Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Flaunt It, Floss It, Fleek It

In the 2005 rendition of The Producers a lot of time is spent on the side of show business, which fits right in with Postman's viewpoints on "Amusing Ourselves to Death". Within it Postman states, "For the message of television as metaphor is not only that all the world is a stage but that the stage is located in Las Vegas, Nevada...Our priests and presidents, our surgeons and lawyers, our educators and newscasters need worry less about satisfying the demands of their discipline than the demands of good showmanship." 

Good showmanship indeed, while at first the performance does not seem special in any way and lyrics are simple at best, the showmanship given on Ulla's part (Uma Thurman) once taking off her rain coat, captivates the "producers" attention in this greatly sexualized performance. However, the message is as clear as the lyrics: 

People tell you modesty's a wirtue
But in the theatre modesty can hurt you 
Ven you got it, flaunt it
Show your assets, let them know you're proud
Your goodies you must push
Stick out your chest, shake your tush
Ven you got it, shout it out loud 

In order to get where you want to be, it's all about flaunting what you've got. Another example on how looks have come into the entertainment business is greatly shown by none other than Austin Powers. When Austin Powers is unfrozen in the future without his mojo, he has to learn general hygiene about his teeth. Back in his day it wasn't a requirement to have good teeth in order to be sexy, but now in the new age, he did.

With women wearing more makeup than in the past in movies, now it's overtly displayed in movies that one needs great hygiene in order to be taken seriously. In 1987, when Jennifer Grey played  Baby, she wore very minimal makeup throughout this film as leading actress. 

Image result for dirty dancing

Fast forward to the 2016 movie release of Hidden Figures, which is based in 1926 and see the difference of females clad with lipstick and eyebrows that are "fleek" and "on point," right down to the now popular contouring makeup style. 

I believe this further ties into Postman's belief that television evolves to meet its audiences expectations. That nowadays, we expect to be movies, even historical ones, to be shown in the modern, idealized way. The danger of this is something we've talked about in class before. That if movies are used by viewers as accurate historical references, this could potentially rewrite the way people are educated about historical events. Which then begs the question:

Do you think movies catering to the expectations of movie goers helps or hinders the overall movie takeaways and is it something we should worry about?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Cyndee!

    First, my compliments go to your title. I love alliteration, and I like how each “F-word” references your supporting points in the order you presented them. Clever. 
    I must say that while I may agree with the principle that showmanship seems to trump skill, I do not agree with the movies you presented as proof.

    Flaunt it - The reason that Baby wore natural make-up in most of the film, Dirty Dancing was because her character was meant to be plain and innocent. The film which was released in 1987 didn’t show less make-up because culture in the 80s was adverse to make-up and wanted to see characters on screen that reflected that. Conversely, many of us loved lots of blue eye shadow.  As you can see from the following picture, Baby wore make-up when she was meant to represent a real woman on stage. Even in Baby’s personal life, he began to wear more and more make-up as she became more and more physically intimate with her handsome bad boy. Not only does Baby reveal cleavage by the end of the film, she reveals eye shadow and lipstick.

    Floss It - The reason Austin Powers needed to fix his teeth was because the movie was a satire, so it was over emphasizing the joke that all Brits have bad teeth – well, at least worse teeth than Americans. Other satires, such as The Simpsons, have used UK teeth as the punch line for jokes. If one Googles “the war between American and British teeth,” pages of articles will be revealed. In fact, many English take pride in their unique teeth. It is not actually a showmanship issue, it is a cultural debate.

    Fleek It - In Hidden Figures, the character in your photo represented Mary Jackson. Your argument is that today’s movie audience demanded that make-up design, even though it did not reflect the reality of women’s appearance at the time. I disagree. First, the three leading characters wore differing levels of make-up between them, proving that a full face of make-up was the expectation. Second, those individuals who were represented in the film, and who were still living, were consulted during the production. I don’t think the women would allow their on-screen representations falsify their entire character because people in 2017 needed a certain kind of fashion look. Finally, some of the women in 1962 did in fact wear the make-up shown in the photo of Mary Jackson on your blog. You wrote, “females clad with lipstick and eyebrows that are ‘fleek’ and ‘on point,’ right down to the now popular contouring makeup style.” My assertion is that the ‘now popular contouring make-up style’ was popular then as well. The following image was taken from a 1962 magazine, and it explains to its viewers exactly how to make fleecy and pointy lips and brows. The next image is an authentic picture of some of the ‘human computers that worked at NASA. If you notice, some of the women have chosen to wear darker lipstick while others are less noticeable. Mary Jackson, the woman represented in your initial picture, is on the far right. If you look closely, she is wearing pearls and heels. It appears this woman enjoyed dressing up and it is likely she followed the fashion trends. In addition, I included a front cover of a 1962 magazine so that it can be shown that black women of the time did wear make-up that could easily be worn today without a glance.

    My contention is that the movies used in the examples did in fact stay true to the characters and plotlines they intended to represent. Dirty Dancing (1987) showed that in 1963 girls went through changes while coming of age. Austin Powers (1987) showed that cultural jokes shown at the extreme make for extremely funny satirical scenes. Hidden Figures (2016) showed that black women, no matter their intelligence or fashion/style, could achieve success.