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Sunday, 9 August 2009

Air Brushed

Every year, during the 'silly season' - which is really less silly than most of the rest of the year - while politicians happily go on holiday and newsmen can only follow real stories instead of what the politicians want us to believe, we return to the question of whether skinny models cause anorexia in young girls, and how we are swayed by media photos and air-brushed adverts into thinking we're all too plain, too short, too rounded, too old, too much ourselves to be among the beautiful people.

But really we all know it doesn't matter. We think it matters but we know it doesn't really. More significant, and never mentioned, than the superficial appearance is the idea that everyone else's life is more fascinating, more brilliant, more fabulous than our own. Other people's lives, portrayed in films and fairy tales, are filled with adventure and excitement, with glamour or tragedy. In films they feel what we feel but have the background in which to express those depths of emotion. When they're joyful, they don't just leap for joy as we do, they have orchestras playing the right music; they have perfect Nature behind them; they move in slow-motion and they capture for a few seconds moments that live with us for a life time...air-brushed out. When they're sad, their noses don't run, they don't snuffle off somewhere or have a headache from crying....they weep buckets, beautifully (the runny nose air-brushed out!) and their grief is somehow superior to ours. The lives of others are tragic and joyful and beautiful and magical....and we live ours.

But the stuff of dreams, the stuff of symphonies and ballets and operas and great art, is only a presentation of what we all feel, too. Our joys, our tragedies, our daily overcoming of difficulties is as dramatic as the most poignant Shakespearean drama. That's why I believe that great music, powerful words, art and magnificent cinematography honours all of us. We know when we feel deeply that the depths of our feelings can only be expressed in magnificent themes.

it is an insult to humanity to have so many so-called reality TV shows of people snuffling about nothing, or showing people who feel deeply about something sobbing and the camera holds the pose for too long. In order to express ourselves in all our grandeur, we need to acknowledge that our own emotions are enormous and enormously powerful, and we need great art to help us express the depths of it. When we hear the beauty of Callas singing, or bathe in the wonder of Delaroche's paintings, or throw ourselves into Tennyson, Eliot, Brooke or Shakespeare, we're not air-brushed, we're real, but the outcome expressed in the works of art is the air-brushed version; the refinement of the depths of how magnificent we all are.

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