At first glance, it feels like an exercise in futility to deconstruct the latest should-be non-story about a dumb incident at a meaningless event. The supposed “mistake” by professional game show host and card-reader Steve Harvey at the Miss Universe pageant.
But since the story’s been “trending” on my Facef#ck page for two days now, and there are (admittedly funny) emerging memes, an outdated and archaic patriarchal beauty pageant that no one paid attention to is suddenly “relevant” again.
This is not good for women, America or the world. So let’s lift the veil and expose it for the scam that is almost certainly is.
For one thing, it amazes me that anybody who works in media, advertising, marketing or PR could think the Harvey “gaffe” was anything but a manufactured “error” to create buzz and social conversation. They know the underlying foundation of these television events points to hoax.
1. This live contest is tightly scripted to fit a time slot. It's got to be done by 11 p.m. ET For beauty pageants, producers leave you hanging until after the last commercial break, with roughly two minutes remaining. This year, the winner was announced with about six minutes remaining. Good thing there was enough time to clear up their mistake!
2. Steve Harvey, like all TV hosts, is almost surely wearing a small ear monitor. If he made a mistake, it would've been blasted to him in a millisecond.
3. Instead there were nearly two minutes of parading around poor Miss Colombia as the "winner" before the "mistake" was acknowledged and Miss Philippines given the crown.
4. Look at how perfectly those two minutes are choreographed. If you watch the YouTube video linked above, the congratulatory music sequence ends naturally andorganically as Harvey returns to the stage. As if it was timed.
5. Steve Harvey is a professional game show host. He literally reads cards for his job on the now prurient "Family Feud." Did you see the card he was reading from? It couldn't have been more clear who won.
6. All day Monday, and now into Tuesday, the shallow, irrelevant Miss Universe pageant -- a sexist relic that should be relegated to the dumpster of history -- is all over the news and our public conversation. It drowns out the thousands of more important things we note, such as Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh’s jaw-dropping report that the Pentagon is openly defying President Obama and providing Syria’s Assad regime with intelligence and other support.
Steve Harvey, on the other hand? I think he knows exactly what he’s doing. Harvey’s going to walk away from this bigger than ever. Wait and watch.
The Miss Universe pageant has already announced Harvey will return for the 2016 pageant. Of course he will! The ratings next year will double.
Harvey will go on an apology tour, earning sympathy and pity. He’s a likable guy. A few weeks before the 2016 pageant, he’ll go out again, appealingly self-deprecating and reminding us good-naturedly of his “gaffe,” and promising that if we watch this year, he’ll get it right.
And the saps and dipshits will then watch a live event that can’t be DVR’d and the advertisers will be very happy.
But back to Steve Harvey. Steve Harvey just went from an American B- or C-lister to an internationally known entertainer. The Miss Universe event is an internationally aired event. Before Sunday’s pageant, nobody knew who Steve Harvey was outside the United States….until this “mistake.” Now Harvey’s got international recognition.
But isn’t the recognition for something bad? Doesn’t matter.
In a world of celebrity commodification, no one lasts long in disgrace nowadays. The media narrative demands a redemption story after humiliation. Steve Harvey’s turnaround will take nothing more than a few media mea culpas.
And by making this about Harvey’s redemption, we take our eye off the ball: Beauty pageants suck. Particularly contests like Miss Universe, which has no talent category to even pretend it’s anything but a showcase of objectification.
So let’s show Sunday’s manufactured “mistake” for the sham that it almost certainly is, and do our best to defer people from playing along. Even if I’m wrong, the Miss Universe pageant needs to end, like other unhealthy vestiges of the 20th century. True beauty isn’t found in an ersatz TV contest, even if you can’t fast-forward through it.