The FFOW! series takes a look at that vast library created by the proud and the passionate: fan films. Whether the budget and talent is astronomical or amateur, FFOW! celebrates the filmmakers whose love of comics, books, movies, video games, and TV shows inspires them to join the great conversation with their own homemade masterpieces.
By Jake Thomas, Guest Contributor to Fanboy Comics
With so many big events happening in the comics world — Marvel and DC’s pro-gay story arcs, the legal disputes between comics creators and corporations — let’s not forget some of the most important events happening off the published page. Namely (as my loving wife reminded me), this week marked the season finale of America’s Next Top Model: British Invasion! To celebrate, we’re looking at AtomicWedgieTV’s parody, Cleveland’s Next Top Model.
The premise is simple: take the Tyra Banks modeling TV competition and place it in the most blue-collar city in Middle America. Five contestants compete for the chance to be a model for the new, local Sears catalogue. To make it, they’ll face challenges such as runway walks over an inflatable swimming pool, auditioning in commercials for local businesses, and modeling swimwear in minus eleven degrees Fahrenheit. Our host Tamara Cole can only pick one woman to be Cleveland’s next top model.
WHY YOU SHOULD SEE IT
Though Cleveland is in the title, the web sketch is filmed in LA. While I’m not usually a fan of “isn’t it funny how un-cool Ohio is?” humor (being a born and bred Canton, OH, native), CNTM plays up the laughs more with its outrageous host Tamara Cole and the modeling coaches.
Any viewer of the real show will instantly recognize the dead-on opening credits, the repetitive emphasis on “what it takes” to be a model, and the way reality shows characterize their contestants by focusing on ONE personality trait and running with it. That’s exactly what they lampoon here. The contestants are fat, old, anorexic, sassy, and pretentious. Names are secondary. What’s important is that there’s someone there with whom everyone can relate. On the real America’s Next Top Model, the final two contestants always seems to whittle down to “the shy/bashful/focused/experienced” contestant and the “wild/flirty/sexy/outlandish” contestant. Both personality extremes allow the audience to relate to one of two finalists.
More hilarious than the challenges are the coaches’ instructional methods. Watch the Sexy Walk Challenge in episode one and see how K. Tanner treats a fifty-seven year old. Watch the Acting Challenge in episode three where coach Tommy Pompay places intense importance on a commercial for a restaurant called Mom’s Donuts and Chinese Food to Go. (Fun Fact — this is a real restaurant, and it is down the street from me on Silver Lake Blvd.) That is what CNTM captures so brilliantly — you can watch it right beside ANTM and notice no differences, but it is still funny. When the attitudes of the fashion world are placed in an unfashionable context, the comedy naturally comes from the ridiculousness of the show’s collapsing self-importance.
I would only take points away from the series for referencing The Cleveland Gazette as Cleveland’s newspaper. It is actually The Plain Dealer. (Fun Fact #2 — according to Wikipedia, the Gazette stopped publishing in 1945.)
WHERE YOU CAN SEE IT
Cleveland’s Next Top Model is on the AtomicWedgieTV YouTube channel.
BONUS FILM! Guess Who?
Last time, you may remember that I looked at parodies of Battleship that tied their film trailer premises to board games. A friend of mine showed me this one for Guess Who?, and I just had to post a link.