I meant to write about this while I was in Toronto but I kind of forgot. It was so horrifying I must have repressed it. But then I read a story about plastic surgery in the paper this morning and the horror of what I saw in Toronto came rushing back.
Here’s the thing. My parents have, like, 700 channels of digital cable. No, that’s not the horrifying part of the story. I’ll get there eventually but I need to provide some context first.
Here in Vancouver, I have basic cable. So whenever I visit my parents in Toronto, I like to watch stuff I don’t get at home, like MTV. It’s my secret guilty pleasure. Or it was secret until now. But I’m not ashamed to admit I enjoy watching half-naked, attractive people dance around and lip-synch (although I do find it strange that Usher makes millions of dollars and can’t afford to buy a shirt).
Anyhow, when I was in Toronto last week, my 18-year-old sister and I were sitting around trying to figure out what to do one afternoon.
“Let’s see what’s on MTV,” I said.
Here’s where the story takes a horrifying, disturbing turn. (Apologies that it took five paragraphs to get to the point but this blog does not come with an editor.) What was on MTV that afternoon was a show called I Want a Famous Face.
It was, by far, the most shocking, f**ked up thing I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a half-hour documentary series that follows young people as they undergo plastic surgery in order to look like their favourite celebrity.
MTV skirts around the show’s obvious ethical issues by posting this disclaimer on its website: “The subjects of this documentary series decided on their own to get plastic surgery. MTV then asked to document their journey. MTV did not pay for any surgery performed on these subjects.” Talk about shirking responsibility!
I generally don’t have a problem with plastic surgery. If someone’s self-esteem is so low that they think mutilating their body by surgically shoving a couple of sacks of silicone into their chest will somehow make them more attractive, well, that’s their choice. It’s a bad choice but it’s still their choice.
What I do have a problem with is the whole concept of I Want a Famous Face. The show we watched featured a pair of 20-year-old twin brothers who wanted to look like Brad Pitt because they felt it would help them become “famous” and therefore “happy.” Plus, one of the brothers thought this hot blonde chick he knew might actually like him if he looked less like himself. Which is so, so sad.
The show filmed the surgeries, which were so graphic and violent it made me scream and cover my eyes. According to my sister, who is much less squeamish than me, the boys had chin implants, cheek implants, nose jobs, teeth implants, skin peels and other stuff too.
After a long, painful recovery, the guys didn’t even end up looking like Brad Pitt at all. Here's a before and after photo:
Personally, I thought they were cute just the way they were. Now they just look boring. And the blonde girl? She wasn’t blown away either. “He’s hot now and I like him, but I don’t *like* him like him, like, you know?”
These kids needed counseling, not surgery. Someone needed to tell them that basing their self-worth on how others perceive them is lame. That in 15 years, they’ll no longer idolize Brad Pitt but they’ll be stuck staring regretfully at a sagging version of his face in the mirror every day.
I just hope the teenagers who watch this show watch it with a critical eye, like my sister. As for me, I think I’ll just stick to basic cable from now on.