The week before last on ANTM, the Deaf contestant won best photo. His prize? A full hour in which none of the hearing contestants were allowed to speak, but instead, had to communicate in American Sign Language. Nyle of course,was all too happy to teach his competition his language.
But in the middle of it, there’s Devin, who does something hearing people usually do when confronted with a d/Deaf/HoH person.
He shouts at her.
Devin knows that the woman is Deaf. She’s actually a friend of Nyle’s from way back and is there specifically to help Nyle teach them ASL. Yet he felt the need to shout at her. This is really rude, but not all together a terrible thing to do.
Flash forward to last week’s episode, where Devin does it again.
Which, to Nyle’s credit, he takes in good stride.
By shouting back at Devin. And of course, everyone claps like it’s a party trick. Various fans have expressed glee and excitement to hear him speak. Which, maybe it’s pretty cool, but it demonstrates total lack of awareness re:Deaf speech. I have no idea what Nyle’s background in speaking is, other than that he’s a 4th generation deaf individual.
Deaf people can learn to speak, but it’s honestly superfluous because they can already communicate via Sign. It can also be really difficult depending on how deaf the indivdual is. There’s only two reasons for a Deaf person to speak: (a) because the hearing experts around them insist they learn to speak; or (b) because they genuinely want to learn how on their own. Most deaf people won’t speak even if they can because they have such a complicated relationship with speech.
For decades, deaf children were forbidden to Sign to each other and instead taught to speak because hearing experts thought they would need the ability to verbalize if they were ever going to be successful. Children caught signing in class would have their hands chained to the desk or would wear mittens on their hands that prevented them from signing. Hours that could have been spent on learning complex subjects like science or mathematics were instead spent on perfecting speech.
Given that Nyle was born into an already Deaf family, and given that he was probably raised on Sign Language, I doubt he had that experience. However, many deaf/HoH children today are mainstreamed, and part of mainstreaming is that they go to speech class to work on weeding out their deaf accent. I spent grades k-8 working on that, and I still have mine.
The point here, is that Nyle went above and beyond. He not only keeps trying to teach everyone to sign, but he also verbalized the phrase “happy birthday” to please Devin (who so clearly loves being loud). Yet, later on, this happens…
On the surface for any hearing person, this seems pretty harmless. A little inconsiderate, maybe. Except, Nyle’s phone is his way of communicating with the hearing people around him. None of the contestants know ASL fluently, so he types out what he wants to say to them on his phone, and they respond. Having grown up in a Deaf family, he is using his second language to communicate with others. Nyle eventually gets up, leaves the party, and gives this confessional.
There’s also an earlier scene from an interview that helps explain his experience living in a household full of hearing people.
Nyle tries really hard to communicate with his cast mates, and few of them seem to attempt to do the same for him. I would give the cast the benefit of the doubt here, except I know all too well how hard it is to get hearing people to communicate with me in ASL. Even I am guilty of falling back on English because it’s my first language. I have no doubt that the cast is just too used to the world around them being designed for hearing people to put much effort into learning American Sign Language. And in fact, once the contestants realize that Nyle left and find out why, they speak to each other in a way that doesn’t include Nyle, even though he’s right there.
Courtney is literally sitting on Nyle’s lap, but she’s using English and talking about Nyle as if he isn’t in the room. Nyle can’t even be included in the conversation about the fact that he was excluded. Talk about irony.
One contestant does sign “SORRY” at Nyle, but it’s too little, too late.
In the end, I’ll leave you with this tidbit from Nyle that broke my heart.
The question we kept asking ourselves coming into this cycle was, “What does a post-Tyra Banks Top Model look like?”
It’s probably too soon to say anything conclusively, but man was it jarring the way we were introduced to the model house. Where were the Tyra photographs, Tyra curtains, and Tyra catchphrases slathered on the walls? We didn’t even get a proper tour (i.e. girls running around screaming about how great their pad is) of the place!
Is this a conscious effort to be less tacky, or did they hire the new panel so last minute that they didn’t get a chance to make pillows with Rita’s face on them? It just doesn’t feel like home without narcissistic decor.
Also, there’s no more TyraMail. Now the message from the host is known as a “RitAlert,” which is a probably a better name than my suggestion: Ora-spondence. Despite what the name would indicate, there’s nothing urgent about a low-quality, low-energy video selfie filmed from a cellphone. I wonder if the models’ literacy skills are so questionable that they had to ditch having the girls take turns reading text off a screen.
While there are some minor format differences, thus far I’m pleasantly surprised at the subtle Tyra touches Rita possesses. We discussed last week how when Rita heard a sob story, she had to one-up it with one of her own. Apparently, interrupting other people’s back stories with personal details from her own life is a pattern for Tyra Rita.
For example, at panel, Rita asks if Cody grew up living in the shadow of her twin, Tash. Cody cries and nods affirmatively. Rita boasts that she could read the twins’ body language to determine that proclamation, even though you can totally see her reading off some producers’ notes on the table. I appreciate that she’s trying to stunt like she’s Miss Cleo or something.
I’d be interested in hearing how Cody got relegated to beta twin, but we don’t have time for that story because Rita wants to inform everyone that she grew up in the shadow of her older sister, too. At the risk of pulling a Miss Cleo myself, I’d guess that’s why Rita is such an attention whore as an adult. (An attention whore who I like so far, mind you, but an attention whore nonetheless.)
The best part of this scene is that Law wants to cap off the discussion with an emotional moment by asking Tash to hug her sister. Tash doesn’t budge initially so he commands her a second time to give the hug. The judges talk about how beautiful the hug is despite that they literally forced them to do it.
“Cody, this is the time for you,” Rita says. Not long after, she awards Cody “best photo” to complete the storyline even though - REAL TALK - Tash has a much better photo. But it’s not about who actually has the better photo, it’s about Rita sticking it to her bitch older sister who hogged too much of their parents’ love.
In addition to injecting herself into the winner’s story, Rita manages to make the loser’s story about her, too. Like many a Top Model girl, Justine said she had a difficult childhood, which is evident from these family photos of her family strangling each other and making Justine wear a basket on her head.
Rita can’t get over how young 18-year-old Justine is. (That’s another difference between Rita and Tyra. Rita acts like 18 is a distant memory to her despite being in her mid-20s while Tyra would imply that 18 was, like, yesterday.) Though it’s barely relevant, Rita says:
Such humble beginnings! Can you believe THEE Rita Ora ever had to work at a mall? (Yes.) When Rita eliminates Justine a little later, Justine is so overcome with crying hysteria that she drops to the ground. Rita comforts Justine by once again talking about herself.
Yeah, we heard you the first time. The point Rita is trying to make is that Justine is so young, she still has time to improve her modeling skills. Whatever. Real models get their starts much younger than eighteen; Justine is already behind the curve!
Let’s not even talk about how a bunch of the girls on this cycle are older than Rita. What hope do they have starting a modeling career now?
That’s why telling 27-year-old Cody that this is her time is pretty disingenuous if she thinks a modeling career awaits her. Selling sneakers is respectable, Rita. Selling bogus dreams borders on cruel.
4 Funniest Moments from America’s Next Top Model Cycle 23 Ep. 2