Ah the marvels of prime time TV scheduling. Saturday night here in France promises to be pure ecstasy for those couch potatoes in control of the remote with some major zapping required.
While public television will be broadcasting its annual telethon to raise millions for medical research, TF1, the country’s top (private) channel will be going head-to-head – or perhaps better said breast-to-breast - with its yearly pandering to male chauvinism.
Yes it’s time to elect Miss France – an event that never fails to pull in the audience with more than 11 million viewers expected to tune in.
This being France of course, the jamboree has a much more global aspect than beauty pageants in the rest of Europe. Competing for the crown will be 36 lasses from all the French regions. That includes of course Misses Alsace, Bretagne and Languedoc – all perhaps familiar and recognised to those outside of the country. But also strutting their stuff will be Miss Guadeloupe along with her Caribbean neighbours Misses Martinique and Guyana as well as the Pacific Ocean charms of Misses New Caledonia and Tahiti and Indian Ocean stunner Miss Reunion.
With so much international beauty on stage at the same time, it’s almost a wonder the winner bothers with the Miss World competition.
Yes the joys of France and its Departments and Territories overseas. The former of course are all officially part of the EU too, so get heaps of money from Brussels for redevelopment. But that of course is another story.
Saturday’s extravaganza promises to be something of a departure from the rather demur set–up of previous events. And it could well mark the end of the involvement for the hat fan Madame Genvieve de Fontenay, who seems to have been organising the thing for most of its 80-year existence.
Admittedly de Fontenay has managed to maintain the rule which bans two-piece swimsuits in her belief that a Miss must personify beauty and not vulgarity.
But that’s unlikely to stop sex raising its ugly little head.
This being the age of reality TV when many a twenty-something (male or female) seems ready to do just about anything to flash their wotsits or display dubious morals in front of discerning viewers, some of this years Miss France contestants are already rumoured to have TV deals lined up and shock-and-tell stories waiting to hit the weekly glossies the day after they lose.
One departure though from previous years is the equal weight given between the official judges’ preference and that of the viewers – a straight 50-50 cut this year.
Apparently if the same voting system had been used last year, it would not be Miss Oise (Rachel Legrain-Tragnini) who would be handing on her title this year, but the runner-up and audience favourite Sophie Vouzelaud, who captured the nations hearts when it was revealed in the closing stages that she was deaf.
How much longer the current format can hold its own is doubtful especially as there are a string of similarly highbrow contests planned for next year.
An alternative Miss France 2008 is slated for late January – organised by a competitor to Madame de Fontenay. And another private TV channel, W9, has announced plans for its own sexier more contemporary version of the pageant.
Meanwhile this year’s contenders include two women who stand out for very different reasons. Poor Miss Guadeloupe has already hit the headlines because apparently she cannot find a swimsuit big enough to cover her amply proportioned figure.
Meanwhile Miss Cote d’Azur has been touted as a pre-competition favourite who seems born and christened to lift the title.
Azemina Hot – yes her real name – just about encompasses everything a Miss France should be. She fits the country’s international definition of being French as both parents of this “sultry Mediterranean” came here from Montenegro in the early 1980s. And she is bright - a student of modern languages with an ambition is to work in the diplomatic service.
Victory tonight for Ms Hot would seem a natural launching pad.
And here we go! - Ask a Frenchman‘s fourth incarnation is about to start… right now! Now this is on this blog: David + World that everything will happen: As you will...