There’s something to be said about real. I’ve been a huge advocate of Real all my life and sometimes might go too far with the “realness” factor. But whatever. This is about plastic surgery and a malaise in American culture. And I don’t know, it may go further than just
This morning, while eating my Cap’n Crunch, I was watching the Discover channel. They don’t mix really, especially when the program is on plastic surgery and after every commercial break they flash a viewer discretion warning that the program shows actual surgeries. Of course I watched it anyway.
What’s more disgusting than flesh being sliced open and slabs of skin, literal pounds of flesh (their joke, not mine*), being tossed into a garbage can or slapped onto a counter? What’s more horrifying than bubbles of cellulite popping out of incisions, or slippery, clear balloons of saline solution bursting from a small hole beneath a breast, landing in the sterile, gloved hand of Dr. Frankenstein . . . . I mean, the doctor, only to be replaced by a larger implant (because that’s what the operation really is, a breast-implant replacement or enlargement)?
I’ll tell you what’s more offensive than these images: the plastic surgery addict telling the camera that they know it seems shallow, but these surgeries make them happy. They just want to look good. They don’t do it that much, you know. They’ve only had a few surgeries, uh, lip enlargement, tummy tuck, liposuction of the buttocks, thighs . . . and . . . neck and that’s all . . . oh, and they had their nose done . . . and jaw-line . . . but that’s all . . . and breasts, breasts were enlarged, that’s right. Forgot about that. But that’s all. No more . . . Botox. Does that count, Botox? Because they had that done on their eyes, just the crows feet. And the smile lines, above the nose. Botox is great, because you know, even when you get mad you can yell and get angry without looking mean. [*Smile*, but you can’t tell because of the Botox.]
That’s really how the program went. It followed several individuals and every one of them had an interview similar to the above paragraph where they talked about the few things they’d had done. And they’d actually forget what they’d had done, like when someone’s retracing their steps from yesterday and they leave something out and then remember. But that’s normal because that’s just the day’s events, you know, minor things like going to the gas station for the paper or calling your sister. These people are forgetting how many major surgeries they’ve had done to remake themselves.
I know the allusion wasn’t lost on you. I know when I accidentally called the doctor, Dr. Frankenstein, you put it all together and saw the appropriateness of the reference. A few months ago I wrote a blog entry about Michael Jackson's life story being a modern day Frankenstein story (funny, because the actual title of Mary Shelley’s novel is Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus). And it seemed to work, because Michael Jackson while being a product of his parents, has been influenced by the whim of the masses and that has turned him into something ugly, not only on the outside, but judging from his actions, on the inside too.
People always mistake Frankenstein for the monster he created in the book. They think Frankenstein is the monster, the man created from the body parts of dead people**. But he’s not. Frankenstein, you’ll know—if you know anything and have read the book or been an alert person all your life—is the doctor. Victor obsessively pursues the secret of life and creates a human being pieced together from dead things. Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve read it and you might have never read it, but it’s usually quite different than the films based on it. The real question Shelley proposes is: who’s the monster?
These doctors who’ve gone to medical school and taken oaths to heal people and do everything in their power to save lives and all, have been seduced by lucre (I like the sound of that, “seduced by lucre” it’s so evil sounding. And it is. Evil). In Shelley’s book the real monster was Dr. Frankenstein with his greedy thirst for power shaping his cruel actions. When he succeeded in creating life, the weak man turned cold and frightened, sending the veritable child out into an unforgiving world to fend for itself. Dr. Frankenstein’s monstrosity was his thin, unloving heart.
Likewise modern day doctors slap fake parts onto people, give them a quick fix because the price is right, while ignoring the real problem (click here for more quick-fix plagues). In the original Hippocratic Oath, and even in the revised Oath, the sentiment is to protect and cure people. Plastic surgery as I understand it, developed as a way to hide burn scars or fix irreparable damage in accident victims. Even breast implants developed as a way to restore breast cancer survivors to a normal existence (again, this is what I understand of it. I haven’t bothered to look these things up). But these modern day Victor-Frankensteins base their practices mainly on the economy of it, ignoring the ethical question. Give them enough cash and they’ll scramble your body to look like a porn star or the
What bothers me is that vanity surgeries are fast becoming the norm. I see it on the horizon now and I suppose there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I’m not an activist anyway and think it’s ridiculous to, say, camp out in
Maybe I’ll start the Real Club for individuals like me who want to make an oath to not succumb to the allure of looking perfect even as we age and witness the inevitable decay of our flesh. There is no chance for a state of physical perfection in this life anyway. Life on earth is fluid and changing, constantly giving way to the forces of time and gravity. However, our hearts can become perfect, I think. And that’s what I want to have: a perfect heart.
*And by “their” I mean the Discover channel’s narrator, not the surgeons.
**This deserves further clarification. People will say “Oh, he looked like Frankenstein.” And what they mean is he was an ugly man like the dad in the