Saturday, October 07, 2006

the unbearable cuteness of being

a meditation

the non-being in being cute

No one can be the Alison that has been created to fit the lovely creature that blessed us with her presence for those halcyon weeks at the start of Project Runway's 3rd Season. The sweet creature that loves animals and whose world is filled with rainbows and sparkles and care bears: we know she doesn't exist. Does it matter? Not one iota.

Nonetheless, Alison Kelly appears to be a sport of nature: although it feels weird to say this about an adult woman, but she actually is cute as a button.

Here is a show filled with gorgeous models including Heidi Klum, considered one of the world's most beautiful women, and yet it is Alison who has captured the imagination of so many. She is mesmerizing: it is a bit like when you are talking to someone who has those light light blue eyes: you just keep staring at their eyes because they seem so alien.

Don't get me wrong: the models are beautiful. But beautiful is different from pretty and from cute. The models fit a more contemporary standard of beauty. Less northern European. More emaciated. (You win some. You lose some). Alison's appeal is more old fashioned.

This isn't the end: click here to continue reading "the unbearable cuteness of being."

(If that link doesn't work try this one.)

Note to the reader: I am only discussing images presented in popular media, not the actual person. (Please read
For the Record if you haven't already.

precious moments

the sweetest thing
Who didn't enjoy Alison's assertion (and didn't we just know she would say something like this?) that:

"Animals make me happy."

Of course they do, sweetheart. Of course they do.
And you make animals happy too.

(see also
all my alisons post.)

moving from the sublime to the ridiculous . . .

the fluff and fold tantrum
Vincent's "fluff and fold" meltdown over a laundry error (he was reimbursed for almost twice as much as the value of the item) was completely unacceptable behavior. Rather than talking him into staying they should have shown him the door. That said, it was also completely and utterly hilarious. My top three moments from that film clip are:
  • When he channels Rodney Dangerfield and says, apropos of get-over-yourself, "No respect." News flash: respect is earned Vinny.
  • When the camera turns to the producer (Rucker I believe) who just shrugs his shoulders. God love him. And just off camera we hear Vincent whine "it's not funny!" Oh, but it is, Vinny. It is.
  • Vincent's plaintive cry at the end of the clip when he, incoherent with rage, emits this inchoate sound of "why why wha wha whaaaaa ??!!!!" Normally I don't find someone's suffering to be humorous, but every time I hear that it makes me laugh.

don't get too comfortable
This precious moment captured the irate Keith telling Heidi and Tim that he was the victim of a conspiracy concocted by the crew. In the pause that followed this assertion, while everyone stared at him, dumbfounded, he spat out: "Uncomfortable isn't it?"

Actually "uncomfortable" wasn't the right word. Gobsmacked might have worked better. My guess is that they were not made uneasy by his accusation in the sense that they felt implicated by it, they were simply too surprised to think of what to say. They needed time to recalibrate the new information. That new information was not his bizarre theory that producers planted the books on him. No, the new information was that Keith had become delusional if not barking mad.

as a followup:
Keith's ranting letter to BPR begins: "Seems like everyone is bitter that I might be actually telling the truth." Again, there is a usage problem. No one is bitter about this incident but Keith himself. Everyone else is just entertained. Nothing more. Sorry, Keith. It is a tv show. It is entertainment. The antics on it are just not that important.

(Click here for more on KM's "book burning"charges.)

and while we are on the subject of vocabulary usage . .

circuit circus
Because this reunion focused on Tim Gunn's fancy schmancy vocabulary (jesus wept) I have provided a brief but no less irritatingly pedantic discussion of what appears to be Tim Gunn's misuse of the word "circuitous":

At the risk of sounding like the pedant that I am, "circuitous" was not actually the right word to describe that staircase. The staircase was in a circular form, a spiral staircase to be specific, which is not the same as being circuitous. The route they were following may have been complicated and indirect and thus was circuitous. In standard English, however, the staircase was not. The etymology of the word is from circle or round but its meaning has shifted so that it is associated with indirection more than circularity. Ironically, one usage is to indicate an artificial form of speaking.
The man makes so few missteps that it is pissy to call attention to them. But I don't trust someone who appears to be completely flawless. I like him better this way.

a question of taste
Laura's response to that cheesy Publisher's Clearinghouse episode was one of the best lines of the show. We have Michael Kors -- Mr. Impeccable Taste -- impersonating Ed McMahon in order to present Michael with a check for the viewer's choice award. The sheer tackiness of it all did not escape Laura's notice and just as the excitement was hitting its peak she did what she always does: she calls 'em like she sees 'em:

behind the masks

. . . there was some serious ugly going on this season.

On the face of it, the designers started out resembling human beings, but it didn't take long to have doubts about a few of them. Who am I kidding? These guys seemed creepy from the start. The masks cracked from the get go. And it wasn't pretty.

the three faces of keith :

the three monsters of the runway :

the most fearsome of them all

The hiss.
The swish.
The disdain.
The utter indifference.
And the infuriating fact that, try as they may, they just cannot knock her off of her feet.

She sees them for what they are -- creeps and bullies -- and calls them on it. With one whip she can put them in their place and they skulk away licking their wounds and whining "she's a bad mommy."
And it makes them SO MAD when women refuse to be their mommies!!

But when the mask comes off
the kitten comes out to play.

(click here for halloween costume ideas from jay mccarroll.)

Monday, October 02, 2006

I wonder if . . .

. . . project runway used a point system?

(note: you can click on the chart to see a larger version)

What difference would it make?
Of course it is impossible to know all the variables that could change the outcome. However, for the sake of argument, here are a few of the things that might have been different had they used this kind of scoring:
  • Vincent would have been out in the first weeks (note how he is the lowest scorer Every Single Week! Even after he won!!
  • Malan probably wouldn't have been auffed in the second week; he may have recovered from his error and stayed on quite a bit longer.
  • Alison probably would have stayed on longer (and had a good chance of getting to the finals): she was tracking with the top group (Laura, Uli and Michael).
  • Jeffrey could have made it to the finals but it would have been much harder for him.
What difference wouldn't it make?
If they had used a point system such as the one above this past season the following things would most likely remain the same:
  • It would not diminish the role of the judges: the judges would be just as important but they wouldn't be able to make outrageous decisions that ruin the credibility of the show.
  • The producers could break ties but they wouldn't be able to intervene in a way that makes the judging look like a joke.
  • It still could have come down to the same final four but there would be some serious competition from "wild cards" like Alison and Malan.
  • At a commenter's suggestion I'm putting up another chart (click here to view) that attempts to put the designers in the order that they would have been auffed using this system. What it actually shows is that there is really no way to predict this most of the time since there are so many ties. I think that they are all close enough that there would still be a suspense about who would be auffed. For example, with the point system Jeffrey could have been "auffed" early on or he could have made it to the end.

How this chart shows why Alison's auffing was bogus:
  • At that point in the season Alison was one of the highest scorers: when she was "auffed" she was tracking in the top group with Uli, Laura and Michael.
  • She had twice as many points as Vincent.
  • In the epsode when Alison was auffed there were three designers in the "worst" group: Alison, Vincent and Kayne. This was Alison's first time in the "worst group." This was Vincent's 5th and Kayne's 3rd.
  • Whether you like her or not, I think it is valid to say that her auffing was a bogus decision.
Would this system have made the show more interesting?
On the one hand the answer to this question is: "it's a matter of taste."
  • I think it would have been been lighter and funnier if we had people like Malan and Alison instead of Vincent and Jeffrey.
  • There may have been more focus on the reparte of Kayne and Robert and Laura.
  • If Bradley had been on for longer there would have been more goofiness.
  • And remember -- for the first half of the season we didn't think that Michael was very interesting but once the cameras spent more time with him everyone fell in love!
The producers obviously thought that it would be more interesting to keep people on the show who would cause a lot of conflict. I'm not convinced that those people really did make the show more interesting. They just made it more irritating. But there may be people who prefer the bickering and drama. Chacun à son goût.

If you don't want the designers' past work to be a considered in the judging then you wouldn't want to use this point system. The problem is that while the judges claim they don't consider what the designers had previously done, in fact, the do. It is just that they aren't consistent about it. The judges often commented on what the designer had previously done (for better and for worse). The problem is that they gave the "benefit of the doubt" to some and not others.

On the other hand, whether or not you liked the fighting, I don't think very many viewers were happy with the way the show was being so obviously manipulated. As a result the show lost a lot of credibility. Using a point system could be a way of making sure that doesn't happen again.

It is all hypothetical of course. It' s not like Bravo producers are going to read this and say: "Why yes! That's brilliant! Let's change something that involves millions of dollars because some random cranky blogger suggested it!"

It's just a thought. What do you think?

13 questions


1. I wonder if there anything the designers said that they'd like to take back?
2. I wonder if there anything the judges said that they'd like to take back?

Tim is so fabulous so it seems wrong to focus on his one misstep -– HOWEVER:
3. I wonder if Tim still thinks “pleasantly plump” is an accurate description of Alexandra.
4. I wonder what the model Alexandra has to say about the way Tim (and others) described her.

Here is a quote from Vincent’s interview with EW:
"I was more of the older guy who would help everybody. I grounded the rest of the guys and let them see reality. I said, ''Let's all hang in there.'' I was kind of the elder statesman. I brought out a lot of camaraderie."
[Pause for laughter.]
5. I wonder how many of the designers feel that this is an accurate description of Vincent’s role in the group?
6. I wonder if people have things to say about various other lunatic things Vincent said in that interview. (He was the only real designer; he should have won; the judges were intimidated by how good he is, etc.
7. I wonder what Catherine Malandrino what she thought of his sleazy/sycophantic behavior towards her on the boat? I also wonder what Catherine Malandrino what she thought of Vincent's comment that she was "too old" for him.

I wonder why the judges tend to just express outrage rather than offering more constructive criticism? It seems like the judges are playing to the cameras and trying to come up with funny insults. Constructive criticism can also be funny and it is wittier than just bald put-downs -- but it is harder to do. (It takes more thought to be respectful.) Is that why they don't do it?
9. There was a general consensus among viewers that this season was meaner than previous seasons. Every season has its conflicts but in previous seasons we also saw more fun and camaraderie that wasn’t there in this season; it was balanced by humor. I wonder if, in casting the next season, the producers will try to avoid having so many people on the show who are likely to cause conflict?

10. Nobody ever wants to admit that there was ever any bias. It just never happens. Not on tv. Not in fashion. Not ever ever ever. But I think it is fair to say that there were “issues” that troubled many viewers regarding the treatment of women on the show. The way that women who stood up for themselves evoked name-calling like bad mommy and feminazi (Who besides Jeffrey and Ann Coulter still use this Rush Limbaugh term?); Vincent and Jeffrey’s bizarre hatred/fear of Angela; Jeffrey’s treatment of Laura’s mother. On the judging side, Uli was robbed of at least one win, arguably more. Alison's "aufing" was controversial to say the least. Then there was the whole "plus size is worse than death” debacle. The cumulative effect is one that suggests a problem with the treatment of women and it did add up to something that a lot of viewers didn’t like. I just wonder if PR think there was a problem. In the unlikely event that they do, I wonder if the judges and producers have learned anything from this and if so wha

11. Week after week Vincent was one of the worst in the group; week after week better designers were kicked off while he remained. Clearly there was some manipulation going on from the producers. I wonder, given such obvious manipulating, how much they really expect viewers to think that the show has integrity?
12. I wonder how ethical it is to cast someone who is mentally ill, manipulate the judging so that he stays on the show, in order to provide material that people can laugh at, or be revolted by?
13. I wonder if PR becomes (or has become) just another reality show focusing more on people arguing with each other than on the design process does Tim Gunn risk not only his reputation but that of Parsons as well by having a continued association with the program?

(I will pass out from shock if they actually address that question -- or any of the other questions above, frankly!)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

runway model theatre

~ ~ le moment suprême ~ ~

Qu'est-ce que c'est?
What the fuck?!

Je suis très désolé, mon ami.
Go to hell bitch.

Au revoir!

Kiss my ass.

C'est la vie!

Suck on it.


Insouciance & Apéritif say:
bravo! bravo!