The Wisdom of Tyra
I might not be able to watch "Top Model" this season. The girls are just too damn boring. The plot's already spinning out, with the upfront bitch (Jasleen), the stealth bitch (Renee), the wacky punk rock maybe-a-lesbian (Jael), the Christian (whatever her name was, she's history). I loved "Top Model" for the unique intersection of class, race, and gender issues it offered -- its very subject is femininity, and watching how so many different young women, from ghetto fab to heartland honey, played that out, has been really informative. Not this season, though.
However, I also watch "Top Model" for the Wisdom of Tyra. A while back (after the class-race-gender stuff started getting repetitive) I realized that I would always wait for Tyra's lectures and pep talks. Why? Not to laugh at someone who takes fashion seriously -- they're a dime a dozen on TV these days, and heck, it's just as worthy of serious consideration as rock criticism. No. It's because of this: to hear Tyra Banks expound upon the life of a supermodel is to witness someone creating a philosophical stance in real time. Tyra's not just giving fashion tips; she is building an ontology. In fashion, she sees the human endeavor -- the struggle to transcend one's fate, the tension between one's limits and one's dreams, the demands set upon those who would live in harmony with their chosen community. It's just so deep.
Sometimes her lines are funny, sometimes they're overblown and even kinda dark. She can camp it up, and she's been doing more of that lately (which I don't love). But when she's about to send a girl home, she always has that face, that Tyra stare, that says, this is no laughing matter, ladies. This is capitalism; this is democracy; this is the heroine's quest.
I think Tyra might be the new Ayn Rand.
So said Rand: “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”
So said Tyra: "Congratulations. You're still in the running to be America's Next Top Model."