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The 5 stages of the loss of Nao:

1. DENIAL - Well I just skipped that one and went straight to…
2. ANGER - These ridiculous people eliminating her for the most lame, inarticulate reasons when in fact “they” (who are “they”? - more about that below) just weren’t up to the challenge. They’re a just lazy bunch, plain and simple…
3. BARGAINING - ...but China Chow and Andre Serrano loved her didn’t they? Maybe they can bring her back or appeal the judges…
4. DEPRESSION - ...but that will never happen. Art like ours will never be understood by a larger audience…
5. ACCEPTANCE - ...so I should just go on to review the 5th episode although it won’t be as fun without our girl.

Life goes on and so does this show with its inexplicable inertia. The vocabulary for these shows is so bafflingly similar (“elimination”, “Immunity”, “going home”, “challenges”) that they all seem to be covered in the same bitter tar. At this point it doesn’t seem to really matter whether this is a fashion show, design contest, dating show, achieving weight loss or “survival”. I’m tempted to apply a “medium is the message” exegesis, but that would imply that the format is an actual medium. It’s not. It’s just the latest incarnation of the heavily codified grammar of the magnificent medium of TV where content is a secondary, at best, priority. One MuLuhanism does apply though, and highlights this show’s real shortcoming. He said “Artists don’t want to be understood ... they want to believed!” and that’s the problem here: This little pageant simply does not have a whole lot of believers.*

The archetypes that the show is trying to construct would be more distinct if any of the contestants had any detectable personalities, but alas, all of them - ALL OF THEM - seem to be aiming for the star “Valley Girl” in the constellation of “Duuuude”.  And as the clock ticks away, it gets more and more painful seeing these children groping and clawing for the validation from the parade of slinky, sleazy, vulgar grown-ups. Miles and Nichole have a budding romance, obviously, which is a narrative development that only manages to remind us how little appeal and empathy this crew inspires. As far as a narrative goes, I’ll quote what Roger Ebert has said in countless movie reviews: “You really don’t care what happens to these people”.

This week’s episode would seem to be a lesson in corporate sponsorship - specifically, the Audi car company, and once again, a vaguely relevant theme is steered, pardon the pun, as far afield as possible. Jaclyn** continues to explore her inner Cindy Sherman self, objectifying herself and then pretending to be horrified when it actually works. Her insufferably didactic essay wall piece on the Male Gaze is as lazy and over wrought as any undergrad student project I’ve ever seen anywhere. The judges loved it and made her the night’s winner. Sigh…. 

The rest of the cast of characters remained banal and dull as dishwater. Mop Top narcissist Ryan is study in wilting pertinence while Abdi doesn’t know what to do with last week’s success. The only hero in this installment is Miles who concocts an ambitious minimalistic urban utopic installation that uncharacteristically, the panel also saw as valuable and anointed him as first runner up of the evening. I will however confess to having developed affection for the “mentor”, avuncular Simon de Pury. Especially when he is discussing “photo-gwaphs”.

At show’s end, Jamie “Bible Girl”, who personally I felt a little protective of, got sent home. Not at all surprising considering the Godless, soulless process that she and her peers are being squeezed through.

And as to who the aforementioned “they” are, their identity was discovered and isolated by David Lawrence in this quote from the show’s closing credits - “Winning and elimination decisions were made by the Judges in consultation with producers. Some elimination decisions were discussed with Bravo.” Democracy? Meritocracy? No we’re all out ma’am.

*In honor of the departed Bible Girl Jamie I’ll quote St Francis of Assisi: “May I seek to understand rather than to be understood.”

**The only worth-while gossip developing in the show is that Jaclyn is developing a reputation as being an idea stealer. Not to worry Jackie; I’ve never seen any one suffer any consequence from this in the real Art World.

- Dale Hoyt [Monday, July 19th, 2010]

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