On tonight's cultural sensitivity seminar/Petite ANTM, Tyra Banks helpfully explained to the teency-weency model nuggets, and to the world at large, that because Barack Obama is president, blackface is okay now! Finally, right? Well, that wasn't exactly what Tyra said. She said something about sugar cane and Hawaii and hapa or "mixed race" people and "Hey, Obama is from Hawaii!" and "Tyra photographer!! TYRA TEACH CULTURE!" followed by "Where's my harem-pantsuit? I thought I said I wanted to wear harem-pantsuits all the time!" It was all very interesting.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Before Tyra painted some of the itty bitty models in the most gentle, fashionable blackface since Angelina Jolie played Mariane Pearl in that movie, the girls had to get to Hawaii. How did they get there? I know what you're thinking: toy submarine. But no. That's absurd. I mean, the girls are so small you can barely see them, but it's crazy to think they'd all fit in a toy submarine. No. Instead, they took a cartoon plane. Fierce Airlines: Fly The Stunningly Stupid Skies.
The petite girls, with their miniscule little brains, thought that Maui was some kind of reward. They skipped around their ridiculously spacious (especially for them) Hawaiian luxury home, laughing and smiling and making up stupid songs amongst the multiple pools and waterfalls. But Hawaii wasn't a treat: it was a punishment. Tyra made that perfectly clear (well, as clear as about Tyra makes anything, which is to say, not clear at all) when she met them at their house in LA. "This house is filthy!" She told the tiny, terrified model-nuggets. "This pan is filthy! There are ants in your bathroom! There are clothes everywhere! It's a disgrace. I have no choice but to send you to Hawaii!"
And, sure, Hawaii looks nice—at first. It's all surfing lessons and good times. But then Mr Jay popped out from behind a rock (a move he learned from Ann Shoket) and forced the girls to each lie down on their stomach on a surfboard, have some Rent-A-Hunk put his chin on their butts, and take pictures while surfing. But the real torture of this wasn't the surfing, or the Rent-A-Hunks, or even Mr. Jay's incessant nonsensical commands from the motorboat. No, it was the sun—whose blistering power Tyra harnessed just for the occasion. What happens when you take three basically albino girls and put them in the sun all day, without wetsuits? They get burned. Bloody Eyeball and Albino Mena Suvari were lucky: they only got a little red in the face. Poor Cornpone Laura got red all over—and it went straight to her already country-fried brain: "I'm frying like a piglet in a skillet." (Seriously, who writes this stuff for her?)
Then it was time for the cultural sensitivity photo shoot. Tyra had the girls driven out to a sugar cane plantation and told them they'd all be portraying very different, very specific mixed race people, in order to honor the Hawaiian hapa (and Barack Obama). In an added twist, many of these racial mixes—like Mexican/Greek, Native American/East Indian, Moroccan/Russian, etc.—don't exist on Hawaii (or possibly anywhere else in the world). So Tyra was honoring Hawaiian hapa by doing "fashionable interpretations" of hapas that don't exist in Hawaii. Makes perfect sense. To Tyra.
The (tasteful, sensitive, gentle) blackfaces were as follows: Wonk-Eye was painted chocolate brown, and told "Feel the Botswanan beat! In your mind!" in order to portray Botswanan/Polynesian; Erin was given a Morticia Addams wig, painted a light, muddy tan, and told "Think about the people of Egypt. What they've been through" in order to be Tibetan/Egyptian; With her terrible red sunburn Laura really should have been Native American/something, but instead she was painted a nice russet color and given a cheap gold laurel wreath to play Greek/Mexican; Bloody Eyeball was put in a kimono, a kinky black wig, and painted a medium brown in order to portray Japanese/Malagasy...and she really pulled off the Malagasy part!; Brittany, who you'll remember has the personality of math, was put in a Sari and a headdress, and lightly tanned for Native American/East Indian (Get it? Indian/Indian! It's brilliant! Whichever Bankable Productions employee came up with that one definitely got a "One Free Smeyes From Tyra!" coupon). Only Sundai, who actually is black, wasn't put in blackface. Surprisingly, though, given Tyra's expert cultural eye, Sundai wasn't subjected to any form of whiteface either to portray Russian/Moroccan. Instead they just put her in a "Moroccan dress" and a fur hat and called it a day. Bloody Eyeball ended up winning the race costume parade.
Clearly, on this seemingly neverending, torturous journey with Tyra, these itty bitty mini-models have learned a lot—how to walk, how to talk, how to bend, how to do proper blackface, how to have a personality (ask questions about Tibet!), how to shriek inside and not let anyone know—but tonight someone's journey was mercifully cut short. The lucky midget model? Math girl Brittany. She just couldn't "let art inside" her. And by "art" Tyra meant "the spirit of those injuns." Good for Brittany.
--Personally, my favorite "fashionable" ethnic stereotype mash-up was Indian/Indian. What was your fave walking race joke?
--"Sundai, you did something even I didn't think of!" Jesus, what was that? Putting someone in a frog costume, blackface, and a loincloth to portray French/Masai, Tyra? Oh, she just meant standing up. Yep, Tyra's never thought of doing that.
--Jen's pic looked like "a National Geographic photo"? Sure. An unfunny satire of a National Geographic photo.