Hot person over-load and the rapid escalation of ‘same face’ syndrome

Sometimes when I watch a film or TV series I find myself wondering; is that the same person as before or is it another character entirely? I cant tell if woman X with the black hair in a pony-tail is the same woman X in the next scene with her hair worn down…Is any-one else experiencing this problem?

And I don’t think it’s because my brain can’t manage to assemble collections of features into recognisable individuals, it’s because of a growing trend I’m gong to call same face syndrome.

It’s difficult to keep track of who’s who when actors are chosen based on an ever-narrowing set of physical parameters, and I think it is safe to say that while there is more representation of race and gender when it comes to on-screen roles, there is definitely less representation of people who don’t conform to our current hyper-idealised, filter-funneled standards of beauty. Frankly I find the whole thing a bit creepy.  

Of course lovely faces have always been integral to the screen business and I see no reason why that should change – after all, who doesn’t relish the beauty of a heavenly visage? But not all the time. Not in every film and TV show. The way things are heading, diversity of features will be a thing of the past, especially with plastic surgery weighing in to hasten the melding.

You have to wind the clock back to find a larger sample of actors from other planets – ones closer to everyday person instead of centre-of-everything perfection, where noses stand proudly and inclusion isn’t relative to eye-socket spacing or flawless chin projection, where divergence is deemed acceptable and fit for human consumption.

Lately I’ve even noticed the phenomenon seeping into the field of documentary for god’s sake. It may well be the result of subconscious bias, but more and more I see vox pop segments featuring ‘random’ subjects who all lean very suspiciously towards the high-end of spectrum hot.

Our screens are so stuffed to the gills with an over-load of hot people I think it’s high-time for relief. 

Walt Disney and his tiny-hoofed lady-girls

My latest deep interest (or short-lived obsession) is the life and times and creative output of Walt Disney and his team of artists.

Having never actually knowingly watched any of his feature animations, I found a number of them streaming for free (public domain) on Vimeo, so, last night I settled down on my sheepskin padded cradle-bed to view Sleeping Beauty (1959).

My interest was ignited by the two-part documentary currently streaming on SBS on Demand about Walt. (I was able to view episode one before my current hardware/software obsolescence set in) but then, thankfully, before my head exploded from episode 2 withdrawal, found the entire 3 hour ad-free documentary on YouTube.

Walt Disney’s first cartoon to make it BIG time was Steamboat Willy (1928) featuring an early incarnation of Mr Mickey in a joyous romp. What made the cartoon so endearing was the brilliant use of sound in the slapstick, gag-filled action. Disney was also the first to maximize profit with toys and merchandise, and, after the 6 million dollar box-office smashing caused by the full-length animated feature, Snow White (1937), Walt and his long-term partner and brother built the Walt Disney studios in Burbank, a highly stratified collection of buildings housing the various departments.

D-wing was the home of the big men, Walt’s boys, the animators who, in the early days (before conditions got tighter) were paid five dollar bonuses for each visual gag they came up with. These were the folk who decided that Cinderella’s foot should be a tiny little morsel, so small that it would fit the daintiest slipper imaginable.

When the work had been okayed by Walt’s famously praise-free ‘That’ll work,’ then the ‘girls’ in the paint and ink department could do their job, the painstaking, eye-straining task of outlining and coloring the men’s heroic output onto celluloid sheets. There were 24 sheets required for every second of animatiom, not to mention the extra celluloid required for the multi-plane camera technology that enabled layering of backgrounds, a technique already in use by the German animator, Lotte Reiniger, a pioneer of silhouette animation whose feature film, The Adventures of Prince Ahmed was made in 1926.

For the most part, the women at Disney (or ladies with tiny feet) were deemed unfit for the manly task of animation. Walt explains why in a quaint letter to an aspiring animator, and the gist of his reasoning goes like this: there are no women in the animation department, therefore, we don’t employ women in the animation department..Hmmm. Also women’s tiny little handies were far better suited to the task of colouring in Walt’s firm opinion. At least the applicant received a response, a politeness seemingly lost in today’s world.

But gender roles were a hell of a lot less fluid back in 1930/40’s America. For example, a woman wearing pants whilst appearing as a witness in court in Los Angeles was sent home to change. She returned. Still in pants, and was sentenced to 5 days in to jail for contempt of court. Women did find their way into the boys club at Disney, especially after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the USA joined WWII. The draft created instability in the work-force, and women were invited to apply for more artistically fullfiling positions, a move that disgruntled male employees saw as a cynical ploy to pay lower wages.

By the way, the paint and ink girls got $18 per week, while a top (male) animator could earn up to $300 per week.

And back to Sleeping Beauty. I didn’t like it much, but the Princess Aurora sure does have tiny feet.


Post 1: Wentworth election, muffy-head dog and built-in obsolecense

Welcome to my blog, or, as WordPress is wont to describe it, my ‘very own little corner of the internet’, which seems strange as I’ve never considered the internet to be box-shaped at all. Anyway, in this ‘ere little blip of digital space I will spill meandering musings in a somewhat disordered and haphazard fashion, and with that said…here goes…

Watching ABC news 24 blabbing on about the Wentworth By-election on a wet Saturday morning in Victoria, Australia. A live cross to the action and now back to the studio. Then back to the action – footage of the ‘money shot’ of the Labor candidate casting his vote (who is he? Answer: the one who won’t win)

And back to the studio of my life: the physical space from whence I sit and muse. This red chair from the Salvos and my allergy-plagued dog, his muffy-head flopping over the edge of the 1950s arm-chair that used to furnish the house next door, owned by the one and only friendly-neighborhood axeman, the chopper of wood, the pleasant thwack-crack of hardwood splitting as I boil a brew in my galley kitchen.

My house is a ‘tinker house’. Built during the first world war by non-professional builders. Bricks plunked straight onto the ground apparently. And without the courtesy of foundation it cracks and moves with the live clay earth, it bends and twists and fills with crumble-dust. For I have no funds to fix it (being asset rich but pension-poor) but oh so lucky to be the owner of inner-city bricks and mortar.

I spent last night watching TV in bed – the hardware a ten year old desktop computer currently suffering from a growing case of obsolescence, services freezing in unsupported browsers – no more Foxtel, Iview, and now SBS is showing signs of saying bye-bye. Only Netflix and YouTube remain stable friends – my nightly immersion into the world of screen, prostrate on my nesting bed, padded by my grey, sheepskin rug.

By day I write my unfinished books, wrangling them into strangled versions of their original soulful, selves. Editing story lines to comply with motivation and justifying abandonment with the promise of the new.

I was asked a question on Wednesday (the day my home-help arrives each fortnight to change my sheets and open the peanut butter lid), and the question was this: What job would you choose  if you could have your time again? I said I’d be a scientist or an architect, or something more ‘serious’ than the dabbler I’ve become, but the truth is I am happy in my daily strivings…

And so, until the next rambling tumbles from my hungrybrain, adios amigos I do bid you farewell…