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Thursday, August 30, 2007

America's Next Top Model Series Eight #12

Little boys like to pull the heads off their sister's Barbie dolls. Everybody knows that.
Have you ever noticed, though, how Skipper always remains relatively intact and unscathed?
It's always the pretty ones that get hammered.

It's the Stabbed In The Back In The USSR episode of America's Next Top Model.

· I think we're still in Sydney, but it's only the subtle reminders that give me that impression, like the fact that every single scene of this episode starts with a picture of the Sydney Opera House followed swiftly by a picture of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Or a picture of the Sydney Harbour Bridge followed swiftly by a picture of the Sydney Opera House. Or the bridge with the house in the background. Or the house with - come on, you know how this song goes – the bridge in the background. This dead horse has not only been flogged, it's been embalmed, dragged down the road, cremated, and had its ashes sprinkled over Sydney Harbour.

· The girls are tired after the last elimination, and plod into the Module Mansion on weary, bunioned feet. They're nervous about arriving at the pointy end of the competition, and Dionne ponders over her recent criticism: "They said I do this thing called scowling a lot?". That's the beauty of Dionne – she doesn't know what scowling is, and she phrases everything like it's a question. "Whatever happens," continues Dionne, "I'm just gonna take my ass to sleep". Word, sister. Have yourself some dope dreams, dawg. Bust a cap in them bedbugs' arses.

· Before putting on her jimmy-jams and going off to sleepy bo-bos, Natasha puts in a quick call to her husband to wish him goodnight. By that, I of course mean that she kneels at the end of the bed, squashes her face onto her 'phone, writhes around and says "Hiiiiii, baybeeee! Baby, I larff you so much. I'm gonna be so next to you baybeee". That's it. I'm taking Natasha's lead. Next time I'm out at a bar, I'm going to stand near a hot guy and say "I'm next to you, baby". Then we'll get all married and shit. Awesome. The other modules smirk and raise eyebrows over Natasha's behaviour, thinking her obvious and obscene inferences that sex is enjoyable are the rantings of a sick pervert. Everyone knows that proper American women are just supposed to lie there, wriggle a bit, be naked and shut up afterwards until the baby comes out. Right, Renee?

· No Big Pink Hummers here. We're in 'Straya, mate. A four-wheel drive utility vehicle with lots of grunt and a special compartment for carrying wild boar carcasses drops the girls in the bush in the middle of freakin' nowhere, where they're met by Aboriginal elder, Uncle Max. Remember the Uncle Max in The Sound Of Music? How he wanted to get a bunch of naïve, under-aged brats, force them to sing and dance, and exploit the bejeezus out of them? Huh. Uncle Max, with the help of his… er… comfortably-proportioned niece Calita, tells the modules that today's challenge will consist of telling their personal stories through words, dance and body art, and that they'll perform in front of the punters at the Salzburg Folk Festival. Or in front of some girls from the local community and a chick from Seventeen magazine. I can't remember.

· In the traditionally sub-zero temperatures of the Australian outback, the modules prepare by daubing themselves with colours from the Cover Girl Fluorescent Culture-Insulting range and smearing some little black dresses with Puffy Paint, just like they used to do in the Dreamtime. Dionne doesn't really want to dance, as she's confused about the lack of arse-shaking in traditional Aboriginal dancing. She says it's "more like acting-type dance". You know – like you do for Agadoo. Renee completely understands this type of dancing, saying that everyone, including modules, has a story to tell. "They tell their stories through dance, we tell ours through pictures and runway". Right, Renee. I think there may even be cave paintings of skinny girls throwing up into a stone toilet, wearing primitive Manolos. Grow up.

· Renee is up first, and she points to her red-painted legs and tells the audience that this signifies the abuse she suffered as a young girl. This both explains a hell of a lot, and absolutely nothing, as she moves swiftly onto her painted torso, signifying growth, strength, and a distinct lack of nutrients. In all honesty, she does a pretty good job, getting appreciative nods and applause from the gathered dusky throng.

· Jaslene hints at a theme running through her story, using phrases like "the only way out was through true love", "true love was my dream", "I stand here so in love", and "all I do is live, love, and laugh". Ironically, there's not much love for her, as she finished to the sound of one hand clapping.

· Dionne points to a splodge of paint that tells the story of how her mother was shot and paralysed, and then apparently takes the brown acid when she says "This line represents the line that I walk to represent which way I should go, if it was right or if it was left". So… you're saying that the line represents… a line. Got it.

· Natasha decides to use that wondrous theatrical device of old – speaking so no bugger can hear you. Grasping and waving two tree branches, she rocks, kneels, and whispers about weak children and dreams. Dionne says "I see her lips movin', but I don't hear a thang". Renee says "Sweet girl, but a few fries short of a Happy Meal". Natasha, confidently, says "I use tree branches, and I am barefoot".

· Carissa Rosenberg from Seventeen Magazine declares Renee to be the winner, saying that the readers of Seventeen would relate to her, especially the abused ones with blood on their legs. Renee picks Jaslene to share her prize of some Autore pearl jewellery. Now, I know that watching two skinny girls drape themselves in thousands of dollars worth of ritzy baubles should be interesting, but I'm momentarily distracted by dental plaque.

· Renee, Dionne and Jaslene decide to go out on the town and let their hair down (read: sit in the corner at Crystal Bar, drink and inhale canapés), but Natasha stays home with a fever and a chest full of mucous. Rather than bringing her chicken soup and pseudoephedrine, the girls instead decide to stick a knife in Natasha's back and turn it slowly, inch by bitchy inch. Jaslene, with condescending whimsy, says "She was a funny Russian girl, now she's just annoying to me". Dionne says "Right now, I'm over her. I wanna see her go home. She got some lies floating around somewhere". They justify their meanness by explaining that Natasha doesn't wear a wedding ring, and has no photos of her husband or baby with her. The unspeakable cad! Surely that's an automatic disqualification? Arseholes.

· Natasha is even sicker when she wakes up, and is "scared that I am not gonna be rocking these photo shoot". The girls are once again dumped in the middle of the bush (although admittedly, it could be the bit of scrub just next to the Channel Nine carpark), where they're met by Sharon Williams from the Ngemba tribe. Now, apart from the traditional aboriginal name, there's something about Sharon Williams that just doesn't strike me as quite authentic, but I can't quiiiite put my finger on it. Luckily, one of my housemates has her Perceptive Bonnet strapped firmly on her head, as she exclaims "A Ginger Abbo!". Sharon explains the shoot, telling the modules they'll be dressed in traditional outfits and body-paint, and, just after Dionne says "Please tell me I don't have to dance again" Sharon says "and you'll have a traditional dance to perform". Nice editing, boys. Postmodern. I can feel a summary coming on…
o Jaslene does the dance of the Red-Breasted Robin, which she interprets as "lots of turning, and shaking my knees like a chicken". I love it when chickens shake their knees. It makes the farmyard come alive. She does quite well, and brings out her usual Jaslene Face – lift chin, flare nostrils, raise eyebrow, look proud, hide penis. Works a treat.
o Dionne is taught a Food Gathering Dance, which involves walking, picking things up, shaking trees and looking around. Jay comments that her face still looks mean, and complains that she has to be coached through every shot. He says she has a beautiful spirit, but looks controlling and scowls a lot. A model looking haughty, cranky, and condescending? Call the police.
o Natasha is taught the Willy Wagtail Dance, or "The wiggly wagtail bird – always jarmping, always heppy, it's a heppy bird". Still sick, she finds it hard to both pose well and cough herself a new arsehole, but Jay is unsympathetic and tells her to push through her pneumonia, or tuberculosis, or whatever it is that Russian ladies die from these days. She does not do well, and I'm disappointed. It's a bit like finding an undiscovered Coleridge manuscript full of awkward limericks, or, for the lowbrow amongst you, like asking for chicken salt on your chips and then just.. you know… getting ordinary salt.
o Renee rocks the corroborree with her Dance Of The Butterfly, which she nails through the careful use of flappy elbows. When Renee's bitchy, manipulative and the obvious product of a dysfunctional family, she's fabulous. When she's really good at stuff, she's boring. I kind of want to see a picture of the Sydney Opera House right now. I'm not left hanging long.

· A Tyra Mail drags the modules towards the Great Elimination Gunyah Of The Dreamtime, and they stand before Tyra, who is never seen in close-up this week, possibly due to the fact that she borrowed today's wig from Donatella Versace without washing it first. Tyra emotes through the prizes, which I think include a didgeridoo and a photo of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and then introduces the judges, including Nine-Ruffled Miss Jay, Festive-Sleeves Twiggy, guest Carissa Rosenberg, and Spunky Nigel Barker, who I'm whittling a woomera for. Hi, Nigel.

· Photos are flashed up on a screen, and each module is asked to nominate who they think most deserves to be America's Next Top Module, and then who they think least deserves it. Everyone except Dionne (who nominates Jaslene) nominates themselves as the most deserving, and in the Great Xenophobic Back-Stab Of 2007, everybody nominates Natasha as the least deserving. Pathetic reasons given are that she "comes off as real phony" (like all other models), that she "plays games" (like all other models), and that there's "something missing" (like all other models). Nobody explicitly says "she's prettier than me, she talks funny, and she's a horny little root-rat", but those of us who can read are doing so between the lines. Natasha, nobly, says in their and her own defence that "If Gisele Bundchen was standing behind me right now, I would say she had the least potential". Now, I know I should have mentioned this before, but GODDAMN, I love Natasha. She's like Russian crack, only good for the soul, and not available in crystalline form.

· Whilst the judges deliberate, the modules again serve Natasha a steaming cup of hot bitch in the 'holding room' until they're called back in to learn their fate. Renee is called first, and then Jaslene, leaving just Dancin' Dionne and Randy Natasha. Dionne is told that she started off rough and has had a rocky ascent ever since (a concept assisted immeasurably by Tyra's fried-chicken hand gestures), and Natasha is told that she started awful, improved, and then took some shit photos. Eons pass, and Dionne is given her marching orders. Bye, Dionne! Don't scowl on your way out, honey. Except she does. And when Natasha goes to hug her, she stands rigid, shooting darts of poisonous Wholahey bile from her scowly, mean eyes. What the HEYLL?!

Next week, the girls talk about Cover Girl on camera, try to show that special somethin' somethin' on the catwalk, and the winner is announced. Speak. Mystique. One more week!

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