America’s Next Top Model: Redux

by thethreepennyguignol

Last year, I wrote a protracted and essentially pointless rampage against America’s Next Top Model while drunk, that involved a whole lot of babbling about sandwiches and the conclusion that the show was a bit grim but essentially harmless. I was wrong. Oh, how wrong was I. Apparently, I feel the urge to devour a couple of seasons of this unrelenting tripe a couple of times a year, usually when I’m sick or fighting off some bout of crippling boredom or depression (pause for uncomfortable laughter; is she joking? Are we allowed to laugh at it if she is? If she’s not, isn’t that the sort of thing you just shouldn’t joke about? I mean, it’s a bit far, really, and frankly I hope The Guardian launch a liberal hate campaign against her, the scummy, anti-mental health “satirist” cow. Bet she’s sexist too. How many women have you employed, eh, Louise? That’s the question the public are clamoring for an answer to.).

In theory, the show actually comes from a pretty reasonable place. Tyra Banks, who spends much of her time forgetting to put on trousers, decided to re-define beauty in the fashion industry because….well, I don’t know actually. Maybe she had an afternoon free or something. Either way, I kind of respect her buisness acumen; being a model is a career with a built-in sell-by-date, so turning your attentions to becoming Oprah-building a TV empire seems pretty savvy. And giving less conventionally beautiful women (like all these hideously unattractive women here) a chance to break into an industry that would have previously simply laughed in their faces because they were plus-size or short is actually a really nice idea.

While much of the criticism for the show can be drawn for the fashion industry itself-with models being told they are “too slim for plus-size modelling” and the majority of winners being skinny, conventionally gorgeous women in their late teens-I’m going to focus on what’s off with the show alone. For one, not one-NOT ONE- winner or contestants have gone on to become what is, by anyone’s standards, a top model. A top model is an instantly recognisable name, someone who’s probably run around with rock stars for a while, somebody for whom their actual profession takes a back seat to the maelstrom of publicity surrounding them because they’re kind of fascinating and cool. Now, Cara Develigne has proved supermodels still exist-it’s just that the show doesn’t prepare it’s victims for the fashion industry in any way. Ex-winner Caridee English released a statement regarding the effect the show has on the models involved, after contestant Jael Strauss was discovered to be harboring a pretty sizeable meth addiction. Basically, she claimed that participants were greeted by a world in which they were lofty celebrities but unqualified and inexperienced models. There’s something tragically misleading about baring this in mind when watching the show, as the girls go through a heap of emotional distress, upsetting photoshoots and the constantly drilled-in belief that they will have a sky-rocketing career should they win the show. On a related note, both an ex-contestant and a judge have appeared on Celebrity Rehab since their stint of ANTM.

Backing away from the heavy stuff, there’s also the made-up words and phrases the show shoves down your throat at every opportunity. Smize, for example. Which is a word ellision, one that represents the notion of “smiling with one’s eyes”. Can I ask you something? Go to a mirror right now. And try to do that; try to imbue your eyes with emotion without moving the rest of your face. Can’t be done, can it? No, it fucking can’t. Maybe I’m stupid and a terrible model (it would explain the current faliure of my modelling career), but I like to believe that an expression requires some movement of your whole face. “Smizing” is not just an irritating anti-word, it’s also bullshit. This, along with forcing the attractive and charming British photographer Nigel Barker to continually use the word “fierce”, is enough to condemn the show to hell from my point of view.

Then, of course, there’s this: a collection of words so outrageous you’ll die, right here, in front of your computer or preferred device. On the All-Stars Cycle (What?), Tyra Banks filmed a “Motion Editorial” (eh?) for her novel (Come again)? Modelland, about an elite model’s boarding school (Okay, seriously now) featuring anthropomorphic people (I don’t even-), which starred the finalists from that series fondling blood oranges and gorging on whipped cream (a single flatline will suffice).

I first saw this monstrosity in the early hours of the morning and genuinley considered the option that I’d completely lost my mind. Basically, it sums up the show beautifully; a pointless, pretentious, unironically awful piece of crap that has less to do with modelling than my breakfast. Thank you, and kill me.