October 22, 2006

"There's something about a man carrying the world’s ills on his back that makes us want to lie down on ours."

S.S. Fair writes a scary, hilarious essay about her taste for men with ruined faces.
One night I went to dinner with a very handsome, known-the-world-over movie star, and every other woman in the place was making plans to poison my mahi-mahi. Movie Star was quite used to his dates continually getting death threats, but after one or two nights of that, I went back to the guys with ruined faces who fell down on their knees in gratitude that someone not drooling or crazy or beastlike would deign to love them a little, and be there to wipe the tears from their bloodshot eyes — which were spaced just a little too close together.

It’s the Florence Nightingale trap, I think. Even if you were raised by feminists and the men who divorced them, females are still hard-wired to be accommodating and supportive, the shadowy figure behind the throne....

And who’s your ruined man? When you see the dissipated face of Hugh Laurie as House, maybe your fantasies don’t go horizontal, but there’s a character that needs saving, and the challenge is almost irresistible. When you see Jeremy Irons on-screen, you’re looking at the wreck of the Hesperus, a beautifully ruined face that could have seen the fall of Rome or fought at Agincourt with the rest of the dissolute Englishmen, like Bill Nighy in “Love Actually,” or Terence Stamp in anything, or was he not quite ruined enough? Standing alongside all of them is the ghost of Richard Burton, all pocked and anguished and icily composed.
I'm sure somewhere there's the equivalent essay written by a man who's ecstatically in love with the ruined faces of women. It's harder to find fabulously ruined actress faces these days, though, as the actresses tend to go for ruin by surgery -- and it would be awfully creepy to be into that sort of ruin.

22 comments:

Meade said...

"...guys with ruined faces..."

Meade said...

"...ruined faces of women..."

David said...

A face that displays character and the battle scars of life is much sexier than the chiseled, botoxed, carved look of a recycled Cher, or enhanced and siliconed puffery of a an airbrushed Anna Nicole!

There is a major difference between pretty boy Tom Cruise and the rugged good looks of an Ernest Borgnine!

Dave said...

Cher looks plasticized. I guess that's why they call it plastic surgery. Do you think she realizes how horrid she looks, or is she so inured to "normal" by her fame and wealth that she simply has no clue?

My guess is the latter.

Ann Althouse said...

Borgnine's face wasn't ruined. He was always ugly!

tiggeril said...

That's why there's quite a few of us who find Gordon Ramsay quite sexy.

Eugene said...

Granted, Felicity Kendal was always a babe, but it's great to see her, at age 60, in Rosemary & Thyme, not hiding the wrinkles and still looking great.

knoxgirl said...

I'm sure somewhere there's the equivalent essay written by a man who's ecstatically in love with the ruined faces of women.

I'm not so sure. I don't think there's many men out there willing to love a "ruined face," unless their own is at least equally ruined. Don't get me wrong--I believe most men don't like the botoxed, stretched look, at least outside of L.A. But I just don't believe many are attracted to older-looking-than-they-are women, like we are able to find older men sexy.

*Maybe you meant that sarcastically? Can't tell.

Ann Althouse said...

Knoxgirl: There has to be at least one guy! I was under the impression that for anything at all, there is always at least one guy who is into it. So I think there are even guys who are into faces that have been ruined by bad plastic surgery.

Christy said...

Only if accompanied by a huge bank account.

Anonymous said...

Greatest Facelift Ever

Hey said...

This has to be the best quote: "Even if you were raised by feminists and the men who divorced them". Says so much about the 70s and 80s, and the feminist movement.

Doug Sundseth said...

"I'm sure somewhere there's the equivalent essay written by a man who's ecstatically in love with the ruined faces of women."

"If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life
Never make a pretty woman your wife
So from my personal point of view
Get an ugly girl to marry you"

It's not an essay, but it's got a great tune and you can dance to it. I'd give it an 81.

Ron said...

There was a lady on Extreme Makeover the other night whose face was ruined by a spider. I thought she was still attractive.

knoxgirl said...

ugh, the hero's mother in Brazil makes me queasy. Great movie...

OddD said...

I'm pretty sure Cher realizes how odd she looks now. She's always been up-front about the surgeries she's undergone, and in that movie..."Stuck On You"?...she parodies herself pretty harshly. (I don't think one can do that without a certain self-awareness.)

Ernie Fazio said...

I just think that la Althouse is showing her age. Jeremy Irons wasn't so world weary in 'The French Lieutenant's Woman,' nor was House so whizened when he was Berty in the PG Woodhouse 'Jeeves" series on BBC. Used faces are for early boomers. Even I was once a looker, but my white hair and white beard now betray way too much living.

George said...

If ruined means time-worn and time-wearied, then every man loves one woman whose face meets that description: His mother.

Female beauty is not defined by actresses' cold angular planes but by the soft warmth of a mother's eyes and smile.

nedludd said...

nor was House so whizened when he was Berty in the PG Woodhouse 'Jeeves" series on BBC.

Or on the varied Blackadder series.

I swear I did not know it was the same guy until someone told me.

Of course I just may not be all that bright.

useless ducks said...

Tina Fey is painfully lovely and people obsess about her scar at least $5 worth.

DBrooks said...

"Tina Fey is painfully lovely"

Well, you're half-right.

Slac said...

I don't understand. Irons and Laurie look positively handsome, not ruined.

The male equivalent is I think sad/cute women. Or a woman who works so hard and keeps working, despite the look of lonely burden, all for a simple dream of love and care.

I have a Florence Nightingale effect for women like Florence Nighengale, actually!