Earlier this week, a known actress
– you might call her a star, I wouldn’t, very few stars in the sky of my imagination – was described as not being pretty enough to be believable in the lead of a new film about what we used to call a working class girl (what Americans call blue collar) bettering her lot. Said actress communicated her displeasure to the writer. For some reason it was thought important that he was a freelance – as if the show business bible for which he was writing would never have said such a thing, though they commissioned and paid for the piece – and the man/woman thing. And in jumped the speakers for women, the speakers against women, other wellknown players under outrage and “what I would have done”, and so on.
Height of the pandemic. Cinemas closed,
terrestrial tv running out of product, not all of us are invested in Netflix/Apple etc and not all of us want to watch new product on a screen of smaller size (See David Thomson’s The Big Screen: it isn’t new but it is important).
Said actress has one of those funny little mugs we used to call appealing before that word was ditched as patronising. Shot from the right angle she looks lovely (skin to die for) but the beauty shifts, as does most human beauty – straight or gay, man or woman, young or old. That’s one of the things that keeps you looking – you might miss it.
Very few people and very few things are always eternally and from every angle beautiful. And at this point I say nailing my colours to the wall, I am of the opinion that beauty is an absolute. You see it when you see it. You miss it when you miss it. And it is a much abused term.
You can perceive beauty in anything. You can know that it’s the term others would apply and not wish to join them. You can lurch toward whatever it is with your mouth ajar (see annalog/instinct) – there doesn’t seem to have been a process between your brain and your response. Like me meeting Reba a thirteen week old black Labrador puppy in whom beauty isn’t flat, it’s 3D – fur, paws, young smell, unafraid response, not mine , the dome of that silken head – a whole thing. You can hear beauty, smell beauty, feel it through your fingertips … the dictionary says “a combination of qualities that delights the aesthetic senses”.
But why would you argue with what a reviewer says about you in a role ?
Wouldn’t you say to yourself “Great – that’s good for a talker ! “ And anyway, why is it wrong to say what you think, even if the recipient doesn’t agree or doesn’t like it ? Yes yes yes, we can have a whole argument about how you say it, context, matter of degree, what you meant, why you meant it, vested interests but you come back to the response. The term beauty is bandied about in the 21st century. It is far too widely applied, used without knowledge or appreciation.
It is too often presumed , and always was, that beauty has to do with money – therefore we could argue- how could the heroine of this unseen film be beautiful or even pretty – when she was poor ? This is probably why beauty
is referred to as a gift, inferring value.
(Aside: off on this riff, I am back in my English class aged 13. |I have drawn my subject from the pile and I now have to speak without hesitation for 5 minutes on – making tea … Makes you think. Makes you speak fluently too. It isn’t beautiful but it takes you to an adjunct of beauty which is bearing – aligned to our old friend, confidence).
Because that’s what struck me about the known actress and the critical review. Were I the subject of this item, I wouldn’t defend myself. I know who I am, what I am trying to do, what the film was trying to do. Earn your money and go home. This is not about Beauty and the Beast or the Battle of the Sexes. You want a pure politically untainted example of beauty ? The endlessness and focus of the subconscious mind.
Personal: new radio station launches 14 February.
My first contribution (my son kindly said not your best, just your first) evening of the same day, rerun following Wednesday.
May I thank all of you who have encouraged me and stayed with me down the years since broadcast was my breath ?
see BOOM Radio.