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Tyra Banks is the Mistress of Babble. She’s usurped the word “fierce” from drag queens and publicly abused it to the point that it’s been emptied of all meaning and packs the same linguistic punch as clearing one’s throat. Her biggest contribution to the English language, “smizing,” or “smiling with your eyes,” is a made-up modeling term that’s also a paradox, something she’s defined in the past as “squinting with your eyes open” (and something that I happen to really suck at).
Her crazy talk extends beyond modeling to the “social” ideas she explores on both her talk show and America’s Next Top Model. Remember when she put on a fat suit for a day to understand what it was like to be the victim of what she called the “last form of open discrimination that’s okay”? Or when she had the Cycle 10 ANTM contestants “do” homeless, posing with real-life homeless youth, and told the models she understood what it was like to live on the streets because she (again) did it for a day on her talk show?
Filed under: America's Next Top Model, America's Next Top Model Cycle 13, ANTM, Blackface, Essentialism Is So Fun, Paradoxes, Portraying Races, Racial Drag, Smiling With Your Eyes, Smizing, The Tyra Banks Show, Tyra Banks
I must say, I let out a little squeal this morning when I saw this headline flicker in a chyron in the CNN ticker:
“Holy crap!” I thought… are they featuring DISGRASIAN on The Situation Room? Is there a report on some form of long-grain that seems pre-determined to be the best? Is the Asian Student Union at Cal staging some kind of protest? All of these stories seemed plausible, wonderful, and intriguing.
Normally I try not to spend too much time hanging on to the words of this Rice, but I must say I’ve been dying to hear her speak on this particular topic, especially in light of all the “race race race” talk that’s been flooding media outlets of late.
See, I donno if you know this, but Jen and I are women of color and sometimes on this site we try to pipe up for otha ladies of color, and Condee’s a lady of color and we don’t often get to hear her do that very thing. Now here’s a lady that has a very big microphone (or at least the occasional podium) whose boss, according to Kanye, “doesn’t care about black people,” and… I’ve always just been curious about her real story, which includes race perspectives–they take a lifetime to build up (not just a day when “race” is the topic du jour).
The Chicago Tribune‘s ‘The Swamp’ reports:
While saying repeatedly she did not want to discuss the election campaign — “I don’t do politics,” Rice said — and also reiterating her lack of interest in the vice presidential slot, she said the United States had a hard time dealing with racial issues.
“There is a paradox for this country and a contradiction of this country and we still haven’t resolved it,” she said in a detailed reply to questions about Obama and race issues as a whole. “But what I would like understood as a black American is that black Americans loved and had faith in this country even when this country didn’t love and have faith in them, and that’s our legacy.“
She also remarked that she found it “important that [Obama] gave [his speech on race in America in response to the Rev. Wright controversy] for a whole host of reasons,” as well as pointed out her own family’s complicated history in this country. Did George W. care about that?
I may not always like what comes from the mouth of this particular Rice, but what she said about race this week actually sounded pretty darn nice to me.
I suppose it’s sorta pervy to admit that I have a crush on Alex, the half-Asian nine year-old with one tooth from Kid Nation, possibly the worst reality show of all time (there’s no explanation as to why I keep watching, except that I experience some kind of catharsis at the end of every episode, when I wind up crying along with all the child contestants at those wretched town hall meetings).
But I love everything about Alex. Like the tooth. And those photochromic glasses he wears that switch from dark to clear depending on the outside light, a style of eyewear I thought had fallen into complete obsolescence. And that he knows how to identify a femur bone, as he did last episode when he stumbled upon a cow carcass.
Also during that episode, not-so-bright Council Leader Greg called Alex “one of the smartest persons” in the fake town of Bonanza City and awarded the one-toothed wonder the $20,000 gold star prize. Alex squealed with delight and described the award as “a paradox.” Then he had to explain to the other little dummies what that meant. “A paradox…is where something is and yet not is at the same time,” he said.
In ten years, this little dude will be a total catch and probably have come up with a renewable energy plan to save the planet (Al Gore is his hero). And even though all of his teeth will have grown in by then, I imagine he won’t be any less adorable.