Women, Men, the Oscars, and Getting Older in the Public Eye

Kim Novak's Oscar face.  Not what her face might have been without a surgeon's touch.
Kim Novak’s Oscar face. Not what her face might have been without a surgeon’s touch.
\r\n\r\nEven before the Oscars broadcast started, I decided not to write a post about the gowns.  When it comes down to it, what do I really care about who wore what couture gown to Hollywood’s ultimate self-congratulation-fest?  Obviously, I don’t wear gowns, as there aren’t too many places in my world that are gown-worthy–and the only couturier I’ll be seeing any time soon is myself.  Yet, once again, we had some nastiness at the Oscars.  Rather than the nastiness directed at women by a snidely sneering smarmy host, this year’s nastiness was directed at women — notably, OLDER women–by the Twittering masses.\r\n\r\nThe worst was, perhaps, said about Kim Novak.  It seems that Novak, one of Hollywood’s Golden Girl Beauties, was there to present the award for Best Animated Film, alongside Matthew McConaughey.  Yet she could barely speak.  We don’t really know why, but many surmised that it had something to do with the plumping and slashing of the plastic surgeon’s toolkit.  It could also simply have to do with being old–she’s 81, after all–and not everyone is sprightly at 81.\r\n\r\nNow, we’ve seen old men dodder around and trip over one another on the Oscar stage.  When Kirk Douglas appears on TV on the odd occasion, we say “how wonderful! he’s still getting around AT HIS AGE.”\r\n\r\nAbout a woman, we say, “oh, what’s WRONG with her?” or “What did she do to her face?”  Or something equally derogatory.  We do not think that, maybe, she’s been ill, or that she’s, like any of the other men out there, simply getting old.\r\n\r\nPerhaps it’s our memories of Hollywood’s Golden People, or that their youthful images are always in front of us, that we are shocked when we see them as “old people.”  Perhaps we expect them to be, like bugs in amber, beautifully preserved and always youthful.\r\n\r\nOr is it that we expect women to, as they say, “age gracefully”–whatever that means.  We see a jowly, some what rubber-faced, 70 year old Robert De Niro and say, “he looks pretty good for his age,” when we see him cast as the husband of 55 year-old Michele Pfeiffer.   Or, “wow, I didn’t how he was 71” when we see Harrison Ford starring opposite Daniel Craig, who’s about half Ford’s age.\r\nMen age and become action heroes, like the 61-year old Liam Neeson in “Non-Stop.”  Women age, and they become drunken harpies, like 64- year old Meryl Streep in “August: Osage County.”  Men become adventurers–like Robert Redford.  Women become wicked witches–like Jessica Lange, who is 13 yrs younger than Redford (although I will say I *love* all of Lange’s “American Horror Story” wicked witches. And they are *very* cool.)\r\n\r\nWe don’t care about a man’s skin regimen or his hairstyle.  We certainly did forgive Bill Murray for a serious case of Crazy Professorhead\r\n\r\n
Bill Murray sports a W.C. Fields nose and Crazy Professorhead hair at the Oscars
Bill Murray sports a W.C. Fields nose and Crazy Professorhead hair at the Oscars
\r\n\r\n(although some did remark “wow, did HE get OLD.”  BTW: he’s 16 years younger than Novak…..)\r\n\r\nIt’s just that, for women, the expectations of how one will age, and then how one will appear in public, with all that age, are so, so much higher than they are for men.  Men seem to be able to wrinkle, grow curmudgeonly (like Ford,) leer lecherously (like Jack Nicholson,) and drink excessively (like Murray is known to do,)  without the Thundering Hordes of Social Media going all berserk.\r\n\r\nWhat is it, then, about all the Hollywood plastic surgery that keeps maiming and destroying the faces of so many beautiful women?  Who are the jokers who keep promoting plumpers and fillers, and slashing and pulling?  Why do they keep giving women duck lips, trout pouts, unresponsive foreheads and cheekbones rounder than the Campbell Kids??  It seems to be something of a national tragedy that so many feel they cannot show the face that nature gives them once they are known for The Face that Hollywood made them.\r\n\r\n 

3 comments Add yours
  1. Kim Novak will always be one of my favorite movie stars and shame on those that make cruel remarks. I am sorry that she felt she needed plastic surgery as she had great bones and we all get old eventually. Women don’t deserve being subjected to this double standard while men “get better w/ age”! I hope Ms Novak has not paid attention to these mean spirited people, she deserves far better treatment not to mention the respect she deserves for giving so much the world. I would like to say: I send all my Love to you Kim Novak, you are an incredible woman and one of the greatest movie stars of all time.

    1. I’m with you Sandra. I’ve always loved her, and I felt so bad when I heard that people were so, so mean in their comments. It was good to see her escorted by McConaughey, who was The Man to be with that night. She certainly earned the honor to walk out with her own piece of “arm candy”. Considering she’s only a few years out of a battle with breast cancer, I give her a lot of credit for going out there after all she’s been through. I wonder, though, what are the “critics” going to think of their own selves, and their own faces, when *they* get old. Nobody’s youthful forever.

      1. I totally agree with you and shame on them for being so incredibly mean spirited. I had no idea that she had fought cancer….she is an amazing woman to be sure.

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