Jean Shrimpton keeping it classy. Photo: Hello Small Ideas
I have three possible explanations for last night's body-painted (read: nudie) extravaganza on New Zealand's Next Top Model. 1. TV3 loves controversy and the ratings-boost that comes with it. 2. TV3 filmed the episode so long ago – like, before the other nudie uproar – that it was too expensive/inconvenient to do a full reshoot. 3. TV3 actually believes that body-painting girls to make them look like dinosaurs is something that happens in fashion editorials. That last one is perhaps a moot point – if you slap the word promo before the word girls and throw the photos into a men's rag like FHM, then I guess they could still be counted as sitting in the realm of fashion – albeit in a low-rent town on the very outskirts of the industrial estate.
The point I'm making is this: while making these incredibly young girls (many of whom are under 18) take off all their clothes on camera is no doubt a fantastic way to create a little tension (after all, how freaked out would your average teenager get at the prospect of shedding her clothes in public), it's not fecking necessary. There are other ways to promote nerves and drama on a reality TV show without resorting to nudity.
And trust me, I wasn't the only person questioning TV3's motives last night. Just read the live Twitter feed at the time of the episode (search #NZNTM) to see the many and varied comments calling TV3 out. Here's just one example: "Two nude shoots in one series seems a bit OTT when there are 16 year olds involved #nzntm" from user Yvettevy.
Interesting to note is that TV3 is yet to upload the nude/body-painted photos to their website. Whether or not they'll resort to low cloud covering like last time remains to be seen.
Finally, New Zealand's Next Top Model touts itself as a somewhat credible launcher of models' careers. The photos that are taken each week are supposed to go into creating a respectable portfolio. Which casting agent is going to look at a photograph of a girl body-painted to look like an animal/dinosaur/exotic bird and book her? Besides the kind that hires waitresses at Skycity casino, probably not too many.
TV3 needs to take a serious cue from our neighbours across the Tasman. When Australia's Next Top Model used David Shields – who is certainly one of New Zealand's greatest photographic talents – he was hired to shoot something sophisticated. Why couldn't New Zealand's Next Top Model do the same?
It's food for thought.
I LIKE YOU!