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Being a harsh judge helps in Miss New Zealand

Filed by Jack Yan/February 24, 2008/11.12

Judging Miss Universe New Zealand 2007I see Miss World 1975 Wilnelia Merced—Mrs Bruce Forsyth now—was mentioned on our blog, which takes us into the world of pageantry once again (OK, bad segue). It’s the season for it and I am unof?cially told that I will be judging Miss Universe New Zealand again.
   Last year’s pageant was an eye-opener and this year I like to think I am a little better prepared. We had some loonies as blog commenters, who felt they were better quali?ed to talk about the judging than, well, me. An eyewitness account apparently is less credible than unsubstantiated bitchiness in the eyes of gossipmongers, but that’s the way gossip works.
   Six people were in that judging room and if you weren’t one of the six, then anything you said about the process would have been complete and utter ?ction.
   I’m also happy there will be a Miss Wellington, 23-year-old Rebecca Connor, whom I met over two years ago at an event for Absolut.
   Before you think there might be bias, I know of several contestants from the 2007 pageant who may re-enter. It seems that pageantry is a small world in a small country, and the same faces reappear.
   I like to think I am a pretty harsh and objective judge when it comes to the pageants, with the interviews playing a huge part. In that realm, no girl has an advantage. I remember one contestant last year telling me, post-pageant, that they expected I would throw tough questions at them. (They probably heard about how all those uni degrees.) And I did.
   I’m not going to ask anything to which the reply might be, ‘World peace.’ But I will ask questions that will signal whether I think the contestant is cosmopolitan enough to not get fazed when she goes to Vietnam this year, to represent New Zealand at Miss Universe.
   A new contestant may well ?nd that the novelty of the judging panel can be used to her advantage and make a sweeping entrance, rather than one founded on same-old, same-old.
   I am reminded of the American Idol auditions where even entrants who have been in years before had no advantage in front of Randy, Paula and Simon.
   Out of the ?eld of 24 in 2007 we saw a huge variety. People behave very differently in front of ?ve people whom they know little about beyond a public image. They do not really know our likes and dislikes, even if I had given a few clues in my work blog last year.
   While every pageant is open to some criticism, the judging is about as tight as it could be. Last year we even had an of?ciator (Di Goldsworthy) who made sure that there was no undue in?uence from each judge. In fact, the judging panel from 2007—Yvonne Brownlie, May Davis, Hilary Timmins, Megan Alatini and myself—were not even allowed to talk to one another about the pageant after the first night’s interviews. We could only confer on the last night.
   I wish that it could be more transparent, with the media coming in to the discussions. I felt we had nothing to hide. I would not even mind sharing my judging scoresheets with the public, but I was told after the pageant that that would not be possible. It would have probably helped the runners-up to know how much (or how little) they missed out on the crown by. But, rules are rules, and there is probably some reason behind them, perhaps to maintain some mystique.
   The national pageant takes place on April 20, a bit later on the calendar than 2007’s event. I will blog what I am allowed to.

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  • VMS

    I love this quote!

    “An eyewitness account apparently is less credible than unsubstantiated bitchiness in the eyes of gossipmongers, but that’s the way gossip works.”

    Well said…


  • Thanks, V.-M. The blogosphere is a very interesting social medium, studying just how people behave. And I am often unimpressed—the ’net, it seems, cannot be the experimental utopia that some of us envisioned back in the 1990s.


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