Archive for the ‘Models of the Runway’ Category

America ___ Me

February 13, 2010

I was watching Models of the Runway last week (which, long sidebar: I find it incredibly boring, and yet for some reason I keep watching it: it’s not like I don’t have enough stuff watch– what’s that about? Basically I think they need to just devote five minutes of Project Runway to the model eliminations and any intrigues that might crop up because it’s sad but true– those girls cannot be interesting for a full twenty minutes.)

Anyway, one of the models, Alexis, took on the role of devious conniver this episode, talking shit about other contestants and telling the other models they should fear elimination, while she herself will never be dropped. It’s obnoxious in a way that reminds me of something said about academia– that the politics are so bitter because the stakes are so small. Seriously, what does winning Models of the Runway get you? It’s an even shitter America’s Next Top Model, winners of which are not even working regularly, much less “top” modelling. In a confessional, after behaving like a mean girl, Alexis is all: “Don’t hate me. I’m trying to play a game here!”

Ah. So you’re that contestant. The “Just Playing the Game” contestant. Closely related (indeed sometimes concurrent with), but not identical to “I’m not here to make friends” contestant. I am always surprised by the popularity of “I’m not here to make friends.” Surely they know that this tv appearence will top the google searches any future employers do. Do these manipulators think it reflects well on them for their real life that they’re demonstrably vicious backstabbers who have a proven inability to work in harmony with others? (This, btw, is the biggest reason I was annoyed that Michael Voltaggio won Top Chef. He was a total doucheface to other contestants whenever there was teamwork. Part of being Top Chef entails being a good restauranteur, which involves good management skills which are counterindicated by alienating your staff if they happen to be gasp! women or older.)

One of the other models, Kasey, interviews about Alexis’s attempts to shit-stir during pedicures (Alexis basically tries to get everyone to say they think Sarah, a friend of Kasey’s should be worried and will be sent home). Kasey is indignant: “Even if you think you know who’s going home, you just never say it!”

Time’s tv critic notes that The Real World first came to our tvs in February, 1992, meaning that today’s 18 year olds (for instance, the Jersey Shorians) “have never known a world in which hooking up drunk in a house paid for by a Viacom network was not an option.” That kind of thing makes me feel ancient.

As Kasey’s comments indicate, we also now have rules of ettiquette that everyone is supposed to know about how you behave toward fellow reality tv contestants, even though most of us will never find ourselves on tv. In fact, I feel like most people I know have an idea of which reality show they’d like to be on(for me it’s RuPaul’s Drag Race as the secret lady contestant) and which contestant they’d be (I have no illusions, American would love to hate me, though not because I was taking a nap in the corner Tyra, you ingrate).

Some of these rules are just tweaks of real world ettiquette– be a good loser and a gracious winner, but it’s complicated by the fact that when cameras are trained on you 24/7 there’s nowhere to retreat to to lick your wounds. Even in leisure time (like say, getting pedicures at the salon) you have to behave professionally and refrain from gossip if you want to avoid a shunning.

There are other areas, though, where I feel like reality tv contestants are puzzlingly naive. Why do so many contestants show up to Project Runway with poor construction skills? It it were me, as soon as I learned I’d been cast I would be learning how to use a professional sewing machine and make men’s wear and plus sized patterns. Why doesn’t anyone ever think to do this?

Or: why do people lie to their signicant others when they cheat on camera? On The Real World: Las Vegas Alton and Irulan began a full-on relationship even though Irulan had her boyfriend, Gabe, back home. She was seen making phone calls to him assuring him that everything was fine. Why bother lying? Did you think MTV wasn’t going to use that juicy footage? More recently on Top Chef Hosea and Leah made out despite having significant others and they inexplicably lied to the camera and said they had simply flirted. Why bother? Is everyone just a lot drunker than they seem to be?

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