Great insight into the South's obsession for glorifying the American Girl
While it's not acknowledged outright by the film's producers, this expose into the "professional world" of The Miss America Pageant at the state level appears to have been inspired by the Jon-Bennet tragedy. One cannot help but feel the filmmakers went looking to uncover some maniacal sub-culture obsessed with turning their daughters into walking-talking perfection, with an ultimate goal of receiving a rhinestone tiara and bouquet of roses.
And what better place to look for it than in the deep South, "the heart of the Confederacy"--Texas. True, the startling quotes and surreal situations surrounding this pageant are all the more amusing with Southern accents, but the filmmaker makes no comment that this in fact occurs (to various degrees) in every state of the Union.
Nevertheless, the documentary is a fascinating look at the lengths two young women (and presumably every participant) will go to compete for a new crown--I say "new" because these girls have been doing this since childhood. You learn they move from city to city each year for yet another attempt to shoot for the state title.
Even more intriguing is the professional "coaches" that take on each girl weeks prior to the "big event." From high hair to high-heels, interview dry-runs to food deprivation, they create what they believe a "winner" should be. Strangely, it's men, not other women, who lead these ladies to their goal. Their eyes are ruthless, missing nothing--best of all, they even predict (accurately!) who will win the Texas title even before their girls have competed.
No where in the film, however, does the filmmaker ask these girls to what end all their efforts lead. The coaches point to past-winners who've "married well." Is this the lesson? Are they competing for a future high-income that comes not from themselves, but from some dazzled man? The Miss America Organization tries to stress their pageant is about "empowering" women...but that doesn't come across yet at the state level!
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