Guy Adams: Pageant no place to play right-wing card

LA Notebook
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The Independent Online

If you want proof of the dangers inherent in mixing beauty with politics, look at the controversy that has suddenly enveloped Carrie Prejean, California's pneumatic representative in Sunday night's Miss USA contest. Asked during the event's "Q&A" session to volunteer an opinion on gay marriage, Miss Prejean, 21, announced, with a swish of bottle-blonde hair, that: "In my country, in my family, I do believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman."

Let us cast aside, for the time being, the rights or wrongs of this particular worldview. Let us instead make a simple observation: Prejean's decision to voice that world view, so very unequivocally, at a crucial stage in the Miss World contest represented an appalling tactical call.

Why? Well for one thing, it badly misread her studio audience. As any fool knows, the punters at any good beauty pageant tend to be as "camp" as your average row of tents. This lot gave her answer the proverbial bird. For another, it offended the liberal sensibilities of Miss World judges. Having been hot favourite for the Miss USA title, Prejean, left, was demoted to the runner-up spot behind Miss North Carolina.

Finally, and most unfortunately of all, it outraged the man who asked the question. He was Perez Hilton, the outspokenly gay celebrity blogger, who launched an energetic bid to trash her reputation. Their ensuing war of words has so far jollified almost every paper in the land, with Hilton hitting the Today programme, CBS and Larry King's chat show, while Prejean has turned up on E!, Access Hollywood and Fox News. Prejean couches her opposition to gay marriage in purely religious terms. This has seen her feted as a hero by the conservative movement, and pegged as a crucial future ally in the gathering storm over perhaps the most divisive social issue facing America.

Ironically, it also puts her in a similar position (politically, at least) to Dayana Mendoza, the Miss Universe winner, who this month blogged about her visit to Cuba's Guantanamo Bay, saying George Bush's favourite waterboarding venue was "calm and beautiful".

Miley twitters in support

Mr Hilton's advocacy of gay rights may not win hearts and minds in Middle America, but it counts for a lot in Hollywood. His feud this week has prompted Miley Cyrus to "come out" in support of same-sex unions, via the medium of her Twitter feed. Given Cyrus's reliance on the "tween" market, this represents a bold move. I hope her paymasters at Disney approved it.