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Barbara Walters’s Time-Lapse Tutorial on the Dangers of Plastic Surgery in Hollywood

Last night, while watching the Barbara Walters Oscar Special retrospective, we were struck by the difference between the celebrity interviews of the eighties and nineties and those taped in the last ten years. Yes, movie stars used to be less canned, and the clothes back then were horrific, but a close re-watching of the twenty-year-old clips pinpointed an even more drastic millennial change in celebrity culture: Botox and plastic surgery. Take, for example, an interview with Glenn Close in 1988, the year she was nominated for Best Actress for Fatal Attraction. Close was 40 at the time, and she looked it; that's to say she was a gorgeous woman with slight crow's feet and sun-marked skin. She looked alive and well, expressive and happy to be chatting with Barbara about her career.

And then we cut to the present-day red carpet, and the parade of eerily preserved stars was a staggering display of the handiwork of knife and needle. The women who did look their age — Meryl Streep, Suzy Amis — were the anomalies, as most were pulled taut as a trampoline in a distracting and unnerving effort to look younger. In this week's New York magazine, Amanda Fortini argues that the ubiquity of Botox and face-lifts among celebrities comes at the expense of expressive acting, and she investigates what that means for casting agents, actresses, and audiences wanting to lose themselves in a movie or TV show. After watching a recent rerun of Close's current-day series, Damages, Fortini writes that watching the cast she "was left with little sense of what had transpired dramatically, but rather with a distinct, lingering impression of artificially serene foreheads and features disconcertingly askew."

Lines, Please [NYM]