Iâ€™m sure I wasnâ€™t the only person watching the finale of â€˜Americaâ€™s Next Top Modelâ€™ to utter WTF when Tyra and Nigel mumbled something about Angelea leaving the competition.Â No long pronouncements, no catch phrases, no â€œI was rooting for you; we were all rooting for you!â€Â Just an awkward and I paraphrase â€œAngelea left the competition and now we are down to two beautiful young women.â€Â From there Google and Twitter were set on fire with masses of amateur detectives trying to find out what happened to Angelea.Â As of this writing much of the speculation is that Angelea was the actual winner of the cycle but spilled the beans on her Facebook account which disqualified her.Â This theory holds water in that the final judges table was filmed after everyone returned to the States from Greece.Â This alone begs the question why film the judges table again if Angelea didnâ€™t win?Â Other ideas bouncing around are: Angelea is pregnant, she had an affair with someone associated with the production, she has some sort of legal entanglement that arose after she was vetted for the show.
Ironically, for me the most interesting thing about this cycle, and Angelea specifically, is that she was MIA for the final judges table without a proper explanation.Â It actually made little difference after that who won because the focus for this cycle had changed.Â It was the first time in 17 seasons that a contestant left the competition without some valid excuse including everything to a family crisis to realizing that modeling isnâ€™t quite their thing.Â And for those of us who have watched the show through the years know, Tyra Banks is never tight lipped about the reasons women give for leaving the program.Â To her credit she hasnâ€™t left the audience hanging until now so all of us out in the biosphere are banging on our keyboards wondering just what was up.Â However, I have faith in tabloid journalism along with internet sleuthing so I know at some point the mystery will be solved and Angelea will probably be mumbling under her breath â€˜that bitches they be hatingâ€™ and somewhere out there is a girl in Buffalo who wants to grow up to be Americaâ€™s Next Top Model in order to bring the title home to Buffalo in a way that Preston could not.
Donâ€™t worry, besides Angelea missing, there was fuckery enough elsewhere to leave a person perplexed.Â The CoverGirl commercial and still ad involved a more than generous heaping of eye makeup on the womenâ€™s faces.Â Lisa looked the best of all of them.Â Allisonâ€™s face looked too heavy since her most dominate feature are her eyes.Â I thought Angelea looked just meh.Â Allison had problems looking into the light because it was too bright and her light eyes couldnâ€™t handle it.Â I thought Lisa did the best job but at judges table Tyra said that she didnâ€™t push her personality far enough which I thought was odd because I think Lisa is much more relatable when she isnâ€™t trying to be the center of attention (much like she was during her previous cycle).
After the commercial the women competed in a fashion show.Â The â€˜All Starâ€™ cycle was going to be unique in that it had three finalists instead of twoâ€¦but we all know how that ended up.Â The fashion show itself was bizarre.Â In an earlier episode a Greek clothing designer came by the modelsâ€™ home where he sketched outfits specifically designed for each individual woman.Â The dresses were beautiful and the setup of the show was interesting.Â Like most of the finale shows the catwalks for the models have some interesting twists.Â This time however the women were supposed to be humans who morph into goddesses.Â They were tasked with swimming a distance to then emerge escorted by two Greek looking gentlemen in bare attire.Â The whole time wearing a mask and for at least Lisa and Angelea to swim wearing long haired wigs.Â From there they went into some David Blaine setup where they escaped from a trapdoor and another model would emerge to float above the catwalk.Â Later came the finalistsâ€™ turns to become the goddess and they each wore these frightening new mask that emphasized their eyes.Â It reminded me of Stanley Kubrickâ€™s last film â€˜Eyes Wide Openâ€™. This bit required the women to float above the crowd and then land to dance to their â€˜Pot Ledomâ€™ song.Â I think the concept was strong but unlike the advice of Coco Channel about always taking one thing off before leaving your home; there was just too much of too much.Â Nix the masks and the swimming and keep the areal and the concept of emerging goddesses.
Lisa Dâ€™Amato won!Â So I assume Dr. Drew sent her flowers.Â Because the judging was so odd, her winning was anti-climactic.Â Because the winner was revealed during that video tie-in with Bankâ€™s book â€˜Modellandâ€™ it took a second to register for both the contestants and the audience that Lisa was the winner. As another article pointed out there was no crying or high emotion.Â I donâ€™t think Lisa once screeched that she was the winner of Top Model and that this changed everything in her life, which is par for the course for â€˜ANTMâ€™ winners.Â For a cycle that was supposed to be about the â€˜All Starsâ€™ the mood was understated.Â In the end I thought she was a good choice although I was more in Allisonâ€™s camp and beyond all else I still wish Laura was given the title despite her dyslexia.
I liked how Tyra stood up for Lisa in terms of how Lisa had been through rehab and proved that she was strong enough to address issues and come back.Â The downside to Lisa winning is that at the age of 31 she is near retirement age for a modeling career; however Lisa has always come off more as a personality than a model projecting a product.
During Lisaâ€™s catwalk segment she attempted to do some turns and such in the pool but ended up losing her direction and had to readjust.Â She danced with ease to her version of â€˜Pot Ledomâ€™.Â I also liked her commercial more than Allisonâ€™s despite Tyra commenting that Lisa didnâ€™t show enough personality.
Allison Harvard appeared almost relieved that she didnâ€™t have to shoulder the â€˜Top Modelâ€™ throne.Â Out of the three finalists she may have been in the best spot in the end because of speculation that Angelea originally won there will be a shadow over Lisaâ€™s win and Angelea will always be tainted by having to leave the production before the finale.Â Allison however now has some notoriety to pursue various projects without necessarily the baggage that has arisen from this cycle.Â Her personality has always come across as more introverted and intelligent which will serve her well for working both in front and behind the camera.
During her catwalk performance she swam the best but her performance to her version of â€˜Pot Ledomâ€™ appeared leaden.
In the end though I imagine she was more â€˜Vogue Italiaâ€™ than the other two contestants.
Angelea Preston disqualification was, as Brian Moylan noted, â€œStill a question wrapped inside an enigma covered over with a weave and given a makeover.â€Â I was never a big Angelea fan, but at times I felt for her â€“ a girl from a questionable background who just wanted to better her circumstances along with herself.Â At times though she seemed a bit too much to take; especially with the whole â€˜I want to win it for Buffaloâ€™ bit.Â Besides everything else, she was so awkward with her flying above the audience bit when she became a Goddess on the catwalk.Â She looked as graceful as a wet hen trying to fly.Â The way the last show was edited it indicated that there may have been something that was bothering Angelea (at least that was what Lisa reported) but the audience never found out what that was.Â This article speculates that whatever it was it may have shamed the production more than it did Angelea.
I suppose time will tell.
This marks the end of this cycleâ€™s blog series.Â I donâ€™t ever want to say never, but I think I have said all that I can say in response to everything â€˜Top Modelâ€™.Â Obviously the show could be termed as a guilty pleasure for me, but in many ways it is more than that.Â Along with the lowbrow elements of the program, I have had many intellectual cultural anthropological based conversations because of it.Â At the heart of the show is the celebration of feminine beauty and the power (along with the ability to profit) that beauty gives to young women.Â On the whole â€˜modelingâ€™ is the exploitation of that beauty to sell products (sex sells).
Tyra Banks and whoever along with her that gave birth to the idea of a modeling reality show competition have done well in the sense that a zillion versions of the show appear in a zillion countries, but they deserve credit for doing something much more significant and it is something that mainstream fashion magazines have not accomplished â€“ they have expanded the definition of beauty.Â Sure, there is a long way to go, but the show has tried to make strides in casting a variety of contestants.Â Yes, it is about entertainment, but when the show was at its best it was about how beauty can be quirky, or ugly, or different and even mainstream with a twist.
If I could be granted any wish for the future direction of the â€˜ANTMâ€™ it would be for the models themselves to have more say in things like their makeovers.Â I would also love to see prizes that include actual assignments with paychecks attached.Â I would also like a return to an earlier Tyra Banks when she used to bring her mother to meet the contestants and talk about finances.Â Further I think it would behoove not just aspiring models, but all women to be shown ways to address unwanted sexual attention.Â In other words, I want challenges with more substance than if the women can apply CoverGirl makeup in under three minutes.
As far as Tyra herself, I would like to see future cycles where she tones down the need to be front and center in regards to the tasks.Â A step in the right direction might be less model house decorating with Tyra photos through the ages.Â If anything diminishes the respectability of the contest I think it is Tyra being narcissistic.Â With that said, I donâ€™t think â€˜Top Modelâ€™ would survive without Tyra in a predominate role.Â She claims to have started the show in order to be a mentor to young women entering the modeling world and when she demonstrates mentoring on the show it works.
So with that said, I bid all who read this blog adieu.Â This blog has been fun to write, much more fun that the â€˜Project Runwayâ€™ blogs I used to write, but it takes time from other projects.Â As I said earlier, I donâ€™t ever want to say never, but at this moment Americaâ€™s Next Top Model Cycle 18 may have to exist without me watching it with a critical eye.Â Of course Tyra and company may throw some sort of insanity into Cycle 18 and I will find that I canâ€™t resist commenting, but if that is or isnâ€™t the case I hope all of you have a Merry Little Holiday and a Pot Ledom sort of New Year!
Here are links to previous blog entries.
Westerfield Â© 2011