Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Why fuck up your face?

It's not just Renee Zellweger.

Actors do this to themselves, which for some reason is supposed to make it OK, or at least "more OK": "well, MEN do it too, you know!" "Oh. Yeah." End of discussion.

For, you see, if men do it too, it is now OKAY to mutilate your face. It has been justified. Go home now.

This bizarre beforeandafter belongs to Mickey Rourke, an actor I never much liked anyway, but he must have gone to Acapulco for his surgery. It just looks bad. He has that bizarre OMG look, that instant recognition that something awful has been done to his face. He does not look "young"; he merely looks weird.

This one is really sad. I've never been a Kenny Rogers fan (except for that "know when to hold them, know when to fold them" thing - who doesn't like that?), but this was just desperate, and shocking. He really pulled a Zellweger here, and went from a rugged silver-fox-type cow-dude to a sort of mincing hairdresser with a Bugs Bunny smile, a brow-lift and a weave. He doesn't look like ANYBODY, let alone Kenny Rogers. Renee at least looks - well, if not attractive, then at least doll-like in her new guise. She looks kind of like Renee Zellweger's distant cousin (who has had a lot of work done).  As for Kenny, I wonder how he sees out of those things?. Maybe he can start a new career as a Kenny Rogers impersonator. That is, if anyone believes him.

Ah, um, her, uh, ugh. Barry Manilow.

Burt Reynolds, who no longer needs to buy a Halloween costume. He can go as Burt Reynolds and scare little children. Note how he never shows up in movies any more: I guess directors want their actors to look like they're alive.

It's slitty-eyes syndrome again. Women's eyes are pulled up slantwise (which is funny, because meanwhile Asian women are busy erasing every trace of their heritage from their faces), but for some reasons dudes' eyes are pulled sideways so aggressively that they can barely see. In this case, it looks as if his eyelids were simply removed.

Is there a "worst case" in this macabre house of wax? Yes, there is, and you're looking at it. Even on the left, he's had significant work done, especially around the eyes. But that wasn't enough. These guys never leave well enough alone, do they? They always go back for more. His eyes are now closer together than the Royal Family's, and have that disturbingly sunken look that makes me wonder if men aren't supposed to have eyes after a certain age. Cheek implants, chin implants, God knows what sort of other implants. When this monstrous freak walks out onto the stage in Vegas, the crowds scream with recognition, even though they don't have a clue who he is. But they've paid for Wayne Newton, so this must BE Wayne Newton.

But soft! What light from yonder window breaks? What former Shakespearian actor is this, what good Canadian boy, what Governer-General-Award recipient? This is the man who made a deal with the devil not to age. It has little or nothing to do with his face. He looks like a person. His face does not look messed-with at all. He has gained weight, but carries it so well it makes YOU want to gain weight too (well, not quite). He still sits a horse remarkably well at - Jesus, he's 83! He is 83 goddamn years old, and this past summer he was the Grand Marshall at the Calgary Stampede. The white hat looked pretty swell on him, too.

You don't look at Shatner's face and think. "Work done." You don't look at Shatner's face and think, "Ewwww." You don't look at Shatner's face and think, "83". You think "65-ish, ruddy, virtually unlined, outdoorsman, in good shape. Healthy." His voice, his energy, his endless new projects (always a few going on at the same time) are so astonishing that we don't even see them any more.

Shatner went through several phases: his young manhood, which makes me want to kvell:

(and I don't know why exactly, but I want to jump on top of this young god with the 100% self-assurance)

. . . his Star-Trekkian phase, in which he was older and more conventionally handsome;

. . . his little-bit-obvious-hairpiece stage, soon to be replaced by transplants or something else more natural. . .

. . . but NEVER did he go through a  "monster" stage like Kenny and Wayne and Mickey and all those other poor sods who were so afraid of the monstrosity of ageing that they ruined their faces.
He won't because "something" happened, he found the secret, the way to slow ageing down so much that it is barely perceptible. A deal with the devil? I've written about this before. The older he gets, the more ruddy-faced, the more of those Priceline ads he does, the more I love the guy. I love him because he is 83. I love him because he is fucking fantastic. I love him because he is the real deal.

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book
    It took me years to write, will you take a look

Just walk away, Renee: Ms. Zellweger's radical transformation

Now comes all the commentary, the kerfuffle, and if she needed to call attention to herself, this did it. Strangely, she will not admit to plastic surgery but claims she's just taking better care of herself and is more "relaxed".

What's really sad is the need to deny you've had any "work" done. It's all due to a "healthier lifestyle". But the healthiest lifestyle in the world wouldn't change you into a different person.

These strenuous denials are a veil over desperation, and this is not something Renee created herself. She wants to work, but paradoxically, I don't think her "new look" is going to land her parts. No one is going to know who the hell she is.

Nobody else has said this, because everyone is so busy saying, "Duhhh. . . does she look different?" There are screams and squawks from all over the planet because this is a "trending" story that has knocked terrorism out of the ballpark.. Half of them are horrified exclamations along the lines of "What has she done to herself?"; the other half are more like, "She looks fabulous! I like her so much better now. Leave the girl alone! She can do what she wants with her face." I've also heard "She looks different? Not to me she doesn't. It's just her makeup. She looks exactly the same."

Just so. But this just isn't Renee. What would it be like, I wonder, if every time you looked in the mirror you saw a different person? It's like those old film noir movies where the gangster has plastic surgery to change his identity. One scene always involves the doctor cutting the bandage and winding it around, and around, and around (showing the hood's vision gradually getting brighter and brighter) until, voici et voila, the new face.

Plastic surgery existed back then, because John Dillinger had it done in a vain attempt to disguise his identity from the police. I don't see how they could have botched it any worse than they do now. In fact, though this is an issue I won't get into now, there is a TV show called Botched that deals with remedial boob/nose/cheek/jowl jobs, in which the doctors have to make do with what is left of normal tissue. Usually the results are still artificial, but somewhat less Frankensteinian than before that fatal "holiday" to Mexico or the Phillipines.

Just in time for Halloween. . . the Invisible Man. I can't help but think of the old Renee, mischievous as always, crouching down and  hiding behind the new one. But still invisible.

Whole movies have been made on this theme, such as Ash Wednesday, in which the stunning Liz Taylor pretends to be (gasp, shock, horror) old, or at least old-looking. In the movie, she's maybe 40. Most of the sexpots we see around now, such as Sofia Vergara, are about that age. 

I was going to make a few gifs of her movie transformation, but was so gobsmacked by the YouTube video that I posted it whole. It's 14 minutes long and if you can get through the whole thing, you're a better man than I am. Gunga Din.

We used to ask ourselves: what reputable plastic surgeon would ever surgically alter someone so much that they didn't even look like themselves? That was back when there were standards, and "would never" still held together as a stand-in for integrity. Now people transform themselves into Barbies and Kens, Michael Jacksons, Angelinas, etc. (remember that Octomom character? Whatever happened to her, anyway?) Pay up front, and you'll have any "look" you want. Slicing and dicing seems particularly popular, especially if you resort to Third World procedures. And a lot of people do. Then again, lots of people go to Thailand to have sex with little children, and no one stands in their way.


Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book
    It took me years to write, will you take a look

Ash Wednesday (1973): the transformation

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Renee Zellweger: The Incredible Disappearing Woman

I never thought it would have happened to Miss "You Had Me At Hello": a bizarre miracle of transformation that has rendered her almost unrecognizable to her fans.

We all know what she looked like "before", though sometimes it was evident there was a little brow-lifting and Botox-ing going on. She wasn't a ravishing beauty, but then, she wasn't supposed to be! She was Bridget Jones! She was the chick in Jerry Maguire! She was Rene Zellweger, everybody's girl friend, with the pouty lips and the great cheekbones and the Icelandic heritage that lent her a tinge of exoticism.

Not any more. This is what she looks like now.

Uh, maybe like Candace Bergen's younger sister? There's still something Nordic going on, but - hey, who the hell IS this anyway? The weird black line drawn around her jaw and chin had me thinking, just for a minute, that the glue on her mask was still wet and it was being held on with a string.

Uh. . . Liv Ullman's younger sister, maybe?   One wonders who she was trying to model her face on. Not on herself, obviously.

What bugs me however is how she has lost her personality along with her old face. Renee was always sort of neurotic, sort of apologetic, sort of tearful. She fretted, she brooded, and sometimes she girlishly giggled and turned cartwheels of joy. It was just the kind of character she was good at playing. Now she's - 

. . . extremely thin. Gone are the extra 20 pounds of puppy fat she gained to play Bridget Jones. She's thin as a stick, so that it looks like she's somehow attained a new body, too. I guess it goes with the blandly Barbie-ish face.

I've written about plastic surgery before, and I'm tired and weary to be writing about it again. An actress shouldn't erase herself like this. Though she may believe she'll get more parts now because she looks so "great", so "young", so "beautiful," etc.,  no casting director in the world will want her now because she is not recognizably herself. If you want Renee Zellweger, you want Renee Zellweger, someone who has a huge fan base and has been familiar to audiences for 20 years. If she shows up looking like this, with Renee's slightly nasal, slightly squeaky voice coming out of Barbie's mouth (unless she has also somehow erased her voice too), people will be more than slightly confused.

I have to reluctantly admit that, given Hollywood's dread and hatred of the ageing process, most actresses feel compelled to have some repair work done as time grinds them down. Susan Sarandon doesn't seem to have fallen victim yet, Helen Mirren has the best bone structure in human history, and Judi Dench can play anyone from age 40 to age 80, rearranging her face at will. But the rest of them - perhaps it's forgiveable, though a couple of years ago I was pretty horrified to see Helen Hunt with a completely paralyzed forehead. Her eyebrows never moved, removing half the expression from her face and clashing most awfully with her more age-appropriate 40-year-old throat.

For Renee, however, I predict this won't be a good move. She'll have to change her name or something, start all over again. If Tom Cruise showed up on a set looking like - God, like who? Like Shia Lebeouf or whatever-his-name-is - ? The point is, if Tom Cruise suddenly looked like a male mannequin approximately 30 years of age, he might have problems being cast in anything. Nobody would know who he was.

This is the most eerie example I've ever seen of a human being erasing herself. It could not possibly have been done as an act of self-love. (Narcissism, perhaps, but that's self-obsession.) I remember writing a post about Renee's public drunkenness at the Oscars in 2013 (which everyone seems to have forgotten). Though excuses were quickly invented that she had taken a Valium to calm down, her slurring and inability to read three words off a card that night created a lot of buzz. 

I guess it's no stretch to say this isn't a happy woman, but what bothers me most of all is that she'll probably never work again. You can't start all over again and just be someone else (though in a sense, that's what the picture business is all about). In a very sad way, given Hollywood's obsession with appearance, Renee Zellweger no longer exists. There is no longer any brand recognition. She has erased it permanently. Her "old"  self has been shoved away in an attic somewhere, like the picture of Dorian Grey.

It's been good to know you, Renee. I'm sad we'll never see you again.


Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book
    It took me years to write, will you take a look

Monday, October 20, 2014

OMG, I found it: Ladies' Own Erotica!

I talked about this book in my post about Bigfoot erotica, but it took quite a while to find it in my massive and dusty collection of paperbacks. The cover is baby pink, with an elaborate scrollwork heart in which the title curls in Harlequinesque script: Ladies' Own Erotica (formerly titled Ladies' Home Erotica).

I bought this because, well. It came out in 1984, and at the time was considered extremely daring. As far as I knew, it was the only book of women's erotica, at least written by women, that existed at the time. It was written by a lace-doily-and-teacup group called the Kensington Ladies' Erotica Society.
In the introduction, they claim to be (gasp, taboo-shattering sound) OVER FORTY, but still interested in, well, you know, or at least writing about it. Sort of.

I don't know where to start, honestly. The coy little line drawings look a bit like New Yorker cartoons without captions. I'm hard-pressed (and hard-pressed, and hard-pressed) to find anything the least bit sexually explicit in this book. Only tender longings, kisses that go on a little too long, women who have the hots for the doctor, and fancy underwear bought for a clandestine weekend with a fantasy lover.

OK, let us plunge in: this is a wistful poem called It's Always Summer.

It's always summer when you're around
isn't that funny?
Even when it's raining outside,
and we lie on our bed shivering
Your hands are warm
your body toasts me,
your lips are warm rivers
I drift down the Mississippi.
Your skin is golden
it shines all over me,
Your eyes are rays of sunshine
that sparkle in the dark.
Your arms are branches of tall trees
that enfold me.
Green leaves and honey bees.
Buzz around me loverboy,
I need more summer.

OH KAY then. No Bigfeets here, none whatsoever, though the verse is so chaste it could refer to a handsome golden retriever.

Here's another:

Prince Charming

They tell me
there is no
Prince Charming,
He is a fantasy
of the unliberated
Then why do I stroke
your silky skin
with such pleasure
and caress your
lean back with
trembling fingers?
If you aren't Prince Charming
who are you?

Keep in mind that the cover of this thing calls it "The Irresistible Bestseller!". So back in '84, women must've been pretty desperate for this stuff.

There is, yes, a recipe for chocolate fondue that involves fingering fruit to make sure it is ripe enough: "When no one is looking, I reach out and fondle the fruit. I like the flesh to feel firm with just a hint of resistance, and I secretly thrill to the touch of peach down or the unblemished smoothness of a ripe plum. . . "

Another chapter is about, oh dear, Bernadette's Warthog Pie ("Turn your attention to the savoy cabbage"). There is nothing sexual in this recipe whatsoever, nor anything more sensual than you'd find in Rachael Ray's latest cookbook.

OMG, and here's another one: Rose's Spring Lamb! I guess all the ladies in the collective submitted a favorite recipe for this book of erotica. It's completely weird, and reveals the level of profound inhibition and taboo around women's sexuality a few decades ago. It all had to be carefully sublimated into love of food.

Listen, I can't do much more of this browned, page-spewing old thing, with that punky smell of decaying ink and crumbling pages.. It seems all I can find are food references. But I'll leave you with one that jumped (I almost said humped) out at me. This is one of the more torrid love scenes:

"Then he proceeded to caress each toe, one by one. Lilah leaned back and closed her eyes. The tenderness that Alan lavished on each worn callus made her feel totally adored. Suddenly a velvety warm wetness engulfed her big toe, sending an electrifying jolt straight to her inner core. Lilah opened her eyes and gasped. Alan was sucking her toe.

'Oh don't!' she moaned. 'That's too much.""

Yes. Indeed. Calling Bigfoot!  Please. But one more chocolate lust scene, please (and by the way, this was book was NEVER advertised as food porn):

"Then, very slowly, she lowered both hands into the remaining fondue, raised them up, and watched the chocolate glaze ooze, She sucked each finger, dipped them in again, and delicately pressed a pattern of perfect handprints upon the table top."


Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book
    It took me years to write, will you take a look