03 October 2011


ANTM Themed Shoot Smackdown!

This blog has been around for two years, but this is only our fifth tournament bracket. That's partly because the things I know well enough to feature in a series don't always come in groups of sixteen or more; and the things that do, make me feel ready to do the smackdown only after we've finally declared a winner. =P

So when it hit to me that Tyra Banks had already produced sixteen seasons cycles of America's Next Top Model, I got really, really excited.

My original plan was to do an ANTM Winner Smackdown . . . but as I lined up all the winners (with some runners up, for the mini face-offs and possible wild card slots), I realised that their professional work wasn't half as entertaining as some of the things they had done on the show. And it's really the show I want to celebrate here. So I've adjusted the smackdown accordingly, with a new theme that will serve us well come Halloween!

One last thing: if some of the pictures look awkward, that is because I cropped them. =/ Yes, that's right: I mutilated art in the name of formatting. At least cutting up a digital image is not as permanent as taking a knife to a canvas (which is not to say that some canvases don't deserve it); and you can always see the originals if you click on the image sources given below.

ANTM Themed Shoot Smackdown
Round 1
The "Smize" Sixteen

Snakes (Cycle 1) vs. Fierce Eyes (Cycle 11)

Tyra Banks likes to say that her signature pose is the "smize"--a word she has coined that means "to smile with one's eyes." It involves tightening the muscles around your eyes to intensify their expression. I can't be the only fan of the show who has spent at least an hour in front of the mirror working on her own smize. Now the question is which of these two shoots sells the smize best: one in which the model gives new meaning to the term "snake eyes" or one in which all you can see of her face are her eyes.

Celebrity (Cycle 2) vs. Hapa (Cycle 13)

Models often double as actresses: no surprise when they get to play "dress up" a lot. Sometimes they're simply assigned a character they already look like; sometimes the racial activist Banks darkens or lightens their skin and tells them to sell the beauty of a different race. The question now is which challenge has more interesting results: one in which a model magnifies a look she already has or one in which she must fake it before she makes it.

No Makeup (Cycle 3) vs. Mannequin (Cycle 6)

Every model should be able to pull off a "beauty shot"--a kind of close up which makes the photo all about her face. It's an ordinary part of the modeling business, but not the most entertaining challenge for TV, so ANTM has to twist it a little each time. Which do you think is more interesting: the shoot the models had to do with absolutely no makeup on (and only the minimum of digital touch ups) or the shoot in which the models' hair was completely hidden and they had to sell "beauty" while bald?

Seven Deadly Sins (Cycle 4) vs. Controversial Issues (Cycle 8)

I don't know about you, but I love it when a model is given an abstract idea that she has to embody. Of course, she gets more than the idea, which is like the stone in Stone Soup: throw in the right sets, make up, costumes, lighting, etc., and you'll see she actually has a lot to work with. But a model who has what a client thinks is the right "look" for a concept will find herself having to sell it without also endorsing it . . . whether it's a kind of sin or the extreme end of a political spectrum.

Museum Art (Cycle 5) vs. Classical Statues (Cycle 15)

Modeling may never qualify as an art, but it takes a lot of inspiration from what does make it into museums. This is probably the closest models will ever get to non-commercial, non-editorial ideals of beauty and grace. And yet, considering that the women in this industry are often picked their more awkward, unusual features, these shoots in which they have to evoke more classic, universal appeal can be the most challenging ones of all.

Circus Freaks (Cycle 7) vs. Fuerza Bruta (Cycle 10)

Another inspiration for fashion is the darker, dreamier world of the circus. Sometimes we just want to be transported somewhere else. These two shoots featured here also represent other challenges. The Circus Freak shoot meant that the models had to look as disturbing as possible--but not so disturbing that magazine readers refuse to look rather than stare. The Fuerza Bruta shoot, on the other hand, was a more technical challenge: the models had to lie face down on a plastic sheet covered in water, with the photographer shooting them from below.

Flowers (Cycle 9) vs. Birds (Cycle 12)

Beautiful women are often compared to flowers or to birds, but as you can see from top photos from these shoots, ANTM is all about the "ugly pretty." In both, the models were encouraged to wild rather than winsome--elemental rather than engaging. The real world's standards of attractiveness don't always overlap with what you can find in fashion magazines. So what shall it be: the flora or the avian fauna?

Fakes (Cycle 14) vs. Psychos (Cycle 16)

There's something both indulgent and truly fascinating about fashion photos commenting on fashion photos. And there's something so fitting about people in the industry holding the mirror up to themselves. =P The first shoot was meant to raise awareness about cheap, mass produced fakes that cost the fashion industry millions of dollars each year; the second was a more editorial look at fashionistas who go overboard.

Image Sources: a) Shannon, b) Claire, c) Mercedes, d) Nicole, e) Amanda, f) Nnenna, g) Naima, h) Jaslene, i) Nik, j) Kayla, k) CariDee, l) Fatima, m) Jenah, n) Allison, o) Jessica, p) Jaclyn


Jillian said...

These are gorgeous. I've always thought that modeling CAN be art if done right :)

Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks, Jillian. =) You're thinking about your ballot now, right? ;-)

Sullivan McPig said...

Oh, very cool Smackdown

my picks:
-No Makeup (but only because I was put off by whatever gunk that is on baldies face)
-Controversial Issues
-Classical Statues
-Fuerza Bruta

lisa :) said...

I've never watched more than about ten minutes of ANTM but I know so many people that follow the show that I almost feel like I do watch it. Based on photos alone, here are my picks:

- Fierce Eyes
- Hapa
- No Makeup
- Seven Deadly Sins
- Classical Statues
- Fuerza Bruta
- Birds
- Psychos

Kate said...

Awesome! Here's my picks
*Fierce Eyes
*No Makeup
*Seven Deadly Sins
*Classical Statues
*Fuerza Bruta

dylan said...

fierce eyes
controversial issues
classical statues
fuerza bruta

Holly said...

Love ANTM! I'm going with:

Fierce Eyes
No Makeup
Seven Deadly Sins
Circus Freaks

Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks for your votes, everyone! =D

I hope to be posting here more regularly. =)

mrsdarwin said...

Totally late! As always! I don't know anything about ANTM, so I'm completely qualified to weigh in.

No Makeup
Seven Deadly Sins
Classical Statues
Fuerza Bruta

Enbrethiliel said...


Look who's even later! =P

I'll extend the voting to another week and have the "intermission" post up earlier than usual . . . but still late and backdated.

Thanks for taking the Quality Time to vote. ;-)

Lesa said...

I've never watched this show but based on the info and photos provieded here are my picks:

fierce eyes
seven sins
classical statue
circus freak

Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks, Lesa. =)

I obsessed extra long over the images so that even those who don't watch the show could participate.