Monthly Archives: October 2012

HOMELAND GLORIES, PART 3: MISS WORLD 2012

I had every intention of writing a full review of this year’s Miss World pageant.  But I was waiting to see if they would disclose the scores of the Top 30 like the way they did last year so I can properly analyze the results.  But unfortunately, this year those results were not forthcoming.

I should have read the ominous signs–the day prior to the August 18 finals, the web link to the scoreboard on the Miss World website was removed.  I thought it was a temporary measure so they can clear the previous year’s scorecard and make way for this year’s scores.  But even as Stephen Douglas declared on television that you can see the scores on the website, no scores were ever displayed online.  It took some very diligent viewers who posted screenshots of the leaderboard as it unfolds to allow pundits like myself to be able to attempt to make sense of it all.

The leaderboards shown below show the results first from the panel interviews, then the second pair shows the results after Top Model, the third after the combined scores for Beach Fashion and Multimedia, the fourth in the bottom and fifth are duplicates of the results after the Sports event was accounted for, and finally the last was supposedly the final results prior to the announcement of the Top 15.

From what we could figure out from the leaderboards, there are major changes in the scoring system this year:

1.  It seems the preliminary scores starts from a lower base, and the competition is actually tightly packed–12 points separated 1st and 30th place.  It’s hard for me to discern for certain what is the highest possible score and the baseline score used this year, but I have a feeling the maximum is not 210 points this year.

2.  Winners of the challenge events were awarded 50 points, 2nd placers 40, 3rd placers 35, and apparently other placements are awarded points in increments of 5 (it’s not clear how much for the other placements).

But even if that is so, there are some headscratching observations, like:

1.  Miss Peru (Giuliana Zevallos) was not shortlisted at all in Top Model, yet she earned 10 points?

Earning credits even if not shortlisted: Giuliana Zevallos (image screenshot from broadcast)

2.  Again for Miss Peru, she was also not shortlisted for Beach Fashion and Multimedia, but she then accumulated another 30 points!  Miss France (Delphine Wespiser) also earned 25 points after these events even if she was also not shortlisted in either challenge event!

You earn credits, too! Delphine Wespiser, posing with Chief Ndaba Mandela (photo courtesy of Delphine Wespiser)

3.  They did not post the Multimedia Award shortlist on the website and during the broadcast the only thing we really knew were the Top Two (India and Mexico) though it took some astute observers to figure out the rest of the shortlist (who were onstage), and we got to see it in Wikipedia several days later.

4.  Designer Award was (and is still) listed as a challenge event on the website but the winner was never announced at all during the telecast (nor during the post-coronation party, at the very least).  Apparently at last minute no credits would also be awarded for this “challenge event” for reasons only known to Julia Morley, Steve Douglas, and company.

Aggravating the puzzling scoring was the apparent laziness of the production team in updating the final Top 15 scores, as revealed below:

The rankings going into the Top 15 was reportedly correct, but the scores weren’t properly updated.  Miss United States (Claudine Book) was third in Beauty with a Purpose and earned credits by being shortlisted in Talent and making the initial cut in Top Model, but the production team did not bother to factor those in.  In fact, the Beauty with a Purpose scores were not tallied at all, so we have no inkling on the actual scoring for this event (supposedly 50% above the top score for the other challenge events, so presumably 75 points for the winner, but no clue how many points for the other rankings but supposedly enough for Miss United States to vault from outside of the Top 30 into the Top 15).

Leap-frogging: Miss United States – World Claudine Book (image excerpt courtesy of Claudine Book)

On top of the epic sloppiness of the production crew, we have the shove that is seen around the world–Miss Malawi (Susan Mtegha) crudely shoving Miss New Zealand (Collette Lochore) as apparently the latter was obstructing her spot.  Didn’t they have dress rehearsals the night before?

After the Top 15 was announced, they would then parade in identical green gowns supposedly to evaluate their “star quality” as host Jason Cook quipped.  As the 15 was whittled down to 7, there was a shocking elimination as Miss Mexico (Mariana Berumen) who was second going into this round was eliminated and replaced by Miss Brazil (Mariana Notarangelo) who was ranked ninth based on the ranking.  Apparently last year’s system where the previous scores were carried over does not apply this time and everything started from scratch.  Still, I could not with a clear conscience attribute Miss Mexico’s elimination to the styling issue that befell Anagabriela Espinoza* four years ago.  The baffled director, Lupita Jones (Miss Universe 1991), reportedly confronted some of the Miss World staff after the pageant about this and only got an “I don’t know” response, and a directive to hold a separate contest for the Miss World representative instead of holding it simultaneously with the search for the Miss Universe rep (the same directive was also given to Venezuela’s director, Osmel Souza, as the Venezuelan bet, Gabriella Ferrari, failed to even make the Top 30 this year).

*  Anyway, Anagaby made up for her loss by winning Miss International the following year.

Do you see any styling issues here? (Mexico’s Mariana Berumen, image sourced from telemetro.com)
Seriously, folks, is she really better than Miss Mexico – World? (Brazil’s Mariana Notarangelo, Miss World – Americas. Image courtesy of Miss World Ltd.)
Out of favor: Venezuela’s Gabriela Ferrari (image sourced from Weibo.com)

After the Top Seven was announced, they were subjected to a 30-second speech where they tried to sway the judges on why they should be the next Miss World.  In general all seven spoke well, with Miss South Sudan (Atong Demach) being the most eloquent of them all.  Still, even as intelligent and sincere-sounding Mz. Brazil and Jamaica (Deanna Robbins) were, were they truly better than the erstwhile leader, Miss India (Vanya Mishra), who inexplicably ranked 7th place when the final placements were disclosed?

The Final Seven (image sourced from Weibo.com)
Top 15 top-notcher to Final Seven bottom-feeder: India’s Vanya Mishra (image courtesy of Miss World, Ltd.)
Queen of Eloquence: South Sudan’s Atong Demach (image screenshot from broadcast)

If it weren’t for the topsy-turvy outcomes involving the erstwhile Top 15 leaders as disclosed in the broadcast, the ladies who ended up in the Top Three would be viewed as expected favorites, as pageant fans and pundits (including myself) have regarded them as major front-runners going into the finals.  The high placements of runners-up Sophie Moulds of Wales and Jessica Kahawaty of Australia remained unquestioned, but the homeland victory of China’s Yu Wenxia somehow looked questionable in the light of the proceedings earlier in the broadcast, and most were enamored with South Sudan’s speech that many pageant fans and pundits wanted her to win or place in the Top Three instead.

But let’s face it–Yu Wenxia has the looks and qualities worthy of winning the title, though during finals night there were more convincing arguments to have others take the lead in lieu of her.  The way she was packaged, down to the color of her finals evening gown, made many pageant fans and pundits feel they are being manipulated to anticipate her inevitable victory.  She has been positioned from the get-go as one who can follow in the footsteps of the illustrious 2007 winner Zhang Zilin, and Julia Morley & company, along with their sponsors, had to set it up to ensure that this “ideal” outcome is realized, even if the proceedings did not even create convincing justifications for such.  It is unfortunate that the conduct of the proceedings did not seem to justify the final outcome, despite the winner’s otherwise obvious merits.

Miss World 2012 Top Three: 1st runner-up Wales (Sophie Moulds), Miss World 2012 China (Wenxia Yu), and 2nd runner-up Australia (Jessica Kahawaty) (image courtesy of Miss World Ltd.)
Notice the gown color? Miss World 2007 Zhang Zilin (image courtesy of Miss World Ltd.)

COMING UP:  MISS INTERNATIONAL and FINAL THOUGHTS.

HOMELAND GLORIES, PART 2: MISS SUPRANATIONAL 2011 (AND 2012)

The next pageant I will discuss is a pageant that some key pageant pundits (and an international pageant news website) would want to regard as a major international pageant but several others are reluctant to place this at the same level as Big Four (Miss World, Miss Universe, Miss International, and Miss Earth).  But let’s face it–its production values reportedly exceed most editions of the Miss International pageant and the quality of the contestants (and winners) since its debut in 2009 is nothing to be sneezed at.

This pageant may have presaged the current host country trend as late August last year, the winner came from the host country of Poland (Monika Lewczuk).  But based on the reception of pageant fans and pundits worldwide, the host country victory was unquestionable as the lady is undeniably gorgeous.

Miss Supranational 2011, Monika Lewczuk (image copyright Tygodnik Plocki).
The Top Four of Miss Supranational 2011: 1st runner-up Belarus (Lyudmila Yakimovich), 2nd runner-up Puerto RIco (Velery Velez), Miss Supranational 2011 Poland (Monika Lewczuk), and 3rd runner-up Vietnam (Daniela Nguyenova a.k.a. Nguyen Thu May) (Image courtesy of Chris Kuntz for Global Beauties)

This year, the winner comes from another country–Belarus (Katsiaryna Buraya). Sure, she comes from a different country, but if you study the history of Poland, there was a time where at the peak of its powers, this country was a part of the host country, as you examine the map of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1619 below:

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 1619, overlapped by present-day borders (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Considering that in the previous year, the first runner-up was also from Belarus, you may just wonder if strong historical links was a factor in deciding this year’s winner.  In effect, it’s like an extension of a homeland decision.  Though in my eyes there are arguably prettier choices out there (like the runners-up as you would see below), well, I suppose we should respect the panel’s apparent taste for blondes that led to this lady’s victory.  It’s the sort of victory we respect even if we may disagree.

Miss Supranational 2012 Top Five: 4th runner-up Ecuador (Zulay Alexandra Castillo), 2nd runner-up Czech Republic (Michaela Viktorie Dihlova), Miss Supranational 2012 from Belarus (Katsiaryna Buraya), 1st runner-up Thailand (Nanthawan Wannachutha), and 3rd runner-up Philippines (Elaine Kay Moll) (Image sourced from beautycontestupdate.com)

COMING UP:  MISS WORLD 2012

HOMELAND GLORIES, PART 1: MR. UNIVERSE MODEL 2012

There seems to be an overriding trend for international pageants in 2012:  the winner comes from the host country.  Whether this is an alarming or disturbing trend, it might depend on how pageant fans and pundits regard the person chosen as winner.  Though most would assume this began with this year’s Miss World pageant last August, it actually began earlier…at a male pageant whose prestige is under debate.

Mr. Universe Model is a male pageant held annually in the Dominican Republic since 2008.    The organizers would most likely would’ve preferred to use “Mr. Universe”, but unfortunately that is a long-established name of a major international bodybuilding contest, so the “Model” has to be added to the moniker.  Arguments for considering this pageant in the same league as Manhunt International, Mr. World, and Mister International would be the quality of its winners, like for instance the 2010 winner from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Tarik Kaljanac.

Mr. Universe Model 2010, Tarik Kaljanac (Image courtesy of Julio Rodriguez of Belleza Venezolana)

But arguments against treating this pageant in the same league as the other three pageants are the presence of dubious entries from non-countries like Saona Island (an outlying island that is part of the Dominican Republic) and Mayan Riviera (whatever that is–seemingly referring to a coast in Mexico; I couldn’t help but think of a famous Filipina actress when I hear of that territory’s name); the generally threadbare staging and Third World beach settings; and some controversial and potentially scandalous moments like having some of the contestants posing nude with some strategically placed towels preventing it from becoming a full-out porn fest back in 2010.

This year’s edition held a bit later than usual last July had some controversies like the near-disqualification of the late arrival from the Philippines (Jhon Marlon Marcia) because apparently there are some issues with the payment of the franchise fee (but in the end, at least he was permitted to compete in the finals).  But the biggest controversy in this year’s edition was when the winner was announced–all the other contestants turned their backs on the winner, apparently because the winner, Erick Jimenez Sabater, did not conduct himself according to the rules of the contest unlike the rest.  But then again, when you look at his photos prior to the competition, most (including myself) would argue that he’s the best looking of the bunch, and based on looks alone he was the front-runner going into the finals.  Still, if stories of his conduct during the pageant were true, the hometown victory in this case does leave a horrible taste in the mouth–no matter how buffed and handsome the winner is.

Latecomer from the Philippines, Jhon Marlon Marcia (image courtesy of Julio Rodriguez of Belleza Venezolana).
Top Three at the Best Body Competition (also Top Three in the finals as it eventually turns out) [from L-R]: Messrs. Dominican Republic (Erick Jimenez Sabater), Argentina (Daniel Cajiao), and Slovenia (Miha Dragos). Argentina eventually ended up as 2nd runner-up and Slovenia as 1st runner-up in the finals, though their placements were reversed in this event.  (Image courtesy of Julio Rodriguez of Belleza Venezolana)
Hollow Victory: Erick Jimenez Sabater immediately after coronation, with the rest of the contestants’ backs turned away from him.  (Image courtesy of Julio Rodriguez of Belleza Venezolana)

COMING UP:  MISS SUPRANATIONAL