Thursday, February 28, 2013

"We saw your ruse"

Why is everyone criticizing Seth MacFarlane as if his jokes at the Academy Awards are single handedly setting the feminist movement back to the middle ages? In one article I read, the author called his performance "dehumanizing and humiliating" to women and ranted about how women were being degraded throughout the night. You know what, I like Seth MacFarlane. I enjoyed most of the Academy Awards (come on, it's never 100% entertaining). I laughed at most of the jokes on Sunday night. Despite my amusement during the show, and like many of MacFarlane's critics, I woke up Monday morning feeling a little sad for women.

There is, in fact, something that is "alienating, excluding, and debasing women," but it is not the host of the Oscars(tm). No, it is not the comedian who was hired for his successful ability to parody the blatant sexism, racism and stereotypes that exist in the world in an attempt to identify how ridiculous (not accurate) they are. The most dehumanizing and humiliating thing to happen to women is women... namely the women who are perpetuating the unwelcome new reality that growing old naturally is a bad thing and that surgery to look younger, often at the expense of looking like yourself anymore, is a good thing.

Far more demeaning to women than the humorous, if slightly misogynistic, jokes of Seth MacFarlane is the widespread acceptance of altering your appearance and eliminating unwanted (or any) signs of aging. I think several of these famous women would actually sell their souls for some sort of Benjamin Button situation, if you could inject it into their creases. However, I believe the suggestion that women must look younger than they actually are, in some cases by decades, is far more damaging to women's equality than a song about seeing their boobs. Which, might I remind everyone, those women did willingly and got paid for.

Can anyone age gracefully anymore? I must have missed the week when it was thoroughly explained in the news why looking your age and having wrinkles is no longer acceptable. Will someone please explain to me, why are wrinkles such a bad thing? Why is natural beauty rarely celebrated and often despised in the public eye? And why in the world does it matter so much to Carrot Top?

High Definition television has not been kind to the aging actresses and actors. I get that. Apparently getting work is more difficult as they show signs of their age. The objection I have is that they are contributing to redefining the standards of beauty for the rest of us. I find this a whole lot more offensive than a joke about getting the stomach flu to fit into a dress. And let's face it, I've heard of stranger stories coming from that bunch of how they manage to quickly drop a few for their "art." 

Celebrities can spend countless hours in the gym each week to achieve a certain look/size/shape, and this is necessary for their job, or so I hear. I can personally acknowledge that that level of dedication to looking a certain way is not for me. I happily trade hours at the gym for hours of sleep every week, and I accept the body shape (and jiggle) that comes with it. 

Botox, fillers, injections and surgery that prevent visible signs of aging are easier than ever to come by, but that doesn't mean they are good things. In many, if not most instances, this "non-aging" is an even more obvious sign of aging. Of course I am referring to the numerous actresses I saw on display throughout the recent awards season, but I am also referring to ladies of a certain age that feel the need to disguise said age in a very bold yet sad attempt to look years younger. And gentlemen- sorry Barry Manilow, I LOVE you and your music, but you and Joan Rivers are going to be indistinguishable soon. The result of these procedures, inevitably, is the same. The users have a familiar, common look of smoothness and indifference that is a bigger tell than if they had just left the gauze taped to their forehead.

Let's be honest: Demi Moore, Catherine Zeta Jones, Helen Hunt, John Travolta; your foreheads no longer move when you talk, which is disturbing to see on anyone, but surely should be career-altering for an "actor" who is essentially paid to show emotions on their face? We know how long you have been around, and no matter how bad our math skills are, we can approximate your age. So when you show up to talk shows or award shows looking like parts of your face are half the age of your neck, hands and our memories of you, it is concerning, confusing and just plain awkward to play along with.

Maybe I am lucky enough to have a mother who is aging gracefully, beautifully, and as nature intended. Of course, I know she would disagree. If she didn't have a mortal fear of needles and pain, she may have even attempted one of the methods referenced above. But I think my mother is and has always been gorgeous. Looking her age is something that makes her unique among her peers, but she has always been unique among her peers, for her beauty. I actually think it is crazy how good she looks  after that many years of sun-worshipping and my teenage years. I can personally claim responsibility for several of her wrinkles. Years of dealing with me as a horrible, moody teenager would certainly take its toll. I know she doesn't believe us when we tell her and why would she, when this new generic face is emerging of what people her age look like these days.

Women have a choice to get plastic surgery and conform to these new standards of beauty as much as they have a choice whether or not to show their boobs in a film. But when my mother, a stunning 66 year old, could somehow feel less attractive than she truly is because she chooses to not endure the pain of plastic surgery, I wonder who the true offenders of women are in Hollywood. I don't blame the white alpha male. I blame Melanie Griffith, Lisa Rinna, most of the "Real" Housewives... even you Carrot Top. 

By no means "au naturel"

This is a much bigger problem for women than jokes about how old you have to be to date George Clooney, or the FACT that Rihanna is with someone that abused her.

I laughed along with MacFarlane that night. The next day I read the article explaining why I should be offended. And while I do understand that public acceptance of those types of misogynistic thoughts is damaging to women's senses of value and equality, I am not offended by his jokes. I chose to extract the humor from his material and leave the demeaning for those who chose to be offended. Hurray! Women still have a choice! I will save my objections for the people who say this stuff that are not trying to be funny.

But back to my rant of the day. It is time for these ladies to face the truth (pun intended). Not every character is 26, so not every actor need look like they are 26. When people use these "anti-aging" tricks too much they end up looking like a strange alien hybrid of their old self... well, their young self, but actually not looking like themselves at all in the end. Not everyone has gone too far, and I know there are lots of people that have had work done and I have no idea. Unfortunately, as soon as I can detect it, it is already too late. They have passed the unwrinkled point of no return.

[insert picture collage of un-gracefully aging actresses here]
Seriously, with so many to choose from, where would I begin?

1 comment:

Hey, I'd love to hear from you... comments welcome!