Wednesday, November 29, 2006

America's Next Top Model (Cycle 7) - 7x09 "The Girl Who Sticks Her Foot In Her Mouth"

At the beginning of cycle 7, I wrote that "some girls must abase themselves before Tyra so that the retired supermodel, like a maternal Pygmalion, can rebuild their characters from scratch. Tyra drove this very point home again in this episode: "So after this competition, I want you to be strong enough and lift your head up high and be able to handle anything and everything that comes your way. I want you speak well. I want you to look great. I want you to be intelligent. I want you to know this industry. And if I have to say things that make you hate me and make your fans hate me, so be it. I'm gonna sacrifice myself for you." And to take the edge off of this hard-nosed misunderstood mentor guise, she justifies her Pygmalion complex by wrapping herself in maternity wear: "It's harsh and it's strong... It's coming from a place of love and a place of mama. It's mama."

I don't know what to make of the Pygmalion impulse beyond the context of ANTM, since the impulse doesn't really extend to other reality programs. The Amazing Race is about distilling relationships to some core essence; the final two contestants on Survivor usually trot out the "personal growth" line during the jury vote, but the show is still about navigating hurt feelings; Project Runway is about getting one's crunk on. So You Think You Can Dance comes closest, as the judges allegedly want good dancers who improve over the course of the show, but its America Votes angle centers the show firmly around performance (i.e. pleasing the viewers).

Even within ANTM, I'm not sure that the Pygmalion impulse signifies anything, especially about this (lost) cycle. The only general statement I can make about Cycle 7 is that, considering how mundane the competition has been, Monique was probably eliminated way too soon.

Top Model Pygmalion Rankings
1. CariDee (1) -- Apparently Nigel still had that stick up his butt.
2. Melrose (2) -- Running out of things to say about her... um... OLD. No, that's old hat. (GEDDIT?) More seriously, her picture was indeed quite stunning.
3. Eugena (3) -- Default!
4. Amanda (4 or 5) -- Look, a man! Duh!

Indie rating: Autechre - "Lanx 3"

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