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Celebrity Plastic Surgery Gone Wrong And The Dark Side Of Fame

By Mickey Jhonny

The term `plastic surgery` is an interesting one. It can be taken a couple of different ways and, indeed, probably in some sort of slippery semantic sense both ideas are implied. Referred to here is both the sense of plastic as an actual material produced by the chemical industry, but also plastic in the colloquial sense as fake, artificial or even phony.

As a general rule, though the chemically based material called plastic is used, plastic isn`t really so much the ideal ingredient. Skin grafts from other parts of the body generally provide a better effect. So its not inaccurate to call it plastic surgery in this sense, it is a little misleading.

The persistent popularity of that idea, though, probably has something to do with the more insidious implications of the other meaning of the term plastic applied to such surgery. Yet, the truth is that most reconstructive surgery is not done for cosmetic reasons. And yet, somehow, the notion lingers. Something about the association of such surgery to celebrities perceived as clinging on to past beauty and glamour draws so many of us to a judgment which invites the term to roll glibly off the tongue. A kind of subtle disapproval pervades the use of this term, as we raise a leery eyebrow in regard of those celebrities that employ such surgical methods. When we observe celebrity plastic surgery gone wrong we're seeing more than just the outcome of a failed operating procedure.

So intriguing is the picture of the powerful who have fallen; the wealthy seemingly unable to find or afford a competent surgeon; the gorgeous who paid the price for their deal with the devil's scalpel. It's almost as though we enjoy some vindication for the years of feeling our inferiority compared to their glamour and charisma. When the tables are suddenly turned those whose beauty once made us look like geeks now has them looking like frogs. A reverse fairy tale, princes and princesses into frogs. There almost seems to be something redeeming in it for us.

Or, you might want to think of it another way, slightly more stylized: those who have lived by the charms of beauty shall die by the charms of beauty. You understand we're speaking metaphorically, here! Surely though at some level, even if only unconscious, there is some kind of poetic justice being relished.

But wait, consider a further possibility. Maybe there's something even more sinister and dark at the heart of it all. This possibility was brought to mind recently when recalling that popular FX television show of the beginning of the century, Nip/Tuck. If you're unfamiliar with it (shame on you), it told the story of a couple of superstar plastic surgeons to the rich, famous and beautiful. Interestingly, though, the pilot episode of that show was not focused on the rich, famous or beautiful, but rather on a mercy mission to save a man with a horribly disfigured face.

There was though a troubling twist at the end of the episode. Only once the procedure was complete did the surgeons discover that their patient was in fact a pedophile. Unwittingly, with all the best of intentions, they had eliminated the one obstacle which had previously stood in the way of his ability to lure innocent children into his devices. A dark story line it was indeed. And, wouldn't you agree, an intriguing choice for the inaugural episode of a series primarily focused on the rich, famous and beautiful clientele.

And so I find myself wondering if that story actually captures a deeper truth. Or, at least, a more primordial suspicion about plastic surgery: might we suspect, even if only secretly, that it hides something true? Something dark and sinister? Perhaps the popular fixation on celebrity plastic surgery gone wrong actually taps into a suspicion that something real has been revealed. Has a disguised ugliness been duly disclosed? Might we believe on a deeper level that the princess or prince was always, in some way, really a frog and only now we finally see the truth?

Am I making too much out of this? Possibly, but I think it's something worth reflecting upon. That the fascination with celebrity plastic surgery gone wrong says something about the very concept of celebrity and about us.

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