Friday, March 7, 2014

The scrutiny of celebrity

I try to imagine what it would be like if I were to write a blog post and then, a few minutes later, walk out to get the mail and find myself surrounded by paparazzi, documenting my every move.

Who am I wearing?
Croft and Barrow

What is my hairstyle?

Being a successful performer in the United States means a level of visibility that I cannot fathom. I cannot think of any other art form that requires this of its most successful participants. Even Stephen King could probably walk down most streets in America without anyone bothering him.

If I could only sit down and write when I was at my most gorgeous, I'm afraid I would hardly write at all. I am grateful to have chosen an art form that can be accomplished in sweatpants.

I've been thinking about this since watching the Oscars the other night. It is that incessant scrutiny, I'm sure, that led several of the older actresses to try to smooth away the aging on their faces. The result was too much like the Ecce Homo fresco in Spain that an elderly woman tried to restore but instead turned into a muddy ruin. Alas, I didn't recognize Kim Novak. (I don't mean to add to the snarkiness by saying this, and I'll say no more about how she looked,  but would instead point the reader to an excellent and respectful piece about Ms. Novak from the Self-Styled Siren blog).

The criticism really should be aimed at the doctors who engineered these pumped-up, swollen faces, claiming them as more youthful and vibrant. And also to those who make it their job to tell us who passes and who doesn't—the self-proclaimed experts at celebrity magazines and shows like TMZ. Or maybe it should be directed at all of us, sitting in movie theatres or on our sofas in front of the TV, deciding who is beautiful or not, feeling somehow superior by making such judgements when we ourselves probably wouldn't be able to survive under such scrutiny for more than a couple of minutes.

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