What do we all want?
Watching the Oscars with my family, few of which have seen any of the films that were even nominated this year, it became clear to me:
We all want a glimpse of what it would be like to be there, each of those stars looking unbelievably amazing, each star illuminating the room, next to each other in a tightly organized theater. Bradley Cooper with girlfriend to left and Amy Adams to right sitting 10 feet away from Brangelina next to the ageless Meryl Streep.
What a group of aesthetically endowed individuals! How beautiful everyone is—the makeup, the dresses, the men look ripped and the women starved. It’s like watching a party on Mount Olympus, with all the gods consorting in order to take a perfect Selfie that will be tweeted around the Universe. Two hosts come out and read from a teleprompter and we see brief scenes that are supposed to capture the essence of the nominated film/actor. Cut to the star that lost politely clapping and hiding their disappointment as the winner makes his or her way to the stage to thank everyone and try to get in some plug for a good (or bad) cause. Good or bad comedy from the host (this year, good…)
The Oscars are like most effective advertising. Advertising needs to put you into the scene—we need to feel what it is like to bite into that sandwich or be behind the wheel of the car or to feel that the moment is right for a little Viagra. The advertisement puts us in the Lexus, the Oscars put us into the Dolby Theatre.
The Oscars are one of the biggest advertisement opportunities for Hollywood (40 million viewers in 2013), and, like when we go to the movies, we need to feel that we are part of the action. We need to become involved with the characters in order to follow the plot of the film. We need to experience the life of the hero or heroine, identify with elements of their life in order for it to resonate with any meaning.
We become, we are the stars. We project ourselves into the fantasy of the scene, the event. We are living that privileged life for a moment in our minds, imagining what it would be like to dwell in that rarified atmosphere that carries with it no financial worries, no worries at all really, complete health, physical well being, every possession at our fingertips as we jet off to some other venue to do another film while consorting with others that are just as beautiful and just as rich.
How does any of this relate to cosmetic surgery?
In a few ways. First of all, the botch jobs. Unfortunately, we realize that no one can maintain youth forever, and that, in an attempt to chase perfection, some will choose the wrong doctor or the wrong surgery and end up pulled in the wrong direction. Wrong, because anyone can look at them with no experience of any surgery and know that something is wrong—not only do they not look like former versions of themselves they don’t look like they are aging well, they don’t even look human any more.
Then the success stories. So many of them without wrinkles, crinkles, neck sags. Who has been Botoxed, or filled prior to the event? Whose neck looks fantastic (Meryl Streep). Whose work is holding up well (Ellen).
Then it’s the actual preparations. In the weeks before the Oscars, patients come in trying to get ready for the event and the events surrounding this event. Whether it’s to fly there or to just attend a local party, you take it seriously. No bruising allowed. Everyone thinks that what cosmetic surgeons do is magic. To paraphrase a well known plastic surgeon: “we went to medical school. Not magic school.”
What amazes me is that the folks we watch on this night who appear to have charmed lives, who are there by invitation, are as insecure as we are. They have jobs that hinge on the commercial success of their latest work, they need to maintain an air of nonchalance, they are there to be seen, to be compared, and to be criticized. Their experience of cosmetic surgery is do or die, and on the consequences of good or bad filler, botox or work with the laser or scalpel hang their futures. Even as I appreciate their struggle to maintain their beauty, I feel sorry for them.