Wednesday, June 01, 2005

"I Want a Famous Face"

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.


taminator1969 said...

That show sounds absolutely disturbing, Sarah. This is not the MTV that I remember when it first came on the air.

The stuff that passes for TV shows these days is appalling. I have no interest in watching reality TV, no matter how much my friends or co-workers talk about The Amazing Race or Survivor or whatever the flavor of the month happens to be.

People just enjoy seeing other people be more miserable than they are in order to feel better about themselves.

And that is just plain sad.

P.S. I agree about Usher. Do we need to start up a collection to buy the poor man a T-shirt?

Sarah said...

The Amazing Race is actually pretty good but there's a world of difference between it and I Want a Famous Face. Not all reality tv is bad :)

I'll put $5 in the pot towards a T-shirt for Usher and another $5 in the pot towards a dryer that doesn't shrink Britney's clothes.


Kathryn said...

that's one scary step beyond Extreme Makeover (not Home Edition)-- yikes!!!

Bevvy said...

Have you seen the one where the girl wants to look like kate Winslet?! I don't have a problem with cosmetic surgery as long as long as the expectations are realistic...

Bevvy said...

Wait a minute, if the man makes MILLIONS from his shirtless trademark, let him remain shirtless! True there are some people who need to keep their shirts on like those with nasty chest hair...but Usher is another hot and sexy story, that I can't share on this blog!!

Callie said...

ACK! Where are these kids' parents?

I don't watch TV anymore, I gave up on cable when the 3rd season of Survivor was aired. I can't believe what people consider "reality TV". The ones on Life network aren't too bad as far as being realistic, but most just make me sad for people giving ratings to this crap.

I used to like Amazing Race, but people just started to get exploited, airing break-ups, etc. What started out as Lonely Planet on speed turned into just another way to humiliate people on national TV.

But I still like watching music videos too :)

Sarah said...

"Where are these kids' parents?"

My thoughts exactly! Although I suppose there's not much they can do, since you have to be at least 18 to be on this show.


Bevvy said...

you have to be 18?? aw shucks...I really wanted to be on it! Thanks for the insider info!! ha ha!!

The Black Rose said...

Sometimes I look in the mirror and think I look like Usher.

Then I take my shirt off and realize I don't!