November 29, 2009 at 1:41 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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I basically adore Tyra Banks. I know some people hate her, and I can totally understand why. She can be completely cheesy and ridiculous and, crucially, self-important. She creates weight surrounding her projects and “social experiments;” a prime example is the massive build-up to the premiere of the current season of her talk show, when she went weave-less for the first time. In the grand scheme of things, who gives a shit if Tyra wears a weave or not? Or if she puts on a fat suit and experiences life as a heavy person?

I absolutely recognize this self-importance is probably the most off-putting aspect of the whole Tyra “brand” (as I suppose you could call her talk show, America’s Next Top Model, etc). And yet, in spite of this, I still really really like Tyra for two reasons. One is that even in her sometimes-flawed way (she isn’t always the most sensitive “reactor” to what her guests reveal), she does raise awareness about issues that are important and provocative and often not discussed, such as intersexuality, which was the subject of an episode last week. The second reason is that I just love the campiness of her schtick, especially on ANTM. She appears less self-aware of the camp she is creating than, say, Ru Paul on Ru Paul’s Drag Race, which is basically like ANTM if Tyra could say what she felt (“This is my show and I make the decisions, bitches!”), and if the she just owned and ran with the camp. ANTM is like camp on the precipice of self-awareness.

So all this is basically just a build-up to mention a couple of gems from the intersexuality episode that aired last Monday. First of all, did you know that 1 in 2000 people is born with red hair, and 1 in 2000 people is born intersexed? I just blew your mind, ginger! Tyra had this to say to an intersexed female with an enlarged clitoris who was expressing happiness that her parents chose not to perform surgery on her as a baby:

“I have a feeling that if your clitoris was gone you would not be as happy!”

Uh, what? Most likely, Tyra, yes.

In a totally awkward move, this very thoughtful and interesting episode ended with a fashion show of this season’s “hottest gender-bending styles!” (…crickets, crickets…) in which we learned an awesome neologism to describe male jewelery: bro-jangles.

I should leave you the same way Tyra left her guests that day: “Fierce and love, everybody!”

[ image from E! Online ]


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