Ms Singapore Universe: Mice live on moon cheese

From ‘Cheeky or cheesy?’, 10 Sept 2011, article by Kwok Kar Peng in TNP and ‘Is this S’pore’s national costume or rojak’?, 10 Sept 2011, Stomp.

Miss Singapore Universe 2011 Valerie Lim has left netizens agog with her unusual replies to the three questions that were posed to all 89 contestants this year for the Miss Universe pageant’s official online Q&A video interview.

When asked if Lim believes in life on other planets, the 26-year-old said rather jokingly: “I know the moon is not a planet, but I think it’s made of cheese, and so mice live on cheese.” She paused momentarily before adding with a giggle: “The moon cheese!”

Miss Singapore Universe Valerie Lim wasn’t the only Asian contestant who gave quirky replies. Miss Thailand, for example, said the animal she would like to be is ‘plankton’.

Still, English is not the first language of these beauty queens, so something may have got lost in translation.

It’s a bewildering response upon first viewing, but compare Valerie Lim’s answer to the rest of the Miss Universe hopefuls and you’ll realise that this tongue-in-cheek faux pas is a deliberate and bold juxtaposition of an endearing pun and whimsical cliche, delivered with unusually cool confidence and self-effacing child-like humour. Though naysayers would slam this as bimbo playacting and astronomy fans would beg to differ on the actual composition of our satellite, Valerie’s playful answer, if taken the right way by the pageant judges, clearly distinguishes her from the other finalists, who were taking the obvious, but dull, scientific approach and speculating on the probability of aliens using whatever rudimentary knowledge they have about astrobiology and alien invasion movies. Some, like Miss Great Britain, grossly and disappointingly underestimated the expanse of space by using the baseline of  ‘solar system’ instead of the more likely ‘galaxy’ or ‘universe’ when explaining the probability of extraterrestrial life (By the way, she also would like to be a caterpillar. Eew). To be exact, the actual lunar cliche specifies that the moon be made of GREEN cheese, and has been in use, astonishingly,  since the late 1800’s (Thoroughfares, Straits Times Overland Journal, 13 Dec 1879).

If Valerie doesn’t score points on accuracy, surely she deserves credit for saying something unexpected and choosing to steer away from blind speculation and countering one cliche with a cuter one. But maybe this question wasn’t really a test about how many times one has read Carl Sagan’s Cosmos or seen the movie ‘Contact’, but how stylishly one can pull off a somewhat existential poser without sounding like a wannabe astrophysicist. Other than the fact that Valerie could pass off as a nursery school teacher who could trick little kids into believing Jupiter is a really a giant orange, her diction is assuredly cosmopolitan and polished, with only the surprising Malaysian and Indonesian contestants to beat. Couple her unsettling spontaneity with a sense of parody with regard to perceptions of pageant sexualisation and it’s possible that we have a high-scoring MSU in the making.  It would be tragic, however, if she were let down by the perennial bugbear of all MSU contests to date: The national costume segment.

(On Miss Singapore Universe’s costume, Stomp): …”This outfit deliberately combines different styles into a mish-mash of styles and cultures, but I can’t help but feel that it’s all been forced together somehow. “The colours and styles all end up looking ‘rojak’ to me, like someone just tried his or her best to blend it all together.

“Some people have even said it looked like a carpet or curtain. Unfortunately, though I am behind Valerie a hundred percent, I have to agree.

This has bits of Miss China, India and Saudi Arabia mixed in it, which was probably the intention of the designer to weave our multicultural heritage in one costume. Well, you’ve got to admit it’s at least better than our Merlion disaster and last year’s silver bore. Good luck, Valerie.

Postscript: Miss Angola won the title, while Miss Phillipines and Miss China were the two Asians making up the top 5. I guess hoping for a once in a blue MOON event (Miss Singapore in Top 10) is too much to ask for.

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