The former ANTM host went viral this week as old footage that hasn't aged well of her being mean to contestants surfaced on Twitter, prompting even more cringeworthy clips to be dredged up. Banks responded to the controversy on Twitter Friday evening, tweeting: "Been seeing the posts about the insensitivity of some past ANTM moments and I agree with you. Looking back, those were some really off choices. Appreciate your honest feedback and am sending so much love and virtual hugs."
It turns out Tyra Banks was the villain of ANTM all along: "Many things that could have passed as barely acceptable 17 years ago, at least for a reality TV show, just don’t hold up in today’s world, like some of the poorly thought-out photo shoots or telling a contestant to close the gap in their teeth," says Alex Abad-Santos. "It shouldn’t be that surprising that a show about the already controversial business of modeling was problematic in discussing women’s appearances and behavior. But there was some expectation that Tyra was going to create a show that would produce an American supermodel while also challenging the industry about its views." Abad-Santos adds: "It says a lot about society that many prominent women are first demonized, only to end up being seen as victims of their own stories and scandals many years after the fact. Tyra Banks’s television oeuvre is undergoing the opposite kind of retrospective analysis (which may well change again in the future)."
If Banks was awful, perhaps ANTM's viewers were awful, too: "One of the most compelling things about pop culture history is the reality that it is always changing, progressing as society progresses. In turn, it serves as a fascinating portrait of the times," says Zeba Blay. "Banks and friends were indeed awful, but it must be said: We were kind of awful, too. Every year, it seems as though we discover yet another cultural artifact that’s actually problematic in hindsight. The reevaluation of Friends is a recent example of this. We find something we once mindlessly consumed, discover the ways in which it was harmful, and then pick away at all those imperfections until all that’s left is the carcass without context. But in reevaluating Banks and her completely bonkers show, we must also reevaluate ourselves, a part of the “Look how offensive this thing we all loved was!” frenzy that often gets overlooked."