Thursday, May 18, 2006

I'm Breaking Up With America's Next Top Model

(Arrrr, there be SPOILERS ahead)

I've always watched ANTM, and I've always enjoyed it. It's my secret, guilty pleasure. But there was no pleasure in it this season. I'm afraid this was my last journey through the world of "Tyra mail" and "noted photographer Jo-bleu seu-bleu" or whatever his name is.

Not only did they carry the loathsome Jade through over much more talented girls again and again, presumably for the sake of "good TV," but the last episode ruined whatever credibility this show still had.

After the judges admitted Joanie did a better job in the final commercial competition, admitted she did a better job in the final fashion show, and admitted she showed the most development throughout the competition, they compared her pictures side-by-side with those of Danielle.

Almost every time they expressed a preference, the judges acknowledged that they liked Joanie's picture better. In all of the pictures, they acknowledged that while Danielle was beautiful, she was always exactly the same, while Joanie was beautiful but "a chameleon," a quality which photographers love.

So, naturally, Danielle won.

Huh?

It should also be noted that back when both girls were sent to get cosmetic dentistry, Joanie endured a grueling two-day procedure, and Danielle refused. The following week, they cajoled her to go back, and she kinda sorta closed the objectionable gap a little.

Last season a girl was disqualified for refusing to cut off all her hair. This year, a girl refused to get her gap fixed... and she won.

That's it. I'm out.

And you'll notice that none of this has anything to do with Danielle's much-commented-about accent, for which everyone struggled to find euphemisms. As if Tyra's telling someone she lacks the ability to speak clearly in a television commercial is tantamount to denying her the right to drink from the same water fountain as other folk.

Look, I hate the idea that TV should only feature a "standard American speech." I find the way Chris Hansen and Stone Phillips speak disturbing and sinister, and the way Cornel West speaks authoritative and comforting. But Danielle wasn't wrong for TV commercials because she's black. She's wrong for TV commercials because she has marbles in her mouth.

America's Next Top Model is supposed to be a wallow, but it should be a wallow with a little integrity. Within the confines of what it is, it has to be real. We ask so little of models. To give the top prize to the girl who can't change her expression, walk, or speak is not keeping it real.

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