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Host, top 5
Photo courtesy of Miss Universe L.P., LLLP

You never heard
such talk!

Criticism of the 1999 Miss USA Pageant continues to arrive at PNB, and we wish to share some of it with our readers. Most of the anger continues to focus on emcee Shemar Moore, whose saucy patter now threatens to become part of pageant history.


PNB always receives a flood of public commentary after a major pageant. Most of it involves disappointment over who won, or who lost. This year, as always, we received our share of letters complaining about the results. (One reader complained that the new Miss USA looks as if she belongs in kindergarten, which is certainly an extraordinary perspective.)

But most of this year's public outrage was focused on the pageant's onstage host, soap opera heartthrob Shemar Moore. His flirtatious banter with the contestants crossed the line into bad taste, many readers insist.

What specifically was so offensive?

Shemar Moore interviews Miss Arizona USA
Photo by Benjamin Gibbs / PNB
Moore expressed glee at the swimsuit competition, saying he enjoys watching beautiful women wearing almost nothing. He talked with the contestants about his desire to get a date. He asked one contestant to do a complete back bend in her evening gown, and when she declined, he expressed a hope that he would see her later. He asked another contestant about how she would decorate his bedroom, and seemed to imply that she found this prospect exciting.

Strong stuff? It's not Howard Stern by a long shot, but clearly many Americans, male and female, found this to be too much. A few complainants, unfortunately, found it necessary to mention Moore's race (he is African-American). But most felt a dissatisfaction that was clearly genuine.

We at PNB understand these concerns, but we wish to remind readers of the realities of broadcast pageants. Beauty contests, for the most part, are thoroughly rehearsed, and the overall content has more to do with the image the pageant wishes to present than it does with how the host wishes to behave. Moore is a handsome young man with a large female following, and presenting him as an amorous suitor may have had its advantages with many viewers. Assess fault if you will, but don't be too quick to assess blame.

With that said, we are offering below a sampling of comments from readers, edited for content and with names removed.


And more . . .

A delegate's view of the host

He just had a job to do and we delegates did the best we could in response to his remarks. He didn't write the script. . . . That was a small part of the big picture. It was just a little bump in the road. And I might add that Shemar was very, very nice and said appropriate things to all the delegates at the Coronation Ball.

Mother knows best

As the mother of a Miss USA delegate, I thank you for posting the e-mails and letters you received concerning the conduct of emcee Shemar Moore. I don't think he wrote his lines, but he sure seemed to enjoy delivering them. The delegates worked so hard during rehearsals in order to perfect the production numbers and deliver a topnotch show, but their big night was overshadowed by lewd remarks from Shemar. I, along with many other parents, didn't appreciate Shemar's script. However, keeping things in perspective, Shemar was just a small part of the great times I know the delegates experienced. Branson rolled out the red carpet and treated the delegates like queens. Their hotel, the Radisson, was wonderful and so was the staff. They spoiled the girls. The Grand Palace was truly GRAND, and all the Miss USA officials and staff were terrific. It truly was an experience all the young women will treasure and remember for a lifetime.

It wasn't all onstage

First of all, I want to compliment you on your fabulous site, which I always look to for the latest in pageant news. . . . I've been watching the Miss Teen USA and Miss USA pageants on TV for as long as I can remember, and it seems to me that some of the changes made in the pageants weren't necessarily for the better. I feel that they've taken away tradition. What happened to the theme song for the new queen's victory stroll? . . . I love that song and if this is the only thing the pageant brings back, this should definitely be it. The new song doesn't seem the least bit victorious or as special.

My other concern is with Julie [Moran] and Ali [Landry] co-hosting from up in the wings. It's not that I don't absolutely admire them, and I love getting all of the behind-the-scenes info, but they sometimes seem too critical of the delegates. I'm all for them being a part of the show, but sometimes they're just too gabby. They talk the entire time a girl is competing DURING evening gown and swimsuit, and after her interview. I think people would like to just be able to focus more on the delegates' performance, rather than two people criticizing them throughout the show. It's not as enjoyable. Last, I know it seems unimportant, but why aren't they showing clips of parents watching their daughter compete, or their reaction to her being crowned, as they used to? It makes for a much more sentimental and, of course, traditional pageant.

Don't get me wrong. I will always be the biggest fan of the Miss Teen USA, Miss USA, and Miss Universe Pageants. I just would like to see some of the tradition brought back to the pageant. Change is not always for the better!

"Children were watching"

I thought the pageant this year was great, except for the emcee. He was terrible. Many children were watching, and I didn't care for what he had to say.

It wasn't about race

I read some of the comments that came from other viewers. It was refreshing to realize that I was not the only person watching who picked up on the unprofessional behavior of the onstage host. Let me state for the record that I am African-American, and yet I thought that Shemar Moore's questions, comments, conduct and attire were completely inappropriate for the occasion.

I must respectfully disagree with the viewer whose comments suggested that the popular dissatisfaction with the onstage host is all about race. I do not doubt that for some dissatisfied viewers, race was perhap an issue (particularly among those viewers who found it necessary to mention the race of the host). But it is hard for me to imagine any reasonable person (black

or white) observing Mr. Moore's tasteless onstage conduct and being left with the impression that race was the only issue. In fact, I specifically visited this page to find out if there were other viewers out there who thought that Mr. Moore's flirtatious manner and leather outfit were a bit much. You don't have to be white or Southern to find tasteless behavior inappropriate.

"Most disrespectful"

I wanted to write to tell you I thought the master of ceremonies at this year's pageant was rude, crude and most disrespectful to the contestants. His sexual comments were very inappropriate and totally uncalled for. These ladies have worked long and very hard and spent thousands of dollars, and in my opinion the pageant could have provided a much more professional and respectful emcee.

'Pompous, arrogant'

I thought the show was a fabulous production . . . except for the host. I thought that Shemar Moore came off as being a pompous, arrogant person. His trying to pick up the ladies was totally disrespectful [and] put them all in awkward situations. And his choice of leather pants!! This was the Miss USA Pageant, not the MTV Awards. In short, he was totally unprofessional.

'Displayed . . . like tramps'

As a pageant fan of 20 years, I have to say that I was very disappointed. . . . I found it a shame that those young women were displayed in an unflattering light, looking almost like tramps (for lack of a better word). I found Shemar Moore's comments sexist, offensive and totally inappropriate. . .

'Just racism'

I've heard people complaining about what Shemar Moore said on the Miss USA Pageant. That's just racism. It's coming mostly from Southerners, and they don't like a black man flirting with white women. I live in the South, but I'm not a Southerner. Why don't these people complain that there weren't more black faces among the contestants?

'We as a family were a little disturbed'

While watching the program, my husband and I were becoming increasingly concerned about the underlying sexual content of the questions being asked of the five finalists. We had just been discussing the fact with our teenage children that the merchandising of women is something that has been viewed as undesirable in recent years and that the contest is about the total woman. Personality, strength of character, ability and skill are some things that should bring these competitions out of the "meat market" mentality. Without a doubt, these women are all beautiful physically and that is also something that most definitely should be recognized. We as a family were a little disturbed, then offended, at the way these questions were presented. In the future, it might be considered that these women deserve a higher quality of questioning.

'Rude, lewd, suggestive'

I was embarrassed and appalled by Shemar's so-called professional emcee ability for the pageant this year. He was rude, lewd, suggestive and most of all he was disrespectful not only to the contestants but to the . . . Miss USA crown itself. I felt terribly embarrassed for our nation and for the finalists that had direct contact with him. Many of his questions were inappropriate and of not relevant subject matter. It was disgusting to watch him be openly flirtatious and comment about scoring a date, and at times he led us to believe he was trying to score more than that. . . . I will spare you going into the details of his behavior during the swimsuit competition. I had to send my daughter out of the room because it was not appropriate for her to hear or view. This is not proper pageant behavior . . .

'Phonier than usual'

This year's contest was even phonier than usual. Who are they trying to fool about a "controversy" over swimsuits? There has never been a controversy over swimsuits in the Miss USA Pageant. It was CREATED with swimsuits in mind. This was just to appeal to those yokels who don't know Miss America from Miss USA.

'I couldn't believe how ignorant he came across'

I am so disgusted by the poor choice in a host at this year's awards. When I first saw that Shemar was hosting, I was very excited. However, the moment when he opened his mouth and spoke, I couldn't believe how ignorant he came across. What I mostly did not understand was his attempt at humor and flirtation with the girls. It was simply gross and demeaned the entire process.

'Very poor taste'

The emcee for the Miss USA contest conducted himself in very poor taste. His conduct and comments degraded the contestants and the pageant.

'He is the reason people complain'

I thought the emcee, Shemar, was obnoxious and degrading to women. He is the reason people complain about these pageants. I thought he was rude to the contestants and I got tired of him acting like Austin Powers (Yaaaaa Baaby). . . . Other than Shemar, the show was very good. I really liked Julie Moran and the former Miss USA [Ali Landry] who were co-hosting. They worked well together and were professional. At one point, they were even commenting on Shemar's questions being ridiculous.

Miss Universe office has been called

A lot of people are very upset [at Shemar Moore's comments], and some have called and faxed the Miss Universe offices in Los Angeles to express their concern. I personally have e-mailed the director in my state.


More on Miss USA 99 . . .

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Controversy (return to top)

Miss USA archive
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