Monday, May 17, 2010

Miss USA: Exploitation of Another Kind?

I'm from Michigan.  Some might argue I'm a tad bias when it comes to news headlines featuring my birth state.  There is some truth to that statement, but it is not the sole purpose for blogging about this particular topic.  While fans of the mid-western state might be jumping up and down yelling, 'we won, we won!'  I cannot help but question the reasons why.  I certainly do not intend to discredit Rima Fakih's beauty or competitive qualifications, but the critical part of my writer brain wonders if this crowning wasn't motivated by something more sinister.  The historian in me contemplates if this 'queen' was pushed forth for some other, less publicized advantage.  With a set of sparkling diamonds set upon her head, Rima Fakih has been deemed the face of Arab-American women.  Today, CNN even flashed a picture of a middle-eastern woman draped in a black burka before panning to a stunning media centerfold of Rima sporting a tiny bikini, crown and sash. This is suppose to change our 'image' of middle-eastern stereotypes?  The press is quick to include Rima is Muslim and of Lebanese descent and that she watched pageants with her father (not mother) while growing up.  This appears to be the main focus of her crown, where as her education, social causes and work is a side-note.
"This is the real face of Arab Americans, not the stereotypes you hear about," said Zouheir Alawieh, 51, of Dearborn. "We have culture. We have beauty. We have history, and today we made history. ... She believed in her dreams."
Selling the 'American Dream,' is the most over used cliche in journalism.  This idea of making history based on race and culture has an all too familiar ring.  I'm not suggesting this is lame ideal by any means, but I do pause to question the motives and propaganda and wonder if this is indeed 'fair' or merely opportunistic.  This smells wickedly of exploitation motivated and hidden behind a gigantic snowball.

In the wake of war, economic depression (hitting Michigan the hardest), recent terrorism, oil spilling, discrimination, stereotypes, religion and cultural misunderstandings, I ponder the impact this decision will truly have.  Will Rima change the face of American women and break down barriers, inspire tolerance, economic growth, or will those in the middle-east see the bikini clad Muslin woman parading around a stage as just another corruption created by the evil super power, the USA?

The crowning of Rima is deemed to change America's perspective and judgement of Muslin Arab-Americans, but will she change how the middle east views our country?  Who gains politically and culturally from this 'historic' event?

1 comment:

  1. Good question for provoking thought. I'm not sure beauty pageants promote any kind of woman positively. Seems to perpetuate a stereotype of its own stuck around 1960-something. :)


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