Thursday, March 09, 2006

Face Time.

Today, I went to the dermatologist’s office and had my every-other-day post-op check-up. It goes like this; I lie down on the examining table, the doctor stands behind me with a medical object I have never seen, but suspect resembles a garden trowel, he commences to poking, I say “Ow”, he says “Sorry” and continues to poke. Eventually today he grew bored with poking and glanced down at my face. He peered at my jaw.

“I don’t like the look of that mole”

Whatever hopes I had this was a solely aesthetic statement were dashed when he asked the nurse to get a shot of Novocain. He then found another unlovely mole close by, and before you could say “Nurse, please make that two syringes of Novocain”, he was stitching me closed, leaving two little bristling knots on my face. Apparently, he won’t rest until I resemble Pinhead. At this point, I’m almost blasé when I see a syringe filled with something heading towards my head.

I drove home, contemplating the Academy Awards.

Why would having what appear to be two small yet athletic spiders rappelling up my jaw cause me to think of the Academy Awards? Because one of the benefits of being a really rich and a really famous actor is that after a certain age, you are constantly having doctors come at your face wielding needles. Sunday night, any woman over 35 worth mentioning wore a staggeringly expensive gown, jewelry appropriate for the Romanov court, and a shiny unlined forehead which sang “BOTOX! GET YER BOTOX HERE!”

Let the record show, this isn’t only the provenance of women. Many a man in the audience that night can no longer create the expressions which indicate dismay, puzzlement, or alarm.

It is a credit to my living in Los Angeles that this fact neither troubled nor, frankly, particularly interested me. If a grown person chooses to erase his or her face with cow toxin, let me never stand in his or her way.

But there was a moment at the Awards that flabbergasted even me. There was an actor onstage (I am using the word “Actor” not necessarily because this person is male, but as the neuter title for someone who acts). This person is known for their physical appeal and youthful good looks. This person is not yet thirty years old.

This person could no more move their inner eyebrows than they could fly.

I sat there, aghast. Are doctors now doing preemptive Botox? Does still having the remnants of teenage acne interfere with the Botox’s efficacy? Will teenagers be booking a shot in before prom? Should I be getting Daughter in before puberty hits?

It’s not as if plastic surgery makes you look younger. If that were true, Joan Rivers would have a recurring role as the Sensitive Girl in Trig on The O.C.

And, I am happy to report, it’s going to get worse. If you ever want to see an actor, who bases at least part of their appeal on their fans wanting to imagine having sex with them, get really nervous, just whisper these two little words in their ear:

HIGH.

DEFINITION.

Within the next ten years, all televisions sets sold must be high-definition. This means the resolution will be five times the current analog resolution.

Five times the resolution cannot be balanced by flattering lighting.

It cannot be balanced by the $10,000 an hour make-up artist.

It cannot be balanced by, as in the case of one A-list actress, having a contractual demand that your acne be airbrushed out in the post-production of your movies.

It cannot be balanced by having your skin tugged so tightly that your lips are frequently confused for your headband.

It cannot be balanced by injecting enough lethal cow toxins to turn your face into a death mask.

You must be able to withstand the scrutiny of the microscope, or you move back home to Oregon and get that dental hygienist’s certificate.

A little history: With the advent of sound in pictures back in the 1920s, there was a great panic among the then-popular Hollywood actors. They had not become successful because of the lilting timbre of their voices; they had become successful because they had wonderful visual appeal. Frequently, they had heavy European accents, or pronounced speech impediments, or simply were blessed with voices which made dogs start barking and running in circles. This hadn’t been important, until it was, and then it was all that mattered.

The old stars that couldn’t make the leap were rendered obsolete within six months, to be replaced by new actors who, often, had been found on Broadway. The new actors might be unknown to audiences, but they had voices which didn’t make an audience member start howling with laughter or pain.

So, here’s my prediction. High-definition television will be the end of some of our most popular actors. It won’t be as sudden as the silent picture to talkies die-off, but it might be just as profound. First, the television actors will get hired based in large part on their ability to appeal on High-Definition. Then, movie actors who are seen at awards shows not looking nearly as appealing as they had been presented will find themselves losing parts to the smoother-skinned.

[Don’t think producers don’t say enlightened things to their casting director like, “I saw her presenting at the Golden Globes, and she looked like shit on TV. Who else is available?”]

I can only assume plastic surgeons are at work on this problem. Perhaps our next generation of actors will, at the peak of their youth and firmness, have a sheep placenta sewn on to their face. Afterwards, they might not want to eat anything but grass, and they might have a tendency to huddle in groups and frighten easily, but I doubt anyone will notice the difference.

7 Comments:

Blogger Aussie Chris said...

First off Mel.
Love your blog, you have inspired me to start my own.

About this post, I can't help but giggle when I read your comments on stars. You are so well grounded after having been there. A rare quality.

Keep up the great work.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

Sheep placenta?! I think I'll go out and get one right now, if you think it'd help.

Your experience reminds me of the time I saw an oral surgeon to remove a little lump on my lip. I thought I was going for a consultation and next thing I knew, he was wearing a miner's headlamp, shoving a block into my mouth to keep it open and slicing my lip open.

He told me I could go back to work afterward, but when I saw my blood-spattered face in the rear-view mirror, I saw that I looked like I'd been in a bar fight. Good times.

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Jay said...

Quinn,
I'm sittiing here at my desk, selling shiny metals and laughing out loud as I read. The boss wants to know what the deal is...What should I tell him? "Sorry boss...I'm reading the blog of a child actress whom I once had a crush on and she's freakin' hilarious...hahahah"...no! Great stuff Quinn!!! Glad I found it!
Jay

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Chris S. said...

Quinn--I am a teeny off subject but I have a child actor question--a steak dinner is riding on this so don't let me down :)
When a child actor has raunchy lines to say,(" Hey Mom, whats an orgasm?) do they actually have to say the lines or is it dubbed in later after the sweet child says something age appropriate during the shot. By the way--glad to see that you didn't grow up needing the common rehab stints of other child actors--your humor is wonderful!
Chris S.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Quinn Cummings said...

There is no dubbing afterwards; the actor is saying the line, no matter what age the actor might be.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous DC said...

I read an article in a similar vein a few months ago. It said, like you, that a lot of "beautiful people" aren't going to cut it on HDTV. It also gave a list of actors who are so flawless that they actually look better. There were about eight on the list, but I only remember Halle Berry, Catherine Zeta Jones and Matthew McConnaghey (sp).

Must be rough times for news anchors, too...

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Rachelanne said...

QC....I love you. As if you did not already know that...

4:45 PM  

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