The two most dreaded words in the history of America’s Next Top Model—“Tyra Mail!”—now have the capacity to haunt those of us who never subjected themselves to being ponies in that show’s circus. To publicize Modelland, her planned, rather hard to envision “story-driven attraction where you can come and celebrate your own beauty” that was set to open in Santa Monica, Tyra Banks started sending out eccentric email blasts earlier this year. The coronavirus pandemic has postponed the opening of Modelland, which was set for May 1, but the Tyra Mails have not stopped.
To commemorate the “almost-birthday” of Moddelland, Banks put together a fairly extensive Tyra Mail on Friday, which includes a video component, a lyrical poem, and an audio message in which she reads that poem (after pointing out that the recording underway is like a podcast while not being an actual podcast). The entire package comes wrapped in Banks’s patented outlandishness (that seems to have elements of both earnestness and self-awareness, but the exact proportions of each are hard to discern), but also with an added layer of sadness. It’s a real bitterkooky vibe.
“Sometimes I like to talk on TV, sometimes I like to write my thoughts, and sometimes I like to rhyme my thoughts,” explains Banks in her intro to the poem, “Holding Steady.” “And here’s a little rhyme for you. You can also follow along in the newsletter and watch these words in the newsletter and play along with me. Rhyme along with me.”
The poem explains what Modelland is (though I’m still not sure what Modelland is), promises merchandise, and laments the postponement of its opening while acknowledging, you know, the soft armageddon that our society is experiencing. A key verse:
ModelLand is so ready
But just holding steady
While heroes protect us to thrive
In the included video, a somewhat frazzled Banks shows off a donut bread pudding she prepared as Modelland’s almost-birthday cake. She was able to procure the donuts—two dozen of them, initially—because, “Stay at home means stay at home, but you can go get food.” A useful clarification, thanks.
It is absurd to incorporate Modelland’s failure to open on time into those things we’re mourning as a species—there are thousands of bigger problems than our lack of access to an Instagram-friendly “attraction” (that is “not an experience,” as Banks explained on The Talk in February). And yet, the picture presented of the disappointment Banks is going through is heartbreaking in its own frivolous way. Supermodels turned reality TV moguls turned authors turned masterminds of malls are out here watching their dreams dry up as the American dream evaporates before all of our eyes. Poignant. But don’t get too sad: You will soon be able to own the hip-shaped mug that Banks drinks from in her video message. All is not lost. Yet.