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Ben DiChiara Perry Ullmann
Ben DiChiara / Perry Ullmann

Monday, March 24, 2008

MMAS: The Models In Their Element

In episode eleven of Make Me A Supermodel, it was all about creating a close finish and a level playing field for the final four models. During the run of the series, the judges had repeatedly placed Ben DiChiara and Ronnie Kroell in the bottom three, while heaping praises upon Perry Ullmann and Holly Kiser. To even things out between the four of them going into the final viewer vote, the show made sure that they gave Ben and Ronnie significant advantages in the last competitive episode while they gave Holly and Perry whatever handicaps they could while trying to keep some degree of plausible deniability. The dumb thing about that is that Bravo is well aware of the Bronnie factor that had already brought R & B to the end past some better models, and so Bravo/Tiger Aspect Productions should have known that no other advantage was needed.

First they had to complete the burial ceremony of Shannon Pallay, who was done in by the combination of self-inflicted wounds and the mean hatchet-job done on her in the show's video editing room the week before. At the end of the last episode she and Ronnie were put up for the elimination vote. Shannon of course didn't know what bad things were ending up on television, so she took false hope in a rational comparison of her previous success to Ronnie's repeated selection as one of the worst models. Ronnie, on the other hand, buoyed by previous reprieves granted by the audience (and perhaps a lot whistling in the dark), confidently predicted his return to the townhouse. He said it would be a slap in the face of America to think otherwise. Actually, it was a slap in the face of America to think that America would think he was better than Shannon. It turned out to be a slap that Bravo America deserved as it gave Ronnie one more chance to be more than a Big Lots ad-quality model.

Back at the townhouse, Perry and Holly discussed who would be returning. Holly pointed out how much better Shannon had been doing than Ronnie. Ben used that as an invitation to be disrespectful to Holly, following an unpleasant pattern of being disrespectful to women, but Holly was too lady-like to let it get to her.

There was a brief appearance by Naomi Campbell. I guess there are female supermodels also.

The models went to their last photo shoot and here is where the unequal treatment of the models occurred. To allow America to carefully and fairly compare the work of the models, they should have all done something very similar that could have shown how one of them could do it better than the others. Instead, using a theme of the four classic elements of air, fire, water, and earth, the models were placed in situations that were decidedly dissimilar and inherently unfair.

All season it had been stressed how important facial expressions are and for three of the models, they were during this shoot. Ben, on the other hand, got fabric draped over his head (and unclothed body) to hide whichever of his two looks he might have been expressing at that moment. How is that fair? The intent of his photos was just to excite people by showing him naked. It really was the equivalent of putting a paper bag over his head and asking the public, "Would you be willing to do him now?"

Ronnie was dressed and intricately made-up in an interesting and sensual way while Holly was forced to lie on the ground with her head on fire and Perry got his teeth blackened and made into a drooling eunuch. The result was to make Perry and Holly look strongly less attractive than Ben and Ronnie this week. I can appreciate Bravo's catering to a core demographic by trying to hand it's gay viewers a Ben or Ronnie victory, but I think they went too far with it.

The fun part of the episode was the appearance of Project Runway's Christian Siriano, who was there to act a runway coach. Who knew he had this whole other talent? His advice was really solid.

The models each did three outfits for the runway and the results really summarized well the entirety of the season. It was clear that as a professional model, Perry is the top. Holly has a beautiful face, but some body issues when she has to show too much skin. Ben has some quality attributes and should be able to use modeling as way to significantly supplement his income. Ronnie, with his lumbering and back leaning walk, his Chicago pose #1, and his paralyzed expression, is a caricature.

Any of the four models could win this popularity contest, although I still hope it will end up going to the best model. The only one that would make me sad if he won is Ronnie. As the weeks have gone by, I have increasingly become disdainful of the things he says, the way he models, and the way he has been saved even though the professional judges have four times said he was one of the worst models in the competition. Ronnie said he has been trying to break into the industry for ten years. There has to come a time when you acknowledge that your dream isn't going to happen. To paraphrase a quote from Seinfeld, he should quit through the traditional route. Years of rejection and failure until he's spit out the bottom of the p orn industry.