'America's Next Top Model' is getting backlash years later as people realize there was blackface and problematic commentary on the show
- "America's Next Top Model" was an early 2000s reality show about breaking into the modeling industry.
- It has recently made headlines for its problematic messaging about race, sexual orientation, and body image.
- After people revisited the program, which now streams on Hulu and Amazon Prime, they tweeted about the derogatory remarks and controversial moments.
- Tyra Banks, who co-created and hosted the show, responded to the criticism: "Looking back, those were some really off choices."
- Responding to Banks' tweet, "ANTM" co-creator Ken Mock agreed with her and said aspects of the show made him "cringe."
- On Wednesday, Jay Manuel, the show's creative director, separately announced that he's publishing a book inspired by his experience on the show. He admitted that many moments on "ANTM" made him "uncomfortable."
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Although "America's Next Top Model" is 17 years old, the reality show has recently gained attention for its problematic messaging about race, sexual orientation, and body image.
"ANTM," which ran for 24 seasons, followed contestants as they competed for a modeling contract under the guidance of Tyra Banks, the show's co-creator and host. As a successful model herself, Banks promised to provide expert advice to the young hopefuls and prepare them for the difficulties of the cut-throat modeling industry.
The show is now available to stream on Hulu and Amazon Prime, meaning that some people have revisited the early 2000s program on the streaming platforms for the first time in years. And when they did a rewatch, many were shocked by how offensive some of the photo shoots and on-screen interactions were.
After receiving criticism for her creative choices and treatment toward some of the contestants, Banks apologized and agreed that the show had its issues. Ken Mok, "ANTM" co-creator, seconded her statement and said that parts of the show make him "cringe."
Days later, Jay Manuel, the show's former creative director, announced that he's publishing a novel loosely based on his experience on "ANTM." It's called "The Wig, The B---- & The Meltdown."
Here's what led to the backlash against the once beloved reality show.
People began tweeting about some of the most cringe-worthy moments from the show
After rewatching "ANTM," many people realized that the show, which was in theory supposed to uplift women and provide them with opportunities to accomplish their dreams, was doing the exact opposite. They began to pinpoint the most controversial "ANTM" moments on Twitter — and many of them involved Banks.
On cycle 5, for example, the host spoke to an LGBTQ contestant Kim Stolz about being too open about her sexuality.
"I'm gay, and I'm really proud of it," Stolz told Banks.
The host replied, "I think there's a certain thing of being proud. Like, I'm black and proud, you know what I mean? But I'm not walking down the red carpet: 'I'm black. I'm black.'"
—Tanya Compas (@TanyaCompas) May 2, 2020
Danielle Evans, the cycle 6 winner, also gained attention for her on-air moment with Banks, who put her down for refusing to close the gap in her teeth.
"Do you really think you can have a CoverGirl contract with a gap in your mouth?" Banks asked her in front of a panel of judges before explaining that the gap wasn't a "marketable" feature.
—dont b shy have some more (@OladapoAisha) May 5, 2020
People were also taken aback by the multiple photo shoots that required the show's contestants to pose as a different race. Several of the white girls appeared in blackface.
—Michaela Pratt (@kay_scott324) May 5, 2020
For example, one of the cycle 4 photo shoots showed some of the white contestants posing as black women. As one of them glanced in the mirror at herself in blackface, she said, "I'm a black woman with a nose job."
Someone outside the frame replied, "You are. You're a Jackson."
And in cycle 13, the contestants were made to appear biracial in a photo shoot, and many wore thick makeup to make them appear as though they had darker skin.
After seeing the photo shoots, people were shocked — and disappointed — that the segments aired on television.
—magical wheelism (@modega_cat) May 2, 2020
—Samantha ): (@samistired_) May 10, 2020
—bemmer (@emilyandcolor) May 9, 2020
Evans responded to the viral video of Banks commenting on her gap
The cycle 6 winner made an Instagtram video responding to the viral clip of Banks commenting on her gap. She explained that all of the girls in her cycle went to the dentist but noted that the dentist repeatedly asked her if she wanted to close her gap. She said she refused.
"I used to cry and ask my mother for braces but we couldn't afford braces. What did my mother say to me? She reminded me that my two grandmothers, who I absolutely adored, had gaps. They're queens," she explained, adding, "I learned to love and accept my gap."
Pointing out that Banks never told her to close the gap, Evans said she realized that she and Mok had devised the drama to make for exciting reality television.
"In that moment, the 19, 20-year-old Danielle stood there realizing that it was my one-way ticket out on this side, or keeping my gap on this side and go back to Little Rock, Arkansas," she said. "I was not going to allow something that is physical on my face to stop me from getting out to make a better life for myself."
And although she adhered to the advice at the time, she explained that she felt the need to speak out amidst the resurfaced controversy.
"I wasn't tight because of Tyra's comment about me not being able to model with a gap. I wasn't tight about Miss J's comment about leaving the gap wide open for the next girl. All of that was trivial to me. I've heard it all before. What I was tight about was them trying to play me and making good for TV," she said, continuing, "However, me now, understanding the comments and the weight that it created in other girls who saw that. This is why this post is being made because I want to address all of those young girls."
This video isn’t made for unsolicited advice, words, or paragraphs on how YOU would have handled the situation. I’m speaking MY truth aside from anyone’s opinions, beliefs, or input. I chose to use my own platform to speak so I have full control over my narrative. Watch until the very end to understand the purpose as to why I took time to even address the matter.
Banks and Mok apologized for the problematic moments on the show
In the midst of the backlash, Banks tweeted a response and said she agreed with people's commentary on Friday.
"Been seeing the posts about the insensitivity of some past ANTM moments and I agree with you. Looking back, those were some really off choices. Appreciate your honest feedback and am sending so much love and virtual hugs."
—Tyra Banks (@tyrabanks) May 9, 2020
Responding to Banks' tweet, Mok wrote his own message about where he stands on the show.
"Want to reiterate what @tyrabanks said. I look at some of those #ANTM moments and cringe. Just a FYI - the entire creative team made the choices in those shows - not just Tyra. So please feel free to yell at me for some of the worst moments in ANTM history! Apologies to all," he wrote.
—Ken Mok (@kenmok) May 9, 2020
Manuel announced that he's publishing a novel inspired by his experience on the show and said some 'ANTM' moments made him 'uncomfortable'
Variety reported that the show's former creative director is publishing a novel called "The Wig, The B---- & The Meltdown," drawing on inspiration from his time working on the reality show. He told the outlet that he's been writing the novel since 2014 and didn't intend for the August release date to closely align with the show's resurgence.
"I never saw that coming. My novel has been in the works for quite some time, so this really is a surprise to me," he said.
Manuel shared that he and Banks have "emailed" in past years but "have no relationship to speak of, which is really sad." He also stated that Mok and Banks were the driving force behind the creative decisions on the show, even though he was officially the creative director.
"Many times when you're working in an environment like that, you have to listen to your executive producers, and ultimately the two voices at the top were Ken and Tyra. There were sometimes several objections by other producers and myself about layers that were added to creative, and we were just told to execute. I think it's a little unfair to throw the whole team under the bus. The whole team wasn't there on the front side when they were making decisions about the show in its heyday. The team wasn't really supported, so to speak," Manuel said.
He continued to explain that he tried to object to the "uncomfortable" race-swapping photo shoots, which he said "didn't fly then."
"I was so, so, so uncomfortable with this. I was never scripted for my intros or anything, and I didn't know how I was going to be able to set this up — I was so afraid that I would wear this because I was the creative director, but it was not my idea. That swapped race was a layer added in. It was supposed to be a different concept. I remember that very, very clearly," he said. "I was basically told that I had to execute the creative, and it made me very uncomfortable."
Representatives for Banks, Manuel, and Mok didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.Read the original article on Insider
- Gen Z faces more pressure at work than previous generations because technology has eliminated work-life boundaries, a psychology professor says
- All 81 movies based on Marvel comics, ranked according to critics
- EY and Deloitte are scrutinizing staff workloads and quietly letting some workers go, report says
- ABB India shares zoom over 9% after earnings announcement
- Jungle Ventures infuses another $20 mn in Indian ice cream brand Walko Food
- Byju's rights issue to raise $200 million fully subscribed
- Ukraine war: West is at a crossroads - double down on aid, accept compromise deal, or face humiliation
- Iconic radio personality, voice of Binaca Geetmala, Ameen Sayani passes away