Tuesday, October 09, 2007

America's Next Top Model (Cycle 9) - 9x03 "The Girls Go Rock Climbing"

Seeing how easily Ebony's front was shattered by the judges' critiques, I have to revise one of my old assumptions that Tyra loves to break down contestants only to rebuild them in her own image. If anything, Ebony has shown me that these girls have already been busted down fiercely, which they merely try to hide behind fierceness or bad weaves as they seek validation for their looks. True, we viewers enjoy watching these sorts of girls, damaged psychically at the least, behave like imperious bitches only to see them fall to pieces when confronted with Tyra's psycho-matron pseudo-psychoanalysis; but schadenfreude is only half of the appeal, and with a handful of girls, we hope to see them rehabilitated.

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That's all old news, but this time around, the most explicit rehabilitation project is Heather, and she offers a twist to the old formula. She is separated her from past Tyra-sponsored girl-projects by her diagnosed disability, which still has the sheen of the novel (at least for the other girls, who mostly were unfamiliar with Asperger's). As a result, Asperger's novelness and its (assumedly) neatly diagnosable nature enable the show to approach Heather's disability as more controllable, more treatable than the quotidian but equally profound damage invariably suffered by many (most?) of the other girls. Viewers (or what the producers think of as viewers) don't want to confront things like abuse, rape, eating disorders, stuff that's usually suppressed in the unspoken discourses of the show until someone reaches a narratively driven revelation point, when in a teary reveal a contestant recounts some horrific past trauma which isn't easily managed. But going back to Heather and Asperger's, because people don't know as much about it and don't understand the challenges of dealing with it.


  1. Heather (Previous: 1)
    The good news ("good") is that she seems to have found a niche as the house mascot. The other news is I only liked her face in this week's photo; the pose was awkward -- she only has one arm -- which I figure is going to be a common theme for her along with her runway walk. Also, she'll probably be patronized by most of the other contestants in lieu of being accepted.

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  2. Victoria (2)
    I'm not in love with Victoria's picture this week, but it was one of the few that showed personality besides vixen, kitten, femme fatale, or something similar.

  3. Jenah (4)
    She used to be a rock climbing instructor! Which, I suppose, stands in for her being a tomboy, always an aphrodisiacal quality for me.

  4. Saliesha (6)
    So she's playing with her Heather Doll. I suppose it's a step in the right direction.

  5. Bianca (5)
    For continuing to bring the nasty this week now that Ebony has shown she's a sham villain! She distinguishes herself from past heels for not being remarkably sane. Granted, her sanity means that we won't get Jade-level crazy (the world's loss), but to balance that out, Bianca is strategizing at a level of self-awareness unseen on this show (even if she has an inflated sense of her abilities). Don't let the red hair fool you, Bianca's got smarts.

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  6. Lisa (2)
    She performed adequately (I didn't love her photo), but her hair needs to go.

  7. Ebony (7)
    Uncomfortably thin:

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    Between her and Courtney on Survivor, it's like Eating Disorder Season; now, Ebony's "Who has an eating disorder?" game (how "edgy" of her!) resonates a lot more uncomfortably.

    Her photo was a less-interesting version of Lisa's, yet she remains compelling only because I had her so pegged as this cycle's villain, and I have little sense of how she'll develop on the show. She is currently retracing Monique's trajectory from Cycle 7 (outwardly haughty, openly dismissive of others as human beings, but really bad at all the model stuff), though more importantly, she departs from Monique's cooch-juice-smearing flameout because she seems to be questioning her self-worth and taking to heart all of the criticism she's getting from the judges. I'm not usually into personal trainwreck spectacles, but with Ebony, I can't look away.

  8. Ambreal (9)
    She may have been praised for her body language, but the long skirt she got was only going to accentuate her form.

  9. Sarah (8)
    Judges seemed impressed that she looked like she was walking in midair; looked to me she just couldn't maneuver much in her harness. My reaction.

  10. Janet (11)

  11. Chantal (10)
    Anticipating her own downward trajectory -- how prescient.

Gee, I think I'm forgetting someone... was anyone even eliminated this week?

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Indie rating: Fugazi - "Waiting Room"

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