Monday, February 13, 2012

No Holds Barred

by Blair Sabol

When I first heard that Demi Moore was suffering from "exhaustion" I thought how great! Who isn't? I've been exhausted for some time from the economy and the tiresome GOP debates. But I didn't realize what "exhaustion" really meant in the "Moore mentality."

At 50, she's been dumped by a younger husband and is now trying to face aging via anorexia, Adderall, and alcoholism. What else is new? Apparently she has stopped eating (Adderall) to get that younger leaner body and then started drinking instead (called anorexaholism) and lost her mind in a seizure from snorting nitrous oxide.

According to a National Enquirer "source" she has been sobbing, "I hate being old" for some time. Now she's getting rehabbed for her middle age crisis at a facility in Utah called Cirque .... as in Cirque de Soleil? Before all this collapse it seems Demi was passionately out and about nightly with her 23-year-old daughter trying to pick up teenage boys in Hollywood clubs.
Madonna. Marlene.
At the same time we just witnessed Madonna at the Super Bowl half time do the best she could at age 53. That involved getting "assisted" in her cartwheels and splits by a bevy of backup boyz while firmly holding onto a ballet bar to bend her knees. Lip-synching was the least of her problems.

She admitted to having sprained her hamstring a week before the performance.

We feel her pain, and how convenient. She resembled Marlene Dietrich at the end of Dietrich's performing career when she had to be strapped and propped up on a pole to sing her finale. We all know Madonna's ambition far exceeds her talent. But shouldn't she at least stop dancing or get sensible shoes? Who was she kidding tottering about in those stiletto booties? We all know that nobody can walk let alone look all that great anymore in platform spikes. Not even hookers. When is enough ever enough? Thank God Tina Turner knew when to get off the stage.

"Lena taught us what a lifetime achievement in class really looks like."
I'm beginning to think that Lena Horne was the only one who honestly succeeded in bringing down the house at the age of 65 in her 1981 "Lady and the Music" one woman show. She actually sang (no lip-synching) and danced (chorus boyz stayed in the back) and was stunningly, “appropriately" attired in Sant' Angelo. She taught us what a lifetime achievement in class really looks like.

Meanwhile Cher has tried to do this with her overproduced Vegas shows. Again tons of high kickin’ buffed boyz helping her maneuver in her trompe l'oeil nude costumes across the stage while the Cirque de Soleil acrobats twirled from every rafter.

Any trick to get the audience to NOT look at the main attraction ... or lack thereof. I thought Madonna was smarter than this. But we get it. Aging is a bitch and "exhausting" and the spotlight is addicting. It's hard to keep reinventing yourself. Take it from "the Mother of Invention," Madonna herself.

Although tell that to 74-year-old Jane Fonda who showed up at the Golden Globes standing tight and tall in a backless dress. People were wowed by her visual. But later I caught a glimpse of her in some bad (or normal) lighting. All I saw was a crepe-y, boney spinal column and a forced skeletal smile. This is HOT?
Cher. Fonda.
Now Demi, Cher, Madonna, and Jane and lots more have HAD to go under the knife... it's in the job description. We know all about celebrity “pullbacks” and thrill to the scandal sheets’ photographic displays of them looking their worst on a monthly basis. But something is going horribly wrong and perhaps it all started with Michael Jackson and his confidante/sperm donor Dr. Arnie Klein (botox injector and more "to the stars." See March Vanity Fair).

Even Angelina is being rumored to have had so much" done" that one Hollywood insider described her as just "giant lips 'n tits on a stick." It has all gone way past cosmetic touch-ups. It is now a psychosis.
(I leave legendary Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller out of this because they have made plastic surgery a part of their acts).
I think we are all getting confused as to what is really youthful and vital, and what looks weird and vacant. Trying to capture your youth simply can't be done: not by hormonal cream or injections (Bruce Jenner) weight loss (Madonna 's ravaged arms) or surgery (remember Meg Ryan's destructive attempt at looking like a zombie).

"Staying young" is an inside job. Most of the people I have noticed with severe face work look soul-less and frozen (and not in time). Not exactly "youthful," just "stuck." Nowadays everyone has such a fear of aging (or is it dying) that it's almost like they are trying to "save face" in the inevitable process.

But isn't that what aging is all about? Aren't we meant to "lose face" but somehow gain faith by getting down (becoming brutally conscious) to the nitty gritty … dropped scrotum, saggy boobs and all? It's hard work and there are no short cuts. But somehow going into denial with all the lifts, buffs and tucks may be worse. Lately it has come to LOOK a whole lot worse.

What's even more disturbing is all the freshly stretched and shiny faces still sporting veiny hands and humped backs. Nothing fits and nothing lasts. Obviously it is not meant to. Age acceptance must win out. I can't even look at Callista Gingrich's giant helmet head and laminated forehead without wondering who the hell she is. (I hope the reports are true that she had a "special relationship" with lesbian Karen Olson ... at least that might be real "material.")

There is something about erasing your face that backs up into erasing your core. You may think your are going back in time via eyelifts, fish lips, tummy tucks and boffing younger people, but I think you end up losing your place in line. Forget "authenticity" (overused concept); if you lose your facial expression you lose your character. Then again if you had none to begin with it might just be an accurate reflection and you are ahead of the game.

Recently Isaac Mizrahi said the worst stylistic/visual faux pas of all is not in dressing badly but in getting "too much or awful face work." I think he was onto something. Taking this even further, a psychiatrist friend of mine feels much of this fear of aging and current body "morphing" is ultimately fear of loneliness. Apparently loneliness along with demise of the family unit and addiction to texting are today's biggest cultural epidemics.

Obviously with celebrities, the narcissistic fear of not being the center of attention and actually being ignored must be tough. Lack of relevancy is a problem with everyone. Who wants to go gracefully into the shadows? Even Kim Kardashian made tabloid headlines with her "I can't stand to be alone" refrain. We haven't seen her body morph yet (or have we?). But get ready; it is coming. And then we have to live through every Kardashian family member and every reality TV housewife hitting the wall.

Perhaps the only exception to all this unnecessary face "help" has been Hillary Clinton. The opposite has happened to her! What has become of her image?

Hillary in 2008.
Hillary, today.
For three years her face has been bloated, her hair greasily unkempt, and the wardrobe a flatline. You can't blame it on her job. After all Madeline Albright came into her visual own in this gig and even introduced brooches. Either Hillary A. simply doesn't care anymore and hates her job while feeling unsupported by Obama; B. Is hitting the bottle; C. Refuses to pay the million dollars it cost her for that great Presidential campaign team of "hair and makeup" she had in 2008 when she looked spectacular at every whistle stop no matter the time or day; D. all three.

I want the original Hillary back. Especially if she really is headed (rumors are flying) to the job of World Bank President. Spiffy up, Hill! We need you to show us how it is done. 

But don't think women are the only ones becoming ridiculous in all this 50 and over body morphing. Now more than ever men are going under the cosmetic knife and upping their Viagra. But why do most of these "fresh-faced" men end up looking so much older? I can't figure out why men more than women look so obviously "fixed.”

Whenever I am in front of one of these "newly minted" male visuals I instantly feel sorry for him. I keep wondering why he felt he had to do this? Was his self-esteem that bad? With most of these guys, the awful orange dye job and weirdly transplanted hairline is bad enough. Maybe there were medical issues: like his heavy eyelids prevented him from actually reading or his dangling turkey neck was a problem in swallowing?

Last month Vladimir Putin clearly had his face tweaked. Will that help his leadership skills and popularity? Karl Lagerfeld just commented that "Russian men are so ugly. “If I was a woman in Russia I would be a lesbian." Maybe Karl and Vlad had a consultation call. This is why I admire Clint Eastwood's latest elder controversial TV appearance. A lot of people thought his "Halftime America" add was didactic and too long. And some thought he "looked too soft and like an old woman." Clint? Our greatest tough guy icon (next to John Wayne) of all time! (Talk about showing us aging "up close and personal.")

But people do say with age that men start to look like women, and women start to resemble men (testosterone imbalance). I think Paul McCartney has been looking like English actress Margaret Rutherford for years. So what? (But Sir Paul, please stop dying your hair sooo dark!) 
Margaret Rutherford and Paul McCartney. Need I say more?
Face it, nobody wants to stay the course in their aging. Not in our youth idolized culture. Nobody wants to "endure" the inevitable, let alone do it “appropriately." Nobody knows how. And it is all too scary. What's more, nobody wants to give up their brief 15 minutes of whatever fame. I wish Andy Warhol were still alive to comment. Maybe it is best that he's not. Although he went white-haired long before his time.

Okay, so most people want to be frozen at age 29 doing whatever they always did and looking like they always were. But guess what .... you can't, you won't, and finally (the worst ... dare I say) NOBODY CARES! In the end it is all still Sunset Boulevard.

But good news has arrived: Leave it to a dog to get it all right. I think this year's best actor (sorry George) is the Jack Russell terrier "Uggie" in The Artist. He was hot and vibrant both on and off the screen. Now he is an instant star. Yet it was announced just last week that he is happily retiring after his single hit movie. Imagine: he is perfectly satisfied with his current close-up, Mr. DeMille. Fade out.
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