John C. Wright (johncwright) wrote,
John C. Wright

The Beauty Contest Method of Choosing Sides

And now for more intelligent and in depth discussion on profound matters urgent to every science fiction reader.

Columnist Iain Murray quips about the movie GOLDEN COMPASS (at your theaters now!):

"Let's see. One side has floaty new age girls and overgrown teddy bears. The other side has Nicole Kidman and giant airships. Show me the way to the nearest Magisterium recruiting depot!"

Let us examine this contention in more detail.

On the one hand, we have evil semi-fascist theocrat scientist babe Kidman.

On the other hand, we have Lapland witch good-girl hottie Eva Green, who played a Bond Girl.

This presents a difficult choice for a man like me, devoted (as I am) to the approach as shallow as possible to any difficult issue. I only selected my political philosophy based on how good looking the young partisanesses of each camp are! It was for this reason I supported the pro-democracy movement in Lebanon.

See! No need to read difficult authors like John Locke and Thomas Paine! Just look to see how pretty the representative of one side or the other might be! See? The method is simple, yet flexible.

Let us see how well this wonder method works in a number of scenarios!

Jackson's Middle Earth -- Good! no she-orc could tempt my deeply-rooted and carefully thought-out loyalties away from Arxenawen the Warrior Princess, or whatever her name was!

The Planet Mongo -- not so good. I would be perfectly willing to fight Flash Gordon to the death in the Space-Arena, and push him onto a bed of radium-knives to win but a smile from the cruel and beautiful Princess Aura. It is hard to be ardent about Dale Arden.

Evil Space Princess

Wholesome All-American Earth-Girl.

Star Trek – Good. I don't care how Hawt those Klingon women are, they got those funny brow ridges. On the side of the Good Guys, we have the longest tradition of the fairest demoiselles in space, from Uhura in a miniskirt to Jadzia Dax, who is perhaps my favorite spacewoman of all time, being a rare combination of smart, confident, kind, wise and beautiful. And she used to be a guy, so you can talk to her about baseball! What's not to like?

My Ideal for a Space Girl. Even if She is Actually a Guy. Or a Worm Thing.

Uhura! Disguised as Evil Uhura!

Of course, the whole system of picking loyalties by looks breaks down if you have an evil twin.

And matters get confusing if your really good-looking hottie historian Marla McGivers switches loyalties because she thinks Khan Noonien Singh  is all sorts of Latin Beefcake Zoom, plus he's got that whole space-tyrant genetic superman rebel-plays-by-his-own-rules thing going for him. If you want to be on her side because she is cute, and she is on his side because he is cute, where does that leave you?

The system also has trouble with evil babes from cyborg-techno mass-minds who are now working on the side of goodness and prime directivity for some reason.

(a digression: the exact moment when the Star Trek franchise jumped the shark was when they introduced the toothsome Miss Ryan here as an evil borg. Until that moment, the Borg were an enemy to be as dreaded as the Boskonians, or Skynet or the Humanoids of Jack Williamson: an enemy who could not be reasoned with, threatened, outfought, or stopped, merely a faceless system of implacable cube-shaped bio-machinery. Then, pfft! All that goodwill in a dread enemy evaporated in one season of Voyager.)

Weapon Shops of Isher By A.E. van Vogt – Not so good. Second Amendment fan that I am, I cannot help but notice that the Weapon Shops have no hot chicks aside from the bland Lucy Rall, whereas the Bad Guys are led by the fascinating and beautiful Empress Innelda Isher: and the dame is IN CHARGE on the baddie side, whereas she is just a flunkie on the goodie side.

Star Wars Good. I never really cared for Carrie Fisher, even in a metal slavegirl bikini, but Natalie Portman is prettier looking than Palpatine, Vader, or Grand Moff Tarkin. Star Wars adheres closely to the rule that Good is Fair and Bad is Ugly.

Freely Elected Space Monarch / Senator!

Chronicles of Riddick – Not so Good. On the bad girl side, we have Thandie Newton. On the good girl side, Alexa Davalos. But the architecture of the Necromongers, the huge art-deco gothic monoliths they drop from orbit when conquering a planet has to tilt this contest in favor of the Dark Gods of Evil, even though, clearly, Alexa Davalos is as cute as a button.

Lady Macbeth ... in SPACE!!

Alexa Davalos

Necromongers as Goth Art-Deco Space-Conquerors

Gotham City Toss up. Catwoman, played by any actress except Halle Barrie, is a looker, and even more so as a cartoon drawn by Bruce Timm, and she is the baddest of bad girls. But Batgirl, played by any actress except Alicia Silverstone, is also adorable, and even more so as a cartoon drawn by Bruce Timm, and she is good … and unlike millionaire Bruce Wayne, Babs fights crime on a librarian's salary! Criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot, so the best way to fight crime is to squeeze a young nubile body into a skintight black outfit that shows off your showgirl legs and hourglass figure, but don a scalloped black cape. Murderers and thugs are terrified of girls in purple catsuits and heels. On the other hand, Julie Newmar. In a catsuit. Michelle Pfiffer. In a catsuit.

World War II – Good. We had Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth on our side. Even in their spiffy black sadomasch uniforms, the Nazi gals did not stand a chance.

Oz A slum-dunk. Only bad witches are ugly. Good witches are beautiful, and the John R. Neill drawings of Ozma make her look all kinds of cute. Who would want to work for the Nome King, who is shaped like an egg with hair? I am not even going to talk about Polychrome the Rainbow's daughter, who delights every fatherly instinct in me. None of the little girls in Oz say anything rude, or get in anyone's face, or spit, or swear, or lie, or steal.

At this point, you may be wondering why, if Ozma is an absolute monarch of a moneyless kingdom, the beauty contest method can be used to solve political disputes, since Ozma does not rule a democracy or anything like it.

The answer to your question is, of course, to support only the pretty democracies and in all other cases to support the pretty monarchies. As soon as the monarchs get old and ugly, switch your support immediately to a younger and more fertile, what we call a 'trophy regime'.

Queen Rania of Jordan

Yes, Your Majesty!

Princess Grace of Monaco. Real Princess of a Real Country.

Queen Christiana of One of Those Cold Countries Where it is Night all the Time

Once a Queen in Narnia, Always a Queen in Narnia ... until she wears lipstick and goes to parties.

So there you have it! The beauty contest method of choosing sides works roughly half the time without error! Considering how often folk are led astray by more complicated and profound processes of cognition, this shallowest of methods, judging the merits of the case by the surface appearances, cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Only two questions remain: first, are there any drawbacks to the system? Second, what means can I, Joe-Bob Fanboy, use to determine if the beauty contest method is valid?

Excellent questions, Joe-Bob! First, the system works fairly well if you are in Oz, or in the Star Trek universe, as we have seen. But one word of warning! The system breaks down entirely if you are in a Film Noir-style mystery story! If at any time, the beautiful dame is seen with the slanted shadows of venetian blinds draped across her perfect form, watch out! If you are in a Film Noir story, the dame is a Femme Fatale. She killed your partner, Archer! And you fell for her like a sap!

Second question: how can you tell the beauty contest system is a valid one? Simple! Just look at how pretty I am, the guy who is telling you to believe in people based on their looks!

As handsome as Glorious Godfrey!

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