Chapter by Chapter review: Tyra Banks’ “Modelland” Chapter 22

OH. MY. SWEET. GHERKINS. (Photo from here)

So, when I was circulating at the Filipino Readercon, I seriously got more than one person asking me whatever happened to my chapter by chapter reviews of Tyra Banks’ magnum opus, “Modelland”. Had I stopped writing it? Will I still be writing it?

I know it may not seem like it — it’s been four months since the last “Modelland” post — but I do intend to finish this book. By hook or by crook. It’s just that….I’m only human, you guys. I need to recover my strength every time I finish a chapter.

ANYWAYS. Here it is you guys. Let’s dive back into the world of “Modelland”. I’ve got several folders of GIFs open and ready to be deployed. LET’S DO THIS.

The last time we left Tookie and the gang (still remember them?), they were ogling the guys from neighboring gay porn studio Bestosterone. And just so you know that Tyra is deeply committed to painting models as something more than coat racks that care only for physical beauty, here’s how the girls reacted to their bros.

“Webb and Alexander noticed the girls and smiled, waved, and licked their lips. Bravo shifted his gaze from the building to the girls, but just smiled politely to the group and then looked away. That just stirred up the girls even more. They slammed their knuckles against the glass.”

I mean, really.

Anyway, Bravo — Is it a coincidence that he’s named after a gay cable channel? I think not. — shows off for the girls and gets his freaking forearm slashed by a saw in the process. And because girls are so delicate the entire class ends up screaming. Bravo turns to look towards…Tookie.

DUN DUN DUN.

Chapter 22, “Fused Flashback Females”, opens with the girls confused as to why Bravo is even looking at Tookie. Zarpessa gets her usual weak digs in (“He’s staring at her because he’s never seen someone with such an enormous head.”) and we find out that all of this has happened because Tookie has a booger hanging off her nose.

No, really. REALLY.

“Bravo reached up and made a wiping gesture across his nose. On instinct, Tookie touched her nose too. To her horror, a trail of creamy pea-green slime appeared on her fingers. She’d been staring out the window with a giant whipped-cream booger on her face.”

Tookie doesn’t have time to be mortified though, as the girls are quickly herded to yet another venue, but not before Chaste declares that she was just about to flash her “breast-osteros” and I stabbed myself in the testicles with a rusty spoon.

And the new place where the girls have been taken? Probably a monster vagina.

“There was a great round room behind the desk, it walls covered in a furry-looking fabric and its ceiling gently pulsing up and down, as if breathing.”

The new room is called “The OoAh”, and that name is really not helping dispel my initial notion that it’s some form of monster vagina. Neither is the description.

“A breathy voice from high above whispered ‘Oooo-ahhhh!’ with great satisfaction. The letters of the desk moved to spell OOAH. The smell of blood oranges wafted through the air.”

MONSTER. VAGINA.

Zarpessa, however, maintains that it is some kind of spa where they’re all going to get pampered and whatnot, but whatever. MONSTER. VAGINA.

The girls are led inside, made to lie down on stone slabs where dozens of hands come up (!) and remove their clothes (!!). The girls feel vulnerable and exposed and I feel a pang of sympathy because I know those feels. But we move quickly past that as Tyra drops what I think will be a plot point.

“Tookie felt cold, vulnerable, and certain everyone was staring at her, so she fixed her gaze on the ceiling instead. SOmeone had written something on the tiles in black pen. GEENA HAS TWO SECRETS. ONE: SHE HATES CI~L. TWO: IT RHYMES WITH DESTROY.”

I don’t even know, you guys.

The Bellas get toured around the monster vagina, seeing all manner of exaggerated spa treatments intended to make them the perfect specimens, until we finally get introduced to the flashback females teased in the chapter title.

“Three women dressed in ornately patterned flowing muumuus sat very close together in the corner. Their hair was fused into one bug beehive.”

The Flashback Females, as you guys have probably deduced by now, have the ability to “take a person to a time in her life that has already happened.” The girls try it out, with Kamalini going first, and since she is obviously meant to be from India, we get your stereotypical description of what India is supposed to look like.

“Smoke rose from many of the shanties. Beautiful cocoa-, maple-, and cooper-skinned children dressed in bright fabrics ran about. A younger Kamalini, sans Headbangor, climbed out the very window at which the girls were standing and dropped to the ground. She ran toward the middle of the shantytown and stopped at a group of about two dozen people of varying ages. Their clothes might have been tattered and drab, but as soon as they saw Kamalini, their smiles were brighter than the most luxurious silks.”

It’s not so much racist as it is lazy. Did you write up this description after watching “Slumdog Millionaire”?

There’s even a scene where rich girl Kamalini tries to help out the poor family across from her home by getting them speaking parts in a movie and the family is grateful beyond belief, sobbing happily, because isn’t that what all poor families want, anyway? Who the fuck cares about teaching them a livelihood? Give them a part in a movie and they’re all set.

And then of course, the family dies while filming the movie. I. KID. YOU. NOT.

“Everyone screamed and scattered, but for some it was too late. Thick white dust poured all around like smoke. Tookie waved her hand in front of her face, trying to see. Suddenly, a keening cry rang out. Maya crawled out from under the rubble, blood streaming down her forehead. ‘Maaa! Pappaa! Nani!'”

Dear readers, I laughed my freaking head off.

In the next scene, we get to witness a teenaged Dylan witnessing her six-year-old self witnessing her dad dying right in front of her in the middle of a children’s park.

WHAT IS THIS I CAN’T BREATHE.

And then Tookie has the requisite “Ooohhh, my parents loved me once!” memory that is so totally boring that I just end up being happy that it’s finally the end of the chapter. 

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