Britain’s Next Top Missing Make Me a Project Runway

Britain’s Missing Next Top Make Me A Supermodel (or whatever clunky and ridiculous title they’ve given it) was underwhelming as a competition and as vaguely art related entertainment but interesting as a study of how not to set up a competition.

For those of you not in the know, the BBC have decided to put 8 girls with varying disabilities together and they will compete for the chance to model in Marie Clare.

The good:

The idea of ‘a different kind of beauty’ – mentioned by the photographer I think – is an interesting one and should be explored as publically as possible before I start slashing up airbrushed-to-hell cover photos and have to be escorted from the premises of the local newsagents. Myleene Klass is a particular offender.

The bad:

1. First and formost: there’s none of that “I’ll crush the breath from your body before I let you take my modelling trophy, you bitch” determination. There were tiny glimmers of desire at points but one of them even said that their motivation was to prove that she could do it rather than because she wanted it from the bottom of her heart. It just doesn’t sit well with me to do something like this to prove a point without any genuine passion.

2. The judges were still arguing about what the actual remit of the competition was by the end of the programme. One of them is convinced that the would-be models should have obvious physical disabilities and that the two deaf contestants should pack their suitcases and head off home. I would point out that she only wants the neat and tidy physical disabilities and would probably be horrified if someone arrived with severe spinal curvature or a cleft lip and palate. What seems to be required is a model who happens to be missing a socially acceptable body part and has a nice face. I suppose the title of the show ought to have hinted at this but obviously no consensus has actually been reached.

3. I was also unclear about the remit of the programme. The term “disabled” covers a multitude of things, from mental health problems to learning difficulties, to chronic illness. The fact that only one of the girls has a progressive disability and, in her own tearful words, is eventually “going to die from a lack of control” while everyone else phlegmatically acknowledged that their situation was unlikely to change indicates that the show’s creators haven’t devoted much thought to the vast spectrum of disability or the futures faced by the contestants.

4. There was NO genuine critique, harsh or otherwise. These girls are only just starting to model and the majority of pictures they take at the beginning WILL suck. One girl desperately needed to sit up straight because the clothes looked dreadful when she slumped, another was making a bizarre and meaningless gesture with her arm, someone else needed to move a great swathe of sleeve which was hiding her tiny waist and adding about 15 pounds, a fourth looked completely gormless, and someone else got the mood completely wrong. No-one addressed any of these problems at all, instead they saved criticism for then the girls were no longer in front of them and then argued about point 2.

5. There was no energy. The show plodded through America’s Next Top Model staples (audition, challenge, photoshoot) and absolutely voided them of any panic, hilarity, rage or vitality. Put simply, I just don’t want to watch episode 2.

6. The balance was wrong. The show is a contest so make it about the contest. You can’t call something a competition and then push that to the background. You use the format of the show to reveal challenges people might face or prejudices or confessional segments and then you edit it PROPERLY or you don’t use the competition format at all.

Overall I was completely unimpressed and the blame lies with whoever edited the show together and whoever didn’t bother to define the whow’s use of the word “disabled”. Some of the girls were gorgeous, some were funny, and some were interesting, but determining this while trying to stay awake was a task and a half!

In conclusion: Viva Tyra(nt) Banks and her cohort of skinny-bitch mouth breathers…

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