30 May 2017
Not long ago, I moved into a new place and had a smart TV mounted – front and center – above my fireplace. How thrilling it was to know that Netflix, Hulu and other special networks would be at my disposal without a bunch of remotes. Technology finally seemed to be getting easier.
When it was up and running, the clarity was unbelievable. Sort of like those 10x magnifying mirrors that come in handy to tweeze eyebrows. But there’s a catch. Everything gets magnified with the same clarity and, let’s face it, some of us look better in dim lighting.
In the world of high definition, wrinkles become canyons, drooping eyelids look like they weigh a person down, and it’s hard not to acknowledge that maybe Joan Rivers had a point. Do today’s entertainers need plastic surgery so we can watch them in a high def world. Was that always true?
When I recently saw a program about Lucille Ball, I got some answers. The program had been filmed years ago and Lucy looked great in her older age. There she was on my high def screen, with no plastic surgery and even some enhanced detail courtesy of additional pixels. So, what’s changed? Was aging on screen so much kinder than it is now? I remember the stories of Doris Day: that she insisted on being filmed through some sort of gauze that minimized her freckles and maybe her age?
When I was a kid, many of the TV icons I treasured were older people. Who didn’t want Marcus Welby as their doctor or to live on a ranch with Bonanza’s Lorne Greene? Is it my perspective, or was it okay to be older then?
With the advent of Hi Def TV, celebrities must feel like silent film stars did once talkies came en vogue. Now that more humans are eager to appear as though they don’t age, what will happen to those who do? If today’s Hollywood standards had been applied 30 years ago, TV moguls would have stopped making movies or shows starring anyone over 45, and we would never have seen the Golden Girls! Now that I am somewhat of a golden girl myself, I know what a shame it would’ve been to not see my reality reflected on screen.
After turning 40, as my eyesight started losing ground, I often thought maybe it was a good thing I didn’t have the visual clarity I’d had. Without my glasses on, I look pretty good in the mirror. But when I insert my contact lenses and I come into clear focus, my own high def horror begins. “Lord put some make-up on that face,” I think to myself. “Where did all those age spots and wrinkles come from?”
Can we ask for a new switch on the remote – or maybe one for our mirrors – to treat us more kindly? Will aging be about combating wrinkles with face-lifts? Will a face without lines and expressions be worth more than a visible smile?
Unlike many my age who may wish they were 20, 30 or 40 again, I’m glad to be where I am – although being wrinkle free would be preferable. Especially if I’m preparing for a close-up. Then again, I’d be happy to look like 79-year-old Jane Fonda in Frankie and Grace. Hi def or not, she looks terrific.
Susan G. Parker, Esq., is the author of several books including: