen this year. The 2007 Miss Universe Pageant turned out to be one of the more controversial, albeit unexpected pageant in history.

The crowd/press favorites this year seemed to be different from the normal trend. In the previous years, you would see Latin American delegates posing in one picture after another. This year, it was different. It was evident that the people are starting to embrace the fact that beauty is not created in one factory. Beauty can be seen everywhere. Korea was very popular ever since she set foot on Mexican soil. And who wouldn't like her? She has the face that can launch a thousand whatever. The Latin American delegates , although popular with the Mexican crowd, seemed to pale in comparison to the Asian and European delegates.

One thing that I observed, though, was the fact that times are indeed changing. Gone are the days of demure, regal, and poised beauty queens. Miss Universe has (even if MUO denies this) become MORE OF a modelling competition. How can I tell? For one, the stage had a runway. Second, it has been the trend since 2001. Next, part of the prize package is a modelling portfolio. Add to the fact that Donald Trump owns the Trump Model Agency. So if you add all together, what do you get?

Victoria's Secret or Miss Universe?

One cannot deny the fact that the stage of the pageant this year resembles that of the recent Victoria's Secret fashion show at the Kodak Theater. The massive stage had 4 levels where the delegates posed at certain times of the show. In a way, this was a far cry from the cheap-looking stage built in the Shrine Auditorium in 2006. However, during the telecast of the pageant, the stage became a hindrance to the audience to see the other delegates because it was just a bit distracting.

Opening Number

The pageant started with the pre-taped video of the delegates in their national costumes. The scene was as if it was really taken from the Victoria's Secret fashion show--the girls being shown as they are on their way to the stage in their national costumes--being made up and all. I was rather sad to see this kind of opening number. It seems as if MUO is not as creative as it was during its heyday (80's). There was no touch of Mexico on the stage albeit some Mayan graphics. The delegate introduction was also a bit hurried as it is the new trend in Miss Universe with the , , formula. I miss the times when the delegates would say bits of trivia about their country ('I come from a country where love is the essence of life...India!'--ah, I miss that!). The background music didn't help much either--no Mexican flair. I hope I don't insult Nelloy Furtado, but really, I thought that a more festive type of music should've been used (like the one they used in 2002).

After the last delegate was introduced, the ladies appeared on stage (live, this time), wearing their Tadashi dresses. The TV audience was made to believe that they changed outfit that same night. I was happy with the dresses this year. It had that Spanish / Mexican touch. It was also way better than the silver monstrosity of last year.

There was nothing special with the opening number, all in all. It was lackluster, with a similar choreography as last year's, and Miss Congeniality (Part 1) courtesy of Scott Grossman. I think MUO should hire a new choreographer. We are getting bored of the same thing from Scott. It's been the same choreography since 2003! No wonder it was reported that the ratings were not as favorable as previous ones.

(to be continued)

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