Posts Tagged ‘Tyra Banks’

America’s Next Top Model

October 1, 2008

Something interesting happened on America’s Next Top Model on Monday night.

No – seriously.

In amongst all the usual shit, a sparkling moment of clarity. The truth outed itself for one instant, but then vapourised without leaving its mark. But for that tiny, shining moment, the grotesque absurdity of the whole franchise was called into question – and it came from the most unlikely of sources.

The important folk on ANTM refer to each series as a ‘cycle’. Not a ‘series’. Not a ‘season’. A ‘cycle’. When you dwell on this, the logic holds up. The girls all come from nowhere and end up back in sweet obscurity – so ‘cycle’ it is.

This cycle, we have the usual bunch of warped, seven foot in-breds doing walking, then doing standing still whilst under the scrutiny of a bunch of complete and utter cocks, headed up by the contemptible, neurotic bundle of blabber they call Tyra Banks.

Among the contestants this cycle, the only candidates of any interest are Marvita and Fatima. Marvita is an amazonian shit-kicker who’d eat you for breakfast. Looking like Chris Partlow‘s older, more aggravated sister, she talks through her history of abuse as though she’s reeling off a shopping list. Her cold, dead eyes are supremely likable for some reason.

Then there’s Fatima (pronounced ‘Fah-TEE-mah’, apparently – though I prefer the ‘Whitbread’ phonetic of ‘FATTY-mah’). Fatima is an out and out bitch who, in episode one this bicycle dropped the bombshell that she was circumcised at birth and suffered genital mutilation. Which is horrible, and we all feel for her. The first time she says it. By the time we’ve heard about it for the fourth time in 40 minutes, the goodwill sadly starts to diminish to the point where we forget about her campaign and realise she’s using it as sympathy-leverage so she can be this unicycle‘s wind up merchant, starting cat-fights like there’s no tomorrow. 

And finally in this brief round up, until last night, there was Kimberley. An unremarkable, plank-thick blonde with nothing to say for herself – last night she became a fleeting heroine as, when asked to step forward before they ripped the shit out of her photo on judgement day she said (and I’m forced to paraphrase):

‘Y’know – I don’t really like fashion much’

She went on to explain how she thinks that high fashion is stupid and that anyone who pays $2,000 for an outfit is an idiot and, sorry, but this whole thing just wasn’t for her.

The judges’ faces dropped. As they sat there with jaws on their laps I hoped that, even if only for a millisecond, they felt humbled by the logic of a nobody – suddenly realising that the show they’re working on is a fatuous, risible and futile mess that creates absolutely nothing of any meaning or value. Unlikely, but maybe she hit her point home for a fraction of a moment.

Kimberley – I salute you.

Britain’s Next Top Model – Finale

July 9, 2008

Little Twat

I’ve spoken before about half-watching this series. Then Quincy spoke about the franchise. So let’s make this the final piece in the triptych, inspired by the most fatuous entertainment available. The finale to Britain’s Next Top Model was televised on Monday. This time the hour long format was extended by 25 minutes. I bet you can’t believe you missed it.

We were down to three – the unholy trinity. Firstly we had bitchy, spoilt twat Alex. Then we had big-wapped, dusky, self-righteous berk, Stefanie. Finally, we had classically beautiful, burger-flipping redhead-dunderhead, Catherine. And, from these three, a winner had to be decided upon. Looking at them, even now, it’s apparent that none of them have ‘Top Model’ written all over them. Pretty, yes. Models, maybe. Top models, no way.

Stefanie was ejected after half an hour leaving ‘best mates’ Alex and Charlotte. Eage-eyed readers with elephantine memories will remember I referred to Alex as a ‘little twat’ back at the kick-off. When the decision was made, the judges went for this little twat, deciding that Catherine wasn’t up to it, despite the fact she was far prettier, much more likable and didn’t have a face and body more bland than the most unmoving Nuts pictorial. Quite how they came to the decision, I couldn’t tell you.

The code the judges speak in is an indecipherable babble of second hand fashionista speak. They talk about degrees of fierceness – soooo fierce, totally non-fierce, really working the fierceness.

There’s another one – the ‘working it’ phrase. Is she working it in that photo, for you? Do you think she can work it in editorial? Can she work it runway-style? Is she purely working the commercial side? These are the things they say to one another, leaving people like me – the type who run to the nearest Oxfam when high fashion is mentioned – cowering and dribbling with confusion.

‘Working it’ implies that they actually do work, but for the past god-knows-how-many weeks we’ve been subjected to endless footage of them standing in fashion shoots, being photgraphed whilst doing precisely nothing other than pulling faces. This is what models do. They pull faces whilst standing about. It’s so far from rocket science that to state that it’s not that is to state the obvious so forcefully that your jaw will come loose, leaving a yawning, confused chasm where your face used to be.

I also have a problem with ‘fierce’. What’s so ‘fierce’ about standing about and pouting in a well lit room? It implies some intensity of feeling, ‘fierce’. There is no feeling where these girls are concerned. They stand limply in front of a lens while some bisexual poser or self-important old woman orders that their picture gets taken.

The expression on their faces is generally one of boredom or faux-sensuality. No deeper meaning should be read into it than they are trying their hardest to look sexy so that you’ll buy a watch, or a perfume or some other material shit. What they are doing is of no importance, and the whole racket is a fucking farce.

Snowdon is a horrible host. She’s clearly watched Tyra Banks at work and either she’s directed to copy her every move or she does it of her own accord. Tyra Banks is annoying enough – that’s another post entirely – but Snowdon copying Banks’s trite catchphrases and thick-as-pigshit enthusiasm? It’s more than any sane man can bear. ‘I was just like…soooo not thinking she was working it that day, but this time she’s, like, TOTALLY soooo fierce. But for me she’s not next top model material’. What the fuck does any of that mean? Alan Sugar she is not. Her use of the word ‘deliberate’ never fails to raise my ire. ‘That was a great deliberation’. ‘Ok guys, it’s time to deliberate’. Said so many times, the word loses all meaning and just becomes a segment in a torrid television programme. It’s direct abuse of the language and I won’t stand for it.

With zombie-freak Huggy and that twat in the hat, wrong decisions were made at literally every stage of the process. These are a collection of contemptible twats offering the phoniest prize imaginable. They will never be ‘top models’, this lot. They never could have been. Not only are they being offered a fake prize, they’re also deluding themselves that the prize is worth winning. Didn’t they see previous series? I can name Kate Moss, but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you the name of any previous winners of this show. Which suggests they’re not exactly ‘top’. More lower-bottom.

The worst thing is that Alex won. As I mentioned, she was a complete and utter arsehole – not only boring to look at, but also nasty, manipulative, bullying, vain, stuck up, vacuous and thick. The fact that she won shows the whole thing up for exactly what it is. It’s worse than Big Brother as it’s not a popularity contest – they’re perfectly allowed to fight with one another. It’s worse than the Apprentice because their mettle is never tested – the worst they have to do is hold a snake for five minutes or be suspended from the ceiling… big deal.

It’s worse than most reality shows as it only deals in surface, vanity and the fleeting quality of outer attractiveness. It’s the most shallow piece of shit on TV and – even worse – pretty compulsive.

Next Top Model Franchise

July 3, 2008

It’s a difficult time, that post work, pre dinner – post Simpsons, pre Channel 4 News half hour. Employment-pooped on the sofa – a crossword-cuddle and coffee-soaked cat-stroke does not fill the time, so it’s usually down to the digital channels. Since E4 is the spawn of repeat hell, the lady opts for Living and their various reruns, premiers and catch-ups of America’s Next Top Model / Britain’s Next Top Model.

It’s the same format the Atlantic across – a judging panel of high fashionistas heap scorn and praise upon a gaggle of excitable skeletal forms, all of whom are competing for a cover shoot on a depressingly formulaic clothes magazine and some money. The girls are whittled down on their ability to wear impossibly abstract outfits and how they fare in a variety of challenges – look sad, look happy, look psychotic… that sort of thing.

As required, the girls all live together throughout the whole affair, developing close and meaningful relationships with people they wilfully stab in the back at the first opportunity. There’s much sobbing, much high drama, much suggested nudity and many braless pokies until the most average looking one wins and no-one gets a career out of it.

The US version is hosted by Tyra Banks – someone to whom I grudgingly admit a strong liking of. The UK host is Lisa Snowden – someone I’m informed once dated George Clooney. Their respective judges are digitally-created stereotypes, impossibly unreal examples of fashion types – a blonde cornroed hairdresser, a facially paralysed gay dancer, a structurally altered supermodel and a domineering mommy agent.

The girls are either snivelling wrecks or stage trained personalities, contrived clichés of girl-types. They screech, scream and squeal throughout like immaculately groomed parrots, repeating the mantra of “me” as if etched into their psyches at puberty. Few are attractive, most are obtuse and the rare beauties that make it through are smothered in Olay to make them shimmy as it they were the desert heat.

What is amazing is how utterly unsexual the shows are. You’d have thought the catfights of skimpily dressed teenage models would be dangerously arousing material, but it’s like hanging out with your 14 year old sister and her friends at a slumber party.

The best thing about the Next Top Models, though, is the scheduling of it. With 168 episodes to choose from, Living have become very liberal with their screening of the show – going as mad as a Friends fan organizing a Friends Marathon on E4 and have saturated their channel.

It is perfectly possible to watch an episode every day at the same time and have it bear no connection to any other episode viewed that week. Rather than follow closely the exploits of a handful of contestants you find yourself being subjected to a non-linear free association of model activity, a Molotov Cocktail of combustible beauty behaviour. It’s like the cut-up novels of William Burroughs carried across 14 series of symmetrical faces fighting to be unique.

As a result, I love the Next Top Model shows; they’re long running Paul Thomas Anderson reality shows that flit between time and space and become an amorphous mass of a bigger story. Separately they are just episodes of a shite reality show, but viewed as a whole they are dramatic rendition of the collective experiences of a subculture of 16-24 year old beauty queens.

One day there will be a glorious evening where the culminated story arcs come together in one seven hour burst of programming. Everything will be resolved and explained, and 14 beautiful and deserving characters will be awarded their crowns to wear with pride…