Reality TV staple “America’s Next Top Model” recently hung up its Jimmy Choos after a stupefying 22 seasons, but its spin-off, Singapore-based “Asia’s Next Top Model,” is now in its fourth “cycle,” airing locally on Fox Channel and Hulu.jp. Fourteen tall, slender beauties from across Asia compete to win a photo spread, representation by a modeling agency and other fame and fortune. While contestants come from as far afield as Myanmar and Mongolia, local viewers may be surprised to see no Japanese in the mix; the show’s English-fluency requirement is clearly a barrier, and it’s no coincidence that previous Japanese entrants were all hāfu (half-Japanese).
“ANTM” is your usual reality-TV mix of rampant product placement, lifestyle envy and “humilitainment.” Rest assured that each week someone will be reduced to tears as queeny-meanie fashionistas deliver their catty judgements. (“You look just like a frog to me.”) Some sort of limit was breached, though, in a recent episode when Subaru exec Kenneth Tan screamed at Korean contestant Kim Sang-in, “Who the f—- do you think you are to roll your eyes at me?” The resulting backlash shows that old-school Asian male chauvinism is not getting a pass.
As Twiggy-like Malaysian model Tuti Noor — a Muslim, who was herself trolled for her supposedly “un-Islamic” behavior — says in the show’s best throwaway line, “You’re being so irrelevant!”
For details of the next episode of “Asia’s Next Top Model” on Fox Channel, visit bit.ly/asiantm4.
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