Miss France 2008
In France there's always a party going on. Each night Stasha and I are at the hottest nightspots, dancing the night away with the other beautiful people. There aren't enough nights in a year to fit in all the exciting evening events we have planned.
Like last night. We sat on the couch for like four hours and watched the "Miss France 2008" pageant. I'd always thought France is pretty progressive, so that passé stuff like beauty pageants wouldn't attract very many people. But the show was on France 1, which is sort of like the most popular channel, and it sure looked like there were a lot of people there. Plus the viewing public could call in and vote for their favorite contestant because you, the viewer, make the choice. They were relying on us. At the end of the pageant the host said they'd received almost 300,000 votes, meaning one of every 200 people in France voted, each paying 0.56€ per call (about $0.80). That's like 200,000 more than vote in US presidential elections, and that's free.
The host was some guy that was probably famous, and his co-host was supposed to be a woman that I'm pretty sure was a man dressed in drag. But the whole affair seemed pretty good, as far as pageants go. In fact I'd say it was much better than pageants I've seen in the US. Not that it actually was better, but since Stasha and I couldn't understand any of the jokes we probably enjoyed it more. Sort of like watching reruns of America's Funniest Home Videos on mute so you don't hear Bob Saggett's voice.
France is the size of Texas, with a population of 60 million. The country is divided into 96 "departments", which are basically just mini-regions. For some reason the Miss France pageant had only 36 contestants, so a bunch of people must have been eliminated at some point before this program. But there seemed to be a lot of good contestants. For the region we live in there was a Miss Provence and a Miss Cote d'Azur, so we sort of had double coverage. Miss Cote d'Azur was an outstanding representative for our region. Stasha and I beamed with pride. Miss Provence, not so much.
As far as I could tell, the show was basically about who looked best in various dresses and bathing suits. The contestants were almost all between 19 and 22 years old. Miss Paris was the grande dame of the group, at 24. They basically walked around the stage for 90 minutes while the program showed a little vignette of each contestant, filmed a few days or weeks before. Each was of the girl running on a beach or walking on a bridge near her hometown, talking about how each is very "loyal", "passionate", "fun", "loves to laugh", etc. Most of the contestants looked great but the judge's panel was basically comprised of past Miss France winners, rugby players and homosexuals, so those with obvious flaws were eliminated early.
When they announced the 12 finalists, Stasha was adamant that Miss Bourgogne and Miss Alsace were the best. I agreed but also felt very strongly about Miss Rhone-Alps. She spoke to me in a very special way. I couldn't help but notice Miss Réunion as well, because her eyes were so brown-green they were almost yellow. As you can see there was much to debate, and a great deal to consider.
Miss Bourgogne, Miss Alsace, Miss Rhone-Alps, and Miss Réunion
After the 12 finalists were chosen it was time for the 1-piece bathing suit competition. This was really a two piece suit with a flap of cloth on the front. They all looked pretty good. Miss Alsace turned in a remarkable performance, cementing her status as the early favorite. There were a few obvious duds in the group, namely Miss Pays de Loire, who walked like a man. She might look good in touched up photos but on video there was stuff wrong all over the place.
About 11pm the five finalists were announced. The audience on hand and us viewers at home gasped with outrage. Miss Bourgogne made the final but, in an unforgettable turn of events, Miss Alsace and Miss Rhone-Alps had both been eliminated. Stasha became very angry about the snubbing of Miss Alsace. She found an outlet in her anger as she looked over the five finalists one more time with incredible disdain. "Oh I'm totally over Miss Bourgogne," she exclaimed indignantly. I accepted that without argument, although secretly I was rooting for her. And we were both angry that Miss Pays de Loire had been chosen when there were plenty of other good contestants that had been discarded like so much flotsam and jetsam, none of whom walked like men. I felt especially sad for Miss Rhone-Alps. She had really tried hard and her dreams had been crushed. She'll make a good nurse someday.
The five finalists were: Miss Albigeois Midi-Toulousain (which made for quite a sash), Miss Bourgogne, Miss Cote d'Azur, Miss Pays de Loire, and Miss Réunion. I should point out, by the way, that the Réunion Islands aren't even part of mainland France. It's like Miss Guam being in the Miss America pageant. It's fine, nobody minds another pretty face, but she shouldn't really win. We have 50 states and Guam is nice but it's not a state and that's that.
Stasha remained stunned and sulked quietly for the rest of the program, except to comment on the nose of Miss Pays de Loire, which from a side view was quite expansive. I, on the other hand, threw my hopes and dreams squarely on the 1.5m high shoulders of Miss Bourgogne, with a backup plan of Miss Réunion. They then had a two-piece bathing suit competition, which only served to futher confuse the male judges. Afterwards the host asked each finalist what she would do for the country as Miss France. They were all pretty much going to save the country.
Miss Albimidi-whatever, Miss Cote d'Azur (otherwise known as Donald Trump's wife), and Miss Pays de Loire
When they announced that Miss Cote d'Azur was the 4th runner up I was suprised because she was the tallest of the group. She looked very unhappy to finish in 5th place. This was also a surprise because her last name is Hot. I mean, that's really her name. And frankly, based on the photograph above she probably had a legitimate claim to Miss Most Beautiful Woman That Has Ever Set Foot on Any Planet Ever, but c'est la vie. We all moved on. The 3rd runner-up was Miss Bourgogne. I flew into a rage inside. These pageants are always rigged.
At that point I shifted my hope to the elimination of Miss Pays de Loire and the (hopefully) crowning of Miss Réunion. So when they announced Miss Réunion as the winner of Miss France 2008, it was a very emotional experience. She stood there with her hands over her face, tears welling in her yellow eyes, looking absolutely radiant.
She will represent France well in the coming 12 months, and gives us all hope for the future. No doubt she will champion many causes and will fulfill her responsibilities with great aplomb. While she may or may not win the Miss World/Universe/Earth/Planet competition, there are plenty of people here in Provence that woke up this morning feeling just a little safer. Miss France is there, taking care of us.