Digital Boob Jobs Next

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If reshaping your thighs was really so easy!

When I saw this article at the NY Daily News website, I was a bit outraged. Can’t the Boomers keep their grubby mits of anything? I thought.  (I am a Boomer, only because the age group kept growing and growing until finally, it engulfed my part of the 50s.)   Anyway, turns out the gal doing this is fairly young, but still …

After getting this post together–links and pic–I thought, how is her Photoshopping the figures of classic nudes any different than what I do with Austen’s characters?

I shave a little Wentworth unpleasantness, explain away a possible flaw there, and elaborate ambiguities in the text so that he shines. It’s retouching a classic without the software.

So, am I just a part of the Post Modern generation who can’t keep their hands off the past and accept it for what it is? Or am I reshaping it all to suit myself and the truth of what Austen wrote be hanged?

Talk among yourselves. I’ll be out of town tomorrow but will enjoy keeping up with the fine, lithe minds of our readers.

Take care–Susan Kaye

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24 thoughts on “Digital Boob Jobs Next

  1. Laura Hile

    Post-modern digital reshaping? I’m outraged!

    Except … I kind of do the same thing, don’t I? Austen’s Elizabeth Elliot in Mercy’s Embrace is, like, WAY more intelligent than Jane wrote her!

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    1. Laura Hile

      A kind thought, Chautona, thanks! 🙂

      Now that I think about it, Jane Austen’s Elizabeth did know how to scheme. That invitation to the card party, given so pointedly to Captain Wentworth, for example. Anne had by then stolen William Elliot’s heart, and he’d dropped his supposed interest in Elizabeth. Perhaps Elizabeth figured she’d turn the tables on Anne? Even Lady Dalrymple admired the good Captain’s Irish good looks …

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      1. Susan Kaye Post author

        I was roundly bashed years ago on Pemberley for saying that. The idea being that EE was too good for FW. On paper, true. In reality, as you point out, WWE is out of the picture and no one else was on the horizon. Better a rich navy captain as a husband than be at the mercy of a nearly-bankrupt title father.

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  2. Susan Kaye Post author

    I suppose we are guilty of restaging more than Photoshopping. In the same way that makeup is used to thin out a nose or plump up lips, and we place the lights just so and our characters look much less or more depending on what is necessary to make them the picture of courage and virtue.

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  3. Laura Hile

    For all we know, the artist sexied up the model when he painted her! At that time, perhaps “womanly” thighs were not thought to be unattractive? For she surely looks like a woman and not like today’s boyish fashion model …

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    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      True, who knows how much augmenting the original artists did? The bottom line is that no one ever really fits the ideal.

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  4. stephanie

    I have a problem with altering art work…it is beautiful as it was
    it is a finite object….I can see making a copy of or an homage to a work of
    art but not altering the original
    But with stories I don’t mind…words can be so easily changed, points of view differ for each character, books are a more fluid medium…

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    1. Laura Hile

      Stephanie, I agree. Your word “homage” is key. An expression of high regard, respect. As a tribute, not altering the original artwork.

      With novels, things can get dicey where “homage” is concerned. In Mercy’s Embrace I borrow Jane Austen’s characters — secondary characters, but still — and I need to tread carefully. It’s tricky because I have an obligation to keep them as she wrote them, not just borrow the names. One of the nicest compliments I can receive from a reader is that I’ve done this — presented Jane Austen’s characters, who are our friends, in new situations and adventures.

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    2. Susan Kaye Post author

      Fluid medium, yes. In the same way a plastic surgeon shaves a little off the jaw or the cheek bones, I think we do the same with the characters to mold them into the image we see.

      Thanks for stopping by, stephanie.

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  5. Robin Helm

    We don’t destroy the original in the process. I have not rewritten Pride and Prejudice. In the painting, the work was actually changed. Unless you know the original very well, you won’t know it isn’t the original. No one would mistake our works for Austen’s because we don’t just rewrite her books.

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  6. Susan Kaye Post author

    As this woman is using digital technology, she’s not destroying the original either, but I can foresee at time when, online at least, her version might become more popular and even be mistaken for the original. I agree that no one would ever mistake my work for Austen’s.

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  7. Gayle Mills

    The pictures remind me that there is more being revised than just art. History is constantly re-written to reflect the views of the person doing the writing. Every time a federal building in Washington is renovated, all religious references are excised. Cherubs become gargoyles.

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    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      The desire of man to control even the uncontrollable is on the march. As you say, change the facts of history, whether narrated or painted, and be surprised when the next generation does the same, and more.

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      1. Gayle Mills

        And it’s so easy to do, Susan. An airbrush stroke here and there, and people appear or disappear from photos (or history). Add an intention here; omit a motivation there. Ignore one part of the Constitution; re-interpret another part there. Pretty soon, we’re not the country the Founders envisioned. And we’re not the people that God chose to bless.

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        1. Susan Kaye Post author

          That’s true in real life. My question is: when we do it with the Austen characters, when do they cease to be Austen?

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  8. Gayle Mills

    I think we’re always in danger of doing that with the Austen characters. But Jane has definitely left the building when we change the characters of the people in her stories. When we have them do things that they just would never do. Then we would be better off to write the story as original fiction instead of fanfiction.

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  9. Robin Helm

    I agree. The plot devices are not as important as the characters of the people. Darcy should not be paired with anyone except Elizabeth, and vice versa. They should not act in ways that are foreign to the natures of the characters as originally written. My Darcy is a guardian angel, but I do not see that as changing his innate character. He is still in a higher position than Elizabeth, he still sacrifices to marry her, and he still protects her from Wickham or anyone else who would hurt her in any way. Wickham is still the bad guy, but taken to an extreme in that regard.

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  10. Ellen

    I love this conversation! I teach lit to middle school, which I see others of you do as well. I’m always struggling to find meaning in my work, beyond just making sure they can actually read ( and sometimes that does seem all that gets done). My wise father, himself a teacher, told me that the purpose of literature in the grand scheme of education is to teach a new generation how the previous generation, or an entirely different culture thought about the world. It’s where we see views of history, morals, etc. all come together in an attempt to mirror life as that society lived it.

    In the world of Austen rewrites, I see this truth played out often very dramatically. One part of our generation and culture thinks about relationships only in terms of physical attraction, and so ensues the bodice-ripping rewrites/ what-ifs featuring our favorite couples. Clearly, Austen knew real marriages are more complex. And so, I am happy to say for the health of my own relationships, do many of you.

    So we take Austen’s view of society, examine it deeply, and re-imagine it in terms of how we see the world. And because it’s great literature, founded on a lasting truth – that marriage is a melding of minds and souls as well as bodies, and that it is very difficult, but absolutely essential – we can tell the same story again and again.

    I like the Old Masters as well as anybody here, I’m sure, but I suppose I am too conditioned by my culture’s standards of beauty to really enjoy the “womanly thighs.” I love the idea of the Sistine Chapel more than the reality, if that makes sense. Still, I do love the idea.

    Ok, I wrote way too much. Can you all tell that this is a topic dear to my heart?

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    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      Great response, Ellen. What I enjoy most is trying to stay true to the Austen characters, and in that truth, show how they–and we–struggle with character formed in a different time by different standards in our contemporary world.

      My marriage and family structure is completely archaic compared to even my JSI cohort. Making that work in a world where you are the minority, and one derided in many circles is a challenge.

      Thank you for the thoughtful response. this is what makes JSI fun.

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  11. Gayle Mills

    “And because it’s great literature, founded on a lasting truth – that marriage is a melding of minds and souls as well as bodies, and that it is very difficult, but absolutely essential – we can tell the same story again and again.”

    And that, Ellen, is exactly the reason we read it, because regardless of what kind of marriage we had in reality, the ideal of the perfect marriage is there. Perfectly romantic. Perfectly comfortable. Perfect love, faith, and hope united.

    Thanks for your insightful comments. Feel free to make them whenever you like. Here, intelligent length is a virtue. *snickers*

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  12. Pamela Aidan

    I LOVE the Old Masters! On two trips to Paris to the Louvre, I headed straight for the Old Dutch and Flemish masters and reveled in their depictions of “generous” women. I was immensely affirming to see these ladies painted as desirable women! How sad that someone or ones can’t see past the 20th century (or 18th, or 19th) model of womanliness. The impertinence to reach back into time and re-draw according to THEIR narrow tastes and crippled sensibilities! C.S. Lewis often wrote of the drive in modern society to re-cast everything that isn’t current as ignorant, mis-guided and without value or beauty to modern man. Previously, modern man was stuck with the bold stares of the 16th/17th century women in the Masters as they look right at you from the canvas with their self-assurance and knowing eyes. But, alas, computer graphics have succeeded in diminishing them and it is a sad day.

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Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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