Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Australia's Next Top Bully
Last night I went to the final of Australia's Next Top Model. I've never really been into the show and to be honest it's not really my thang, but we scored some free tickets though work and I got to leave work early to get there, so i figured it was worth the early mark. It was everything you'd expect it would be, a lot of mums and kids, B grade industry types and Napoleon Perdis.
I have to say I walked home through the grotesque Luna Park overbite feeling a whole lot more disappointed and angry than I had ever expected - and it had nothing to do with the fact that I had just spent 3 hours of my life mildly pissed that the free drinks I'd been promised weren't available until AFTER the filming.
The little I did know about this season's Next Top Model was that the whole series had been marred by all the bullying that went on during filming. You would expect a certain level of bitchiness with a bunch of girls competing to win a modeling contract, but there had been some extreme and absolutely horrible cases of bullying between competitors. 3 girls in particular relentlessly picked on one of the girls, Alemena. Unfortunately, none of these clips are available on youtube.
So as the show went on the issue of bullying was broached rather fleetingly and Demelza, the ring leader of the bitchtivities, offered an insincere apology directed more to the audience than her victim and obviously for the sake of the public vote. And when the votes were closed and counted guess who was announced the competition winner: the prime bitch herself, Demelza.
Its not like I would usually care who wins these things. The winner, whoever they are, will inevitably get their 15mins of minor Australian celebrity and then fade away to work at Muffin Break for the rest of their lives. The bit that got me though, was seeing the reaction of poor girl who was so horribly bullied. She broke down. Fully broke down. Not like "Oh my God I'm in a TV show and everything is so melodramatic" break down but more like "she made my life hell and she's been rewarded for it" break down and discretely ran off backstage in tears. I'm sure no camera captured it but it was absolutely heart-wrenching to witness.
What concerns me with this issue was the fact that the Australian ideology of "the fair go" was used to rationalize the whole incident. This girl made a token apology and told everyone that she'd learned her lesson while minutes later we're shown footage of her bitching at/about other girls. I'm not saying no one has the right to their own opinions or actions and I'm certainly not saying people don't deserve a second chance, but where do you draw the line? The thing we often forget when we offer someone another chance is the way that their actions have affected other people, possibly for the rest of their lives. So where do you just stop and say "you're an absolute cunt and you don't deserve another fair go"?