"According to an amusing little study, by paralyzing the frown muscles that ordinarily are engaged when we feel angry, Botox short-circuits the emotion itself." So WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR HOLLYWOOD?
The study in question, as detailed in Newsweek, worked on the familar premise that smiling makes you feel happier (whether whistling a happy tune is equally effective was not studied, but Rogers and Hammerstein were generally infallible in such matters.) And Botox, of course, provides a wealth of new expression-altering possibilities for the inquiring mind. So?
Havas found an even deeper effect. As he described at the annual meeting of the Society for Personal and Social Psychology last week, he had 40 volunteers who were planning to be Botoxed in two weeks read statements with particular emotional freight: angry ("the pushy telemarketer won't let you return to your dinner"), sad ("you open your e-mail inbox on your birthday to find no new e-mails"), or happy ("the water park is refreshing on the hot summer day."). After reading each sentence, the volunteers pushed a button to indicate they had understood it. Then, two weeks after their Botox injections, they repeated the exercise, reading and understanding another list of emotion-producing sentences...The volunteers pressed the "I've read and understood this" button just as quickly when the sentence conveyed something happy. But when it conveyed something infuriating or unhappy, people took longer to read and understand it. The emotions just did not compute as easily as before their sadness and anger muscles were paralyzed.
Well, that sounds good,
one might think. But in fact, it's bad for communication: as one scientist quoted describes it, you're effectively inhibiting "fast, subtle cues about each other's understanding, intention, and empathy." And let's talk about the most serious issue: who needs to be able to understand every tremor of human emotion more than an actor? For their work, obviously, but also for red-carpet statements about current events, Barbara Walters specials, and, of course, acceptance speeches. One can only hope that advances in anamatronics will keep apace with these emotion-dulling trends. Nicole Kidman got pretty far on a false nose, after all: can a fully animated face be far behind? (Alternatively will we call it a day and return to Greek masks? Paging Von Trier.) Whether the new wrinkle-zapping iPhone app will be side-effect free is an open, blank-faced question.
Hello Botox, Bye-Bye Sadness-But Not For The Reasons You Think [Newsweek]
Forget The Botox! New iPhone App 'Zaps Acne And Wrinkles' With Red And Blue Lights [DailyMail]