MISS WORLD 2016: DIVINITY DENIED (PROLOGUE)

Before I launch into the review of Miss World 2016, I would like to begin by offering you, the reader, some things to think about.  In particular, about the concepts of beauty and justice.  I am presenting two videos from Crash Course Philosophy (spearheaded by the Vlogbrothers John*1 and Hank Green, and this course is hosted by the latter brother) that provides a lot of insights about these concepts that I hope you, the reader, would take time to listen and then pause and reflect.

*1 John Green is best known as the author of the young adult novel The Fault in Our Stars which was made into a hit movie.  Anyway I encourage you to subscribe to both vlogbrothers and Crash Course on YouTube as they both educate and enrich your mind.

Now, another point to ponder when we look through history and culture, arguably the earliest beauty contest that was recorded in antiquity (albeit in a myth) was the Judgment of Paris.*2  The interesting thing about this contest is that Paris’s decision ultimately was not based on his opinion on the beauty of the three goddesses (Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite) competing to get the golden apple with the inscription “For the Fairest One”, but from the rewards these goddesses offered.  Hera offered to make him king of Europe and Asia, Athena offered him wisdom and skill in war, and Aphrodite offered him the most beautiful mortal woman in the world, Helen of Sparta.  Paris chose Aphrodite as the winner, but the prize came with a snag–Helen was married to King Menelaus so as most versions told it, Paris abducted/seduced Helen and brought her to his city-state, Troy, and the Greeks triggered the Trojan War to get Helen back.  Helen was heretofore better known as Helen of Troy.

*2 The dispute arise as the chief god Zeus held a party to celebrate the wedding of Achilles’ parents Peleus and Thetis and didn’t invite the goddess of discord, Eris.  Eris crashed the party by throwing a golden apple with the inscription “For the Fairest”, and ultimately it came down to three goddess to dispute for the honor.  They first wanted Zeus to be the judge but he’s reluctant to make such a call, so he decided that the Trojan prince Paris be the judge as he had previously displayed exemplary fairness in judging a contest between the god of war Ares who took the form of a bull and Paris’s own personal prized bull–Paris ruled in favor of the god Ares.

Greek vase depicting the Judgment of Paris

In modern history we do witness pageants with questionable decisions and some of these may be a product of influence peddling.  Take the case of Miss World 1970.  It was reported that four of the nine judges actually voted for Sweden (Maj Johansson) as their winner, and only two for the eventual winner Grenada (Jennifer Hosten).  But based on the majority vote system that Miss World creator Eric Morley put in place, because Sweden didn’t get the absolute majority (at least five), the crown was not granted to her, so they had to go to votes for Top Five placements.  It so happened that Grenada had a lot of votes placing her 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th that she garnered enough points to win.  Sweden apparently didn’t get that much Top Five placements that she eventually was overtaken by Africa South (Pearl Jansen)*3 and Israel (Irith Lavi) and she fell to 3rd runner-up.  Now it also should be noted that the Prime Minister of Grenada Sir Eric Gairy was in the panel of judges so even if Eric Morley provided proof that the pageant was not rigged by displaying the ballots of the judges, many would still argue that the presence of this official made the other judges grant token placements for Grenada.  For more about the Majority Vote System and the 1970 pageant, you can find articles that Pageantopolis webmaster Donald West for the defunct Geocities Beauty School website archived.

*3 From 1970-76, there were two representatives from South Africa–one white representing South Africa and one black designated with the sash “Africa South”.

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The Miss World 1970 court: 2nd runner-up Israel (Irith Lavi), 4th runner-up South Africa (Jillian Jessup), Miss World 1970 Grenada (Jennifer Hosten), 1st runner-up Africa South (Pearl Jansen), and 3rd runner-up Sweden (Maj Johansson) [Image courtesy of Alamy Stock Photo)
Another edition that featured a controversial decision that may have an element of influence-peddling was Miss World 2012.  This pageant was held in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China.  First there was the controversy of the Leaderboard–observant pageant fans may notice the final Top 15 leaderboard featured scores that do not seem to be sorted in proper order, with some high scores shown to be ranked low.  For this aspect, after several months eventually Miss World issued a statement explaining the rankings are correct but the scores were not properly updated due to a production error.

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The controversial Top 15 leaderboard

Another controversy related to this pageant was that the Top Two scorers on the Leaderboard, India (Vanya Mishra) and Mexico (Mariana Berumen) were then marked down, with the latter ousted of the Top Seven finalists in favor of Brazil (Mariana Notarangelo) and the former suddenly relegated to the bottom of the Top Seven when the rankings were disclosed.  It was said that the two front-runners were ousted to pave the way for the victory of the host country China (Wenxia Yu), allegedly as a favor to the Chinese organizers and sponsors.  But I have to note that it could be argued that China has merits to be worthy of the crown, and she was one of the big favorites to win in the first place, anyway.  But the way the evening unfolded made it open for speculation of sponsor/host committee peddling and detracted from what could’ve been otherwise an acceptable result.

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Leaderboard toppers ousted: India (Vanya Mishra) and Mexico (Mariana Berumen)

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Lest we say that only Miss World is guilty of these incidents, I would like to point out that the other Big Two pageant, Miss Universe, also has incidents that make you go “hmmm…”  Case in point:  Miss Universe 2012.  First, ever since now President-Elect Donald Trump reportedly threw a hissy fit when back in 2004 Ukraine’s Oleksandra Nikolayenko*4 failed to make the final cut, they implemented a system that allowed Trump and the Miss Universe Organization to select five or six of the Top 15, and over the years, instead of fulfilling its intentions of ensuring the best looking ladies are featured, we were saddled with quite a significant amount of dubious choices–some can be attributed to Trump’s preference for almost anything Eastern European, and others to serve his business interests or to curry some favors.  This particular edition was no exception with the inclusion of Turkey (Cagil Őzge Őzkul) and India (Shilpa Singh).

*4 She competed in Miss World three years earlier and was a Top Ten semifinalist there.

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Trump Picks: Turkey (Cagil Ozge Ozgul) and India (Shilpa Singh)

Then came the choice of winner.  Going into the finals, many pageant fans and pundits were betting on South Africa (Melinda Bam) to win it all, but despite a flawless performance, she was cut out after the Top Ten.  As I speculated in my review of that pageant, the probable issue for her ouster was that she was deemed “too perfect”.  After the swimsuit, evening gown, and interview, everything seems to point towards a victory for the Philippines (Janine Tugonon).  However, there is a factor that swayed the judges to not evaluate on merit but on patriotic sentiments–a few days before the Sandy Hook massacre occurred with 20 innocent children and 6 heroic teachers and school administrators murdered, and the producers wanted to ensure this pageant would serve as an uplifting beacon after that dark incident.  So even if arguably Janine totally outclassed her in evening gown and interview, the crown still went on the head of USA (Olivia Culpo).

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From L-R: The “Perfect” pundit’s choice – South Africa (Melinda Bam); the actual winner – USA (Olivia Culpo); the top performer – Philippines (Janine Tugonon)

COMING UP:  THE MISS WORLD 2012 PAGEANT REVIEW PROPER

 

 

 

MISTER SUPRANATIONAL 2016: AN AUSPICIOUS DEBUT, AND A GAUNTLET THROWN (CONCLUSION)

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The Top Ten then changed into formal wear, and with female partners performed a Viennese waltz set to a cover of The Weeknd’s smash from Fifty Shades of Grey“Earned It”.  It’s not simply gliding motions here, but the guys also had to lift their partners several times.  It’s not a routine for guys with low stamina.  After that dance number, they are subjected to a final Q&A, just like as it was introduced in last year’s Miss Supranational.  Just like in last year’s format, the Top Ten are asked a very simple question:  “What would you like to get from your significant other for Christmas this year?”

10TH PLACE:  JAPAN – Ricky wakabayashi.  I did predict he’ll make the cut because he exudes a sophisticated cosmopolitan Asian vibe, and it does appeal the girls (especially those who love J-Doramas–and there is a significant fanbase in Europe, I heard).  His Christmas wish is simple and direct–dinner with family and a nice jacket.  Though I preferred Czech Republic and Puerto Rico, I have no objections to him making the cut over them, just like…

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9TH PLACE:  PANAMA – Michael Piggott.  “Dark Chocolate” was the only man of color to make the final cut, which probably made him stand out even more and soar to the Top Ten.  His Christmas wish is sweet, humble and lovely–he announced his Christmas wish was granted as he finally saw snow when he set foot in Poland.

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8TH PLACE:  POLAND – Rafal Jonkisz.  I was expecting that since he’s competing on home turf he would make the Top Five at the very least.  It seemed to be pointing towards that direction throughout the pageant finals, as he led the AquaCity challenge and won Mr. MobStar (an automatic ticket to the Top Ten).  I suppose in the judges’ reckoning it was a tight eight-way battle for top honors, and he probably missed the Final Five honors by very little.  This somewhat reminded me of a similar scenario with the previous year’s Mister International, and it’s possible he’s like the equivalent of Reniel Villareal here.  His Christmas wish reveals that even with his stellar status, he’s still a youth at 19 years old–spend time with his family and that he’ll do well in his first semester at university.

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7TH PLACE:  DENMARK – Markus Rosenberg.  This son of Miss World and Miss International 1986 1st runner-up Pia Rosenberg has that boyish appeal that is indeed a charmer.  As I mentioned before it’s a major rumble for eight guys fighting for five limited slots, and he’s one of the three who missed it by a few slivers.  He has the consolation of garnering the Photo-Challenge special award (I have a feeling it has to do with the James Bond style photos they did).  He went for the sincere and honest approach in his Christmas wish–a GoPro camera so he can capture moments and memories.

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6TH PLACE:  VENEZUELA – Gustavo Acevedo.  That Latin handsomeness and those Zac Efron eyes are too irresistible.  I don’t know if his choice to speak Spanish cost him that Top Five slot–he gave a lengthy answer that seems to invoke something poetic about love–it seems he’s citing the Bible or a book and I heard the word “solidaridad” in it.  But since they have no translator, they had Panama translate and all he can come up with is “Love”.

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Now, let’s talk about the Royal Court.  I got three out of five right, with one a pretty big sleeper surprise, and the other one, a sigh of relief that he was not affected by the reports I had been receiving about him.

4TH RUNNER-UP:  ROMANIA – Catalin Brinza.  He fully vindicated his non-finalist finish at Mister Universal Ambassador by making all the way in the Top Five in this pageant.  I suppose his severe features are catnip in the Slavic markets that is why he was able to edge out strong contenders from Poland, Denmark and Venezuela out of the Top Five.  I can’t begrudge him his showing and will just file this under “refreshing sleeper surprises.”  Like many of the guys here, his Christmas wish was also sweet and simple–spend time int eh snow t build snowmen and play in the fjords.

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3RD RUNNER-UP:  BRAZIL – Bruno Vanin.  I’ve always pegged him as Final Five worthy and indeed he placed in this lofty position.  Yes, his physique may be on the slender side, but his charisma and outgoing personality could not be denied.  When asked about his Christmas wish, he talks about being grateful for the life he has lived thus far and the love of his family and the experiences he has in this pageant, and his wish is to pay it forward, that he wishes everyone else will have a wonderful life like the one he already has.  Lovely and altruistic answer, I have to say.

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2ND RUNNER-UP:  INDIA – Jitesh Naresh Thakur.  Here’s another big front-runner who simply ticks all the boxes all throughout.  But I have to say, his Christmas wish is a bit of “humble-brag”:  he talks about wanting to give something instead of getting, and that gift he wants to give is pride for his country and family by winning this title.  His wish obviously didn’t come true, but placing third is still something that his country and family would be proud of, especially with such a strong group like this one.

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1ST RUNNER-UP:  BELARUS – Sergey Bindalov.  He was the one who most peg as the one to win it all in this inaugural edition, especially if we applied Miss Supranational’s trajectory to this pageant.  He was firing on all cylinders indeed and also looked to be on-tract to win.  But the all female panel were just more into another fellow, but still his finish is also part of this country’s extremely strong track record in this pageant franchise.  His Christmas wish is simple and honest–eat a lot and enjoy time with family, and he wish everyone the same.  Those celebrating Christmas understand the sentiment very well.

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MISTER SUPRANATIONAL 2016:  MEXICO – Diego Garcy.  I pegged him as a front-runner until I heard reports from friends with close links to his national director as they relayed tales of conflicts with the choreographer and some other personnel.  So I pegged him down a bit and placed him outside the Top Five.  But apparently with the people that counted like his fellow contestants and the all-female panel of judges, he won them over.  For me, it was a three-way battle for the top honors among him, India, and Belarus, and his flirtatious way with the ladies as shown in videos like the Drift / Maluch challenge where it ended with him asking race car driver Karolina Pilarczyk, “Are you single?” made him stand out.  That, and his imposing 6’2 1/2″ stature and elegant bearing (he won the Mr. Elegance special award) are just too strong to ignore.  Just like Brazil, his Christmas wish was to give something–since Latinos love a party, he wants to throw one for his new friends, his fellow Mister Supranational contestants.  With that outgoing wish, and the charm he has with the ladies, he clinched the inaugural title.

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The production of the inaugural edition of Mister Supranational far eclipsed what was delivered by more established male international pageants like Mister World, Mister International, and Manhunt International (not to mention the host of fledgling up-and-coming ones).  Even with obvious growing pains, this pageant set an indelibly high standard  that it has almost firmly established itself as a premiere pageant worthy of belonging to the level of the aforementioned pageants.  Can the established pageants meet the production values delivered here?  I hope now that Diego is the winner, he could help the World Beauty Organization by providing inputs on how to improve the experience of the contestants in future editions to ensure this pageant sustain its prestige.  Looking forward to what the next editions would hold…

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

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The winners’ court: Brazil (3rd RU), Belarus (1st RU), Mexico (Mister Supranational 2016), India (2nd RU), and Romania (4th RU).

 

 

MISTER SUPRANATIONAL 2016: AN AUSPICIOUS DEBUT, AND A GAUNTLET THROWN (PART 2)

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Before I discuss the Top 20, I have previously mentioned this pageant borrowed an element from another major pageant.  The major pageant is Miss World, and the element is the leaderboard (employed from 2011-2015).  In this case, the twist is it is used to score the three challenge activities conducted:  One team challenge which is the “Maluch” (Polish car assembly) chalenge, and two individual challenges, the Aquacity (swimming) challenge and Supra Chef (cooking) challenge.  The team challenge is scored with 8 points for the 1st place team, 6 for the 2nd place team, 4 for the 3rd place team, and 2 for the last-placed team, but there is 5 bonus points* for one individual who was singled out and given the privilege to go on a drift ride with female race car driver Karolina Pilarczyk, while the individual challenges scored the Top 10 performers with 10 points going to the 1st placer and 1 point going to the 10th placer.  The one who accumulates the most points would be given a wildcard slot in the Top 20.  It turns out there is a tie for first this year…

*That honor went to Trinidad & Tobago.

I have to note about an awkward moment on the leaderboard segment–Peru (Alvaro Paz-Lopez) was disqualified a day before (because he was bringing in girls to his hotel room and basically treating his stint as “spring break”), but he made it to the scoreboard as he was part of the winning Maluch challenge team (8 points) and placed 7th in the Supra-Chef challenge (4 points).  Wonder if he would make the final cut if he wasn’t disqualified?

After the Top 20 was announced, we are then treated to a chic fashion parade with the Top 20 modeling semi-formal black outfits.  set to Goodbye” by Feder featuring Lyse.  

Immediately after that sequence, the Top 10 was announced.  But before we delve into the Top Ten, let’s discuss the Top 20.  I got 14 of the 20 correct, and I have to admit I severely underrated quite a few guys who made it, plus I wasn’t aware of the “wildcard” part, and one of the two wildcards would’ve probably had been in the dreaded “Bottom 11” if it wasn’t for it.  And that person is…

20TH PLACE:  UNITED KINGDOM – Rex Newmark.  He is a chef by profession, and that is the factor why he won the Supra Chef challenge and garnered 10 points.  He was also part of the winning Maluch challenge team, and that gave him an additional 8 points, and with that he was in the joint lead and advanced to the Top 20.  Based on this official ranking, it meant he ousted Egypt from a Top 20 placement as otherwise, most pageant fans and pundits (including myself) regard him as one of the bottom contestants in this batch.

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19TH PLACE:  SWEDEN – Ali Ghafori.  I think his situation was similar to Egypt. but he was lucky enough that he ranked one notch higher to avoid being knocked out by the Wildcard winners.  He didn’t really register that much in the preliminary looks rounds but he showed spunk and personality later on (which may reflect in the interviews).

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18TH PLACE:  FRANCE – Bryan Weber.  As I predicted he made the cut, but it seems barely so as the judges seemed to rate others more highly.  Still it’s worth celebrating that he made the cut this time after missing Mister International the previous year.

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17TH PLACE:  PHILIPPINES – AR dela Cerna.  I’m glad his boyish cuteness garnered enough appeal to make the cut.  It’s all we expected of him and he delivered.

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16TH PLACE:  PUERTO RICO – Christian Trenche.  He was co-champion of the challenge events, garnering 7th in the AquaCity challenge (4 points), was part of the 2nd place team in the Maluch challenge (6 points) and third in the Supra Chef challenge (8 points).  But based on his ranking, it seems he would’ve made the cut without the Wildcard anyway.  Still, I’m surprised he ranked relatively lower than I predicted (I expected him in the Top Ten) as I maintain that he’s way better, than, say, Slovakia.

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15TH PLACE:  SPAIN – Jose de Jaro.  Unlike in activities prior to finals night, he decided to let his hair down.  I’m not that into his long mane, but well, he does handsomeness and charisma enough to make the cut (though I predicted in my homestretch review that he would fare better).

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14TH PLACE:  SLOVAKIA – Karol Kotlar.  I expected him to make the cut on the basis of the fact his country co-hosted some of this pageant’s events.  But to rank this high?  With his boyish scrawny untoned frame?  That he’s better than Spain and Puerto Rico?  That I’m not convinced.  But I have to hand it to him that he has fly dance moves (perhaps he has extensive dance background, both in street and ballet).

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13TH PLACE:  BELGIUM – Johnny Gaspart.  Showing off his beefily buffed physique at almost any occasion worked for him–I should’ve placed him in higher regard as his physique is indeed enviable, and yes, hot enough to make girls swoon.  In the end, though I prefer someone like Puerto Rico above him, he earned his high placement.

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12TH PLACE:  MALTA – Neil Scerri.  Here is another guy that I severely underestimated, to the point that I didn’t even include him in my “Striking Distance” or “Bubbling Under” lists.  But upon a second look, he did have charisma and I found he has a strong fanbase, too.  I apologize for my weak assessment of him initially.  Yes, I prefer Puerto Rico, but he’s proven to be a strong, worthy contender knocking at Top Ten’s door.

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11TH PLACE:  CZECH REPUBLIC – Jan Pultar.  He is actually highly regarded, and based on this ranking, he probably missed the Top Ten by very little–the judges probably simply had a stronger preference for a couple of more exotic types on top of a sleeper surprise.  Some might view his placement as so close yet so far from glory, but in my reckoning, his placement is nothing to be ashamed of.

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COMING UP:  THE TOP TEN