In the aftermath of the Lewinski scandal way back in the ’90’s, you heard a lot of people talking about “the end of shame.” Up until Bill Clinton, pretty much any politician caught in the same situation would’ve resigned in disgrace, and quickly, too. But that’s because up until Bill Clinton, most politicians had at least some tiny, leftover shred of personal dignity, or felt the need to act like they did to be accepted in polite society.
Clinton showed the world the benefit of completely abandoning bourgeois notions like “dignity” and “shame” in pursuit of one’s own aggrandizement. Turns out, not having to carry around that “dignity” baggage works out pretty well for your career and your pocketbook.
Since then, the world has moved decidedly away from shame. By which I mean not that people are doing fewer shameful things, but that people have stopped caring that they do shameful things. I could list a bunch of examples, but if you’re reading this on the internet and not a sheet of paper that your grandkids printed out for you, I think you know what I’m talking about.
And I think that we can mark Sunday, September 13th, 2015 as the day that the very idea of shame was finally, completely scrubbed from the collective consciousness of mankind. For that was the day that Vanessa Williams was installed as the head judge (not just a judge; the head judge) for the Miss America pageant. And if that wasn’t enough, she received an apology from the pageant for pressuring her to resign as Miss America after it was revealed that she had posed for nude pictures.
Got that? The Miss America organization has publicly apologized for having standards for its contestants and title holders that Williams failed to live up to, and treated her appearance on this year’s pageant as the return of a conquering hero. They’e sorry that they ever had a morals clause that made her “feel any less than the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be.”
“President Nixon, we apologize for all that unpleasantness in the past and would now like to make you Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.”
So that’s it, then. Having standards for behavior is something that now must be apologized for. If you expect others to live up to them, then you’re the one who should be ashamed.
It should also be noted that, with his apology, the CEO of the Miss America organization fired the starter’s pistol for all the girls who stayed out of pageants because they have a little homemade porn in their past. Come to think of it, that may be the best PR move in the history of Miss America. Replace “Miss Congeniality” with “Best Girl-on-Girl Scene” and watch the ratings skyrocket!