IMR: 1998: May: 04 -- Wednesday, 10:26 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i
So the Miss Universe Pageant is in town.

The women are now called "delegates," but otherwise, it's the same glitzy, tacky, sexist contest it has been for the last forty odd years.

Apart from the "sexist" charges (which are no small heap of beans, I know), I'm not sure how I feel about the whole thing. I argue both sides pretty good.

As far as exposure goes, I sure as hell rather our state invest in a internationally televised pageant than that stupid funny car we've got going state to state, trying to lure trailer park residents into springing for a Hawai`i vacation.

And some of the math looks pretty good. For the $3.3 million the state put up for this gala affair, it'll get into the homes of millions of Americans on May 12, including three minutes of dedicated promotional time during the broadcast. And let's not forget all the coverage (albeit "Entertainment Tonight," news-ish coverage) the pageant is getting leading up to the finale.

Hell, $3.3 million would only get thirty seconds during the Super Bowl.

Remember when "Wheel of Fortune" spent a week on the Big Island? The hotel there is still getting visitors who mention that. We can only ride on Elvis and "Hawai`i Five-O" for so long.

Of course, some of the math is just plain ludicrous. The pageant folks have been quoting viewership numbers in the billions (that's right, that's a "b," as in "baloney"). Anyone do the math? That's one-third the world's population, folks. One-third the world's population doesn't even have television, let alone interest in watching a bunch of prancing women who are skinny on purpose.

That's another thing. Just because millions of Somalians and Peruvians will be tuning in doesn't mean they'll just hop a plane to Lahaina.

And the whole thing can backfire, too. All we need is one long-haired streaker screaming "Free Tibet!" to turn the whole thing into a week's worth of Jay Leno punchlines.

As a college student, of course, I have a natural reason to detest these sash-wearing MUP-ettes. The company behind the whole thing (somehow affiliated with Donald Trump) has commandeered the Stan Sheriff Arena on the Manoa campus. This means on May 12, smack in the middle of finals week, a good portion of the parking usually reserved for students will be unavailable.

Higher education will have to step aside for a day for blatant capitalism. Thanks, Ben "Education Governor" Cayetano!

(But wait, you ask, what about that multi-million dollar Hawai`i Convention Center slated to open in the fall? Wouldn't it benefit from worldwide exposure? Sure it would. Unfortunately, the roof isn't high enough for the pageant's needs.)

Feh. Is it obvious I'm straddling the fence?

Well, one thing I definitely have a problem with is the local coverage of the pageant. Especially, I'm sad to say, from the Star-Bulletin. (Please hire me. Please hire me. Please hire me...)

Back when the pageant was first proposed, of course, there were dozens of soundbites and quotes from people opposed to the state's sponsorship. Women's groups, human services agencies, folks on the street... the Miss Universe Pageant was a controversy. In this corner, "It'll bring more U.S. and international visitors!" In the other, "It's a unconscionable waste of taxpayer money!"

But once the decision was made and the check was cut, the pageant's opposition all but disappeared.

The television stations... ugh. You couldn't buy better P.R. "Today we joined the delegates as they danced with city council members!" The folks over at Nintendo News (aka NBC Hawai`iNews8) today teased us with, "Is it worth it?" Only to conclude -- interviewing a "reporter" from the "E!" entertainment "network" -- that the answer is a cheerful "Yes!"

And in the Star-Bulletin, quotes from critics slowly migrated to the inside pages, while the pageant has unfailingly held front-page play for the last week. They even have a "Countdown to the Pageant" logo, today proclaiming six days left, next to a story on how you can now send e-mail to the delegates.

My wife wants to go on a hunger strike over this thing, for cryin' out loud. It can't be that hard to find another point of view.

I guess I'm old fashioned. I don't buy into "community journalism" (or whatever it's called) -- the idea that journalists should also get involved in the issues they cover, to make a difference, to make people happy. I don't like how KHON covers its own charity drives as news, and I don't like it when our newspapers -- especially the better of the two, thank you -- plays cheerleader to the establishment.

One semester down, three (maybe four) to go.

The last day of Hawaiian class did not, surprisingly, feature a pa`ina (party). Come to think of it, this semester hasn't had any, compared to the almost-monthly events of semesters past.

I'm not sure why. Perhaps pa`ina are the domain of beginning students, who probably need major incentives to stick with Hawaiian through the first year. Or maybe the department caught some flack (as the gatherings tended to disrupt other classes in Sakamaki Hall when held there). Or maybe Kekeha just hasn't been in the mood lately.

Instead of chowing down on spam musubi, manapua and haupia, today's class was simply a continuation of the previous two: reviewing all the sentence structures introduced this semester in preparation for Monday's final.

I get the feeling Kekeha is concerned that this semester's class hasn't quite reached the level of fluency that the department expects of 202-level students. In fact, all our oral exams and quizzes have taken several days longer to complete than he'd allowed for, ultimately prompting him to remove the major, end-of-the-year oral presentation altogether.

Not that anyone's complaining.

Kekeha's mood got progressively more serious as the end drew near, throwing many longtime students -- who stuck with him for his casual, friendly style -- for a loop. And his determination to cover all the material in the 202 workbook taxed his patience with the class jokers. He needled many of them relentlessly, even driving one to tears a week or so ago.

There are a handful of students in the class who have absorbed everything. I don't think I'm one of them, though I get the feeling some of the others think so. But such a reputation is only significant on a curve, if at all. And what really matters is whether Kekeha thinks I've kept up.

My attendance and homework performance is as bad as it was last semester, when -- by the math -- I should have failed. But I guess I got extra consideration for my tests and in-class participation, miraculously landing a fat, juicy "A."

Man, I hope he's equally generous this year.

So I missed at least a dozen classes. So I turned in only a fifth of the homework assignments. I honestly think my Hawaiian is pretty damn good. It almost comes out off the top of my head, and I can "parse" convoluted sentence structures on the fly.

(I once tried to explain one of the more unusual possessive structures by comparing them to embedded parentheses in computer code. Boy did everyone look at me funny.)

For what it's worth, I want to continue on through 302, and even take Hawaiian history or mythology courses as well. Regardless of how useless it is outside Hawaii, I enjoy learning the language. I only hope it comes through in class, and my final grade.

As for Borg's class, what can I say? The end was a short and quiet one. We took another National Geographic quiz, and reported on the progress of our final projects. The six students who came were rewarded with being let out half an hour early.

Today's issue of Ka Leo -- the last of the semester, and the last of dear Gen's administration -- featured a front-page blurb on the completion of the 1998-'99 student handbook.

What the article does tell you is that:

What the article does not tell you is that:

So The New Ka Leo -- now fully assimilated by the Board Collective -- takes one last, pathetic dig at the beleagured Student Handbook, completely failing to mention that Cora will be the last editor to have the Handbook as a venue for free expression. Or that the Handbook will now join the Student/Faculty Directory as another student-funded publication whose management and finances will be conveniently buried under a clumsy puppet bureaucracy.

Does this bother anyone else? It seems even after extensive coverage by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and Honolulu Weekly (not to mention by that other, now-defunct campus rag), no one can be bothered to follow up.

Meanwhile, our very own Ka Leo smirks while one of its fellow free-speech venues is swallowed whole by the establishment. Hello? You may be next, kids.

Or maybe, as ludicrous as it may sound, Ka Leo has already traded its First Amendment sword for happy happy joy joy, "active learning" (a la CAPS) and advertising dollars. If so, it's a sad, scary day for the campus.


© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 6 May 1998 · Last Modified: 11 May 1998