Does Carrie Prejean have a chance for the successful career?

Is her case just an affair from the celebrity world or it’s the attack on the freedom of expression in the name on the political correctness?

Questions:

1. Would you say Carrie Prejean’s case is also about the boundaries of political correctness and about the freedom of expression in the world of entertainment as some conservative commentators are suggesting? Or it is just another more or less unimportant scandal most people will forget very soon?

2. Do you think she has a chance for some kind of successful career in the spotlight?

Answers:

Joshua Gunn, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, University of Texas at Austin

1. Prejean’s case is unquestionably about the issue of gay marriage and her firm public statements against it (to a gay Internet celebrity blogger, Perez Hilton). Over time, I think its probable the controversy associated with her for this statement, as well as semi-nude photos of her circulating on the Internet, was tiresome. Whether deserved or not, Prejean’s “baggage” was politically too difficult to manage for the Miss USA organization. Spokespersons for the organization say that it was a breach of contract, but I find that disingenuous. They fired her in hopes that the Miss USA pageants would not become politicized.

The irony of her firing is that Miss USA has already been politicized. As the flashier rival of the longer-running Miss America pageant, Miss USA events been in the news frequently in the past for nude photos of contestants and Donald Trump’s public feud with Rosie O’Donnell.

The state of California has been rocked, in recent years, because same-sex marriages were deemed legal in mid-2008, but then became illegal late last year as a result of a ballot initiative known as “Proposition 8.” Many Californians, especially those articulated in some way to the film and television industry, were undoubtedly upset; public statements against gay marriage are going to be unpopular and upsetting too many people.

2. Yes. Prejean is not only beautiful, but she is smart and thinks quickly on her feet. Watching her many television appearances, it’s obvious she has a somewhat fiery personality. In the United States, the “Right” seem eager to snap up pretty, smart women as commentators. While PLAYBOY offered her 120,000 dollars to pose nude, she turned it down. I think if she wanted to get into televisual politics, she may have a shot. I’m not so sure about an acting or television career, however.

Leo Braudy, Professor in English and American Literature, University of Southern California

1. I think that this is a special case of a collision between a politically militant judge (Perez Hilton) and Carrie Prejean’s own militancy on the question of gay marriage. It was inappropriate to the situation, where usually softball questions are thrown at contestants. On the other hand, choosing Mr. Hilton as a judge implies that the organizers of the context were looking for some publicity beyond the usual bland reporting of a contest that doesn’t interest most people–and it backfired. Or maybe this is just the kind of continuing focus on the contest they wanted.

2. She will probably become, for a short while, an ornament to anti-gay marriage gatherings, where she’ll be introduced to loud applause and that will be the end of it. The idea that just because someone is in the spotlight they have interesting political and social views is on the face of it ridiculous. Celebrity gives individuals a momentary glow that the politically engaged hope might extend to their views. But the question is always one of endurance. She has seized the opportunity to become momentarily the center of attention by associating herself with a controversial public issue (like Anita Bryant long ago). Whether she can manage to parley that into something more long lasting is a separate question. With enough money and/or nerve, anyone can become famous for a time. The real trick is staying there.

Patty Williamson, Graduate Director, School of Broadcast and Cinematic Arts, Central Michigan University

1. I think this scandal is just another example of how the public is presented with trivial stories about public figures that don’t amount to any true consequence. Now that we live in an era of the 24-hour news cycle and cutthroat ratings wars between media outlets, it has become commonplace to divert attention from important stories that have a true impact on peoples’ lives and direct them to stories about glamorous, ridiculous or famous people. I don’t believe it is indicative of a repressive political correctness as some conservative critics have argued. Rather, I see it as a testament to the power of viral videos and schadenfreude (or the joy people receive from the humiliation of others). Regardless of Prejean’s answer, either for or against gay marriage, I believe it was her trouble answering the question that drew attention to her response. Certainly many were upset by her view, but just as many would have been upset if she’d given the opposite answer. I truly believe it was her laughable attempt at public speaking that brought her media attention. For that reason, I don’t see this scandal having any true or lasting impact, and it will be forgotten soon enough.

2. Prejean certainly has a chance for some sort of career in the public eye. These days the terms “famous” and “infamous” seem to be used interchangeably. Because of this, we have a huge number of individuals who receive a great deal of attention in the media despite their complete lack of discernable talent or skill. You no longer need to be a good actor, singer or performer to be “famous.” Prejean will probably hold on to her 15 minutes of fame as long as she can. Certainly there are several options available to her in this era of reality TV.

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