December 20, 2012

Power Line is really interested in the Miss Universe contest.

"I didn’t live-blog tonight’s Miss Universe show, but I kept notes as it went along, and so what follows are my impressions as the event unfolded. With a lot of stuff left out, like how mediocre the music was, and who in the world are the judges, anyway? So here goes...."

I guess there's still a place in pop culture for beauty contests, but I haven't considered watching one in decades. I remember when I was a kid, around 1960, watching Miss America and Miss Universe and feeling like these were very important events that everyone was watching. Even Miss U.S.A. and the Junior Miss pageants seemed important.

We were just talking last night — an in-person conversation, not a blog thread — about how American culture these days is no longer fixated on ideal feminine/masculine beauty as set apart from actual beautiful individuals who perform as actors or singers. This subject came up in the context of watching a documentary about a historical political figure who was fixated on ideals of feminine/masculine beauty represented in sculptures and paintings and so forth.

45 comments:

J.P. said...

Power Line does this every year, as I recall.

Regarding beauty in general, I think we were better off with the painted and sculpted ideals. At least everyone knew that those representations were ideals and not real people. Most people are not mentally prepared to deal with the statistical implications of a society of millions of people, including such things as completely unattainable beauty in real people.

john said...

Missed the show. Was there a trained goldfish?

rhhardin said...

Beauty contests are watched by women, not men.

It's the Cinderella conplex.

Men, given a chance, will enter farm animals in the contests.

wyo sis said...

My grandfather was a big beauty contest fan. I thought it was because of the talent portion because he was so impressed with talents like baton twirling. He did admire physical skill, but now I think the costumes may have had a role as well.

Shouting Thomas said...

We were just talking last night — an in-person conversation, not a blog thread — about how American culture these days is no longer fixated on ideal feminine/masculine beauty as set apart from actual beautiful individuals who perform as actors or singers.

Study porn.

One of the most surprising aspects of the proliferation of porn is the revelation that there is an audience, at least among men, for every possible female body type and age.

You can find fat woman porn, MILF porn, old woman porn, midget porn, amputee porn... you name it... men seem to be interested in it.

When are we going to get some credit for our enlightenment?

ricpic said...

Denying the centrality of female attractiveness to females won't make it go away.

Shouting Thomas said...

Denying the centrality of female attractiveness to females won't make it go away.

Female attractiveness is a market commodity. Might piss you off, but that's reality.

Check out, also, the international whorehouse that pops up when you visit any porn site. Women from all over the world mounting a camera in their bedroom and inviting the voyeurs to take a peek for a price.

Lay down that credit card at your own risk!

sydney said...

Who was the historical political figure? The first person who came to my mind was Sir William Hamilton, British ambassador to Naples in the late 18th century. He was a collector of beautiful things, including his nephew's mistress who became his second wife and who led Nelson astray. They say Sir William used to pay young Italian boys to swim naked outside his window (or was it off his boat) while he watched. Just so he could admire their beauty.

sinz52 said...

The female human body is one of God's most beautiful creations. Why should men not enjoy the sight of it.

As for what "Shouting Thomas" posted:

Yes, men's preferences in women's figures do differ. But numerous studies of men around the world show that in all cultures, the most preferred human female figure is still one with a waist-to-hip ratio in the range 0.6 to 0.8.

And sure enough, you'll find that famous actresses like Marilyn Monroe and most beauty queens have such a waist-to-hip ratio.

EDH said...

It is the entire Universe, after all.

Ann Althouse said...

"Study porn."

I don't watch porn, but my understanding is these people -- beautiful or not-so-beautiful -- are viewed in a performance.

My point -- for discussion -- is that we're not that interested in someone presented as simply a physical ideal -- just standing there, posing, like a sculpture/painting.

Ann Althouse said...

We might think, say, Angelina Jolie is a beauty ideal, but she's acting and is quite talented.

You may think of some counter-examples, maybe models, maybe Kim Kardashian, but these people are performing too. No one is just held up as physical perfection and thereby fixates us.

ricpic said...

The most depressing thing about porn is just how less than attractive most of the participants are. Yes, that's terrible sentence structure but it's standing.

Angelina Jolie is witch skinny. Kardashian is pneumatic.

An example of a classic waist to hip ratio woman? The younger sister of Kate Middleton, can't think of her name. Middleton by the way has a boy's hips.

Shouting Thomas said...

I don't watch porn, but my understanding is these people -- beautiful or not-so-beautiful -- are viewed in a performance.

Watched an interesting show last night on TV... a kinda funky, goofy show about the most recent Kinsey Report on human sexual behavior.

Female sexual behavior has changed quite markedly since the introduction of birth control.

Masturbation, once almost taboo among females, is now common. Young women are commonly trying out anal sex, group sex, etc.

The female aversion to porn will die out, too, Althouse, as women's sexual habits change. Sex is moving out of the darkness into the light, for good and bad.

I don't know whether you're stating your lack of interest in porn in the usual manner that women do, with a sort of indignation. I find it remarkable that your curiosity stops at this line.

Porn is the leader in reshaping everybody's sexuality, their sexual expectations and in the development of web technology. Remarkable that you have no interest. Porn may be the most interesting and important intellectual material out there. (Note, I didn't say that it is always nice.)

Ann Althouse said...

"I don't know whether you're stating your lack of interest in porn in the usual manner that women do, with a sort of indignation."

I'm not indignant and I'm not for suppressing it in any way. I'm just not interested in it. I feel coolly distant from it. When I happen to get confronted by these images, clicking on the wrong link on the internet, for example, I find them too brightly lit and sanitized, like medical illustrations. I could see looking closely at something genuinely artistic, like a Mapplethorpe photograph, but the things I see on the web are more like closeups of heart surgery, and it's always more-or-less the same thing.

I once watched a short porno film all the way through -- in the context of working as a law clerk to a federal judge. I watched with some other female clerks and we laughed a lot. It had a comic theme and ended with a punch line. It would have been funnier as a drawn comic strip though.

William said...

I remember a teacher remarking that the railroad changed people in many basic ways but no one knew what those changes were. Ditto with porn. It has to have some effect on human behavior, but God only knows what it is and will be.....Anyway, no thanks to me, women have better sex lives than in former times, but I don't know if they're all that happier.

Ann Althouse said...

Note that I'm also uninterested in most movies that many people like.

I really don't enjoy sitting around watching things. I've watched a lot of movies and TV shows over the years and I've over time gotten in touch with my lack of satisfaction in spending time like that. I'm no longer interested in trying to get interested in things I'm not interested in.

Shouting Thomas said...

Can't think of a worse environment for a female to watch porn than at work in the company of other females.

First, female group mores kick in. No women is going to be turned on by that material in a group of other women co-workers.

Second, hetero females have to be turned on by being with a man who turns them on before porn does its magic on them.

Porn has nothing to do with Mapplethorpe style aesthetics. He was a homo, remember?

Ann Althouse said...

This is the time of year when I used to feel that I should go out and see all the movies you're supposed to see. Like, right now, I feel there are 5 or 10 movies that are supposed to be really good so I'm supposed to see them. It's like an assignment hanging over my head. I've finally broken out of the sense of obligation.

At least with porn, you don't feel like you're supposed to put in time watching it. Or do young women these days feel that they are? An attraction of porn once was that you're not supposed to watch it. With that transgressiveness gone, you should be able to tell who actually loves this stuff and who doesn't. And yet, the sense of obligation may replace the entertainment value of transgressiveness. Perhaps there's a hybrid feeling of obligation to seem transgressive.

If I were more interested in the subject, I'd try to concoct more entertaining theories. Writing about things is what interests me.

Ann Althouse said...

"Can't think of a worse environment for a female to watch porn than at work in the company of other females."

That's part of what was so amusing about the situation. The male law clerk had to leave the room early on.

"Porn has nothing to do with Mapplethorpe style aesthetics. He was a homo, remember?"

I'm just saying I'm interested in artistic images. I get it that porn could be sexually exciting despite a complete lack of artistic merit. But you're not responding to my point which is that the porn images I've seen look anatomical and actually sanitized (and stupid). What's sexy?

(I've seen lots and lots of nude people in life drawing classes, btw.)

Shouting Thomas said...

What's sexy?

Watching people fuck.

LarsPorsena said...

Interesting talk at TED re porn and how it's rewiring brains,especially young men.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSF82AwSDiU

Shouting Thomas said...

It's the behavior, Althouse, as well as the pictorial part.

Why do you think most women are shaving their pubic hair off nowadays? They see that in porn, and they see that it has something to do with how much bang you get for your buck.

As somebody who was rendered involuntarily single and thrust back into the dating scene, I can tell you with certainty that women are engaging in all sorts of sexual behavior because they saw it in porn, tried it out and discovered that that behavior got them off.

Shouting Thomas said...

The TED bit is interesting in some ways, but it is screwed up by the usual intellectual need to phrase things according to intellectualism and feminism.

TED is ultra-liberal.

Porn isn't. Porn is capitalism.

Ann Althouse said...

"I like to watch."

Ann Althouse said...

"As somebody who was rendered involuntarily single and thrust back into the dating scene, I can tell you with certainty that women are engaging in all sorts of sexual behavior because they saw it in porn, tried it out and discovered that that behavior got them off."

The "behavior" in the film is for the sake of the camera, not for how it feels to the actors. It's a very strange thing for people in real life to ape these moves rather than to find out what feels best through their own bodies. They are using their eyes and their brains for learning, rather than real experience. And they are not "watching people fuck" in the sense of watching people who've truly learned what feels best. They are watching people who've learned what looks best.

Somewhere I read an essay about someone who was having sex with somebody and realized that they were positioning their body in a way that made no sense until he realized that it was for a camera (though there was no camera). This person had learned sex from porn movies. That was funny and sad.

But I think we learn a lot of our behavior from movies. Things that make a good scene are actually often not a good approach to life -- like a big dramatic argument where you tell someone off and start throwing things.

sydney said...

But I think we learn a lot of our behavior from movies. Things that make a good scene are actually often not a good approach to life -- like a big dramatic argument where you tell someone off and start throwing things.

Some people learn this more than others. Borderline personality disorders love to be dramatic. I think this is why there are so many of them in the entertainment field. It is as if they are always in front of a camera. They live for the audience reaction to their overblown emotions - even if it is just an audience of one.

Shouting Thomas said...

The "behavior" in the film is for the sake of the camera, not for how it feels to the actors.

You have a bit of a point in that fucking in front of a camera is staged, and that that means that the actors do things in a way that is optimized for the camera.

But, overall, I think you're wrong.

Actors and actresses specialize in types of sexual acts with particular partner(s) that fit their sexual desires. Read interviews with actors and actresses and you'll discover that this is true.

edutcher said...

We used to care about Miss America the way we cared about the Kentucky Derby, who won the Oscars (never the Emmys), the World Heavyweight Champion, or the World Series.

We were a mass culture then - anybody who doesn't remember 1965 or so never saw it - now we're all fragmented and niched.

Carol said...

Young women are always caving to pressure from dudes to do this or that thing they saw somewhere. They want to be cool, they want to be hip so the guy will dig them.

And the reason I know is because of the inevitable complaint that they changed, after a couple years of marriage. See, it's not the be-all and end-all of life for us.

Me, I'm glad I'm old because I don't envy women under pressure for anal and kinkier sex.

Shouting Thomas said...

You're also missing the point, Althouse, that wanting to be watched is probably the key attribute for a porn actor or actress.

I'm not going to pretend to be a scientist, but it seems to me that humans are just about alone among primates in hiding their sexual activity.

Among all other primates, sexual activity is right out in the open, conducted in front of the troupe, and is a stimulating part of sorting out group dynamics.

Or, so it seems to me.

LarsPorsena said...

Blogger Ann Althouse said...

"I like to watch."

12/20/12 10:19 AM
________________________________

giggles ;-)

Shouting Thomas said...

Me, I'm glad I'm old because I don't envy women under pressure for anal and kinkier sex.

That's how you feel.

Doesn't mean other women look at things, or feel the same way you do.

Ann Althouse said...

"Read interviews with actors and actresses and you'll discover that this is true."

But I think actors are liars.

Bill said...

I remember a conversation with a female coworker back in the 90s. She was ranting about the sexism of a Hawaiian Tropic pageant and how it was so much more offensive than a Miss America pageant because the latter judged the whole woman, talents and personality and all, and not just her looks.

I thought that was exactly wrong. It seemed the Miss America pageant was 'judging' the women, evaluating their worth, and presenting a particular woman as not just more beautiful, but somehow a better human being than the others.

The Hawaiian Tropic pageant, by comparison, was evaluating one aspect, and one aspect only: their looks.

When I watch a sports game, if my favorite player is a nice guy, that may heighten my enjoyment and if he's a scoundrel it may diminish my enjoyment, but ultimately I just care about how they play the game and I'm not judging their worth as persons. Beauty pageants should be just that: a dispassionate example of particular standards of beauty.

Ann Althouse said...

"You're also missing the point, Althouse, that wanting to be watched is probably the key attribute for a porn actor or actress."

But is that the genuine sexual preference of the young women who are picking up their sex tips from watching the "behavior" in porn. Good luck, guys, with the women whose sexual preference is shaped by copying exhibitionists, whether these women are actually exhibitionists or just don't know better than to try to be like people who actually are exhibitionists. I'm sure these young women are a delight to be around. Good luck trying to satisfy them!

"I'm not going to pretend to be a scientist, but it seems to me that humans are just about alone among primates in hiding their sexual activity."

Because these animals don't know how to begin to think about privacy OR exhibitionism. It's all just nothing to them. They don't make movies either. They don't consume pop culture or try to act like movie stars.

Bill said...

"I thought that was exactly wrong."

I didn't mean she was incorrect to think that, but that it was actually better to judge solely on the basis of appearance rather than some sort of total character profile.

Shouting Thomas said...

Good luck trying to satisfy them!

It works the opposite, Althouse. If a man really likes sex, a woman who is always worked up and wants sex is a great thing. Odd that you would think otherwise.

It's all just nothing to them.

It most certainly is not. In every primate, the obsession for males is to know who is the father of the children.

Shouting Thomas said...

You're struggling, Althouse, with what almost all men know... that there are two completely different facets of sexuality.

One is the gross, drug-like stimulation that is completely partner irrelevant.

The other is human inter-relationship and love.

Men, in general, want both. Women, in general, only want the latter. That's why we are so often in conflict. (But, as I said, porn is changing that.)

I can never figure out your opinions on gay male sexuality. Gay men, at least in the cities where I've lived, exemplify this duality in terms of sexual interest.

William said...

If you want to amp up your sex life, try sky jumping, not porn. There's something about proximity to death that revs up the libido. Something Darwinian I suppose. It's said that soldiers under bombardment in foxholes (heh,heh) used to jerk off. Other extreme sports probably have the same effect and might explain their appeal. I don't recommend hang gliding though. Paraplegia really screws up your sex life.....I had, for a while, a dilettante's interest in sky diving. Just tandem jumps, but I noted that some people were really into it. They purchased and folded their own chutes and kept trying out riskier jumps....Perhaps a similar phenomenon occurs in porn. Sometimes you see a scene and wonder why anyone would ever want to do that. Because it's there. There's always that wish to push the envelope....I suppose the urinary tracts of porn performers have the life span of a NFL player's knees, but, in the meantime, they have fun. I know they're really having fun because they're such awful actors.

Shouting Thomas said...

By the way, Althouse, I don't think that gay and straight men are different in wanting both facets of sexuality.

Wanting sex with women means that somebody is putting the brakes on... the woman.

That's the difference.

Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

Powerline does this every year. I think his wife and daughters pull him into it. He doesn't want to watch it, you see, but his wife and daughters make him watch it, and at that point he might was well blog about it.

Ann Althouse said...

"It works the opposite, Althouse. If a man really likes sex, a woman who is always worked up and wants sex is a great thing. Odd that you would think otherwise."

I have no idea what you think I said or even what you think you are saying. When were we talking about "a woman who is always worked up and wants sex"? That's just goofy as a representation of anything I thought I was talking about.

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