Israel's Top Models Refaeli and Ginzburg: Little Women With a Hobby

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Greek mythology has a number of legends in which a beautiful nymph is seduced by Zeus, usually by his charisma, cunning or a spell he casts. The god appears before the girl as a swan, a bullock, or rain and takes her. No matter what happened in between, it always ends badly. One girl even ended up as a cow.

In Israeli TV we witness the reverse process. The Greek goddesses come down from heaven to touch the mortals. Bar Refaeli and Esti Ginzburg both chose to emcee almost identical programs. But in the end, just like in Greek mythology, the end is tragic. Not deus ex machina but deus ex Factor.

Refaeli and Ginzburg found themselves engaged in a familiar, ancient face-off. They're the Ofra Haza and Yardena Arazi of the modern celebrity world. Perhaps their mothers and the PR advisors suggested it; perhaps they were forced into it. It doesn't matter. The world needs hatred and conflict. It needs doppelgangers. It's good for drama.

Neither of them has proven qualifications in acting or hosting. One has already caught a millionaire, the other has dumped a few. Their connection to music is flimsy to nonexistent. They don't even date musicians. Musicians don't make enough money.

Esti Ginzburg would kill to be Bar Refaeli. Maybe kill is too strong a word. Why should she make an effort? Everything's cool. They look so sane, those two: no issues, balanced homes, loving parents, top percentile or higher. What do they put in the water in Hod Hasharon or Zahala that makes them want to be little women with a hobby? Except that instead of needlepoint it's emceeing a TV show.

The producers' goal is clear Barbie is an addition that provides security. Except this time it's not necessarily a case of "come see the most beautiful woman in the world." It's a freak show religious people, refugees, the shockingly fat. It's a clear case of "come see the most beautiful woman in the world embarrass herself on the air."

In Ginzburg's case the viewer sits on the edge of his armchair tensely, wondering what gaff she'll make next. To her credit, she must deal with a live broadcast and totally confused production with no experience. You can understand her, too. It's hard to remember the names of all the not really beautiful and not really interesting people's names when they're firing instructions in her ear. At least when she blunders, she doesn't blink, doesn't give in, and the production is always there to correct her mistakes in the subtitles.

Bar Refaeli has it, but I'm not sure why her. I saw the interview she gave to television presenter Gil Riva. It was so boring I played Candy Crush. Bar invited her mother to an imaginary meal with her imaginary groom and admitted she's not perfect and will do anything to get a laugh. She even managed to make her ex, Leonardo DiCaprio, look boring.

But in the X Factor it works: She smiles with her teeth and dimples, she's gorgeous, your heart skips a beat. She doesn't have to say too much, doesn't have to improvise, just be there and be beautiful and that she does superbly. It fits her like a denim top.

Refaeli and Ginzburg found themselves engaged in a familiar, ancient face-off.Credit: Haaretz
Israeli model Esti Ginzburg.Credit: Courtesy

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