America's Next Top Model Four, Tuesdays, 7.30pm Reviewed by Nick Ward.
Would any other Kiwi taxpayers like a refund of whatever our tourism moguls spent on luring America's Next Top Model to our shores? I shudder to think what impressions American viewers took away with them – somewhat ordinary fashion (compared with New York, anyway), bad weather, embarrassingly predictable sheep references, and yet more references to The Lord of the Rings for those who still care.
It's a given that any show which drags Americans away from their homeland will end up exposing their ignorance of the wider world – one contestant thought New Zealand was somewhere near Canada, while another thought Auckland looked like Arkansas (some recommendation). And when Tyra Banks and company touched down, the Queen City unleashed the worst of its changeable weather – wind and rain – while its notoriously awful traffic kept most of the models from completing their first assignment on time.
A Maori welcome was met with confusion and unease (as we saw previously when The Amazing Race came here), before Kiwi stereotypes were reinforced with a photo shoot involving a merino ram. This week, the sun came out for a photo shoot at the overgrown, tatty-looking hobbit village set. Never mind that American moviegoers have long since moved on to the likes of The Hangover. Kiwi logic dictates that because we like something, it must be important. We even roped in an actress from The Lord of the Rings films for all of two minutes to reinforce the point.
The models had a typically bitchy time, but I didn't hear a lot of praise for the Kiwi garments they got to wear. At least the local designers made for a nice, normal contrast to the show's supporting cast of oddly dressed hand-flappers of indeterminate gender.
It is bad enough that the Hobbit deal saw us drop our pants even further for the rapacious lords of Tinseltown. So what exactly are the merits of wooing another noxious collection of ego monsters and exploiters of wide-eyed innocents? I'll believe the tourism arguments when I see proof in visitor arrival figures – American followers of fashion will no doubt continue to trek to London, Paris and Milan, while we continue to attract bludging backpackers dodging Europe's dole queues, and Chinese who have been obedient enough to be let out of the communist cage for a few weeks.
Good advertising and pressing the flesh at trade shows are what will attract more tourists here, not expensive stunts like the Top Model junket. Ratings don't mean a thing when most of the audience has no interest in travelling outside the United States, and the rest are put off by the prospect of spending 10 hours on a plane. We badly need to rid ourselves of the Kiwi delusion that just because we're interested in something, like cheesy goblin movies, the rest of the world should be as well.
- © Fairfax NZ News