Monday, December 28, 2015

Song Lyric of the Day (Billy Joel, With Advice for Steve Harvey)

“If all it takes is inspiration
Then I might have just what it takes
If I don't make no bad mistakes and
I've gotta get it right the first time.”— Billy Joel, “Get It Right the First Time,” from his LP The Stranger (1977)

I’ve always said that the promotion of beautiful women is an ugly business, and it’s being proven all over again in the case of poor Steve Harvey.  Before, the genial comedian-Family Feud host must have thought that hosting the Miss Universe pageant would be a neat way to extend his “brand.”

Guess again. Harvey forgot the muted warning of Billy Joel that he could only show he had “just what it takes” if he didn’t make any “bad mistakes.”

But when Harvey read the wrong name—Miss Colombia—from his “reveal card,” all bets were off. The consequent catcalls made Harvey perhaps the most ridiculed emcee of a major TV event since David Letterman’s disastrous 1995 Academy Award appearance (“Oprah? Uma. Uma? Oprah”). (The fallout from the latter—including the talk-show host’s frequent inclusion among the worst emcees in Oscar history—are spelled out in this piece by Matthew Jacobs for the Huffington Post.)

Do you recall Letterman ever hosting the Oscars again? Neither do I. If Harvey doesn’t experience similar unforgiving treatment, it’ll be because pageant owner WME/IMG just inked a deal with him for at least three, maybe as many as six or seven, years, according to ETOline.

It doesn’t mean that WME/IMG didn’t roll their eyes at the follow-up, let alone Harvey's original screwup. Okay, they may have thought, Harvey made a mistake. But who hasn’t? And anyway, he corrected himself moments later. And he announced—right on the air!—that he would “take responsibility for this!” A standup guy, if you’ll pardon the pun.  

True, but only up to a point, because several consequences ensued almost immediately upon Harvey’s all-too-human error:

*Those moments provided the opportunity for Miss Colombia to wave and pose with the crown. It was also an opportunity for thousands of her countrymen to glory that the crown rested on her pretty head, rather than on their traditional continental rival, Miss Venezuela. (The latter has gone on to become Miss Universe seven times, versus twice for Miss Colombia.) On the social media, those precious moments were long enough for that image to be broadcast wherever guys feel their senses quicken at the sight of a pretty woman or wherever younger lissome lovelies dream of making a fortune off the fantasies of these guys. In other words, in every corner of the globe.

*Those moments made it all the harder for Miss Colombia to yield a crown that had been HERS! Oh, the anguish! Here was a prize that who knows how many contestants have worked years to achieve. The crying that audiences see invariably from winners comes from sweet relief. Except that in this case, nobody would have blamed Miss Colombia for crying twice—first from relief, then from rage that her emotions had been out there for all the world to see, all for nothing. (I mean, check out the image accompanying this post. There’s a temptation to think that this shot comes from the interview stage of the contest, where the contestants are asked their opinions on world events and other assorted matters. But from the look on Harvey's face, I’d say this is after the reveal card debacle. There's an overwhelming message in the expression on his face: You done hating me yet?)

*Those moments brought to the surface a phenomenon almost as eagerly awaited by a certain lowlife type of guy as the swimsuit competition: a catfight. In a move signaling a new form of cooperation within the European Union, Miss Germany disclosed in an interview that neither she nor the other contestants had wanted the eventual winner, Miss Philippines, to win. (Even the latter, on this YouTube clip, had a look on her face that seemed to say: You people sure about this now? Because I don’t like hand-me-down crowns! No, instead of closing ranks behind the latter, Miss Germany hailed her counterpart across the Rhine, Miss France, as the one who should have been The One. All that sweetness and light, that all-for-one spirit, was revealed to hide a collective ruthless competitive streak that Tonya Harding might have appreciated.

*Those moments served as only a prelude to another event that must have made the pageant organizers wonder if Harvey might be so impulsive as to be error-prone in almost any conceivable format. In a tweet sent out shortly after his mistake, Harvey apologized for any embarrassment caused to the two young ladies involved. But whatever points were added for sensitivity could only be subtracted for boneheadness, for Harvey referred to “Miss Philippians” and "Miss Columbia." Miss Philippians? I don’t recall any such person referred to in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians. Miss Columbia? I wasn't aware that the Ivy League institution had gotten into the beauty pageant business. Neither was anyone else, as Harvey had to immediately send out another tweet apologizing for the spelling mistakes in his first.

Get it right the first time? Heck, Harvey sounds like he might have trouble getting it right the second time. If the pageant organizers think so, too, there might not be a next time.

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