"We’re not beautiful, we’re not ugly, we’re angry"
June 11, 2014 11:31 PM   Subscribe

The Miss World contest of 1970, of course, isn’t famous for its motley crew of judges but for the feminist protest that took place in the middle of the show. While the judges were putting women in order of beauty, Bob Hope the London-born compere, came on stage to go through a comedy routine. All of a sudden about fifty women and a few men started throwing flour bombs, stink bombs, ink bombs and leaflets at the stage wile yelling “we are liberationists!”, “We’re not beautiful, we’re not ugly, we’re angry” and “ban this disgraceful cattle market!”. The worldwide live television audience couldn’t fail to notice what was happening. Bob Hope certainly noticed and he quickly tried to flee the stage as the missiles flew by. Julia Morley, the wife of the organiser Eric Morley, grabbed hold of his ankle in a desperate attempt to stop him leaving. It only took a few minutes for the police to restore order but ‘Women’s Lib’ had in one fell swoop established itself as part of the seventies.
The Anorak looks back at (the judges) of the 1970 miss world competition.
posted by MartinWisse (25 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

Lovely girls (SLYT)
posted by GallonOfAlan at 11:55 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]

The idea of having a TV show judging panel which is self evidently composed of random despots from around the world is one that producers should consider re-visiting. It looks like the 1970s show organisers erred only in not inviting a member of The Angry Brigade.
posted by rongorongo at 12:32 AM on June 12 [3 favorites]

I wondered if it was the same Bob Hope. It was - here's a video. (Excitement starts and lame BH jokes stop at about 40 seconds in.) He did have bad luck with this sort of thing. He was famous for his USO shows, where he'd assemble a bunch of attractive and heavily-made-up women and show them off to US soldiers, sailors, and Marines while telling some jokes. On at least one occasion, (for motives very different from the Miss World protesters), the soldiers loudly booed him. Maybe he encountered these situations because he wasn't actually funny.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:15 AM on June 12 [4 favorites]

So Bob Hope was the comedian equivalent to the tailor from The Emperor's New Clothes?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:56 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]

"I thought Deep Throat was a movie about a giraffe" - the only good Bob Hope joke.

A 1973 Documentary about the Angry Brigade
by the way - from the days when you could identify anarchists by their berets. With their comedy name, the suppression of news of their actions in the media, and their massively long criminal trial these guys are probably worthy of their own FPP.
posted by rongorongo at 6:22 AM on June 12

I love this article, and what's fascinating is that you can play this game with almost any set of judges for national/international pageants. It's one of my favorite parts of watching a pageant.

Also, thank you for introducing me to the kitchiness of Nina & Frederik.
posted by JanetLand at 6:32 AM on June 12

Beauty contests are an anachronism and have been for decades.

In 1968 my family visited Atlantic City, coincidentally in Miss America season, and saw protesters marching on the boardwalk, many carrying a well-known poster of a woman with her body marked off as cuts of meat. I was 11 years old and had never really considered what such pageants really meant, and I've never seen them the same way since.

That said, this must have been some show.

As for Bob Hope? I'm so glad to hear someone tell it like it was. I never did find the guy funny and was always irked to hear him compared to genuinely funny people like Jack Benny.

Somewhat unrelated: I am so glad to have a President who isn't into golf. Back in the day it seemed like the Presidency was all about old white guys golfing with Bob Hope. Ugh.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:35 AM on June 12 [4 favorites]

For instance, here are the judges of the 1973 Miss Universe pageant. Includes a matador, Walt Frazier, and Ginger Rogers. It's just kind of surreal.
posted by JanetLand at 6:36 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]

now this is my kind of beauty pageant. i love surprise spontaneity in such a carefully scripted event. now that donald trump runs the show, i'd like to see one of the women do something spontaneous with his hair.

not a bob hope fan. he sure got a lot of mileage out of that one-trick mild double-entendre + leer, didn't he?
posted by bruce at 6:54 AM on June 12

A a kid, I fell out of love with beauty pageants when I realized that despite keeping careful "score" (I don't know if they still put the scores on screen for each girl/each section) the final decision was entirely arbitrary and up to the judges and so why bother to keep score at all?

When I got older I also decided that a true beauty contest would involve no makeup, no plastic surgery, and everyone wearing the same bathing suit/hair style. It would also take about 10 minutes and be terrible TV so you can see why they don't do that.

Nowadays it seems mostly to be fodder for scandals or embarrassing soundbites from the interviews. I don't really know anyone who watches them, except to track the bizarre Miss Universe costumes. And even those seemed to have reached a peak; any bigger/weirder and the poor girls won't be able to walk in them.

And yeah, it's an embarrassing patriarchal relic, just a glorified wet t-shirt contest. It needs to die.
posted by emjaybee at 7:16 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]

Also, thank you for introducing me to the kitchiness of Nina & Frederik.

Not content with covering "Baby Its Cold Outside" and recording embarrassingly Caucasian songs about banana sellers and coconut advocates they also did they eye-watering "When Woman say No She means Yes". So they are bound to be AskMeFi favourites.
posted by rongorongo at 7:22 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]

To this day, I watch all the 'beauty contests', just did Miss USA, for an entire 3 hours, on Sunday.

As a feminist, I'm appalled that these things exist in this day and age, but like a car wreck, I'm compelled to watch (and mock mercilessly.)

As a show, Miss USA was pretty terrible. Not surprisingly, there's no content. No talent, just an endless parade of flesh. At least with Miss America, you get 'talent'. Also, for some reason, Miss America, not being a Trump-owned thing, seems to actually select women who have brains in their heads.

These things are such an anachronism. So out of our time. Lie as much as you like about talent, platforms and rigorous questions, we're still picking the prettiest woman to do nothing in particular and for no good reason.

My favorite part is where they introduce the judges. It's never a Nobel Laureate, it's a retired boxer, or a form title holder, or Donald Trump. I mean, EW! Talk about a circle jerk.

Miss USA/Miss Universe is hilarious because the women all look so much alike. Hell, Venezuela just does plastic surgery on women until they can Frankenstein one that can win.

On one hand, I'm horrified that these things exist, but I contribute to the horror by watching and slagging the thing.

That there's only one standard of beauty for these is also troubling, no matter what country a contestant comes from, she will conform to the specific, Tall, lean, big boobs, big hair, aesthetic without deviation. Even the spray tans are all the same.

Honestly, if they weren't around to make fun of, I doubt I would miss them. They're pretty terrible.

On the other hand, who am I to deny these women an chance to make money off of their assets? If they want to be in a contest, okay. If they want to work at Hooters, okay. If they want to marry a wealthy man, okay.

What is feminism, if not to allow women to make the choice that's right for them, even if it's as awful as a system that rates her not on who she is, but what she looks like?

It a conundrum I tells ya.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:32 AM on June 12 [4 favorites]

Also, thank you for introducing me to the kitchiness of Nina & Frederik.

There was no reason to click that. Now I'm skeeved out. Thanks!
posted by jsavimbi at 8:52 AM on June 12

Best detail from the article: the Angry Brigade were originally going to call themselves the Red Rankers, in honour of the Home Secretary Roy Jenkins and his notorious inability to pronounce the letter 'r'.

See also this earlier post on Miss World and the Angry Brigade from the reliably excellent Another Nickel in the Machine.
posted by verstegan at 8:59 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]

i hear ya bunny, and agree with most of your points. your ethical reservations can be salved if you regard this as not a legitimate competition, but just surreal theater put on for your amusement. now i have a question...

you plainted the absence of a nobel laureate in the judges roster. what makes you think 1) a nobel laureate would make himself/herself available for this kind of duty, and 2) why they would be a better judge of beauty, or a better actor in surreal theater, than your retired boxer?

okay, you might be able to book kary mullis.

a girl i knew as a kid grew up to be [miss american state] and competed for miss america. they seem to be of a type.

i agree that consenting adult women should be allowed to compete in surreal theater for my amusement, but i object to this culture trickling down to young teens/pre-teens.
posted by bruce at 9:20 AM on June 12

I never got Bob Hope either, but I was told he did filthy dirty shows for the USO that there were no TV audiences for and that's where his reputation came from. So he was Bob Sagat before Sagat.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:26 AM on June 12

you plainted the absence of a nobel laureate in the judges roster. what makes you think 1) a nobel laureate would make himself/herself available for this kind of duty, and 2) why they would be a better judge of beauty, or a better actor in surreal theater, than your retired boxer?

I doubt that they would, but if you're trying to tell me that there's this rigorous interviewing and selection process, and the beauty part is just ancillary, then I'd like to think that the rigor would lie in someone who is demonstrably rigorous. I find it hard to believe that this group of Bozos (no offense to Bozos) is asking thought-provoking or insightful questions.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:54 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]

okay bunny, since i am not available to serve as a beauty pageant judge, maybe we can get mathowie to do it.
posted by bruce at 10:23 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]

This article really exemplifies the strengths of longform blog journalism, and one of its problems.

The author has done a tremendous amount of research on some obscure individuals, coming up with as detailed and damning a pen-portrait of the UK in this period as any I've read. Post-imperial sleaze is nicely juxtaposed with light entertainment cheese, the Angry Brigade and nascent feminism. It reminds me of Andy Beckett's book on Britain in the 70s, which has a similar sense of a period in suspension between the wheels coming off one era of while the one that Thatcher was to initiate seems like a logical, if not yet inevitable future.

But God, does this need a copy-editor. I'm not talking New Yorker level, just a basic read-through by an attentive buddy would really serve the substance of the piece well.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 10:25 AM on June 12

It's a funny but also a slightly corrupt piece, echoing the very thing it derides by creating fun-house mirror acid portraits of people that are now safe to make fun of. It's entertainment like characters from a Dickens novel. But it captures the mood of the time and changes underway.

Found interesting the terrorist attacks that everyone ignored, so different from today. One of the judges just missed being blown up, 24hrs before appearing on the show, it went by without comment nor in the press.
posted by stbalbach at 10:48 AM on June 12

Ruthless Bunny, I clicked on your link to "Tragic price paid by women for beauty obsessed Venezuela" but did not progress beyond the 30 second ad for Restalin that preceded it. Ironic, no?
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 11:02 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]

Ruthless Bunny, I clicked on your link to "Tragic price paid by women for beauty obsessed Venezuela" but did not progress beyond the 30 second ad for Restalin that preceded it. Ironic, no?

We all aspire to the heights of beauty achieved by the women of Venezuela. Filler! I need more filler!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:30 PM on June 12

I am so glad to have a President who isn't into golf.

Are you joshing? Obama plays a lot of golf.

To compare, George W. Bush played only 24 rounds of golf during his two terms.
posted by codswallop at 2:57 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]

IIRC, Obama had never played golf before becoming President. I think there's some kind of brain parasite in the White House.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:33 AM on June 13

It started with Eisenhower a golf fanatic. But it's not just America, the President's Cup: US, Australia, South Africa, Canada.
posted by stbalbach at 9:00 AM on June 15

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