Beauty at the Carnivale

September 2, 2011 § 2 Comments

First, a quick little explanation. I had a personal crisis on Wednesday which didn’t go well, but this isn’t about me and all that jazz. Sorry, couldn’t resist. I just forgot to get to my post in time, which is why you got my stuff on Thursday. Mea culpa, but you did get a look at one of my major pieces, one that I want to finish this year. That was about half of the first chapter, so I hope you enjoyed that little diversion.

Second, I forgot to pick a winner for the contest! That’s bad! But it’s ok, because our lucky winner is Ghadzilla! I know who that is and he knows who I am, but I’ll repeat what he gets for everyone’s benefit!

Our lucky winner gets one (1) story of his/her choice! They get to pick the story idea, and in return, I will write them a story based off of that idea! So what he/she needs to do is contact me with an idea, and we’ll hash it out over the next week or two!

Third, I’ve been watching Carnivale over the past few days (hooray for unemployment), and I’ve been enjoying it immensely for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it’s set in a carnival in the 1930s, which means that there is incredible costume and set design. Half of it is brown, because it’s the Depression, but the other half is amazing Dirty Thirtie’s chic.

The Mighty Samson!

It really makes me want to run away and join the Carnival, but also really really glad I didn’t live in South-West America in the 1930s. Oh and the writing’s pretty good (sometimes quite dense and slow for no reason) and the acting is wonderful and all that, so I highly recommend that you go watch it.

That said, what I actually want to talk about is the physical appearance of the actors that they picked. 90% of them are, well, not particularly attractive by today’s standards, probably because the producers are referencing a different set of standards. Women have curves (sometimes fat as well), and faces are lined. Men are rugged, but also dirty and smelly. This is one of the attractive male leads (seeing him without a shirt is…depressing for most guys), but you can see the dirt and wear on him.


But I really like how, well, the people aren’t all super attractive, and it works both thematically and historically. There’s a scene where they are washing a girl’s hair, and they use a bowl and jug because they don’t have running water. That means dirt and smell and whatnot are a part of life. It means bad hair, bad teeth, and bad skin, and it works.

Not to say that the girls are all ugly and all that. The Bearded Lady is quite the vixen despite her, well, beard.

This is on my mind because I went to Babes in Space 2: The Wrath of Thong, a Star Trek and Star Wars themed burlesque that one of my friends danced in and everyone was good-looking despite the different body types on display. It got me thinking, historically, of course, in the face of thongs and pasties, that we’re not all like that, but it also reminded me just how much of a difference regular showering and hair products make.

Also, and more interestingly, it reminded me just how much beauty really is perception. We all know that, but it’s good to be reminded of that. See, check out The Rape of Lucretia, a painting by Titian that depicts a significant moment in Roman history. It was also painted in the 16th century.

Lucretia, though by no means bad looking, isn’t exactly a 9/10, yet she’s supposed to have inflamed the passions of Sextus Tarquinius (grabby rapey dude) beyond rational thought. Not to be offensive, but Lucretia, honey? Drop a few of the Krispus kremus and we’ll see about the whole “launch a thousand ships” thing.

See, beauty is weird in that way. We have standards, but those standards are so malleable and dynamic we sometimes don’t even realize how malleable and they actually are. Fat, thin, tall, short, they really don’t mean a thing. It’s just what we like or don’t like as this supra-corporeal entity known as “society”, not as the actual people we are.

It’s just cool when we’re reminded that, y’know, a lot of the things that “we” think aren’t actually what we think.  There were plenty of people at the Burlesque that wouldn’t have fit the current archtype of standard beauty. But, of course, they had smiles on their faces and partners on their arms, so I suppose they were doing something right.

Peace out, yo. Things should be normal by the weekend.


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