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The faces in the lens

A couple months back, someone (can't remember now whether I saw it on the flist or via a link, but pretty sure it was on LJ) posted a side-by-side comparison of the Entertainment Weekly photo of Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as Kirk and Spock, and the original promo shot of Shatner and Nimoy that it was based on. The poster pointed to it as emblematic of their trepidation about the reboot, that the new cast would be too much cookie-cutter young Hollywood and lack the individuality, quirks, humanity of their predecessors. I thought about commenting, but ended up deciding I didn't have time or energy for a discussion, about how the problem they were pointing out isn't so much about what our stars are like these days, but about how they're packaged and sold to us.

I hadn't really thought about that post again until yesterday, watching the same faces on a greeeaaaat big IMAX screen. We're at a very interesting moment right now, when our visual expectations of faces in the media are being pulled in two opposite directions. On the one hand, you have the fact that was pointed up by the comparison in the post I mentioned above, that nobody would dream of sending any photo to print these days without a hundred (usually) subtle retouching tweaks.

But on the other, you have HD on ever-larger screens in our living rooms, and more and more tentpole features released in IMAX. And all of a sudden, people have pores and little moles and lines around their eyes. Apparently they even have chicken pox on Vulcan. (Quinto's right cheekbone. Even all the times I've watched Heroes in HD, I never noticed it before.)

Call me optimistic (that "Postmodern Pollyanna" label is there for a reason, so it's not like I'll be offended if you do), but I'm starting to think that maybe, just maybe, the forces pulling in that direction might be starting to win the tug-of-war. Oh, Photoshop Disasters isn't going to run out of material any time soon. But who would have expected People's Most Beautiful issue to include several pages of "stars without makeup" (and without obvious Photoshoppping) including four young 90210 actresses showing us that even 20-year-olds crinkle under the eyes when they smile?

Still, surely advertising will all stay as airbrushed as ever, right? I would have thought so, until I flipped through the recent Vogue issue with Michelle Obama on the cover while waiting to get a haircut. I ended up buying it, not so much because of the cover feature, but because of two ads. One is a Tommy Hilfiger two-pager featuring a college classmate.

The other is a closeup of Beyoncé with visible smile lines. I swear I stared at that page for close to a minute in disbelief. I'm still intensely curious whose decision it was not to brush them out.

All this is anecdotal, of course. It'd take a lot more observation to really call a trend. But it's still interesting, and maybe even encouraging.


May. 11th, 2009 11:05 pm (UTC)
I'd shell out the extra bucks for the close look at the Kelvin and Enterprise hulls alone. The rendering is just gorgeous.

I'm really hoping to see more people looking like people in magazines. Beyoncé has cute smile lines. :-)

Edited at 2009-05-12 03:08 am (UTC)


Valerie - Postmodern Pollyanna
WiliQueen's Woods

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