Today, as I was tuning in to watch Family Guy reruns for the seven thousandth time, I noticed that Miss Universe was live on NBC. After the first fifteen minutes, once India did not make the final cut, there really was no point to go on. I say that with no less respect for the rest of the beautiful ladies in the competition, but because I realized that the super-perfectness of the super-beautiful women was so superbly equal that there wasn’t really much of a competition left.
In 1994, just a few months into our family getting our first television, Miss Universe was playing on Star TV, and I still remember as if it were yesterday, how I watched with my jaw on the floor, my eyes unblinking, sighing every two minutes and feeling hopelessly in love with these fairy-like women walking in dazzling gowns to some angelic melody.
The thing about the 1994 show was that, each of the women visually represented her country, each woman was uniquely different in her mannerisms and her bone structure that you could remember who each was in a lineup, and finally each one seemed more folk-princess-like than global-model-like. The 2010 show, on the contrary is too perfect and consequently monotonous – put this way, every woman was about the same age (23-24), exact same height (5’10), i can bet the same weight give or take 2 lbs, the exact same waist (some showing a little more rib than others), exact same hair style and length (2 inches below shoulder), and even almost the exact same tan (pale white is no longer vogue), very similar cheek structures, and equally pretty facial features. In fact the similarities were so striking that a Photoshop amateur could put all their faces on one’s torso with no loss of quality. I kept asking myself how the judges quantify their perception of this perfectness to two decimal places so casually.
Think of it, this is exactly what happens to competitions over time, the winning margins tend to zero. The 500th of a second lead in the butterfly, the winning soccer goal aimed at the exact top right corner, stretching the world record by a tenth of the second in the 100m. I suppose the coaches of the Miss Universe too, have all honed their formulas over time and have come on top with more or less the same equation and hence the near-equally-perfect contestants.
If this is competition now, I can’t even imagine how Miss Universe would be in say, 30 years. There will be no choice but to replace human judges with algorithms.