Surely, our society is corrupt beyond redemption and the Lord will have vengeance upon us
Through fire, flood, lack of good skiing and other global warming side-effects
For I have seen the last sign of the apocalypse, and its name is
I caught a portion of this televised abomination while flipping through the channels checking for a Buffy rerun that I had seen once in that same time slot (yes, I'm pathetic, but we're not going to talk about that now.). I had read about it and was familiar with the premise -- ordinary people are transformed into "beauty queens" via the miracle of modern plastic surgery -- and thought it sounded distasteful and stupid. I assumed I would never see it, since I manage to avoid most television. But now that The Swan seemed to be on, and Buffy wasn't, morbid curiosity got me to stop and watch a bit, horrified fascination kept me there long enough to see the parts I'm going to talk about now. Did I see the whole thing? God no. Did I have to? I really don't think so.
I see a woman, identified as a "swan coach," lecturing another woman whose face is covered in bruises and bandages about whether or not she is sticking to her diet. Both women appear to be adults, and yet, the "swan coach" talks to the other woman as if she is a toddler who can't keep out of the cookie jar. "Don't you want to fit into this little black dress? Don't you? Look at me." "Yes." "Well what do you have to do? You have to stick to your diet, don't you. Don't you?" And the bruised woman, looking just exactly like somebody who has been in a horrible accident, meekly looks at the floor and whispers about how she's going to do better.
Then, there's a kind of recap for a different bandaged woman. The host -- who seems a bit like a generic Catherine Zeta Jones knockoff -- cheerily interviews a phalanx of "experts" about what they have chosen to do for this woman. A blonde. We'll call her -- Barbie. So there are about six different plastic surgeons, a fitness guy, a counselor, and that inexplicable "swan coach." What seems like a dozen people altogether, standing in two rows to make an aisle that Barbie is going to walk down.
They talk about all the procedures they have chosen for Barbie, so glib and pleased with themselves, as they describe the new and improved eyes, nose, lips, chin, cheeks, stomach, breasts thighs and attitude they have given her. It doesn't sound like they're talking about an actual person most of the time. Phrases like "I worked on the body" jump out at me. It doesn't sound like Barbie had any input about what she was going to end up looking like. The experts' attitude has a cold, clinical sadism that seems more and more surreal the longer it goes on. I start to wonder if it's all a hoax, if I'm watching The Twilight Zone instead. (There is a TZ episode -- Number 12 Looks Just Like You -- which has exactly the same plot as The Spawn, pretty much. )
We see flashes of Barbie under the knife, and it looks, weirdly, like they carried out all of these many surgeries at the same time. Then there's a shot of her all bandaged and puffy and talking about how she's in so much pain she wants to die. The utter depravity is making my head spin. The counselor talks about how, now that she can forgive her husband for cheating on her and she has the self confidence that only a million dollars' worth of plastic surgery can bring, she is now "one very empowered young lady." (um. Barf?)
Then Barbie walks out in an evening dress. The experts applaud. I have got to be watching The Twilight Zone. She looks like...I guess she looks like a beauty contestant. They show a "before" picture. She looks like a person. Room for improvement? Yeah, sure. She has an unflattering hairstyle, dumpy clothes, and bad posture. But...
They do something they call "the reveal," where Barbie stands in front of some curtains that are drawn up to reveal a full-length mirror. She has not seen her transformation before now. And she has that reaction, the oh my god let me cover my mouth with my hands and say "I don't believe it!" reaction, the one that can mean either that you're pleased, or that you're horrified and don't want to let on in public.
Right about then, Paul comes home. I turn it off. Then I turn it back on again. Paul? You have to see this. Can you believe it?
He talks about Romans. Feeding people to lions for entertainment.
I'm not sure I've never seen anything that seemed more perverse, more fundamentally contemptuous of humanity, than this show.
So, anyway, I thought all the Goth House characters deserved their own nightmare, and this seemed like the right one for Terra (long term readers might recognize the "makeover" theme from the first mall story.
For those of you who keep track of such things, they are watching television on the couch at Shandi's place, where the household has cable. Everybody claims it is just so they can watch The Discovery Channel and classic movies, plus a few people have owned up to an addiction to The Daily Show.
Goth House has a television, which is hooked up to a VCR and DVD player, but it has never ever gotten any reception. Goth House residents are even cheaper and more stubborn in their dislkike of cable companies than the hippies that Shandi lives with.