Over the past few years, we’ve come to terms with the fact that some of our favorite throwback TV shows haven’t aged super well. Shows like Sex and the City and Friends made lots of jokes that definitely wouldn’t fly today, in addition to lacking any kind of meaningful diversity. Obviously, the world is a different place than it was in the 90s and early 2000s, and hopefully we’ve all learned some important lessons. But even knowing what we know now, can we talk about how America’s Next Top Model was actually insane?
ANTM first premiered in 2003, and experienced its greatest popularity in the mid-2000s. Each week, Tyra Banks and her judges put a group of aspiring models through the ringer, with dramatic makeovers, ridiculously themed photo shoots, and brutal critiques in front of the panel. There are literally too many cringeworthy Tyra moments to count, but these are some of the ones that I still can’t believe nobody called out back then.
Dani’s Tooth Gap
Why was this allowed to air wtf Tyra banks is going to straight hell pic.twitter.com/xtiWl3srKJ
— Aisha Oladapo (@OladapoAisha) May 5, 2020
When it came to makeovers, Tyra was constantly telling the contestants that they needed to be edgier to succeed in the modeling world, but that apparently didn’t extend to the gap between Cycle 6 contestant Dani’s front teeth. In this clip, Tyra tells Dani that her gap is “not marketable,” which is pretty hilarious, considering I can name three famous models with tooth gaps off the top of my head. Dani actually ended up winning this cycle, and a few seasons later, Tyra made another contestant WIDEN HER TOOTH GAP to stand out more. How was this even allowed to happen? If I were Dani and I saw that I would probably flip a table.
For this Cycle 4 photo shoot, the contestants recreated the iconic “Got Milk?” ad campaign. Cute concept! But things quickly went off the rails when it was revealed that the ladies would be “switching ethnicities” for their pictures. Y I K E S. Literally every single assignment was problematic, but the worst was Noelle (a white woman), who was assigned “a traditional African woman with a head wrap and everything.” Oh. My. God. The resulting photos ranged from blackface, to brownface, to just bizarre, and it’s crazy that this was allowed to happen, even in 2005.
Apparently by 2007, blackface still wasn’t a problem as far as ANTM was concerned. In Cycle 8, Natasha really got into character as a “hip-hop man,” complete with gold chains, fake grills… and an uncomfortable amount of bronzer. Natasha is Russian, and white was can be, so hearing her say “what it do shawty” in an Iggy Azalea-esque twang is really sending me over the edge. On the show, she was praised for her dedication, and no one brought up the fact that they were literally having her do blackface.
The Homeless Photoshoot
One of the most ridiculous photoshoots in ANTM history was in Cycle 10, when the contestants had to pretend to be homeless. I just… yeah. In her promo shot, Tyra held a sign that said “will pose for change,” which I don’t even want to get into. The photos look like they were taken on the set of Little Shop of Horrors, and the worst part? They got actual homeless people to pose as extras in the background. Seriously, who thought this was okay?
Pressuring A Sexual Assault Survivor
In Cycle 15, the contestants were shooting a commercial, in which they were supposed to kiss a guy. This was a problem for Kayla, who revealed for the first time that she struggled being intimate with men because she had been sexually assaulted as a child. But instead of being understanding and reworking the commercial, Mr. Jay guilted her into going through with the kiss, and then applauded her for “pushing aside” her painful memories. Classy.
The Hat Apology
In this episode in cycle 3, the contestants had to choose a hat to model at panel, and the judges criticized Yaya’s choice of a cowgirl hat over an African kente cloth hat, with one judge calling her “half-African, half-cowgirl.” Another judge complained about her “intensity to prove her African-ness,” which she called “overbearing”. I am actually yelling (to nobody, because my roommate isn’t listening, but still). Yaya explained that she chose the cowgirl hat because the other hat was “cheap” and not “authentic.” Later, Tyra asked her to apologize to the hat for insulting it. Hmm, I wonder if the judges ever apologized for their comments about her ethnicity?
I’d like to think that none of these moments would happen in 2020, but honestly, I’m not so sure. There are tons of problematic ANTM moments over the years, and that’s not even getting into Tyra’s deranged talk show. If you want to relive alllll the wild ANTM moments while you’re stuck in quarantine, there are 22 full seasons on Hulu right now, so go crazy.
Images: DFree / Shutterstock.com; OladapoAisha / Twitter; NextTopModel, Khris Fowler (2), antmranking, Michael Frechen / YouTube
Not all celebrities are created equal. While I love accomplished actors and singers, I prefer famous people with a little more confusing resumes. Case in point: Rita Ora. While you’ve probably heard of her, you also probably have no idea why. Why was she at the Met Gala? Why does every tabloid cover everything she does? Even if you could name one thing she’s done, you’re most likely still blissfully unaware of how much of a clusterfuck her career has been. Luckily, I’ve done way too much research and am prepared to talk about Queen Rita’s myriad accomplishments so none of you have to waste the energy typing her name into Google and figuring out the timeline of her career yourselves.
Here’s some background on Rita Ora. She was born in 1990 in Yugoslavia, but her family moved to the UK a year later because of major political turmoil and ethnic persecution. I’m not going to explain the entire Yugoslavia situation (you have Wikipedia, use it), but it was bad. Fast forward, when Rita became one of the first artists signed to Jay-Z’s record label and started making YouTube videos. She started getting big in the UK after she was featured in this EDM song “Hot Right Now,” which you have absolutely never heard if you live in the US. Early Rita Ora is very 2010, kind of like Rihanna’s “We Found Love” phase, but obviously not as good.
For some reason, I first became aware of Rita in 2012, when she released her debut album. It was really only big in the UK, but there’s a slim chance you might have heard the songs “R.I.P.” or “How We Do (Party).” No? That’s okay too, none of this matters. She started making announcements about her second album in 2013, but there’s still no word on when this album is coming. I’m not like, a music industry insider, but I feel like it can’t be a good thing when your album has been “coming soon” for a full five years. In terms of music, you most likely know her from being featured on Iggy Azalea’s song “Black Widow” back in 2014. Classic stuff. She’s actually released a few new songs in the past few months, and they’re not bad. I particularly like “Anywhere,” and this makes me think that there might be an actual album that exists.
In the half a decade that her second album has been allegedly in the works, Rita has stayed busy with a wide variety of projects. She’s been a judge/coach on the UK versions of both The Voice and The X Factor, which really says a lot. Going on one singing competition show is one thing, but judging two is a pretty good indicator that your music career isn’t exactly breaking records. Like, there’s a reason you don’t see Drake judging the new American Idol.
Rita has also done some work as an ~actress~, and by that I mean she was in Fifty Shades of Grey. She played Christian’s sister in all three movies (they look nothing alike), and in the third one she even got a juicy kidnapping subplot. Yes girl, act! For the most recent movie, she even got to do a song with Liam Payne for the soundtrack, which is actually more impressive than being in the movie itself. Fifty Shades is probably how half of you know about Rita, which is one of the saddest things you can say about someone’s career. It’s like the Hollywood equivalent of being known in the office for bringing a lunch that smells weird.
If you’re not aware of Rita’s legendary acting work or iconic music career, perhaps you know her from her brief stint on America’s Next Top Model. Remember back in 2016, when they tried to do a season without Tyra Banks? Remember how everyone hated it? Yeah, Rita Ora was the one who hosted that train wreck. I’m not sure who thought this was a great idea, considering that Rita is not actually a supermodel, but I can commend her people for getting her that gig.
So what is Rita Ora up to right now? Well, she just started a new European tour, which is supposedly in support of her second album that does not technically exist yet. She also just released a new song, “Girls,” featuring Bebe Rexha, Charli XCX, and Cardi B. It’s impressive that Rita got all these people (especially Cardi) on her song, but the song itself unfortunately got started off on the wrong foot. Notably, there was backlash claiming that the song is disrespectful to the LGBT community, because the song is all about how sometimes girls just want to make out with girls—but it’s implied they mean it in like, a drunk way. Because of the criticism, Rita was forced to clarify that the song is actually about her own experiences having relationships with men and women. This week, Rita dropped the video for the song, and I honestly love it. Rita looks hot AF, and things are great until Cardi B appears in her Jackie-O wig as some sort of hologram thought bubble. I love Cardi B, but I have to admit I’m confused why she’s here. At least Rita saved the best outfits for herself, a true betch move.
Also, this unintentionally shady tweet from Cardi B is my favorite thing to ever exist.
Maybe someday Rita will have a singular accomplishment that turns her into an A-list star, but for now we will just have to watch as the Daily Mail covers her every outfit change as if it’s a breaking news story. Hopefully she’ll continue being invited to every single red carpet event for no apparent reason, because at this point I would miss her. Next time you’re looking at red carpet photos and see Rita, take a moment to appreciate her. You’ll probably still have to check the caption to figure out who the fuck she is, but at least now you’ll know how hard she’s tried to become famous.
Images: Shutterstock; Giphy (2); @ritaora / Instagram; @iamcardib / Twitter