Saturday, September 2, 2006

Mother of the Year

I thought the last act of Little Miss Sunshine was the creepiest and super-freakiest thing I'd ever see an eight-year-old do — followed closely by the wildly inappropriate collaboration between Abigail Breslin and Fergie's cooter at the VMA's — until someone was kind enough to share the 2001 HBO documentary Living Dolls: The Making of a Child Beauty Queen, the most awesome movie ever made about yokel perverts living vicariously through their emotionally ruined children. The whole thing is priceless, as possibly-inbred chain-smoking South Carolina mom Robin Browne upbraids and belittles her seven-year-old daughter Swan into winning the title of Gingerbread Pageant Queen, and, subsequently, many years of therapy. The Gingerbread Pageant is as prestigous an event as you can have in a subculture where pre-pubescent girls are taught to flirt with the middle-aged emcee, some horrible mother dresses her eighteen-month-old baby in hair extensions and a $1,200 dress (bought secondhand), and kids are dressed in outfits that would make Elton John-on-ecstasy blush, sing about "my cheatin' man," and are then judged in categories like "sportswear," "Westernwear," and the hilarious "Christmas-wear" competition. It's got all the pseudo-primness of a purebred dog show, and even though the judges don't examine the contestants' genitals (you can tell there are a few who want to, though), the dog show is still classier.

The movie's chopped into several parts, but I'll link specifically to part five, where we meet kindergartener Reed Hale, Prince of the Mullets. His hobbies include — I'm not making this up — "playing around in the dirt and watching Unsolved Mysteries." His star-spangled sequined outfit and lispy, off-key rendition of "God Save the U.S.A." makes Al-Qaeda cry. This clip also includes the most pedophilicious moment in the film, when the unctuous emcee sings to all twelve or so girls on-stage about how he "can't resist" them and "holds them in his heart and soul." Oh, did I forget to mention that he puts his slimy little lips right up in each of their faces — like, literally an inch and a half away. Words don't do the scene justice. Only Megan's Law does.

I shouldn't be too, too harsh on these creepy little crackers because here, in New York City, we have this bizarre phenomenon of parents-to-be applying their fetuses to exclusive private pre-schools with years-long waiting lists, entrance exams, and more than a whiff of cliqueish nepotism. The whole Southern beauty pageant circuit just seems like the kin-marrying white trash version of the same, like some good ol' boy with six teeth and way too much antebellum plantation money was a-thinkin', "Them girls don't got to be readin' an' doin' math an' all book-learnin'. Why ain't they competin' 'gainst each other, see who be pleasin' me the most while she be makin' my sandwich?" It's nice to see such an egalitarian society where it doesn't matter if you're nouveau riche or dirt poor, you can still try to assuage your personal insecurities by tricking out your children to match an arbitrary standard and exhibiting them in front of your perceived betters. And apparently, no matter how bigoted they are in your section of America, there's somehow always a gay stylist or two around to help.