Wednesday, 29 September 2010

charlotte's thought of the week: spot of facial paralysis? don't mind if I don't...

this morning, when I hit that hazy, dazed part of semi-sleep where your mind throws its most insane offerings at you, i had a most disturbing daydream. i’m sure you’ve experienced it many times before- while you are still asleep enough for any thought that happens to pop into your mind to be played out like a movie filmed in old school technicolour, directed by somebody under the influence of hallucinogens, with a soundtrack by minimalist german techno-heads. or maybe that’s my specific brand. whatever you’re dream-genre, while you’re half awake and half asleep the average human brain dwells in one messed up place. (my brain’s finest moment to date saw me marry jack black, have babies that came out as tarantulas with eyelashes, then feed them on a diet of cream eggs from a velvet tray- I kid you not.) anyway. i digress. this morning, I had a good ‘un. now, as we have all learnt from lord-of-the-dream-scorcese, you always start in the middle of a dream. (if you didn’t get that reference, get your lazy arse to the cinema and soak up some contemporary culture- then tell me, dream or reality?! even the memory of that final shot makes me want to bite my nails and pull out my hair and generally act like I suffer from crack-induced ocd’s. Now that’s good cinema!) so. i started in the middle of a party. with glitterati. i didn’t even know who they were, but i knew they were glitter-worthy. they exuded hollywood. if such a thing is possible: they looked like they would own black bog roll, put it that way. we were laughing and talking, and generally having a jolly good time, when one of them sidled up to me and started tapping round my eyeballs with two of their fingers…. just casually tapping away. then he stretched out my eyelid, had a good peek in, and said “21. She needs a hit”. and before I knew it, he’d produced a needle from his back pocket, and was pumping my face full of botox. just like that.

now one thing is for sure- i can pin point the exact mental origin of this dream, the conception of my bonkers dream baby if you like. the previous day i had been interested to find a snippet of an interview with rachel weiss, in which she boldly suggested that botox for actors is the artistic equivalent to steroids for sportsmen, and thus should quite simply be disallowed. although I wasn’t utterly convinced that ms weiss’ argument didn’t have a pitfall or two, it certainly got me thinking that maybe she had a point. an actor’s face, and more specifically their ability to convey feelings or emotions with their wee fizogs, must be a key tool to their trade. eliminate the ability to move your facial muscles, and surely you’ve shot your self in the foot (or injected your self in the socket to be more precise).

although writing this makes me feel octogenarian, it seems that ‘in this day and age’, ritually paralysing your facial muscles is fast becoming the lifestyle choice du jour. when botox first surfaced as a drug available to the masses, many moons ago, the public tended to react in varying degrees of moral outrage- oh! the vanity of it all, the incredulous search for eternal youth, how disgustingly looks oriented we are becoming as a culture! but time appears to have warped our collective perceptions, until we have finally arrived at a stage where botox tends to be treated like chocolate, or cigarettes, or spanx- not for everyone, but a little bit of what you fancy, yada yada yada…

every celebrity interview inevitably covers the taut and even botox ground- the question is predictably, casually wheeled out: would you? wouldn’t you? are you morally opposed, yet aware of the implications on your career? never say never? this one seems to be the non-committal favourite: essentially, what they are more than likely to be stipulating here is that they’ve already had it and are bloody thrilled that you haven’t noticed yet. strangest of all are the celebrities shouting about the toxic fillers their pumping in to their pretty little faces- surely the whole point of botox is to FOOL people into thinking that you are naturally this youthful and expressionless? or that your facial muscles malfunctioned in a terrible accident, thus hindering you with the curse of eternal youth? instead, botox is worn like a badge of metaphoric D-list honour, paraded in to heat magazine, in the vain hope it’ll get a pat on the back and a smile- something they are no longer capable of with out fish-hook mechanisms.

when all is said and done, it’s not the moral argument that really gets me going (although the 16year old stars of glee having botox in their jaw lines for ‘definition’ certainly raises some scary questions about image fixation), but moreover the very idea that in any other circumstance, or in any other part of the body, paralysis is an awful, undesirable thing. yet, because botox ticks the vanity box, the youth box, the employability box… we’re all throwing ourselves at it like it’s chocolate covered, naked johnny depp in a syringe. we’re queuing up to ritually, and occasionally periodically (for the massively wealthy among us) disable our faces. so as you may have guessed, I will not be first in line… this face is staying as active and free-moving as a footballer’s fidelity.

but… y’know. never say never.

[charlotte skeoch]

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