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Friday, January 25, 2013

2012 - Year in Review: Miss World 2012

To conclude our 2012 - Year in Review Special, we will take a look at the "Big 4":

Miss World 2012: It made sense but it felt so wrong

Miss World 2012 was the first major international pageant of 2012 and by July when it was about to start, pageant fans around the world were hungry for a taste of international competition. In fact, when the first pictures of the awesome stage for the opening ceremony and finally was released, Miss World interest reached fever-pitch. Even fans who usually never even bothered to follow the pageant for reasons that vary from labelling it as boring, not as glamorous as Miss Universe, or unfair results combined with a sure dose of pageant fatigue by the time Miss World usually started in the last quarter of the year, suddenly had to at least show some interest to get their pageant fix.
ORDOS OPENS ITS ARMS TO THE WORLD: The host city of Miss World 2012 was a city described as a ghost city, Ordos in the autonomous Inner Mongolia region of China. The Miss World Organiazation was highly successful in portraying the world's perception of Ordos. This is exactly why host cities are lining up to associate themselves with MWO.
The message boards and forums were abuzz with Miss World news and since this year we had a really strong group of girls, the levels of excitement were running high. This year the organization also took a huge step in making the pageant more interactive. They launched a new website which was definitely an improvement but can still be worked on. It's definitely not there yet. They also created a facebook page for each delegate. The girls were allowed to manage their own pages and post updates and news. Since the media coverage is limited and their website is still too slow with updates, fans had to relay on updates from the girls. There was just one tiny... or well, not so tiny problem - Facebook and twitter is banned in the host nations. So only the girls who could find a way around that, so only girls who had access to a proxy or directors, family members, or friends updating their pages from abroad could post updates. This, of course, made the new Multi-Media Award seem a bit unfair as some pages were buzzing with activitiy and others were never even updated.
MW GETS WITH THE TIMES: A new Miss World website
was launced. It's an improvement but not quite there yet.
The girls were in China for a month and a record number of delegates (116) were vying for the crown, even though some only arrived towards the half-way mark of the competition. Before the pageant, it was announced that the girls would travel to Shanghai, Sanya, and Hong Kong among other places but in the end the girls spent most of their time in Ordos with only a 5 day trip to Shanghai and Changsu. Even though the girls had quite a number of interesting events, a month of competition feels too long and it's hard to keep the same level of excitement for so long.
EXPERIENCING CHINA: The Miss World contestants went on a brief 5 day trip to Shanghai and Changsu in the south.
It was apparent that the organizing committee of Ordos spend a huge amount of money to stage their first Miss World Pageant. The girls were treated like royalty and one of the most amazing stages in Miss World history was presented to the public before the girls even arrived. The competition was also started with probably the most spectacular opening ceremony in Miss World history. It was surely a fantastic year for the Miss World Organization.
WELCOME TO ORDOS: Ordos greeted the Miss World Pageant with THE most spectacular opening ceremony in the history of the Miss World Pageant at the Dongsheng Stadium on July 24. Thousands of people attended this event.
Over the course of the month several Miss World Challenge Events took place. These events all helped the girls accumulate points for the new Miss World leaderboard that was introduced in 2011. Challenge Event winners were no longer assured spots in the final 15 since 2011, so girls had to be fully prepared to do well in all Challenge Events, the all important interviews, and have a worthy Beauty With A Purpose project to do well in the competition. The girls took part in a fashion show in Shanghai showcasing the girls' designer evening wear. They also traveled to spectacular Seven Star Lakes Desert Hotel where the Beach Fashion filming took place on the dunes of Xiangshawan Desert. Over the years the Miss World had some pretty exotic beach wear destinations but this has to be one of the most exotic ones they have ever had.
BIKINIS ARE NOT JUST FOR THE BEACH: The Xiangshawan Desert was a
very exotic host for the 2012 Miss World Beach Fashion Challenge Event
They also had the Sports finals at the Ordos Stadium and the Miss World Talent Show at the Ordos Theater before a spectacular Miss World Top Model Challenge Event in collaboration with Erdos 1436 Fashion House at the Market Square in Ordos. No stone was left unturned to make Miss World 2012 the best event that China, or any other host country for that matter, had ever presented.
HIGH-FAHION: A sleek fashion show was held in the Ordos Market Square to
decide the winner of the 2012 Miss World Top Model Challenge Event.
The live final was on August 18 and this year Miss World did not broadcast the show live on their website which was sadly missed because it is becoming harder and harder to watch the show live. The world had their favorites. The delegates from Wales, Australia, China, South Sudan, Brazil, and Mexico were rumored to be the front-runners. Now we all know that China won and when Julia Morley (rather nervously) announced that Miss World 2012 was the People's Republic of China, it left such a sour taste in my mouth that I could not rewatch the Miss World telecast until 5 months later. Miss China was one of my firm favorites, in fact she was my clear winner until the very last leaderboard I put out when I put China in second place behind Wales. So should China's victory have felt so wrong?! I guess not because it made sense... but for some reason it just felt so wrong.
 
At the time I was ready to slate the telecast and the results but with hindsight (having witnessed the rest of 2012's results and shows), watching it 5 months later my perspective and opinions did change quite a bit. In fact, the show did not appear so boring anymore and Miss China did not appear like a delegate without an drop of charisma being given the crown on a silver platter. It's funny how things change. It did feel so wrong at the time but since almost all of the big four had the same pattern, Miss World was majorly vindicated (I want to add 'on December 19'). Watching it back now, only 2 things really bothered me about the show. First of all, the incident between Miss Malawi and Miss New Zealand which really should not have happened, especially given the fact they had a whole month to rehearse even though it was a rather entertaining moment. The second and probably the thing that made it all feel so wrong in the first place was that the leaderboard was a mess this year. There is no ecxuse for these techinal errors and if they want to do it, they should do it properly. Yes, it's a live show but if you have the kind of money that Ordos obviously spent on the pageant, you ensure that these kind of mistakes do not happen. Once would have been fine but the after the first glitch, the whole thing never recovered and it made the world question the transparency of the whole judging process yet again.
MISCALCULATED: The leaderboard is a great idea but it was a mess this year and left us scratching our heads!
Kudos must be given to the Miss World production team for FINALLY trying to modernize the pageant. The pace seems a tad faster (but you can still speeden it up) and the music they chose was really the most apparent evidence that they are trying to give the outdated, tired, old telecast a more youthful glow. If you compare Miss World to other international pageants, it is actually quite obvious why host nations are lining up for Miss World but no one is interested in Miss Universe. Miss World is an almost two hour advertisement for the host nation. From the set to the inserts, presenters to the feel of the show, the host nation pretty much gets all the mileage that is technically possible. Elements of the culture of ancient China and Ordos was presented to beautifully along with brilliant clips of the contestants' challenge events and time in Ordos that it portrayed what we've read and seen as a ghost city that is almost deserted, as such an exotic location that I almost felt disappointed that I decided not to travel to Ordos. That is what showcasing the host city/nation is all about. Miss Universe can sure learn a thing or five from Miss World in this regard because their made for American network audience, 5 minutes of very expensive ($10 -20 million) mileage for their host city will struggle to find a decent host again if they don't become more flexible.
MAGNIFICENT: The Miss World stage captured the exotic appeal of the host city, Ordos, perfectly.
Once again, I just have to ask: wasn't that stage just %*$@ing amazing?! Along with the stage they had in 1998 in the Seychelles, it was my favorite ever.... with 1992, 1993, and 1996 also getting honorable mentions. It was an interesting idea to have four hosts which is another way how Miss World is amart about the way they approach their show. The local hosts will keep the host country happy and then they had a British host and an American host which is just brilliant. Bringing in Myleene Klass was a great idea. She definitely shined. The fans wanted Jason Cooke back and he was definitely outshined by the stunning Klass. He was great the first time but not really very impressive this time around. There was a fifth host... we've seen him for the last few years. We all know he is the one who will take over the pageant in the not too distant future but that will never make him a great host. I would much rather have him focus on his real job and leave the presenting to the professionals. No offense, really.
TOUCH OF KLASS: Myleene Klass was a welcome addition to the Miss World family and we'd like to see her host again
Something that was definitely missed this year, was the Youtube prejudging interviews which the organization posted last year. This proved to be a great method to assure that the judging was transparent and it gave us great insight to understand the delegates and even understand and make sense of the results which are sometimes rather questionable. The challenge event inserts were done brilliantly but they stretched it out way too long. Not knowing who the winners were of the challenge events definitely builds some suspense which the show really lacked in previous years but it was just a tad too long. They should shave more time off the airtime given to showing the challenge events and add it to the top 15 "parade". Speaking of which, the fans were FINALLY given the top 15 parade which they have been so desperatley complaining about. For the first time in ages, the top 15 got to walk on stage but it was so brief and the footage of them during rehearsals was definitely distracting.
THE RIGHT MOVE: Fans finally got the semi-finalist parade they were begging for
I am still rather quite confused at how the Multi Media Award was judged and Mike Dixon's ramblings didn't really help to clarify anything at all. In fact, one of the things I really dislike is the judging panel... which quite honestly always appears to be friends of the organization. Is this the way they ensure that they get the winner they want?! We will never know but we all know that business is business and never has it been as apparent in the pageant world as in 2012. Miss World is not really an exception. The thing is: pageants are not nearly as popular as they used to be, so the organizations must ensure that their pageants will survive. The shows are not produced for the fans so it's only the hardcore fans who will see the business aspects and question them where as the general viewing public could possibly be quite oblivious as they don't really follow the pageants closely.
 
Having the talent winner perform during the live final was actually a really cool opportunity for the winner of that challenge event and it just so happened that it was the host delegate and eventual winner. I must say that new respect was gained for Miss China... I mean, Miss World for her composure. Performing live in front of so many people and a worldwide audience is nerve-wrecking and she did not show an ounce of nerves... but actually that was also one of my major problems with her win. She was so composed that she almost seemed lifeless or unfazed. That was probably why it felt like she knew it was going to be her. She never really showed any emotion. Maybe it's just a cultural difference. Having lived in Asia for 7 years, it has become apparent to me that in the Chinese cultural people don't really show emotion as we do in Western culture. So it's probably ignorance on my behalf wanting to see more emotion from Wenxia. It's not like she was not herself. Had she exaggerated emotion, it would probably have been fake. So, does the real problem lie with her reaction or my needs?! It does give me something to ponder about.
HIDDEN JOY: Wenxia Yu did not show her joy in her facial expression or reaction but the tears in her eyes tell a different story. This made me change my mind about questioning her win and left me pondering about my ignorance.
 The announcement of the top 15 was done in an interesting new way, counting down from who came in 15th to the leader of the pack. I wasn't the hugest fan of this, probably because of the glitches and I guess I just found the results strange. This was such a great year in terms of quality of delegates that it was sad to see some stunners left behind in favor of questionable choices like Kenya, the USA, Indonesia, and even Jamaica and India in the top 7. Incidentally the Miss World team visited Kenya, India and the USA.. and Jamaica celebrated their 50th anniversary of independence. Hmmm... sometimes these coincidences can appear like business decisions BUT if you start thinking like that then there can be a thousand question marks about why delegates like South Sudan, Brazil, and the Netherlands did so well and why others like Fiji, Equatorial Guinea, Korea, and the Seychelles were not rewarded. The point is that there can always be some speculation about girls who placed or did not place. There is no real evidence to suggest that the girl did or did not deserve a placement.
FIRST TIME'S NOT A CHARM: Equatorial Guinea
debuted at Miss World this year and not even the
First Lady of the country's involvement in their
national final could secure a top 15 placement for
their delegate which just goes to show that politics
don't always influence the results!!!
Miss World remains relevant because of its Beauty With A Purpose Charity. Anyone who questions the purpose of pageants, should look at the Beauty With A Purpose insert. Yes, you can still claim that they are cattle parades that are derogatory to women but you can also not deny that there are a 1001 other things that even more offensive and derogatory to women and mankind. There is no real harm in celebrating beauty. The girls get something out of it. 15 minutes of fame, yes. But it's more than that. They can empower themselves, better themselves, and even get a career out of it. More importantly, those who want to can discover a sense of purpose and really embrace the chance to do something for the world. If something so wrong (to feminists and other cynisists) can do something for people like those in the slums of Ghana, then I will totally embrace this "evil".
MISS WORLD MAGIC: Julia Morley's Miss World Organization continues to do some amazing work in the name of their Beauty With A Purpose charity around the world including this visit to the Sodom and Gomorrah slum in Ghana.
The top 7 announcement was filled with suspense even though we obviously had some sort of idea regarding to who would make it based on the announcement of the top 7. When the top 7 had to convince the audience and judges about why they should be Miss World, I was surprised that they still did the roommate thing even though they must have already learned last year that they would run out of time. It's cute but plan it better if you really want to do it. Based on the final round, the world agreed that the stunning beauty from debut country South Sudan, Atong Demach slamdunked the competition. Not hearing her country called out as the winner of Miss World in favor of the host nation who spent so much money to host the event left a really bitter taste in my and most other fans' mouths. But looking back now, I feel that I might have been way to judgmental. Wenxia is an extremely beautiful girl. She was my favorite right from the start. Yes, I still think South Sudan deserved it more but Wenxia's win was not so bizarre (compared to some of the other results of 2012) to warrant the desire to lose my love for the Miss World Pageant which I have supported and loved for over 20 years. It made sense. It felt wrong. I stand by that. I have, however, grown to deal with it and I still think that Wenxia is a stunning young woman and I can now, without hesitation, say that she deserves the title.
 
Andre Sleigh
Eye For Beauty Blog

3 comments:

  1. Really a fantastic review. I felt exactly the same way re watching the contest,and now believe that the only problem in my original dissatisfaction with Wen Xia's win in the first place may have had more to do with our expecting something extra ordinary from her since she was such an overwhelming favorite going into the finals. But that is not fair. When I rematches her with the expectation that she was undeserving, her real beauty, grace, elegance and yes, eloquence really shined through. In my opinion, at a time when everyone grumblEs that the most beautiful girls don't win the pageants, I can say without hesitation that the three most beautiful girls placed in the top three f Miss World and in the right order.
    At the end of the day, South Sudan's victory, had she been, say, Miss USA or Miss England, would have been just as heavily criticized for her over rehearsed, Mother Teresa-esque content and her lack of facial beauty vis-a-vis tithe other leading contenders.
    The only quibble I have with your review is your comment on Miss India, who shone brighter than any other girl in the final, and whose beauty reminded me of a young Sandra Bullock. I thought she was absolutely stunning, and deserved to actually finish higher.

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  2. I wanted South Sudan to win after the final question and I dont think it was rehearsed an even if it was the way she said it was amazing. She looked one of the best during the finale. I was a lot disheartened when I dint hear her name not even as runnerup coz I really thought she deserved it.

    About Miss India, I think she did well at the finals. I once I asked MWO about how they reduce the contestants from semifinals to final stage. They replied that they judge the contestants on their overall presentation and give marks which dint really satisfy me :P. I think its better to have some interview so we can know the girls a little better and see them express in the finals.

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  3. I love Wenxia, hometown girl from Heilongjiang province. In traditional Chinese culture, people, especially women, are not supposed to express their feeling in front of other people. That would be the reason she looked so controlled that night. Nowadays young people in big cities are more open, but Wenxia comes from a not wealthy family in a small city of a remote province. A totally different backgrounds comparing with our first miss world zilin Zheng who is the daughter of a university professor, grew up in the capital city of China. I am super happy for Wenxia' win because she shows that not matter where you come from, as long as you dream big, believe you are beautiful and has a kind personality, you can be miss world. This world encourage more Chinese girls to join in the contest.

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