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Monday, May 18, 2015

Beauty is in the eye of the camera lens

Saw Ex Machina last night, about a robot whose maker tries to imbue it with human qualities. It was as good as advertised, cleverly written, well cast, sort of sexy, and maybe a little predictable. It didn't have a lot of laughs, so I can't say it was all that enjoyable, but it held my attention.

What I was mostly struck by was the delicate beauty of the actress who plays the robot, Alicia Viskander:

But when I got home and Google-imaged her, that beauty was a little more elusive. What I found were a bunch of shots that looked like this:

Still pretty, but hardly the shimmeringly beautiful, exquisitely delicate, ethereal creature of the movie.

This evening, I stumbled across this picture of the character Cersei Lannister (with her brother) from Game of Thrones.

I've never seen the show, but was really struck by that picture. Here's another shot of her:

She's pretty much….perfection.

After finding out that the character was played by actress Lena Headey, I Google-imaged her and saw a lot of shots that looked like this:

And this:

Unquestionably beautiful, yes, but not really recognizable from one set of photos to the other. And here's another picture of her where she's doing that thing that good-looking girls do, making a face when their picture is taken. It's really a form of showing off: look-how-beautiful-I-still-am-even-when-I'm-making-this-face:

I've written about women who represent physical perfection before, here and here. What I said was that the difference between a nine and a ten is that a ten must at least seem to have good character reflected in her features.

And both Vikander and Headey, at least in their better photographs, radiate goodness. Both look like sensitive, soulful, gentle, kind, intelligent creatures.

(Who knows what they're actually like.)

As Tolstoy said, how striking the illusion that beauty is goodness.

Anyway, my point here is that there is a lot of variance between different photographs, and, uh…..I dunno, I guess I just wanted to post some shots of exquisite women.


Remnant said...

Notice the tattoo as well in the last photo. Tattoo on female = assume not of good character.

John Craig said...

Remnant --
If you Google-image her, you'll see pictures of her with tattoos across her back as well.

When I see a woman with tattoos, I don't necessarily think BAD character, I just think, well, just not pristine character. It's sort of a roundabout way of saying, "I'm wild, and I fuck, and I'm proud of it."Certainly nothing wrong with being a little wild, or with having sex, but feeling obliged to advertise it is a little different.

Remnant said...

Personally, I'm very old school on tattoos: If you aren't a sailor, an ex-con, a biker, someone with solid working class credentials, a Japanese gangster, or some sort of Pacific Islander, you have no business having a tattoo. And if you are a woman, forget it.

Now, I know contemporary life has made my views somewhat untenable, but I still have a strong prejudice against it. Part of it is it is such a thoughtless gesture. Getting a tattoo is now the easy, default and conformist thing to do. In fact, one reason why so many girls get tattoos now is because they are by nature more conformist. It exhibits thoughtlessness, low impulse control and conformity all at once.

I also have a beef against middle-class or upper class guys who do it to show how "cool", "tough" and "free spirited" they are. Lawyers and bankers who want to signal "yeah, I'm a professional but I'm actually a bad ass in my spare time." Spare me.

The trend is also a symptom of white people's current state of spiritual and cultural malaise, confusion and homelessness. Outside of some very narrow exceptions, such as some Celtic cultures and the marginal underclass populations I mentioned above, tattooing is simply not a part of European culture. I would rather people were pursuing their real roots and traditions, than engaging in pointless -- and generally ugly -- body adornments that have no reference point in their own culture.

Rant over.

John Craig said...

Remnant --
We basically agree. I wrote about my feelings about tattoos here:

And here:

Anonymous said...

I don't have any permanent tattoos and I'm not interested in having any. However, sometimes, I have worn fake tattoos because nowadays they've got some really cute ones - flowers, butterflies, etc. I tend to go for small, pretty looking tattoos because once they're on your body, they add a little bit of sparkle to your body. The beauty of these fake tattoos is that they wash off!


John Craig said...

Birdie --
Nothing wrong with a fake tattoo, they're just like an article of clothing.

Anonymous said...

My kids have a cousin (paternal side of the family) who has a small tattoo on his ankle (I noticed it when he wore sandals). The tattoo was one that he could value - it was a college logo - he graduated years ago from UVA. Personally, I don't care for big, loud looking tattoos. Over time these tattoos fade, not looking as pristine as when you first got them. The pain factor (needles are used to create the tattoo) plus the possibility of not liking the tattoo (over time) keeps me from having one. Consequently, I don't plan to ever have one!


John Craig said...

Birdie --
Smart decision.

Personally, I don't mind tattoos if they commemorate something really significant, like having made an Olympic team, or military service, or something like that. (I'm not sure going to a college qualifies though.) But, certainly, discreet is better than loud.

Lucian Lafayette said...

Character counts for a lot. At some point you have to start talking to them.

John Craig said...

Luke --
Brains count too, if you want a relationship. But this post was really just about admiring them from a distance.

Remnant said...

Thanks for the links to your prior posts on tattooing. Your line about "Angelina Jolie achieving the same effect" was classic.

The Cheryl Cole thing is almost tragic. She is/was amazingly beautiful, and that tattoo is just a crime. Many tattoo artists must be conscienceless, sociopathic or just dumb. Tattoo artists should really refrain from doing certain things. But I guess that train has left the station.

Searching Cole's Wikipedia entry for the term "tattoo" came up with just one result which was ultra-hottie Megan Fox saying "Cheryl Cole, yeah she's hot, and I love her tattoos." This goes to another important point which is that women should NEVER trust what other women say or advise them concerning beauty, dressing, weight loss, etc.

Whether the motivation is a mindless "you-go-grrl" expression of female solidarity or (more likely in my view) a deeply ingrained, indeed evolved, trait that for mate competition reasons leads them to consciously or unconsciously give bad advice to other women in this regard, women give each other horrible advice. (For example, the entire fat acceptance movement is basically women telling each other they look great. No men, other than fetishists are joining in the encouragement.)

As John noted in his post on Cole, men would look at her tattoo and weep, not say "I love it!"

John Craig said...

Remnant --
Thank YOU.

I'm a little less inclined than you to blame the tattoo artists; I think for the most part they're just guys who do as they're told. And they, unlike Megan Fox, at least aren't hypocrites:it's a rare tattoo artist who's not covered in ink himself.

I know what you mean about women giving each other bad advice, though I think Fox was only making a diplomatic statement after the fact, not giving Cole advice ahead of time.

Evolutionarily, what you say makes perfect sense though. Why not eliminate the competition when you can?

Remnant said...

Just googled her (that's googled, not ogled), and apparently Megan Fox has NINE tattoos, some of which make Angelina Jolie's look positively tasteful.

You are giving Fox the benefit of the doubt in her comment, John, but think there is a good possibility my hunch holds even in her case. Why pick out Cole's tattoos as the thing you "love" about her? Not her personality, her acting skills (or whatever Cole does), her philanthropic activities (part of her Wikipedia entry); no, her tattoos.

What Fox is really saying is one or some of the following:

1. "I love her tattoos, and hope that she gets even more, maybe on her face and neck."

2. "I love her tattoos, because it helps to validate my own stupid impulsive decisions and makes me not have second thoughts about those decisions."

3. "I love her tattoos, because now even more of the competition will go out and do the same, keeping me no worse off."

I'm joking and exaggerating somewhat.

All of these examples -- Jolie, Cole and Fox -- make me think there are real psychological issues there. What kind of girl gets scribbles -- literally scribbling in Fox's and Jolie's cases -- on their body? Someone with real issues and psychological problems; that's who.

No matter how beautiful they are, I would be unable to look them in the face and not then think of the damage they did to their bodies, and wonder "What's wrong with you?"

I hope some sense of pity, rather than spite, is coming through here, because I do feel sorry for people like that.

Remnant said...

"Evolutionarily, what you say makes perfect sense though. Why not eliminate the competition when you can?"

One of H.L. Mencken's great lines is coming to mind: "Misogynist: A man who hates women as much as women hate one another."

John Craig said...

Remnant --
You're better informed than I am. I hadn't realized Fox had all those tattoos. I agree completely that a lot of tattoos means: issues!

I guess Fox is eating her own cooking then. Who knows, maybe some of these women think that tattoos somehow enhance them. And evidently some guys must go for that.

BTW, Lena Headey also has an abundance of tattoos across her back. to me, that's like painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa, almost criminal, but it's up to them what they do to themselves.

Here's another aside: I've seen pictures of Fox pre-plastic surgery, and she was pretty ordinary-looking. She definitely made the right decision on that score.

I'm sure you're right about the validation aspect to all this, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Some people like adorning themselves with tattoos and they may not have "issues." Years ago, when my kids and I were vacationing in Florida, I met a woman at the pool who had some lovely, colorful floral tattoos on her legs. She was an attractive brunette, married with several children, ranging in age from adulthood to babyhood. This woman told me that she considered her tattoos "body art." She had some good advice for women, telling me that women should take mini-vacations throughout the year, going either solo or with their families, allowing you to get refreshed, recharged.


Steven said...

I don't really find the one from game of thrones attractive. I'd rate her 7 or 8 in facial beauty and maybe 6 in attractiveness. Just not my type I guess.

I much prefer Alicia Viskander and I think that second picture of her is really good. I think her rounder face is more feminine.

Steven said...

Remnant, I agree about tattoes.

Actually, if men have tattoes I don't really care but on a young woman they are a turn off. Why scribble something on your body you can never get off? 1) it looks messy, crass and crude. 2) if a woman has a big tattoo, she can never be truly naked.

The canvas is better than the painting always when it comes to tattoes. Just say no kids.

John Craig said...

Birdie --
Often, when people have "issues," they're not apparent when you first meet them. I don't know how well you got to know this woman, but it sounds as if you met her in passing, from what you say. And while I'm certainly not against vacations, she does sound pretty self-indulgent, if she advertises that philosophy.

John Craig said...

Steven --
Alicia Vikander is definitely the more feminine and delicate of the two, but it may not be a fair comparison given that she's 24 and Headey is 41. (I think these are recent pictures for both.)

We'll just have to agree to disagree about Headey.

Anonymous said...

I just think that when people have tattoos, there actually may not be "issues" involved. On the surface, the person simply wants a tattoo, period, not having any underlying psychological reason for getting a tattoo. I personally (as I've posted) have zero interest in having any permanent tattoos.


John Craig said...

Birdie --
I guess that's possible. I've known a few young people with tattoos who seemed normal enough. But what Remnant and I were talking about was not necessarily "issues" in the sense of a certifiable mental syndrome so much as just a general lack of foresight. Anybody who gets a tattoo is basically ignoring the fact that he or she may get tired of the tattoo at some point in the future. And it tends to be a somewhat impulsive act, too.

Anonymous said...

If someone goes overboard, getting too many tattoos, then the person does have a problem, having possibly become addicted to getting tattoos (just like there are people addicted to plastic surgery). I guess the key is everything in moderation.


Jokah Macpherson said...

If I had an Aliciavikanderbot I would definitely ask it a lot of boring questions to try to probe whether it was intelligent or not. Yep. That's definitely the first thing I would do.

No way no how would I try to trick it by saying, "You want to escape, huh? Well, the evil tech zillionaire guy told me there's a secret switch by that opening between your legs that that controls the security system. Give me 30 minutes down there and I should be able to shut it off." I would never do that.

Anyways, posting pictures of her is nice but what are your thoughts on the movie's anti-white knighting theme?

John Craig said...

Jokah --
I think your first sentence would be more accurate if you eliminated the following words: "…ask it a lot of boring questions to…whether….was intelligent or not."

I hope you don't try to use the tactics described in your second paragraph in real life…..Well, actually, I hope you do.

On a more serious note, I didn't actually read an ant-white knighting theme in the movie. The nerd protagonist was obviously selected by the billionaire because he was such an obvious beta male who would might actually fall for the Vikanderbot. But I didn't see it as man vs. woman so much as man vs. machine. This movie was a prequel to Terminator, not to Body Heat.