Misery, Sandwiches and Tyra Banks
I’ve had two tragically humiliating experiences involving sandwiches this week. The first came in a dash to Subway tonight. My companion, being the socially adept Londoner he is, ordered competently and literally. After I had blundered through asking if I could use my card, I then announced a filling in panic, and the sweet girl behind the desk pointing questionably at the bread, at which I felt I had to pretend I cared and spent at odd amount of time leering at the loaves. Like a fool.
The second came last night. After waking up mid-afternoon, realizing I had guests, powered through disinfecting my room to the best of my abilities, had a shower, changed, made-up, I had not eaten. Sprinting to the bus, I grabbed the first sandwich I saw in the Union shop and proceeded to eat one half on the bus and accidentally get up two stops early. Let me get this straight; this was the worst thing in bread. It had curry, brie, mango chutney and tomato, and tasted like snorting crack off the floor of an Indian restaurant toilet. But, as I began to glance at my watch and realize I needed to start running again, I decided to down the whole thing like Gatorade. As I ran past a young family, the remains of that sandwich began to disintegrate, and that pulpy, spicy, sweet, vegetable-laden bready mush in my hands brings me neatly onto my topic today- America’s Next Top Model.
I have watched almost all the seasons in the last three weeks, with three failed blog posts in sheer disbelief. Settle in, lads; it’s a long one. ANTM is hosted by Tyra Banks, supermodel and national forehead, and, as the name suggests, has a collection of girls doing modelling challenges to win a lucrative modelling contract and loads of good shit. It starts with fourteen girls, with one eliminated after two challenges and a sort of camp Apprentice-style board meetings each week.
I’ll start with the contestants. I mean, the show does really fuck with the girls. This episode I happen to have on has a sequence in which a girl is put in a sexual situation with another woman for a photoshoot, and it all gets uncomfortably, intimately sapphic. Lots of very sexual shoots with some surprisingly handsy male models, more shoots than I could count where they portray corpses; a lot of it is kind of ludicrous. There’s a lot of vicious editing, casting specific heroes and villains every cycle. Although most of the bitching looks petty and relatively surface, but some of them seem to be going through genuine emotional distress, which is pretty uncomfortable. The girls who cry over their makeovers, though? Pish. I cut half my fringe off by accident last week. My reaction? Not possible to register. But what’s most unpleasant is the body issues some of the girls evidently have; even the curvier women (who aren’t all eliminated in the first round, actually) looking a little unhealthy. I’ve lost a lot of weight recently and am now at the thinnest I’ve been in several years, and I look at these women and wonder what they had to go through to get that, because only the lucky few just have it. Some of them do seem genuinely stupid, too; not just vapid but sometimes vehemently defending a cause they don’t totally understand, and it makes me want to batter people with my laptop.
Then there’s the judges. Different series have different collections of judges each time; the golden age of ANTM featured handsome photographer Nigel Barker, seemingly intersex Miss Jay, Mr Jay, the masculine equivalent (using masculine in it’s loosest form here), Tyra, and Janice Dickinson, apparently an ex-supermodel, but really a leatherbacked offending machine that spends almost an infinite amount of time with her tongue in Barker’s ear. Janice was a complete provocation device and naught more, but she occasionally sledgehammer insulted the girls in a way that I agree with, delivering a verbal equivalent of beating someone to death with an old can of Budweiser in a rainy backstreet in Glasgow. I love Miss Jay too; the wild fashion choices, copying the models screwing up and attempts at comic relief make him the try-hard toddler of the show, and that’s kind of endearing.
Then there’s Tyra. TYRA FUCKING BANKS. She rose from being a benevolent judge, to a mother-figure, to an actual demi-Goddess. The prizes have gotten worse and worse each year, because meeting Tyra has become half the winnings. Girls weep upon meeting her, they receive the sinister TyraMail to inform them of their missions for the day, and nobody laughs at her when she tries to demonstrate two slightly different expressions and both times her face looks the same. I piss myself every time this happens so it must be fear of being struck down by her wrath. Maybe they’re right and I’m doomed. We’ll see.
But I can’t stop watching. It’s somehow compelling and with properly argument-worthy results, and the passion for such ludicrous bits and scenes and outfits and people it’s heartening. So you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to walk to Tesco, buy a sandwich, and watch the season 15 finale.