Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Congratulations, Mr. Bergerac! You're getting an EXTREME MAKEOVER!

The Wife, the Kid and I watched Roxanne the other night. That's the Steve Martin/Darryl Hannah version of Cyrano de Bergerac from the 1980s, and as lightweight romantic comedies go, it's pretty good, although to be honest, watching it this time I was less involved in the romantic storyline (which is, as might be expected, frankly absurd) and more amused by the antics of the worst fire department in history. There's a comic montage, set to On the Beautiful Blue Danube, in which C.D. Bales (Martin's character) tries to train this motley crew of firefighters as they do things like wrestle with a hose that's set to full-blast, talk a terrified firefighter into sliding down the pole, and practicing flapping their arms like "Big Bird" as a signal for some firefighting maneuver.

Anyway, one thing that suddenly occurred to me in watching the movie this time came in a single scene. C.D. barges into the office of a plastic surgeon and demands that his nose be reduced immediately; the doc says no, it's too dangerous. Today, though, not only would the doctor cheerfully allow to do the surgery, C.D. would probably end up on a reality show like Extreme Makeover, complete with narrator:

"It's now three weeks since C.D.'s surgery; let's see what he's been up to!"

CUT TO C.D. sitting in Doc Cutflesh's office, with his back to the camera. Doc Cutflesh begins unwrapping his face.

DOC CUTFLESH: Hmmmm....the swelling has gone down nicely....oh, you're gonna love this....

CUT TO Doc Cutflesh, in an interview:

DOC CUTFLESH: (into camera) I'm really proud of C.D.'s new nose. He's going to have a brand new life. He's just going to find a whole new world out there...I can't wait to see the look on everyone's face when he does his 'reveal'.

And then there's "the reveal scene", in which C.D. emerges from behind a curtain into a room full of his friends, all of whom go nuts, including Roxanne; this is followed by a few more testimonials by C.D. about how thrilled he is, yada yada yada.

(I should note that I don't hate Extreme Makeover, because for every "shallow" participant they've had -- "I'm thirty pounds overweight with a receding hairline, and I'm scared to talk to the ladies" -- there's a case that really is calling out for some kind of surgical intervention. I remember two such cases that I watched: a woman whose nose literally hooked, like the classic caricature of a wicked witch, and another woman whose features were nice except for the most amazing example of misshapen teeth I've ever seen (she actually had several teeth that were perpendicular to her lips). So I don't begrudge everyone their makeovers, even if spinning a TV show out of them is a bit crass. I merely note the incongruity of watching Roxanne, with its "Accept yourself as you are" message, in this "Don't like it? Have it surgically amended!" time in which we live.)

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