Tyson vs. Douglas. Flynt vs. Fallwell. Freddy vs. Jason.
Just as momentous was the battle on Friday's episode of The Tyra Banks Show, in which our always controversial leader went head-to-head with longtime nemesis Naomi "Hit Me" Campbell. In the episode's opening moments, Tyra explained the hubbub over their 14-year conflict, highlighting how the media fueled their respective ire. Because Tyra's show is full of good vibes (India.fucking.Arie does the theme, for Christ's sake!), the episode wouldn't be a chance to show off enviably manicured claws, but the opportunity to clear the air -- healing crystals and incense as daytime TV. The goal was to put to bed their, as Tyra put it, "fierce rivalry" (is there any other kind in fashion?).
Still, I wouldn't be recapping this if it were encouraging snaps and "Work, girl"s all around. Naomi brought the sauciness, treasure that she is. To an audience-free set (Tyra thought it would be best for them to meet alone), she walked out wearing this smile:
Clearly, she was there to have fun.
Almost immediately, Tyra starting throwing punches -- I mean accusations -- at her. Make sure to pay attention to Naomi's facial reactions, which could not mask the campy absurdity of the confrontation.
Tyra explains that backstage at one of her earliest Paris fashion shows, she had an altercation with Naomi that would set the tone for the next 14 years.
Tyra: Do you remember what you said to me?
Naomi: Did I say something awful and cruel? (Giggling during "cruel.")
Tyra explains that Naomi accused Tyra of talking about her and promised Tyra that their upcoming photo shoot in Anguilla would not be pleasant.
Naomi: I probably did say that.
Then she apologized. You can tell that she really meant it, right?
Tyra recalled that trip to Anguilla, which yielded this picture:
Tyra said that during that shoot, she felt seasick and Naomi consoled her. While soothing Tyra's nerves, Naomi asked, "Do they try to make you look like me?"
Tyra admitted that "they" (stylists? designers?) did -- particularly in L.A. At that, Naomi pushed Tyra away and turned on the ice: "Yeah, I thought so."
Naomi: I said that? Oh my god.
Tyra then claimed that she was kicked off that shoot.
Naomi: That's not true. I don't have the power of Anna Wintour.
(That's roughly the power of Greyskull.)
Tyra recounted a later shoot:
Tyra claimed that they didn't say one word to each other the entire time.
Naomi claimed to not remember . . .
She said -- with a straight face, for once -- that the only details she remembers of their shared past were the wigs that they were in.
That, of course is the universal hand gesture for "wigs."
Tyra said that backstage at yet another show, Naomi accosted her and proclaimed, "You'll never be me!"
Naomi reacted by stammering: I said that? I can't think…that's something…I'm not that…I'm very much…Yeah, I'm very much…I know the person that I am. And I'm not someone to go and give myself away and say that to anybody. I've never said that in my life. If that's what you said, I accept that, but it doesn't sound like me, to people that would know me.
I think the operative phrase is "I can't think."
But the best Naomi reaction was the one that followed Tyra's confession that those days were among the most difficult of her life:
Bitchiness is the curry of her soul -- it comes out of her pores.
She really is awesome. For accuracy's sake, I attempted to take shots of her most prevalent facial response to Tyra's accusations (between-expression shots can be hilarious, but misleading). I have no problem, however, ripping her words out of context, because nothing makes for a good soundbite like a British model's non sequiturs. Here are the Top 10 Naomi utterances from the show:
(This was her reaction to Tyra's confession that she had pictures of Naomi up in her room before she got into modeling.)
9. "It's not that deep."
(But what is, NaiNai?)
8. "I'm someone passing through my life that's gonna hit the lows, that's gonna hit the highs, that's gonna hit the successes."
(Twelve-stepspeak if there ever was, which leads us to . . .)
7. "Rehabilitation should be taught in schools."
(Right. Get a head start on preparing the youth for their forthcoming chemical dependency.)
6. "But this didn't happen!"
(It's important to sound cracked out even if you're just passing through life and a lifelong scholar of rehab.)
5. "I don't have the power of Ann Wintour."
(No further explanation on why this is awesome is necessary, right?)
4. "I self-medicated myself."
(Next time use your powers of Wintour-skull to self-medicate Tyra, please.)
3. "Naomi Campbell Paradise Passion."
(Naomi said this when talking about her perfume line -- Paradise Passion is one of seven fragrances with her name on them. I like to listen to this, however, pretending that what she said right before it is, "My three favorite things are:" Maybe I'm just projecting, though. Those are my three favorite things.)
2. "I was also used to, 'Oh, you're this, you're that, you're this, th-that.'"
(No idea what she's getting at here, but the crackiness is in effect. I don't think you can really grasp the greatness of this one without a visual, soooooo . . . )
1. "The fashion world is a small pinacle in the hemisphere of what really's going on in the world."
(It doesn't matter what you say, as long as your words are big. I love how Tyra cuts her off, like, "Please. Stop. Even I'm too smart to buy that.")
So where does this leave us? Who won? No one really. Tyra may be better spoken and full of somewhat useful ideas, but when you get down to it, both of 'em got weaves to scratch:
Not so different at all!
At times, it was a total meeting of the minds: Tyra confessed that her fierce rivalry with Naomi inspired her to create ANTM. "I will never be what [the feud] represented, and I went 100 percent against that." Right, because petty, fierce rivalry has no place on ANTM. Yeah, Adrianne banged a Brady, but ain't no sunshine day ever in that house.
Even though Naomi had her share of snide faces, it was really an amicable meeting -- things even turned touching when Naomi apologized for the past and told Tyra (after their initial confrontation, when the audience had been brought out) that she was proud of Tyra's status as a powerful black woman and that Tyra should keep doing what she's doing. That made Tyra cry (she said that up to that point, she felt Naomi hadn't owned up to anything, which she really hadn't). And then Naomi cried!
We all know how much Tyra loves making girls cry. Major, major score.
But also, Naomi was allowed to hawk her perfume, which kind of made the reason for the appearance dubious.
Of course, since all of this was done in the name of the sisterhood of the traveling couture (Tyra took the opportunity to use this as an example for girls to get over their petty shit), there was plenty of girl-on-girl action throughout:
They almost look like real girls!
Also, it's probably much easier to embrace someone who's now five dress sizes away from posing a major threat. Just sayin'.
Anyway, capping everything off was a runway showdown, in which Tyra imitated Naomi's walk . . .
. . . and Naomi imitated Tyra's.
It was a drag queen's wet dream.
Oh, and then Tyra took out a machete . . .
. . . and cut Naomi's head off.
That was the best part.