The indoctrination of American youth continues

Cycle” 24 of Tyra BanksAmerica’s Next Top Model (ANTM) returned to so-called Reality Television this week, and as with any­thing and every­thing in “the age of Donald Trump” (a term often being ref­er­enced late­ly) the pro­duc­ers appar­ent­ly felt it nec­es­sary for them to virtue sig­nal to their view­er­ship by neg­a­tive­ly ref­er­enc­ing America’s 45th President mere moments into the first episode of the sea­son, and to go fur­ther still by fea­tur­ing a contestant’s quote asso­ci­at­ing Mr. Trump with racism.

I know your par­ents might be racist and they might be Trump sup­port­ers but you don’t have to fol­low that cycle. You can get out of there.

This insult and slan­der against President Donald Trump, and more impor­tant­ly and direct­ly an insult and slan­der against fel­low con­tes­tant Liberty Netuschil and her par­ents, came from 20-year-old “Chrissy” from Atlanta who, it appears, was elim­i­nat­ed by the end of episode 1 as she does not appear in the list of the final 15 con­tes­tants.

Ms Netuschil, 20, of Lava Hot Springs, Idaho pro­claimed her­self, ear­ly in the com­pe­ti­tion, to be a Trump sup­port­er.  The change in the atmos­phere, tone and music shown in the video is inter­est­ing, and one can fair­ly won­der if the pro­duc­ers were inten­tion­al­ly going for some­thing con­fronta­tion­al, and per­haps even some­thing a bit sin­is­ter.  Then, in an appar­ent counter to the omi­nous Trump sup­port­er the music becomes more upbeat — although it is all done rather sub­tly, and that is by design and on pur­pose  — and in a cam­era con­fes­sion­al (or direct­ly speak­ing to the tele­vi­sion view­ing audi­ence) Chrissy prof­fers, “I know your par­ents might be racist and they might be Trump sup­port­ers but you don’t have to fol­low that cycle. You can get out of there.”

Of course we don’t turn to real­i­ty tele­vi­sion or 20 – year-old mod­el hope­fuls for advice about any­thing oth­er than, per­haps, how to do hair, make­up and nails, but there are cer­tain­ly insight­ful moments in this pro­gram that speak to wider social, cul­tur­al, polit­i­cal, and edu­ca­tion­al issues and con­cerns, and prob­a­bly should be dis­con­cert­ing to thought­ful view­ers:  Take, for exam­ple, 23-year-old Rio Summers’ (from Detroit, Michigan) com­ments about her telling God that, If I’m not gonna make it to Hollywood then just take me.  It’s okay.” I’ll let you read into that what you will.  I view it as telling and deeply con­cern­ing about the state of America, and indeed the world, in 2018.  ANTM also loves a good I’m a vic­tim sur­vivor sto­ry, as always — and, to be fair, so does the enter­tain­ment indus­try as a whole, because it makes for good copy.

Then there’s 20-year-old Kyla Coleman from Lacey, Washington who knows what suf­fer­ing is because she’s half-black and half-white (appar­ent­ly some take umbrage with the “half-black” term and pre­fer mixed) and she’s been watch­ing ANTM ever since she was “like a kid:”

Apparently, when she was grow­ing up peo­ple would say “racist things” and assume she would not be offend­ed because she’s “only half-black.”  That’s when “it” start­ed to anger her and she “want­ed to make a dif­fer­ence,” appar­ent­ly by “attend­ing ral­lies” and hold­ing up signs stok­ing polit­i­cal and social divi­sion in her com­mu­ni­ty.

ANTM cycle 24 contestant Kyla Coleman stokes political and social division in her community
ANTM cycle 24 con­tes­tant Kyla Coleman stokes polit­i­cal and social divi­sion in her com­mu­ni­ty.

I don’t know which ral­ly she was attend­ing when she held up a sign pro­claim­ing “White Supremacy Is Terrorism” but pre­sum­ably, as she is wear­ing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt, she was at one of the many BLM protests and she is one of the many who expe­ri­ence delu­sions (it is more than just mis­un­der­stand­ings or being mis­in­formed, although it is all of that also) about racism in America in this era.  I’ll go fur­ther and say that I sus­pect her being “half-black” with an ‘African-American father’ is some­thing she uses to her advan­tage any time it suits her and, among oth­er things, it gives her a posi­tion or a rank­ing — that she feels is vir­tu­ous — on the totem pole of vic­tim­hood.

Kyla dou­bles down on the iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics and goes on to tell us that “as a woman” and “as an African-American” (mixed) she “just think(s) that it is so impor­tant to be very edu­cat­ed” and she thinks it is “very impor­tant to have a voice.”  What any of that has to do with … well … any­thing, real­ly, is hard to pin down.  Oh, maybe not, as I sus­pect she is doing lit­tle more than par­rot­ing so-called pro­gres­sive and mod­ern fem­i­nist clap­trap.  Don’t fear, though, as 20-year-old Kyla is com­ing to the res­cue of those who are oppressed with her plan “to use mod­el­ling to, like, make a dif­fer­ence.”  It’s like we’re lis­ten­ing to a stereo­typ­i­cal Miss America inter­view that peo­ple used to joke about  —  I sing, tap dance, do bal­let, play the piano, and I want to make a dif­fer­ence and work for world peace and the chil­dren.  Awwww.

It’s obvi­ous that Tyra Banks’ idea of diver­si­ty, which she loves to virtue sig­nal about in her ANTM pro­gram, is only the iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics (e.g., black/brown, Muslim) and trends du jour (e.g., beau­ty comes in all shapes and sizes) ver­sion of diver­si­ty and does not include, at least in any mean­ing­ful way, diver­si­ty of thought and absolute­ly not diver­si­ty of polit­i­cal opin­ion.  Yes, one can point to the inclu­sion on the pro­gram of Trump sup­port­er Liberty Netuschil, but let’s be hon­est with our­selves and with every­one, and admit that she is a token:  Whether her polit­i­cal opin­ions were known before she made it to the final round, I don’t know, but I sus­pect they were.  She’s a beau­ti­ful and seem­ing­ly intel­li­gent girl, and if she can sing then with her looks she may well find suc­cess as a coun­try music star as the judges talked about.  Perhaps that is also inap­pro­pri­ate or unfair stereo­typ­ing of a pret­ty white girl from Idaho as would it be, no doubt, if the judges told a black girl from Harlem that they don’t real­ly see a mod­el but just a pret­ty gangs­ta rap­per.  However, she’s one of Tyra’s cho­sen few because (a) her polit­i­cal opin­ion will cre­ate ten­sion and dra­ma (note the atmos­phere the pro­duc­ers cre­at­ed sim­ply around Liberty say­ing she sup­ports Trump), and in 2018 more impor­tant­ly (b) it helps the pro­duc­ers dri­ve and pro­mote a polit­i­cal nar­ra­tive and polit­i­cal and cul­tur­al agen­da:  In the first few min­utes of the first episode they were able to take slan­der­ous jibes at President Trump (their real tar­get) and Liberty and her par­ents (col­lat­er­al dam­age), and mask it all as no doubt some­thing vir­tu­ous sound­ing like empow­er­ing young women to speak their minds, because they would nev­er come right out and say that they used one of the con­tes­tants (Chrissy) to do their dirty work for them.

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