Okay, I don't want this to sound catty. Because I don't mean it to be. I think beautiful people are enjoyable to look at. I think beauty is an asset. I also think beauty can make life difficult so I don't necessarily buy into the idea that beautiful people have easy lives. Nor do I buy into the idea--however tempting--that beautiful people are automatically shallow. Beauty has merit, as Michelangelo's David and Grace Kelly prove.

Okay, that being said, there's been a lot model stuff about lately, and I find it odd that, well, really, the models aren't what I would call drop-dead gorgeous or anything. I am talking about the women. The men on television right now all tend towards a specific type. It happens to be a type I have a yen for (Supernatural brothers, Wentworth Miller: more stocky, harsh-featured blokes--think Sean Bean and Ted Levine--than pretty boys although the younger Supernatural brother is borderline) and so I notice them (I preferred older Angel to younger Angel, for instance. I also really like Nick from CSI with mustache--I'm not a big mustache/beard gal, but it really works on him). And, too, there aren't, to my knowledge, any Victoria Secret male models. So I'm referring to the women, and they seem, well, very pretty--don't get me wrong--but mostly the kind of girls I went to High School with. Rather ordinary looking in a perfect-features kind of way. But not striking.

Now, to give you an idea of what I mean, I consider Jeri Ryan (7 of 9) to be a truly gorgeous woman. And also unique. A little unusual. I always recognize her. And if you've ever seen The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (which I watched recently), the woman who plays Sheila Fentiman is classically lovely--in a Kate Winslet kind of way--and noticeable. But the models turning up lately--I can't tell them apart: oval face, straight nose, long hair, wide smile, slightly pouty lips. Same same same. And I wonder, because I haven't the faintest idea, is this a current tread? Has the model industry always been like this? Or are models more in demand now so the pool is wider? Has the industry veered away from the admittedly startling Angelina Jolies? Is it a politic decision--choose a type that everyone thinks nice (because the biologists have shown that people do respond to a particular blending of features) rather than someone who shocks? Or, like the men I mentioned, do most unusually beautiful people just end up on T.V.?

Take Katherine from CSI: Las Vegas--she's getting older now, but you can tell from her bone structure that her looks aren't just makeup and glamour laid over rather ordinary prettiness. When Teri Hatcher pulls her hair back, you can see she's got the same underlying quality. "Willow" still has the most beautiful eyes of any woman on T.V. And I think that Kari Matchett is one of the most stunning (and unique) women on television (Nero Wolfe regular, now on that ABC show, forgot its name).

Of course, television has its own penchants. The women of House and Bones all share a similar look: small-boned, finely drawn features. (Rory from Gilmore Girls is starting to get the same look.) Gorgeous but you've got to think modernist school rather than Rubens. (They are also more the types who grow on you--you become aware of how stunningly beautiful they are over time.)

Maybe, with TV, it's that there's a difference between looks and presence, and if you've got presence, you go into show biz. But maybe that's not fair to the modeling world which is very high pressure. Maybe, with modeling, it comes down to whether you can wear the clothes (such as they are), in a back-atcha kind of way, rather than whether you can act or sing or whatever. But these models don't strike me as even having that Julie Andrews "here I am" quality. Julie Andrews is a lovely but certainly not drop-dead gorgeous woman. But good grief, whenever she shows up on anything, she effortlessly carries the scene. She's got that regal bearing and ageless features. But maybe that's a different kind of beauty. After all, of the Star Trek gang, Nimoy and Lenard aged the best in that craggy old guy way. And Brent Spiner has the sexiest back in all of television, shoot all of showbiz. Really--the guy's face is pleasant to look at it, but watch old Star Trek: Next Generations, and his physical build just blows you away. Someone figured it out, because, unlike Picard (who they started putting in jackets--which looked good) and Riker (who just kept doing that burly big guy thing), someone tailored Brent Spiner's uniform to show off his exceptionally fine physique.

Which is getting away from the topic. Except I really have nothing more to say. This is just a rambling series of queries. Which I shall place under "Fares and Festivals," partly because I have very few posts there and partly because, although my references are mostly from television, the issue is a broader, cultural one. What is beauty? Does it change? In what way? And so on and so forth . . .



Henry said...

Speaking of CSI (well you did mention it) I finally actually saw a CSI show -- CSI Miami, with David Caruso.

It's really fun to watch. The plot is absurd, but the styling is oh so rich. My brother-in-law assures me this is the standard CSI approach.

Thinking about it, one thing I really liked was all the closeups of David Caruso's baggy puckered face. He's always squinting in the closeups and he has paper bags for eyelids. It's actually quite affecting.

Good looking he's not, but try finding a woman on the show that has a wrinkle. I couldn't.

Kate Woodbury said...

The sexiest thing about Caruso is his voice--or the way he delivers his lines--or both. It's that growly undertone. For awhile, they had a team member on the show who was a Caruso clone and would do the growly undertone too. But they got rid of him. Apparently, only one person is allowed to do the growly undertone thing per show.