Drinking the Top Model Flavor-Aid

Sorry I have been neglecting my blog. I'm sure everyone is dying for some breaking news and important analysis from me. So here it is. And get ready—I'm already annoyed by the holidays, so I'm in full-on balls-out rant mode.

I've been meaning to post on America's Next Top Model for a long time now. I have a love/hate relationship with this claptrap. This season has the fugliest lineup yet. I don't care what Tyra Banks says. No way any of these butterfaces could ever compete with the 15-year-old Ukranians slinking around the Bryant Park tents during Fashion Week. The one that got voted off last week looked like Gary Coleman, for Christ sakes. I hate it and I hate Tyra. And yet I watch it every single week.

Don't you think Tyra looks like Gossamer after Bugs Bunny did his hair with dynamite rollers? I've provided a side-by-side comparison above as a visual. And like Gossamer, Tyra prowls around in giant shoes, procuring innocent dopes for torturous scientific experiments. Tyra Banks is the Jim Jones of the modeling world. She brainwashes, manipulates, preaches, evaluates, cuts down, builds up, controls, persuades, influences, rewards, deprives...a regular cult fuhrer of her very own People's Temple. To prove that things on the Top Model set are far more nefarious than UPN television would ever lead us to believe, here are five common traits of cult leaders. All hail Tyra!

(FYI, this article wasn't my idea; Radar published a story about this a while back. Although my interpretation is much funnier.)

1. Leader claims divine authority.
Tyra fancies herself a sort of Jill of all trades, boasting incessantly about her various career endeavors. She's more than just a model, people. She's also an author! A movie star! A television actress! A photographer! A producer! A talk-show host! A horrifically bad singer! She's one of the world's most influential people! As thus, every word that comes out of her mouth must be immediately absorbed and applied to life for success. To reiterate her dominance, she surrounds herself with a panel of judges and a phalanx of industry professionals who admonish those who don't comply with Tyra's Rulez of Fashion™.
"Tyra told you to stop wearing ponytails because it makes you look like a common high school girl!"
"But I am a common high school girl..."
"I'm sorry, Noted Fashion Photographer Nigel Barker*! I promise to try harder next time."
"In fashion, there is no next time!"

2. Followers become dependant on movement/leader for their view of reality.
Tyra is fond of analyzing a modeling shoot by saying, "You did this (makes model face), and you should have done this (makes exact same model face)" and the model in question nods emphatically, eyes wide, starstruck and basking in the almighty council of Tyra Fucking Banks. Everything Tyra says is gospel, even when she's contradicting herself (which is pretty much all the fucking time). Example: "As a model, you have to know your limits!" versus "As a model, you have to step out of your comfort zone!" The girls are often demanded to prove how much they "want this" by groveling, sobbing and performing ridiculous tasks, such as walking a runway with a basket of fruit on their heads.

If Tyra told the girls that only winners drape themselves in Cavalli and then drink cyanide Crystal until they swoon onto their single beds at the model compound with only their Jimmy Choos sticking out, they'd line up at the bar. Then Tyra would cattly evaluate them for not looking fierce† enough in death. Of course, no one ever mentions that the girls are taking modeling advice from the fattest, ugliest Victoria's Secret Angel with the most cellulite and the biggest ass. Take that, Miss Authority! OK, that was catty, but it's nothing compared to some of the things she's said about her little proteges.

3. Isolation.
The wannabe models are all forced to live in a super-phat pad, complete with a runway, confession booth and...gigantic, airbrushed pictures of Tyra everywhere. Reminds me of a little world leader we all know and love called Mr. Kim Jong-Il.

4. Important decisions are made for followers by others.
Each season in what usually ends up being the most popular episode, Tyra gives all the girls makeovers and tells them how they are going to look from now on. Painful bleachings, excruciating extension application and Sampson-style eradication of girls' secondary sex characteristics. For some of the tearful model wannabes, cutting their hair off is the equivalent of a clitorodotomy. What would Noted Black Author Alice Walker say about that, Ty-Ty?

Another prime example happened in "Cycle" (another veiled vag reference?) 6 when the final two girls, Danielle and Joanie, both got painful teeth revamps after Tyra threatened that they wouldn't move on in the competition if they didn't comply.

5. Leader is not open to discussion.
The most infamous instance of this is the Great Tiffany Tell-Off of Cycle 4. In this embarrassing clip, contestant Tiffany is voted off and sob enough for Tyra's liking. Tyra tries to get the last word in about how disappointed she is and, when Tiffany blows it off, she has a full-on head bobbing, finger-waving kiniption fit. She screetches about how her mother yells at her because she loves her and tells Tiffany to shut up about 50 times. Just try to watch it without backing away from your computer. Since that incident, no one ever questions Tyra for fear of unleashing the Five-Headed Demon.

Come to think of it, Tyra's more of a Charlie Manson than a Jim Jones. The incoherant rambling, the nonsensical advice, the questionable inspiration...she even once made the girls pose as dead bodies! Yes, it's all starting to make sense now: Heatherette = Helter Skelter. Squeaky Fromme is an anagram for "Queer for my mask"! Freaky, man.

Manson once said, "Look down at me and you see a fool; look up at me and you see a god; look straight at me and you see yourself.” Take a sip of THAT Flavor Aid, ANTM wannabes.

* What the fuck is he "noted" for anyway? Cat Fancy? Juggs? The Pamida ad from last Sunday's Koupon Klipper?
† Speaking of "fierce", can't we think of another adjective to describe awesome modeling? How about ferocious? Savage?Vehement? Cannibalistic? Next season they should issue each judge a thesaurus.

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