'Another bigoted writeup' I hear you cry? Maybe with a bit of cultural imperialism thrown in too?

Well hopefully not. I am currently watching Miss World 2000 live from the Millennium Dome in my own fair city of London, and a number of things have occured to me. Firstly, Miss World is always shown/broadcast in English, and so it would help the girls feel more at ease if they could understand what was going on, especially during the question and answer session (more on this later). It is quite clear to me that the girls who could not speak english were much more nervous about the whole thing, and this could impair their performance. It is therefore actually fairer on all those involved if they all had to be able to speak english as a pre-requisite.

All this became especially obvious during the questions that the final ten contestants have to endure. I don't know how intelligent the girls this year actually are, but it is much easier to be quick-witted when talking to someone in a language you are fluent in. Jerry Springer, who was presenting this year, was clearly even making fun of those girls who couldn't understand him that well. A few of the ten were clearly so nervous they could barely get a half-decent answer out, whilst one had an interpreter who was even more nervous than the contestant and clearly cut off her answer. The girl gave a 30 second answer which was translated into one phrase by the interpreter who had forgotten what she was supposed to be translating. Something was clearly lost there. The best contestant in this round was clearly Miss India who spoke clear fluent English and could joke along with Jerry.

You may think I am being unfair on countries where perhaps a potential contestant would not be able to afford to learn english. This may be the case, however from the final five who have just been selected, it is clear they are the five who answered the questions the best, and this was because they could understand english the best and were most at ease. I.e. if you allow people who can't speak english in, they aren't going to win anyway.

The contestants also have to set questions for each other to answer. This year, Miss India's quesion - "If 'ignorance is bliss' why do we seek knowledge?" is so complicated (especially to someone who isn't aware of the 'ignorance is bliss' phrase) that the contestant who got asked it could barely understand what it meant, let alone answer. Compare this to some of the other questions like "How important is your family?"...

Lastly, the winner of Miss World is supposed to become an international ambassador for their country, and surely it would be far better to speak english to fulfill this role, since it is by far the most commonly spoken second language.

Addendum: Miss India has just won (for the second year running). Kinda proves my point I think :)

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