I always start these posts off with a ton of preamble, and it makes the reviews rather long, so this week, I'm trying to make a conscious effort to cut down on the word count. But before I get to the reviews, I want to call attention to something that I'm sure went over most people's heads: this entire shoot was done in redface, and that is NOT OKAY. Naturally I blame the producers of the show for not thinking, even for a second, that this might be problematic, but I'm a little disappointed that none of the girls pointed it out. (Or maybe they did and it was edited out? Let's pretend that happened.)
Other people have said it more eloquently than I, (specifically as it relates to Native Americans in the US, however the lesson translates well) but the basics are this: to be Amerindian is an identity. It is not a costume. It is the very essence of who the indigenous people are. To reduce their existence to a homogeneous hodge-podge of tacky war paint and feathers is to ignore the fact that indigenous people exist among us today, and to perpetuate the belief that their customs and cultures are a thing of the past. Correct me if I'm wrong (I am more than willing to eat crow) but I doubt that anyone on the CNTM team went through the appropriate channels to verify that this was an accurate depiction of Amerindian culture.
But enough with the social justice. That was your lesson in cultural appropriation for the day. Onto the critiques:
Everybody knows I love me some Trudy, but I don't love this shot, and it's not the best this week.The thing is, Trudy doesn't look bad, and the shot actually works quite well if cropped down to just her face and upper body, but the differing elements of the picture don't form a great cohesive unit. Trudy looks as though she's been captured mid-articulation, but just before the point at which the action becomes interesting. And her male model's poor pose is distracting, and draws the eyes away from her. Trudy actually has a spectacular profile, but there is no energy in her face in this shot, which immediately detracts from its power.
Trudy should be dominating this competition, but her shots have slowly been getting worse. Mind you, they are still well above most of the other shots, but they aren't up to the standard that Trudy is capable of. I expect more.
At this point I'm actively campaigning for Susan to be eliminated. I am still not convinced that she hasn't just lucked into halfway decent pictures. Her presence would be tolerable if she was getting called at the bottom of the pack each week, in accordance with her performance, but it's clear that there isn't a shit Susan could take that the judges wouldn't love. So I'm calling it now: Susan will be in the top three. Every competition needs an underdog.
However regarding this picture specificallyit's not terrible. Her expression irks me, because it's so clearly "this is my MODELLE face", but I can live with it. I really like the way Susan and her male model are framed so that they are interacting peripherally. It's just enough, but not too much. I would have LOVED if Susan had twisted her torso just so, so that the spear in her hand ran parallel to the bamboo that cuts across the frame, and if the male model did the same with his spear and the bamboo behind him. That would have made the picture positively magical in my estimation, and I would have taken back every mean thing I'd ever said about Susan. But alas, it was not meant to be.
With all my vitriol, I should note that while Susan should not have been called this high, she definitely didn't do poorly enough to be in the bottom two. I'm still not convinced that wasn't an accident though.
And here my darling biddies, we have the best shot of the week. It amuses me that the judges keep sending her further and further down the pack, when Treveen is the only girl in the competition who has delivered consistently good pictures.
This picture is SPECTACULAR. Her male model is a little meh, but that's not her fault. Her face is engaged and active, her body is elongated, but still curved enough to bring shape and dynamics to the picture, her upper body is completely facing the camera, giving us a great view of the "Amerindian warrior" emblazoned across her chest, and she is tooching to the high heavens; toe touch and all. I can safely say that this shot is Tyra approved.
What really makes this shot for me though is the angles that are created as her body and the male model's contrast against the bamboo in the background. That is the kind of magic that Susan's shot was missing. The symmetry is invaluable in a shoot like this. It's those kinds of lines that draw your eyes, and help guide the viewer to the things you want them to see. The judges can say what they want: Treveen is the only real contender left in the competition.
This shot baffles me. Once again, I'm left asking WHO is choosing these pictures each week?
The thing is, this isn't a bad shot at all. It's actually a very solid, strong shot, but it has no place in this challenge. This competition is about showcasing how versatile a model is, and how well she excels when put in different situations. That generally involves showing said model's face. I'm just saying...
From this angle, you can't see all the face that Athaliah is giving; you can't even see her eyes. This shot doesn't allow Athaliah to be distinguished in the frame in the way that she needs to be to win this competition. It's such an odd choice for "best photo". This is shot number five of a fantastic eight page editorial. It's not the opening shot. The "best photo" should be the opening shot. I will say that the opposing angles of her body are really working for me, but that's a given. This is a strong shot, even if it's completely inappropriate for this context.
I like Stephany but this is not it. It looks like the flash caught her completely unaware. Not a good look for a model. Stephany was riding high on last week's best photo, and her challenge win this week, but this is the photo of a model who has learnt absolutely nothing all competition. Not good. I really can't even be bothered to critique this properly because at this late stage in the game, there shouldn't be so much to pick apart. As much as I love her, I genuinely think Stephany should have been sent home for this shot.
But alas, it was Sedia who was eliminated at panel this week, I'm not surprised. I've been saying for awhile that she was filler, and she proved me right. This isn't the worst shot in the world, and I appreciate that she tried something new with her angles, but it's just... I'm still not impressed! This wasn't the worst shot this week by any means, and she didn't deserve to go home for it, but it also wasn't something I'd defend either. Sedia just never managed to impress me, and consequently I'm not sad to see her go. She's a gorgeous girl, and oddly enough, I do see a future in modelling for her, but CNTM was not hers to win. Here's hoping she finds success elsewhere.
I was however very sad to see Lisa go; she was surreptitiously booted after the go-see challenge. I'm still not sure why. Lowest score from the designers? Probably, but I was too busy tweeting to catch that part. It's a shame, because Lisa had been improving in leaps and bounds, and I'd have loved to see what she did with this photoshoot.
In general, the shots were much worse this week. There is literally no excuse for why so many of the models are trending downwards as the competition continues. At this point it's a race to the bottom, and that's not good or even vaguely acceptable.
As I alluded to in the critiques, the call-out order was a mess again but at this point, it's useless to complain about it because there's nothing to be done. Especially since this show was filmed over a year ago... I can only hope that in the end the talent won out and the final three were the best three.
(Hint: It's Treveen, Trudy and Athaliah!)
What did you think about the show this week? Who would you have put into the bottom two, and who would have been your pick for best photo?