I knew going into this week’s episode of America’s Next Top Model that it was going to piss me off. I saw the previews. Friends warned me. I knew what was coming. And still, still, I was pretty damn shocked at how ignorant and offensive Denzel’s comments were. It’s not just that they were homophobic – but oh, they were – but they were so dated. It felt like a conversation someone would’ve had about male models like…20 years ago? Maybe even more? I remember when RuPaul’s “Supermodel (You Better Work)” came out. It was 1992 – and guess what? In 1992 it was kind of shocking. I didn’t totally understand men wearing high heels or homosexuality because it wasn’t something that popular culture or mainstream society had ever accepted – so it wasn’t something I’d ever been exposed to. It was new to me, so it was honestly a little strange and controversial. In 1992. Let me say that again: in 1992.
That was more than 20 years ago. I mean, we’re in a world where homophobia still exists. It’s not like it’s “over” just because people like Jay Alexander are on TV. But the thing is…this is cycle 21 of the show and Miss J. has been there since the beginning. RuPaul’s Drag Race will be going into it’s seventh season this year. If gay men, or men in heels, or androgyny in the fashion and entertainment industry*, are still shocking to you? If this is something you call “a stigma” like it’s a negative stereotype and not just the actual world you live in? If you think losing a competition to a gay man, or a man who chooses to wear eyeliner or nail polish or a pair of six-inch patent leather heels, is somehow more embarrassing than losing to a frat guy or an ex-football player, well then you need to wake the f*ck up and take a look around. You need to seriously reevaluate the way you view the world around you, because right now it is narrow and delusional and sad. You should feel embarrassed at your lack of cognizance. You should feel ashamed of your inability to adapt.
Oh, and you should probably understand that you are a homophobe, buddy. Because you are.
1. But let’s rewind a little. The episode starts off and it’s not entirely rage-inducing. Lenox comes home to find her ‘hair whip’ photo on display. After being punished with only five frames, and now having top photo of the week, she feels like a yo-yo. Oh, Lenox.
2. Oh hey, did you know that Denzel and Mirjana are dating or hooking up or generally being obnoxious together? Well, they are. Just about everyone seems to believe that Mirjana is into Denzel, whereas Denzel is into getting regular booty from a model. Denzel beard watch: NO BEARD. Why does it keep appearing and disappearing?
3. For this week’s challenge, PR Maven/human troll Kelly Cutrone takes the models to The CW network, where ANTM lives and shall never, ever die. It’s an acting challenge! Kelly informs us that “many” ANTM contestants from the past have gone on to have “super successful” acting careers and I think “maybe” she is “exaggerating a little.” Today’s challenge is to pair up and do a scene. One winner will get a walk-on part on a CW series. Kari informs us that this challenge is “for real for real for real for real,” so I guess it’s for real.
4. Matthew is a working actor? Really? I did not know that, but it looks like he’s been on Face Off, at least. I honestly didn’t put a lot of time into Googling that, so he’s probably had more jobs. Whatever. This is really just my excuse to mention the nude photo shoot he did with Ben and Kari. Ummmmm.
5. Mirjana chooses Keith as her challenge partner because they had good chemistry together in the spider bite commercial. Kelly totally calls her out for sleeping with Denzel, which I don’t think is “super professional” of her, but okay. Mirjana makes it clear that this is business, not pleasure. Of course, when Denzel teams up with Shei, she goes into psycho jealous girlfriend mode in like, two seconds flat and ends up bombing her scene because of it.
6. Real question: is this a scrapped scene from The Tomorrow People?
7. Second week in a row someone basically calls Raelia illiterate. “She has a good look, she has a good body. I just don’t think she really understood what she was reading.” OUCH.
8. Ignorant comment from Denzel #1: The male character in this scene becomes very powerful and militaristic, but “Will is a very feminine, homosexual man.” Ugh, gross. Then Denzel effing wins. Have fun being “College boy attacked at party,” on The Vampire Diaries, you complete ass.
9. Back at the house, Mirjana keeps giving Denzel grief over kissing Shei – you know, for the acting scene they were in. I’m not a Denzel fan, duh, but I mean he has a point here: she still has a boyfriend, so he’s not really sure what she’s so upset about. He goes on to say that she’s young, immature, and he probably wouldn’t be attracted to her out in the “real world.” The last part was not said to Mirjana of course, because Denzel still wants to get laid.
10. Okay, so it’s time for the “I want a dude to win, but I don’t want it to be Will because he’s not a real dude,” situation. Poor Will overhears the entire exchange, which occurs between Denzel and Keith. Will doesn’t confront Denzel about it, but he vents to his buddy Raelia. She’s not having it, though, so it escalates into a house-wide dispute. Just to recap, here are some of the INCREDIBLY GROSS things that come out of Denzel’s stupid mouth:
“People are always shedding a negative light on male models…the fact that we’re homosexuals or in the closet or whatever. I’d actually like to see a MAN win and break that stigma.”
“I got no problem if you gay. But if you gay, be a man about it. Like, ain’t no f*cking way a man should wear heels.”
“It’s like, I came out here to be beat by a man that wears heels?”
“Keith and I are just having a conversation, we’re not bashing anybody or judging anybody. But now I have to go…tend to Will.”
“I’m trying to talk to Will about it man to man, but it’s not working. It’s almost like talking to… [at this point, I actually yell, ‘DON’T YOU SAY IT!’ but he does] a girlfriend.”
11. Meanwhile, I want to totally call out how Keith is nothing but an innocent bystander through this whole ordeal. Denzel is yammering on and on like an idiot and Keith just sits there silently. He mentions in an interview that his mother is a lesbian and he doesn’t agree with Denzel. He feels bad that Will overheard. I just want to put it out there: Keith seems like a solid guy. In fact, even Adam – who mentions a rather nasty incident in his past where he was publicly called out for homophobic slurs – knows how ignorant this is. Adam is a great example of how a small minded mentality can evolve if you’re open to learning. Denzel, not so much.
12. I think it’s great (but not surprising) how everyone, even Mirjana, is like, “Um, Denzel. No. Stop talking.”
13. The next day: ICE! Yu Tsai and Franco Lacosta are on hand for the photo shoot, where ANTM will capitalize on the Frozen craze. The models will pose, literally, on huge blocks of ice. For safety’s sake, the models can only shoot for 20 minutes at a time, because hypothermia could set in. For once, I actually feel bad for the contestants because oh my God, it looks so painful. Standout performances come from Lenox, Will and Mirjana. Not so great: Matthew, Shei, Kari, Keith, Raelia. Lots of people have trouble, to be honest.
14. Yu Tsai says the word “frozen,” at least 495,508 times.
15. “If Will wants t be a man and talk about it, we can. But if he wants to be a female and not talk about it, then that’s his prerogative.” OH MY GOD, DENZEL, I HOPE THAT STUPID BEARD GIVES YOU SCABIES.
16. Mirjana and Raelia get into a fight because (shocker) Mirjana acts like a b*tch. Raelia flies off the handle. I’m already so mad at Denzel that I don’t even care about any of it.
17. At judges’ panel, Will wears his six-inch patent leather heels, because HELL YES HE DOES. Tyra somewhat scripted-ly brings up the situation and asks him to confront Denzel. And here’s my thing – Tyra is very hard to take seriously like, 90% of the time. But when she wants to get real? She gets real. Denzel is all, “I don’t want Will to think that I’m bashing him, or that I’m ashamed of him wearing heels, ’cause I’m not,” and Tyra flat out calls him on that bullsh*t.
18. Seriously, check out this Tyra realness:
“Be proud of this industry and of every single male model – gay, straight, heels, corsets. Who gives a f*ck? I wanna take you back 50 years and imagine you overheard Will say, ‘I hope that Denzel guy doesn’t win, because if a black guy wins, my friends at home are gonna say I’m in some [bleep]’.”
I don’t know exactly what she said there, but she definitely used the N-word. I wish more people took this show seriously, just because that moment was important.
19. Oh right, photos. Everyone loves Lenox and she gets another perfect 10 score from Tyra. She is going to win this entire thing, you guys. Unless Tyra is really set on having a guy win. In that case, it will be Will or Keith. Calling it now!
20. Adam, Will and (sigh) Denzel get high praise for their photos. Keith, Raelia, Kari and Shei are all disappointments. The judges are especially harsh on Kari, whose ice-blonde look is supposed to lend itself to this Frozen princess sort of thing. I honestly don’t think her photo is that bad, but okay.
21. Lenox obviously gets top photo, but I’m surprised when Kari is sent home over Raelia. Yes, her photo could be better, but Raelia looks like a drunk hobo in her shot. Also, Kari is so poised and well-spoken, while Raelia does poorly at challenges because of her lack of polish. But hey, what do I know?
Next week: Denzel and Mirjana break up, if anyone cares. No? Okay.
* Or in ANY industry, yes, but I’m just pointing out that Denzel was being especially stupid here.