June 7, 2013

Queen shows here, there and everywhere

Fri June 7, 2013

Carnival 2013 is well and truly on the way, proceeding full steam ahead with the build-up activities leading to the July climax. When the historic decision was made in 1977 to change the dates from the traditional pre-Lenten period to June/July, it started as a 10-day Festival, a novelty in those days.{{more}} Today, Vincy Carnival is more like a 10-week affair, beginning in May and going right into July.

One pleasing aspect of this has been the decentralisation of Carnival activities to involve the rural communities. There are now rural Carnival celebrations in almost every constituency. These are not without their peculiar challenges, but nevertheless, it allows for wider participation at community level and ensures a more national flavour to the Festival.

Long ago participation of most rural folk used to be confined to them jumping behind the bands on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. That limited participation is now history. Starting with the pioneering role of P’tani (Marriaqua) Carnival, organised carnival activities are now within reach of nearly all rural communities. You no longer have to “come to town” to enjoy or participate in Carnival activities.

One aspect of this development of which we cannot but help notice, is the proliferation of “beauty” shows. In the last week alone, our pages have carried coverage of “Queen” shows at the national level, (Miss SVG last Saturday), and in several rural communities – Central Leeward, Owia, St George, P’tani and North Leeward. Clearly, such shows hold quite a bit of attraction.

They are certainly heavily promoted with the prospective “Queens” being paraded, interviewed, feted and put on display at prominent places of commerce or activity. As a result, the rural carnivals have become skewed in this “royal” direction. By contrast, while there are calypso competitions in these areas as well, the level of promotion and hence, popularity, cannot match the efforts put into the “Queen” shows.

What then, is the fascination with these shows above and beyond all else? Why this unbalanced attention? How beneficial are these shows to our young women and to society as a whole? What is the social impact or the level of influence on our young women? Are these in a positive direction?

This is not meant to knock the holding of such events, but rather to bring a more balanced perspective to them. There has been some concern raised in the wider society, particularly by other sections of the Carnival-making community, about the need for a more balanced approach. This is certainly true in regard to rural carnivals and ought to be examined.