You Say That...
if You Still Can!
"MAX! MAX! I think you
overdid the Botox!"
Movie stars soon may all
resemble Buster Keaton
Beauty is but a flower,
Which wrinkles will devour.
By CHUCK McFADDEN
Show business has another crisis on its hands. Movie directors are very concerned, as well they might be.
This goes beyond the infighting over who is to lead the Screen Actors Guild. It is even beyond residual rights, maybe.
I refer to the increasing use of Botox.
Botox is the commercial name for botulinum toxin A. It is a drug that, when injected, erases lines in your face by paralyzing the muscles that control facial wrinkling. It is compounded from the neurotoxin that causes botulism, but in such diluted amounts that it is harmless.
Works wonders. Your doctor injects it, and shortly thereafter, no wrinkles in the injected area. You're 60, my dear? Not to worry. A couple belts of Botox and you look like Penelope Cruz.
Problem is it also erases facial expression.
" it is now rare in certain social enclaves to see a woman over the age of 35 with the ability to look angry," writes Alex Kuczynski in the New York Times.
And that is what is causing movie directors grief. Use of Botox is getting so common it is interfering with the ability of some actors to assume desired facial expressions.
Here's the beautiful heroine being threatened by a dirty rat with a gun. She appears mildly annoyed.
"I think she's trying to tell us
she's ready for her closeup!"
Another heroine learns that her beloved has died in an airplane crash, fighting off hordes of alien invaders. "Oh, my heart is crushed!" she says, looking as if she's discovered a hangnail.
Yellow English subtitle: "Cynthia is really, really sad."
Maybe actors can start rolling their eyes a lot. Bit awkward for love scenes, though.
Agent to casting director: "Of COURSE she can act! Did you see her in her last movie? She frowned at least twice! And she sneezed! Why, the woman's acting range is enormous! "
New Academy Awards acting category: Ennui.
Really, though, it won't be as bad as all that. Dedicated actors will realize they must strike a compromise between erasing wrinkles and retaining SOME expressions. Maybe two. You will frown--a little--when the baddies threaten to throw you off a cliff. And you will smile--a little--when the sultry countess begins taking off her clothes.
Remember that Pollyanna-ish phrase that had something to do with it only takes two facial muscles to smile, but 13 muscles to frown?
So actors who decide to make the sacrifice will instruct the Botox doc to go light on zapping the smile muscles and only disable about 80 percent of the frown muscles.
Frown. Smile. Frown. Smile.
Anything for art.
© 2002 by Charles M. McFadden. The Chuck McFadden caricature is © 2001 by Jim Hummel. The other illustrations are from IMSI's Master Clips Collection, 1895 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael, CA, 94901-5506, USA.
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