Miss Universe 2017 Preview

Is this perfect timing, or what? If you have had it with hideous old men behaving badly, it’s time to pay attention to some beautiful young women behaving, almost without exception, well. The conclusion of the 2017 Miss Universe pageant is less than four days away. The finale will be Sunday on Fox, live from Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. If I am reading the pageant site’s countdown clock correctly, the show will begin around noon. I suppose that is because the Miss Universe pageant, like Hollywood movies, is no longer produced primarily for an American audience.

I have been covering Miss Universe for quite a few years, but it is getting harder to do. Give President Trump credit for this: he knew how to run a beauty pageant. In the past, I could do posts on the pageant over at least a couple of weeks, based on photos and information about the contestants from the pageant’s site. No longer: missuniverse.com is still under construction. If you want to see pictures of the contestants, you naturally click on the “Contestants” link on the site’s main page, which produces this:

You would think anyone who runs a pageant would understand the importance of photos of the contestants, but no: the would-be critic has to scour other sources. This never would have happened if Donald J. Trump were still in charge!

If you follow international beauty pageants, a political angle generally turns up. This year, as often in the past, it involves Miss Israel. It began when Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman, posted on Instagram a picture of herself with Miss Iraq with the caption, “Get to know, this is Miss Iraq and she’s amazing❤️.”

This well-intentioned gesture provoked the usual moronic response from the Arab world. Earlier today, Miss Iraq apologized:

Beauty queens Sarah Idan and Adar Gandelsman are representing their respective countries at the Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas, but Iraq’s Idan probably was not betting on the backlash to her Instagram post.

“This picture doesn’t mean I support the Israeli government or its polices toward Arab countries. I apologize to everyone who saw it as an insult to the Palestinian cause — this was not its purpose,” Idan said in a response in Arabic.
***
Idan, 27, said Gandelsman told her “she hopes that one day there will be peace between the two religions (Judaism and Islam) and that her children will not have to do military service.” [Gandelsman currently is serving in the IDF.]

“She asked for a photo and I agreed, saying that I too hoped for peace and wanted to help pass on the message,” added Idan, who said she had served with both the US and Iraqi armies.
***
Idan, a Muslim, was born and raised in Baghdad. Following the US-led invasion in 2003, she worked with the American military from 2008. She later moved to the United States and got a degree in Los Angeles.

There is nothing new about any of this. The same thing happened in 2015 when Miss Israel and Miss Lebanon were photographed together, to the outrage of supporters of “Palestine” who demanded that she resign. Bigotry never takes a holiday, apparently.

So let’s get on with it. Betting odds have taken shape, which identifies some contestants we can focus on. Be forewarned, though: the odds vary from one bookmaker to another, and residents of some countries are prone to betting heavily on their contestant, thereby unrealistically influencing the odds.

Miss South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, is at or near the top in most books. This raises an immediate controversy, as her victory in South Africa was disputed by some contestants who claimed she had “a ‘special relationship’ with two judges and received preferential treatment.” Personally, I don’t think Ms. Nel-Peters needed an edge:

Miss Thailand, Maria Poonlertlarp, also rates high with the bookmakers:

The Philippines have been a top source of pageant contenders recently. This year’s entry is Rachel Peters:

As is often the case, Miss Colombia, Laura Gonzales, ranks high in the betting. With good reason, in m opinion:

There are lots more, but for now, let’s close with Miss USA, Kára McCullough. McCullough caused a bit of a stir at the Miss USA pageant when, in answer to a question, she didn’t fully adopt the PC line–always hazardous in the world of pageantry–and called herself an “equalist” rather than a “feminist.” She also said that health care is a privilege, not a right. (I would say it is neither a privilege nor a right, but it is hard to be too subtle when you have one second to think and 30 seconds to answer a pageant question.) Ms. McCullough has a degree in chemistry and works for the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

Over the next day or so I will identify some personal favorites and do a follow-up post.

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