I think we all can agree, having watched America's Next Top Model for 49 cycles now, that what makes a top model in the Tyraverse is not any of the model-esque qualities you might assume are prerequisites -- superior height, facial symmetry, a runway walk not copied from Peter Boyle's performance in Young Frankenstein -- but rather the "desire," the "really wanting this"-ness. By which of course I mean the undignified, and un-optional, coating of Tyra's giant ass in damp kisses, the better to evolve Tyra's delusion of herself as a benign (and gigantic) Henrietta Higgins who Does Good For People. A girl's real-world modeling potential is irrelevant here -- fortunately, since few of the contestants have any such thing, which, naturally, is why they get onto the show in the first place. Nobody with a snowball's chance in hell of getting work in the industry on her own is as pathetically grateful for the faux-pportunities offered by ANTM (for real, the Seventeen readership's age tops out at around 13), and it's that pathetic gratitude that Tyra requires.
Tyra has gotten more and more obnoxiously imperious in the last year or two, but her fucktardedly outsized sense of her own importance isn't a problem per se -- at least, not compared with the problem it must pose for her employees. What is a problem, from a television standpoint, is that that grandiose insistence on choosing the girl who thanks/beseeches/admires Tyra the most fervently, instead of the girl who's the best qualified (or, you know, qualified at all), voids the competition of any significance. Tyra doesn't think we notice it, I suspect; Tyra doesn't see, or is not hearing anyone who tries to tell her, that the motives behind her choices are increasingly obvious.
And whatever, it's just a show, it doesn't have to crown the next Evangelista...but Tyra takes herself and all the little branded fillips of the show So Goddamn Seriously, and expects both participants and viewers to take them So Goddamn Seriously, and to take Nigel seriously as Captain Stern of The Good Ship Panel when it's evident from the fact that he never misses a panel that he can't get another job? Then she should take the actual process of picking an actual model just as seriously, and Saleisha is Exhibits A through, like, W that it's not about that for Tyra anymore.
The estimable Potes will get into it at more length, no doubt, but let's just review quickly: Saleisha is too short. (Endemic problem on the show.) Saleisha is attractive, certainly -- she's cute, and wears clothes well -- but she's not model-pretty. She's girl-next-door-y, not high-fashion at all, and can't really vary her face much from what I saw. And that Great Wall photo is a joke; she looked like ass, her front leg all jenked around to the front, what you could see of her face all fisted up and scowly, and the panel's rote insistence that it rocked because she "took risks" just made me sad. She has no future in this business, people! It is unfair to her to let her think that she does! You can ask Jaslene! Well, you can't, because if she tells the truth she'll probably get shot in the head, but maybe in five years you can!
Not that they had much else to choose from, but Jenah took a power of ten better pictures than Saleisha, and she looked good for editorial work. She's short, too, but they all are; not the issue. She gave Nigel some lip that time; also not the issue. Tyra knew Jenah wouldn't break down in sobs of I'm-not-worthy-of-your-Tyra-ness; that's the issue, and I'm surprised Jenah lasted as long as she did, knowing that.
It wasn't any better in The Dickinson Era, when Janice favored the girls who had, you know, any prayer at all and Tyra would promptly put them out on the curb just to show Janice who was boss. But...this is what I mean. Looming over these poor don't-know-any-betters with your giant weave and your still-sadly-amateurish line readings doesn't mean you're a kingmaker. We already have an Oprah, so if you want to pick out models, do that, and at least try to do a good job. Otherwise, why should we care about anything you do?
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