My TV

30 August 2014

ANTM and the Destruction of “Masculinity”

By // TV

americas-next-top-model-cycle-21-semi-finalists-group-shotAmerica’s Next Top Model generally does a good job of finding some pretty fantastic models. You can typically tell early on in the season who the frontrunners will be. Cycle 20 finally introduce men to the world of ANTM and it added a much needed creative twist to the series. It’s no surprise that Cycle 22 returned with the boys and girls theme once again. Unfortunately, this time around their casting doesn’t look so hot.

ANTM has done a poor job of casting men. It seems the vast majority are just good looking dudes without little or no modeling experience. They tend to favor cute faces and big biceps over unique features. There are some exceptions with this rule…mainly Cory from Cycle 20 whose feminine qualities brought him to the final three. But Cory was told he wasn’t masculine enough throughout the competition and he ultimately lost. That’s the real problem I have with ANTM’s male casting: they seek “masculinity” over all else.

The two-part casting premiere offered a decent assortment of models to choose form. Ultimately, the female finalists were fairly chosen but it seems the men who looked the most masculine are the ones who made it through. Adam has no modeling experience and basically bombed his photo shoot but he’s the alpha-male frat boy so he was cast. Denzel and Keith are both super easy on the eyes and incredibly athletic, but neither did a great job with photos or looks remotely unique (especially considering the Tyson Beckford comparison). Ben is masculine in the All-American Boy Next Door kind of way, although I will admit he may have some promise. The other choice that really irked me was the casting of Romeo. This was purely based on personality. Romeo’s already proven to be an asshole and the judges made several comments about his tattoos and how tough he looks. He’s a scrawny guy but the tattoos and dark clothing make him appear tough and masculine so he made the cut even though his face didn’t change once throughout the photo shoots. I’m still bitter that Danny did not make the final cut. He was second place in the challenge and had some amazing photos. In the end, I think the bushy eyebrows and short height were what likely stopped the judges. Hands down, had he been able to compete, Danny would have made it to the top 2 or 3 for the men.

There are really only two men who probably deserved to be finalists: Will and Matthew. Will is the token gay of the season but he’s certainly got a model’s face and probably has the most control of his body’s movements. Even the girls are smart enough to know he’s a threat. Matthew, on the other hand, is not really model-pretty but is an incredibly attractive man in a not-too-obvious kind of way. The fact that he won the first challenge just proves he has determination and he took Tyra’s critique of him being “boring” to heart and he upped the personality.

I’m just a little sour towards the way ANTM is handling the men. Last year made sense to have the men versus woman competitive taunting, but it feels a bit tired now. In an era where gender lines and constructs are so often blurred, a show like ANTM takes us several years back in progression. Suddenly, men must take on the alpha-role and their skills aren’t as important as how they look (and yes, I am assuming modeling involves skill). Woman are cast as sidekicks given little to no attention, unless they are dramatic and bitchy (which is even apparent in my own mind since I can’t even recall a single female’s name without looking it up, other than Marjana).  Tyra Banks is someone who talks a big talk but her show is really just ruining gender for the millions of teenage girls watching it. They’re learning that the “hot men” are the ones who play sports and just naturally look good. They’re learning that all that matters about male and female friendship is the sexual attraction (since Kelly asked almost every girl which guy she thought was cute).

Maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe the judges will oust all of the men once they realize the mistakes they made or maybe someone like Will can win this season and make up for the title that was robbed from Cory. I’ll keep watching ANTM, but for now I don’t approve.

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