31 October 2007
10 October 2007
Uh oh, part deux.
1. Y'all, Queens needs to chill.
2. Those dresses were GORGEOUS.
3. I think tonight's the makeover ep.
I'll try to keep up, oh my readers. I try to be the kind of person on whom you can count, you know?
02 October 2007
ANTM: In which everyone is challenged, more or less
On to last week’s (and none too soon in advance of this week’s) episode.
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If tonight’s ep had a theme for me, it would actually be the one I used before, and though I don’t want to repeat myself it really does work best so I’ll say it again: if I can’t have lip service, I don’t want any service at all. In only one hour—45 minutes if you discount the interminable last quarter hour in panel (and of course minus commercial breaks featuring the oddly bloused Jaslene: think matronly pirate as mother of the bride...)—a rather lightweight and ultimately inconsequential television show on a non-network television station is attempting to get on with environmentalism, anti-smoking, and the representation of disability. And all this on top of the eating problems, body issues, facets of female social interaction, and consumerism we always face! Sometimes I wonder how La Banks manages to give so many things such a smooth glossing over in two cycles each year.
First, and most obviously, the girls will be riding in a “green” van. No limo for them! It’s biodiesel all the way for this cycle! I’m always a little peeved when people make huge changes and ignore the small, important, relatively easy, less flashy changes they could be making to be more environmentally conscious. I'm not entirely surprised that ANTM's on this bandwagon, nor am I surprised that their efforts are incomplete at best. (Was that not an eternally flowing waterfall in the Model Home? Wasn't the thrift store challenge from last season more "green" in that it advocated reuse?) Until the Hopefuls are letting yellow mellow; until they're all using non-trash menstrual alternatives (the Keeper, sea sponge tampons, and washable pads); until they're flushing with grey water; until they don't wear anything dry cleaned or tested on animals; until they use dish cloths instead of paper towels and hankies instead of tissues for all that crying I foresee; until they're saving water by showering with a friend (which, to my prurient delight, they kind of do in a brief bathtub riot!)—until they've made and internalized real personal change, I think it's safe to say that the biodiesel van is, unsurprisingly, only a gesture. And with this week's challenge of assembling a "Model" look from Old Navy, I sure would like to hear a little bit about their green practices or lack thereof, their shipping, their materials, and their labour practices! But thanks anyway, Tyra; we do like getting thrown a bone from time to time.
Bones like antismoking messages? Yes, bones just like those. Girls have been shown smoking in previous cycles, and I do assume that as women in a certain industry and of a certain age, it is likely that many of them smoke. But only one girl actually says so: "it's terrible and I hate that I do it." Yep, it's terrible--but there is nothing like a little over-the-top stage makeup to really bring the terribleness home and Take a Stand against something in a very uncontroversial way. Pretty much everyone knows that smoking is bad for you and Tyra is right there, several years into it, making a medium-bold move: no smoking for the Hopefuls. Which is good, and they shouldn't smoke, because that shit will kill them in my opinion. As a photo challenge, though, it was not so great, and it is so early in the cycle that panel is both tough to call and uninteresting. Too bad it's totally drawn out to the point of being painful, with Big T always overexplaining, overanalysing, overeverything. If there is such a thing as Good Tyra, Bad Tyra, then this is definitely the time of Bad Tyra, with the serious eyes and the "the name of the girl who is in the picture in my hands that represents the girl who has the name I am about to call will still be in the running to become America's. Next. Top. Model. Will it be the girl with the *goodthing* who's *limitation gets in the way* or will it be the *limited* girl who *beat that somehow*." But I digress.Now. When was the last time you remember hearing about Asperger's in the popular media? Right right: school massacres. Non-experts throw the diagnosis around like they're trying to get a box of free kittens off their hands when young people (usually boys) go bonkers and shoot up stuff. So maybe Asperger's isn't all that well understood, by me or by any other casual television viewer. So how unfair is it that this one young woman is pressed into being the Asperger's ambassador to not only the other Hopefuls and the judging panel but also to the entire viewing audience? What a gift, what a gift it is just to be included! Heather already has what I call a Public Body; by virtue of being a woman as well as by virtue of being a model she has a body that others feel free to not only shape for her through their perceptions and opinions but also judge and police when she, inevitably, falls short. Her diagnosis of mild autism moves her deeper into the realm of Public Body, giving everyone but her more power to determine the kind of person she is. Heather is obliged to educate all of them, all of us, each episode about what does and does not limit her, the things she can and does do. The judges get to say all sorts of soft, tolerant things about how brilliant she is and what a great role model for other people with autism. And the other girls get to say broad, offensive things that essentially boil down to "I don't have any problem with her disability, BUT..." and "I'm totally open minded, BUT..." In many edits this episode, it is implied that Heather can hear every sniping thing they say about her, couched as those things are in euphemism or fake magnanimity. The same thing happened last cycle: "I don't have any problem with plus size models, BUT for reasons completely unrelated to her size, seriously, I just don't think Whitney is Top Model material, you know?" The Brain from Yale can say (or imply) what she will about these girls being dumb, but they're smart enough to know how to take another girl down while sounding like generous, giving human beings. And that's a little too close to my middle school experience for comfort, so I'll move on.
Relatedly, I’ll be interested to watch the development of The Brain. Girl has used the word deserve several times to talk about winning the competition, but away from the judges I get two impressions: that she’s entered into this as a gag and that the thing that she’s leaving unsaid is “these other girls are dumb.” Maybe it reflects a bit of my own bias, my own experience, but my version of her thought process goes a little something like this: “I have never been forced to—or been able to—rely *only* on my looks. I am not like these girls because I am smart and they are not smart and the reason they are not smart is because they've been allowed and told to let their looks carry them along.” This dovetails nicely with a little news item from some weeks ago: Miss Teen South Carolina doing a bang-up job of demonstrating why it is dangerous to tell girls that looks are the most important thing in life. When they all tell you to get pretty first, you either don’t get a fair shake at getting smart ("She's pretty so it doesn't matter") or you just don’t get yourself smartened up ("I'm pretty so it doesn't matter"). As a deeper aside, I was a little disturbed at the way the woman was castigated by the public when her stupidity is completely enabled and encouraged by same.
Under the wire, then, with this wrap up of ANTM Cycle 9 Ep 2, ranging through my theory of the Public Body, my distrust of and mild indignation at the "green" fad, and how much I love to disassemble a bit of pop fluff to see what's in the middle.
The middle is more fluff, incidentally. But aren't we having fun? See you tomorrow.
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From our corrections department: Sarah, the burlesque dancer from Bostonland, *is* still on the show. I was wrong last week when I counted her out. Will the girl from Queens have as much holier-than-thou indignation about the burlesquer as she does the exotic dancer? If this week's teasers are any indication, that answer is no, but holy crap, girl loves to put down the stripper's choices!