This is the end, friends. The final installment of the Modelland spork. So let’s get started!

Chapter Forty-Seven: La Lengua

Tookie steps out of the M building, in disbelief over how Ci~L is now the BellaDonna. She’s full of glee, thinking of how she’s going to break the news to the Unicas. She sees Kamalini walking by, the only person unfazed by the cancellation of the 7Seven Tournament—and that’s only because she’s listening to her Headbangor. Tookie thinks about how Kamalini helped her on the first day she was at Modelland, and how she would have to thank her later. I wonder if the sequel will involve anything to do with Kamalini’s Headbangor addiction.

Then Zarpessa shows up as Tookie makes her way to the D building. Tookie insists that she didn’t tell Zarpessa’s secret, and Zarpessa reveals that Dr. Erica told her that no one said anything. Tookie says that Zarpessa has no excuse to be evil. Zarpessa reluctantly thanks Tookie, but insists that they won’t be friends in any way. She asks about how Tookie mentioned Theophilus at ManAttack, and Tookie claims that she just wanted to make Bravo jealous. Zarpessa tells Tookie to stay away from Theophilus and storms off.

Then the three Bestosteros, Webb, Alexander, and O’Neil, jump out of the bushes. Tookie tries to walk past them, but then notices the words “Tookie I’m so sorry” painted on their chests. They turn around, revealing the words “It Was Never A Bet” on their backs. Tookie is initially skeptical, until Bravo shows up behind her in a tuxedo. Bravo’s friends leave, and Bravo apologizes for lying to Tookie. He tells her that he didn’t want to stay at Modelland even for the architecture if it meant that he couldn’t be with Tookie.

Great. Life passion < Tookie.

Tookie realizes that Bravo is doing all of the things she told him that she wanted her first kiss to be like during ManAttack. He brings her to a garden he had just planted for Tookie, then starts singing about how he loves Tookie more than anything. Tookie admits between verses that while she was obsessed with Theophilus, he’s not her boyfriend, to Bravo’s relief. In the vein of Bravo’s story about “Deco”, Tookie starts telling Bravo a story about “Tookalatta”. Tookalatta Defacake would lie on the floor of her school, interpreting no one stepping on her as a sign that she was being completely ignored. Tookalatta coveted a random item from a boy she liked and fantasized about smooching with that boy. Bravo and Tookie call each other by their silly story names, then lick their own thumbs and wipe each other’s eyebrows. Then Bravo tells her to close her eyes. She does, and he shoots whipped cream into her mouth.

And then they kiss.

And while they kiss, Tookie lets the T O OKE button fall to the ground. “She didn’t need it anymore.”



Do you see her?

We get a description of Tookie, in the style of how she was described in the first chapter, though it’s less harsh on Tookie’s appearance and describes how Tookie’s body and her feelings on her body have changed.

Do you see Tookie De La Crème up there?

I bet you do.

And I bet you’ll remember her.

For a long, long time.

We get one final scene, with Tookie on the roof of the M building. She looks down upon Metopia, giving one last token thought for her good friend Lizzie.

All of a sudden, something ironic occurred to her: the adjective form of the word Metopia was Metopic, which meant, as she’d found in Dr. Erica’s medical dictionary, “of or pertaining to the forehead.” It’s a wonder I wasn’t the queen of Metopia.

Well, that was random.

Modelland is still in chaos. In the midst of all of the noise, Tookie hears a “ditzy voice” screaming out for Creamy. Tookie realizes that Myrracle must be in the Catwalk Corridor, and giggles about it. You know, at least before she went to Modelland, Tookie cared for her sister. She wanted her sister to be happy. And now she’s just a bitch towards Myrracle.

Ci~L shows up. We get told about a letter that Ci~L had given to Tookie, inviting her to the M building, as well as the special permit Ci~L had given Tookie to enter the M building.

Ci~L says that she hopes that her mother doesn’t get punished too harshly, though her sentence is up to the Bored. The Bored also want Tookie to remain at Modelland despite not being intended to be a student in the first place. Ci~L states her plans for Modelland, which include poetry slams and her hopes that more people will be able to go to Modelland. Because every girl in the world should have the chance to become a model like they all do. She gives encouraging words to Tookie, words which remind Tookie of Wingtip a.k.a. Ray Faye.

Then Ci~L asks if Tookie wants to go flying with her, outside of her weird pouch thingy. Ci~L causes hundreds of necklaces to appear on herself and Tookie, then gives Tookie the SMIZE that she had found during ManAttack. Tookie puts on the SMIZE and feels utterly beautiful.

Because that’s all that girls want and need. To feel beautiful. There’s no need to be a strong, wise, smart, and willful woman. All you need is beauty.

They take off, and we get a very long letter that Tookie wrote in her T-Mail Jail. The letter starts off about how Tookie’s journey has been difficult, then goes into a speech to the reader, about how even though they may have gone through tough things, they have to stay strong. Tookie dedicates her struggle to the reader of the letter, telling the reader to send her their dark thoughts any time they need to, as long as they’re willing to “send your strength and power up to me” “When I feel weak, scared, or like I want to give up”. The letter ends by saying “there’s always room for you in the exclusive Unicas crew.”

Long story short, incredibly cheesy.

Ci~L suddenly feels the need to teleportal, saying that sometimes “the universe tells me to teleportal, and even though I don’t know where I’m going, I just go with it.” That sounds like an incredibly dangerous and very poor outlook on life, but whatever. Ci~L says that Tookie doesn’t have to come with her, but Tookie insists that she wants to come along.

The Intoxibella and soon-to-be Segunda Bella shot like arrows toward the earth. A black hole opened up as their bodies approached. Just as Tookie and Ci~L entered, the hole magically, seamlessly swallowed them up…and the two of them disappeared.

They end up in the middle of the Diabolical Divide. Tookie asks why they’re there, but before she can finish her sentence, Ci~L grabs her head and rips it off of her shoulders. Ci~L grabs a straw and sucks Tookie’s blood out of her stump of a neck, growing more and more beautiful with each slurp. Then she breaks into evil laughter as she attaches Tookie’s head to her shoulder. Tookie’s head comes alive and joins in on the laughter as Ci~L returns to Modelland.

…okay, I made that previous paragraph up. But that’s how it ends. No resolution on most of the plot arcs, no resolution on the world going crazy over the closure of Modelland. At least we concluded the cheesy romance arc and got Tookie to stop being an obsessive freak over Theophilus. Right?

We get a few pages of acknowledgements. It’s pretty sincere, and nothing really of note until the very end, where Banks credits her mother as “the original Ci~L.” I don’t know what that says about Tyra’s mom. The acknowledgements is followed by an About the Author section, which states that she took five years to write this book and that she’s “feverishly working on the next Modelland novel.” I can’t wait.

And that brings Modelland to an end.

Final thoughts

When I decided to spork Modelland, a quote came to me very quickly about my feelings for the book. It’s from hbomberguy’s Let’s Play of the 2008 Alone in the Dark game:

People keep telling me, hey, you must really hate playing this game, but…I liked it, and I don’t know how to like it, because I keep hating it every time I go to record.

Make no mistake: Modelland is a bad book. It’s a fairly stupid book. But it does have its redeeming qualities, so let’s give it credit for that before we discuss the book’s major flaws.

There’s several good characters. First and foremost is Lizzie, who gives us our first look into just how dystopian the world of Modelland is and evokes sympathy for what she’s going through. Then there’s Creamy, who pops up halfway through as a surprisingly effective villain with a secret motive that we eventually learn of. Even Myrracle comes across as at least more sympathetic than Tookie, as she finds passion in dancing but is constantly scolded by her mother whenever she wants to do anything but modelling.

The setting is neat. I know that there are a lot of stupid details about the world of Modelland, but the idea of a fashion-obsessed dystopia, where mothers groom their daughters in hopes of them being chosen as prospective magical models and unwanted children are given away to work at fashion factories, is quite unique. The overall concept is interesting, and while its execution may be flawed in many places, it’s still different from the average fantasy.

There’s several subplots in the book which are genuinely interesting. Lizzie’s plight evokes a sense of sympathy for her and even motivates Tookie into being a proactive and sympathetic character for a while. The Pilgrims’ trip into the Diabolical Divide gives a new insight into darker motives of an established character. The flashback into Creamy and the BellaDonna’s past is a good tale of betrayal and regret. While the main plot disappoints overall, there’s some diamonds in the rough.

And now we can get into the flaws. Because Modelland, while it does have a lot of potential for the series and Tyra Banks as a fantasy author, has many flaws.

The characters. The characters who appear most often during the story are repulsive and flat. Let’s start with the Unicas. All three of them descend to the Alpha Bitch’s level frequently, insulting Zarpessa almost any time she is around or mentioned. Piper reveals herself to be a petty twit who hates her mother just because her mother married someone who was an albino, while Shiraz takes her father’s death as a sign that he didn’t love her. Dylan…oh, Dylan. She comes across as a blatantly-stereotypical sassy black woman, is easily the most rude of the main characters, and never stops saying stupid things in a stupid voice.

Our protagonist, Tookie, is presented in the first chapter as being an antisocial, obsessive freak who seems to think that if you lie down in a busy hallway and don’t get stepped on, everyone must be ignoring you. It’s not until Chapter Seven that Tookie actually does something to pursue a goal instead of constantly moping. Sadly, the brief pursuit of that goal and just about everything else that Tookie does has absolutely no impact on the plot. She gets chosen to go to Modelland not because she stood out from the others. She becomes the leader of the Unicas for no real reason. She not only wins at ManAttack through barely any effort on her own part but gets the highest score to boot. The majority of the plot moves along based on things happening to and around Tookie and only very rarely does she act upon these events. Heck, her sleepwalking exists solely so she can stumble upon important revelations in places that she shouldn’t be at night: overhearing her parents’ plans to get rid of her, coming upon Ci~L torturing herself in the Ugly Room, and waking up in the M building to eavesdrop on Ci~L and the BellaDonna. The most notable thing she does is lead the escape from Modelland, but as we all know, the threat they were fleeing from turns out to be a complete red herring. Ultimately, her largest contribution to resolving any sort of conflict or plot in the book is to lure two squabbling women into a nearby room.

Then there’s Zarpessa and Chaste. They are both blatant one-dimensional characters: Zarpessa is an Alpha Bitch and Chaste is a massive slut. Almost every thing they do revolves around those traits. They’re given a very negative portrayal based on these traits, in complete contrast with the Unicas who often act the same way as Zarpessa and Chaste (especially Dylan). Even when Zarpessa is shown to be homeless and mentally affected by her homelessness, our heroines still mock her and act like bitches to her.

The Gurus are an interesting bunch, but as I had a minor freak-out about this, you’re probably aware of how much their random pathological hatred of actresses annoys me. Not only is it completely unexplained and makes the characters less likeable (especially Guru Lauro, who gave some very good morals about eating), it’s given some people the impression that Banks herself thinks lowly of actresses. (In reality, Banks thinks highly of acting and stresses that it’s an important skill on her reality shows.)

Nonsensical events. While it’s evident that Modelland tries to be a whimsical fantasy story, there are some things that are just too nonsensical. Modelland scouts take away prospective students in a giant pouch-thing. Giant zippers warp you around. A perfume bottle gives you your class schedule. The Likee sisters. Time in Modelland is based on colours. A guillotine is used to “crown” the new BellaDonna. Many things just happen without any warning and no explanation is even attempted to explain how or why these things are like they are.

Poor editing. Tyra Banks does credit an editor in her book:

Thank you for taking my first thousand-page manuscript (I know, insane) and making it this.

Well, that might explain a bit…

Anyway, there are numerous inconsistencies that spell a poor edit job. There’s not just inconsistencies in how place names are spelled, but also how events unfold in the story. The most notable example is when Crazy~L finds Tookie and Bravo together in the D building, and suddenly the Unicas are cowering in fear with Tookie.

The “Ci~L is evil” plot. I did mention how it’s a problem that Tookie basically does nothing to affect the plot throughout the book, but this is one plotline that I really feel that I need to bash some more. Tookie overhears a conversation that includes the word “sacrifice”, assumes the conversation is all about Ci~L sacrificing girls, and decides that Ci~L is completely and utterly evil despite everything she had done earlier. There’s no doubt whatsoever in Tookie’s mind that Ci~L’s heart is black through and through.

Then we get scenes in which Ci~L does act completely evil, unlike how she had acted prior in the novel. But despite the sudden change in behaviour from Ci~L, the moment she grieves before the Obscure Obelisks, Tookie once again completely reverses her opinion on Ci~L and becomes certain that Ci~L is not evil.

So in other words, Ci~L started acting differently solely to serve as a red herring villain and to instigate the Unicas doing something that ultimately proved pointless and had almost no impact on the plot that unfolded afterwards. Tookie ends up looking like a complete moron—both times she changes her mind about Ci~L based on little more than assumptions.

You’d think that this subplot is what annoys me most about Modelland, given how much I’ve complained about it. But there’s a bigger problem. A much bigger problem with Modelland.

The unfortunate implications. The theme of Modelland is apparently supposed to be how every girl is beautiful in their own way. Unfortunately, the story steps on this moral more than a few times, but none of those instances are as glaring as Abigail Goode.

Every time she appears prior to that fateful scene in the Diabolical Divide, she’s viewed as bizarre for her massive amount of body hair. The very moment she cuts it all off (and this is including her eyebrows and the hair on her head, mind you), the perception of her appearance changes. She doesn’t slightly improve. She doesn’t simply look a little more attractive or neater. No, she’s “out-of-this-world, breathtakingly beautiful—absolutely, undeniably, soul-stirringly stunning.” There’s no beauty in hairy!Abigail, but once she heeds societial norms and removes her body hair, she is suddenly and utterly beautiful.

Let’s take a look at the Unicas. Out of the four—pudgy Dylan, albino Piper, tiny Shiraz, and ugly-in-general Tookie—which one do we learn becomes comfortable with their appearance in the end? Tookie. And what does Tookie have that the rest of the Unicas don’t?

Simple: a boy who likes her appearance.

That is the main reason why Tookie becomes comfortable with her appearance—because Bravo likes her unusual appearance. She doesn’t decide that she can be happy with being herself, she doesn’t decide that there are more important things than appearance; she’s only happy with herself because someone else is happy with her.

There’s also the glaring differences in men and women in the world of Modelland. The men shown in the story have a variety of passions and vocations. Chris-Crème-Crobat was a famous acrobat. Ray Faye (a.k.a. Wingtip) was a shoemaker. Bravo is interested primarily in architecture; he only went to Bestosterone so he could see the architecture of Modelland. There’s men who want to be things other than models, and even the men who become models do other things such as construction and protection.

Women, on the other hand, overwhelmingly want to be models. Only a rare few female characters in the book show no interest in modelling. Do female models have other jobs? Nope, they’re just superpowered eye candy and advertisements. Many women are so obsessed with becoming a model that they will literally throw away their lives in pursuit of Modelland. Almost all of the girls in the story desire only to be models and have little if any other passions.

I’ve written quite a bit more on the flaws of Modelland than its good qualities, and rightfully so. But in spite of all of its problems, in spite of just how stupid it can be, in spite of just how little the main characters interest me…I kinda like it. It’s different. There’s spirit to it. It’s whimsical, even if a little too much at times. It tries, and even though it stumbles a lot along the way, you have to give it that merit. Love and effort went into this book, and while the lack of experience means that a lot of it didn’t go far, there’s still glimmers of potential and a shining light here and there. If Tyra Banks takes into account the criticisms of Modelland when writing the sequel, I really believe that she could write a good story—maybe not an elegant gown with jewelry in all of the right places, but a comfortable and simple dress that you can throw on and enjoy. The pieces are definitely there (stupid clumsily-hanging plot lines).

And thus concludes the sporking of Modelland. A big thanks to the readers of the spork, the editors of Impishidea, and Tyra Banks herself for a book that I can honestly say that I like…just not for all the right reasons.

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  1. Fireshark on 30 June 2013, 01:38 said:

    I appreciate that you stuck with this all the way through. These sporkings were a pleasure to read, and you certainly put a lot of thought into them.

    As for Modelland itself, I must say that I’d kind of like to read it now. It’s bizarre (which is good in my opinion), and it’s not just a copy of other YA dystopias (which are a dime a dozen these days). Obviously there are plenty of issues with the book, but I think I could have some fun with it. If there’s really a sequel, I hope it’s better edited, and I hope it drops some of the gender stereotypes (or at least addresses them better).

  2. Maxie on 1 July 2013, 10:24 said:

    It’s weird. I think if Tyra Banks were not already a famous model, this book would have never been published. But I think if she were not already a famous model, she and her editors would have spent more time punching up the problems and adapting constructive criticism to make it much better than it is. Based on this excellent sporking, I really got a feeling that it was something more than the tiresome retread of this genre — I got the feeling that it was meant to be some kind of subversive criticism of modeling in particular and cultural tropes about beauty and femininity. But it never quite got there.

    The plot more or less wraps itself up on its own as you noted and most of the characters receive minimal development. There seems to be something dark beneath the surface but we’re never allowed more than a few glimpses of that.

  3. Pryotra on 2 July 2013, 20:07 said:

    ships some booze off to your address

    You deserve it. Great spork and good job with keeping with the insanity of the thing all the way.

    It’s weird, I almost feel like Banks wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with this thing. While it’s got some interesting ideas, particularly the fashion obsessed dystopia that could have gone into what models go through, but it seems like she’s not sure if it’s really a dystopia or not. I almost wish this had been written by someone else who could have pulled the thing through.

    Great job over all, and good luck on any other projects that you might decide to do!