Saturday, July 29, 2006

"Hardly the stuff that dreams are made of"

Kathy Shaidle has a great little post up about "beautiful" celebrities, and her take is very similar to my own:

Time was someone like Winona Rider would have been a beloved character actress/ingenue (or working at the Dairy Queen) than a "sex symbol". Diana Durban or such like. And yet she is the Fantasy Woman of millions of my fellow Gen-Xers. Yes, I know she has that giant shelf o' boobs. But really, isn't Rider just a few steps up from the squinty-eyed, lipless Tatum O'Neal (who I blame for much of this lowering of standards), and her latter day doppleganger, that Bridget Jones girl whose name I can't even remember.

The strangest thing is watching today's mousy actresses make yesterday's mousy actresses look better, the way "crappy" 80s music we all made fun of now sounds genius compared to Coldplay. I mean, stick Lindsay Lohan next to Winona and suddenly Ryder looks like Liz Taylor. We've moved way beyond jolie laide to just plain moche.

TCM has been featuring Elizabeth Taylor during the month of July, and I just can't get over the fact that she is stunning. Like maybe one of the most beautiful people ever. In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof I was totally overwhelmed by the h-o-t-t hotness of Paul Newman and La Liz, and was really hoping that they would have a child, like, not just in the movie but in real life. Talk about most gorgeous offspring.

More Kathy:

Joan Crawford, Katherine Hepburn and Bette Davis weren't supposed to be "sexy." That was Ava Gardner's job.

Indeed. But were the 1930s-50s just some kind of blip on the beautiful people radar and that kind of beauty just won't be achieved again in Hollywood? I mean, Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom, Brad Pitt, etc. are very cute, but they're nowhere near as sexy or drop-dead gorgeous as someone like Paul Newman in the 50s, or Cary Grant and Clark Gable in the 30s. Were Hedy Lamar, Ava Gardner, Liz Taylor, and Greta Garbo just flukes? I guess they probably were, and maybe it's nice that today's standard of beauty is more attainable for us mere mortals -- but, well, I'm not sure what I'm saying, except that our Hollywood stars today don't feel like STARS so much as just good-looking people with very little in the way of personality. In fact, I'd say that "stars" in the old-Hollywood style don't exist anymore -- Angelina Jolie is a curiousity, a puzzle, a homewrecker, a freak-a-do, a whatever, but she's certainly not mysterious or glamorous or otherwordly the way Greta Garbo was. Heck, even Liz Taylor has lost her "star"-ness and become just another crazy curiousity in a town of lost dreams.


LeaJo said...

Just to clarify, are you saying that because Paul Newman was really really attractive, he had personality and was a "star"? Because I personally think that Heath Ledger is really really attractive, yet by your standards, you wouldn't classify him as a "star".
I think you're argument is very interesting, but I don't know if you can really say that no one in Hollywood right now is as beautiful as the stars of old-Hollywood were. It seems a bit objective.
I sort of agree with what your saying, but I'm also a little confused...which tends to happen when you're being smart and referencing all those old timers like you always do. I am shamed. :)

The Derelict said...

You mean subjective, right? 'Cause if it were objective then I could say that no one in Hollywood is as beautiful as stars of old Hollywood. ;)

But no, it's not just attractiveness. You know I think Heath, and Jude, and others are way cute -- it's a personality thing, and a consequence of our media; we often see celebrities in their pajamas getting coffee and it kinda ruins the effect of them being larger-than-life and unattainable. In the old days the media helped keep these stars mysterious and otherworldly, and the studios perpetuated certain images for stars. Like Hedy Lamar -- she was often billed as "The Most Beautiful Woman in the World." Now, I don't know if she really was the most beautiful woman in the world, but she was very beautiful, and she had an accent, and she had been married to a Nazi whom she divorced and stole intelligence secrets from and gave to the Allies during WWII. That's f-ing cool.

Paul Newman was not only a gorgeous man but he was (and is) one of the greatest actors in cinema. Even Jude Law (whom I think comes closest to having that "thing" that makes him a star) can't come close to Paul Newman's ability.

Anyhoo, I guess I'm more talking about female actresses and celebrities. And I agree with Kathy Shaidle's opinion on Marcia Cross and Catherine Zeta-Jones -- they look like STARS.

Nate said...

Hear, hear! I think it's charisma that's mainly missing from our airbrushed, youth-obsessed culture, and that's one of the reasons the movie stars of yesteryear seem so powerfully attractive. I mean, Katherine Hepburn wasn't what I'd consider a "classic" beauty, yet she easily outdistances the cream of today's competition (with the possible exception of Naomi Watts, with whom I've been madly in love for some time).

There's a great quote from Paul Newman, who's been married to Joanne Woodward for 48 years. When asked why he seemed so committed to his wife (Woodward, again, isn't a stunner, but she's a lady), he replied, "Why have hamburger out when you can have steak at home?"

LeaJo said...

Ha ha...yeah, subjective. D'oh! You knew what I meant though. *sigh*
Anyways, this:

"we often see celebrities in their pajamas getting coffee and it kinda ruins the effect of them being larger-than-life and unattainable. In the old days the media helped keep these stars mysterious and otherworldly"

really clears things up for me. Thanks. It makes sense too. I know that a lot of times, the less I know about a celebrity, the more I'm intrigued by them.
Interesting post! :)