Culture Clips: Make Me Look Like Myself, Only Better

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Snapchat dysmorphia

We all probably have a favorite photo of ourselves—the one we use on our Facebook pages and Christmas cards, the one where the light was just right and our smile was just so and our hair was less unruly than it typically is. (Or, in the case of some of us, when we had hair at all.)

Thanks to technology, we can all push our photos into that realm of near-perfection. Services like Snapchat allow us to edit and filter our selfies to make us look oh-so-great. And some folks are wondering, why can’t I look like that all the time?

Plastic surgeons are seeing more and more people come through their doors toting their own perfect selfies, asking doctors not to make them look like Henry Cavill or Ariana Grande, but themselves—only better. It’s called “Snapchat dysmorphia,” and the periodical JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery is sounding an alarm over it, “because those filtered selfies often present an unattainable look and are blurring the line of reality and fantasy for these patients.”

Some are pushing back against that sense of dysmorphia, though, including journalist Katie Couric. She posted a less-than-perfect selfie—lying in bed in her pajamas without makeup, suffering a sore throat, to Instagram. “Clearly, I am bucking the trend,” she wrote in her caption.

‘Course, you don’t need to stare at those perfectly-filtered photos of yourself to develop problems. Just staring at a screen at all for too long has proven to be detrimental to children.

We’ve known for a while, of course, that children who spend too much time watching television, playing videogames and fiddling with smartphones are more apt to be overweight and have worse cardiovascular health. Now the American Heart Association has issued its official statement on the issue, telling the world that “daily device-free social interactions and outdoor play should be encouraged.” In addition, they suggest parents should “enforce appropriate screen time regulations and to model healthy screen-based behaviors.” (Judging from parents’ own dependence on smartphones, easier said than done.)

Many companies, including Facebook, Instagram and Apple, are rolling out measures to combat tech addiction. Some observers, though, remain unimpressed. “If one is addicted to maximizing ‘likes,’ it seems that these tools are a bit like suggesting to an alcoholic that he/she set an alarm to go off after the first drink or a few drinks—not effective at all,” says Patricia Greenfield, who teaches psychology at UCLA.

As for those tech companies themselves, some of them seem to be heading in different directions. While social media giant Facebook has taken a few rocks to the face—the cost of its shares sank by more than 20% recently—Apple has now become the world’s very first $1 trillion company. And some are now wondering whether the behemoth is too big to fail.

Who else may be failing? Well, according to Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the movie industry is: Its latest annual study found that movies are still predominantly fronted by white, heterosexual men. Despite such high-profile, woman-fronted films such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Wonder Woman and Beauty and the Beast, only 33% of 2017’s top films starred or co-starred a woman, and only 29.3 percent of speaking characters were, in Entertainment Weekly’s words, “from an underrepresented racial group,” noting that 38.7% of the U.S. population is part of such groups.

“Representation of LGBT characters was especially dismal,” Entertainment Weekly continues. “Eighty-one of last year’s top 100 films had zero gay, lesbian, or bisexual characters, and not a single film had a transgender character.”

Plenty of folks in Hollywood are aiming to change that last little statistical nugget, of course. A trailer just dropped for Chloë Sevigny and and Kristen Stewart’s new film, Lizzy, suggesting that the infamous Lizzie Borden (allegedly) picked up her hatchet because … she was a lesbian, I guess. And the CW recently announced that Ruby Rose will play the lesbian superhero Batwoman in its “Arrowverse” (an umbrella term for the network’s large stable of D.C.-centric superhero shows, of which Arrow was the first) likely fronting her own series beginning in 2019.

To wrap things up, let’s turn our attention to the world of real estate, shall we? When an ever-so-hip 1970s California suburban property—best known as the house that served as the home for The Brady Bunch—went up for sale recently, some worried that the iconic house might be torn down. Former NSYNC member Lance Bass tried to buy and save the property, only to find that he was outbid, leaving him feeling “heartbroken.” But when he learned that HGTV bought the house and promised that “we’ll restore the home to its 1970s glory as only HGTV can,” all was fine in Bass’ world. “I can smile again,” he wrote on Twitter.

No word on the winning bid, but Zillow estimated the house was worth a cool $1.9 million.

What? Why, you can buy a whole Game of Thrones castle for about a third of that. No word whether dragons come with the property, though.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous 11 months ago
In response to the idea that Apple is too big to fail:
I personally do not believe that any company can be so expansive as to never worry about failing under a market economy such as that in the U.S. This is one of the many amazing things about capitalism. As long as Apple can keep up with supply and demand, and do so in such a way that they do it in the most affordable and reliable way as possible, then yes, they will continue to grow and prosper. And i believe this is where many social media companies have gone wrong (Facebook in particular) they have put their agendas above that of the actual market, and given time, there will more then likely be a reasonable alternative to a site such as Facebook. It is inevitable. If they have lost the trust of their users and no longer have a strong foothold in the stock market, then competition will arise. So i think this applicable to Apple, as of right now, they are doing quite well financially, but that in no way means they are safe from put out of business in the future. 
-Davidiswise The Clown    
Anonymous 11 months ago
Why must everything be gay in these trying times?

-Posted by Chuck
Anonymous 11 months ago
Interesting. I think it is mostly that Hollywood has always been at the forefront of social change within the U.S. And right now, LGBTQ+ rights are what society has deemed most important to address. So naturally, Hollywood is trying to reflect that. Now I think this has mostly negative continuations, in the sense that Hollywood is helping normalizing what many within the Christian community would deem sinful. But this is nothing new, sexual immorality has always been glorified on screen. I think that us within the Christian community oftentimes treat homosexuality as almost more sinful then that of heterosexual immorality. For example, there is a popular Christian magazine that i oftentimes read. In general, I think that their theology is sound, and the writing quite good. But in this case, they reviewed a film that revolved around a sexual relationship between an unmarried heterosexual couple. Not much was said on this other then some content warnings. Then, just a few months later, They reviewed another film which involved a homosexual relationship, this film also starred the same actor. And this review basically bashed it for its normalizing of sinful behavior. Which it should have. But it also should have done the same for the other film involving the straight couple. I thought that this was a good example of how we have a double-standard when it comes to these issues. 
This goes for me too. At times, i also find myself viewing practicing homosexuals differently then heterosexuals who practice their sexuality outside of marriage.  

now I am only 17. So my thoughts on these issues are probably not overall well informed or expressed. But I do hope that I was able to present my thoughts in a very rational way. 
-Davidiswise The Clown