Sunday, December 9, 2007

Changing standards of beauty

This is a picture of Joy Harmon, a starlet from the 1960s. She had a brief career, and in that career she had two famous roles.

The most famous picture she was in was Cool Hand Luke. She's the girl who washes the car while the chain gang watches. If you have seen the film, I don't have to explain the scene any further. She has no lines, she doesn't even have a name, though George Kennedy's character has decided her name is "My Lu-CILLLE!" Paul Newman as Luke comments that there is nothing innocent about what she is doing and that she knows exactly the effect she is having on the prisoners, which angers Kennedy and prompts a fight that is one of the most brutal beatdowns a star of a film has even endured.

Simply stated, Ms. Harmon is in the movie as eye candy. Cool Hand Luke has a terrific cast, but speaking roles are almost all male, except for a scene with Jo Van Fleet as Luke's mom.

The second best known film in Joy Harmon's career is much more obscure. Village of the Giants was a 1965 hybrid between a monster movie and and a beach movie, where the monsters are giant teenagers. The movie was cheesy enough to get used on Mystery Science Theater 3000. The top billed stars of the time were Tommy Kirk and Johnny Crawford. The actors in the film who are still in show business are Beau Bridges, who played the leader of the gang of teens who become giants, and Ron Howard, the boy genius who invents the growth formula. But if you look at any of the promotional material, the stars of the film are clearly Joy Harmon's breasts.

After the teens eat the growth formula, there first appearance in public is this dance scene, featuring the giants but focusing mostly on Joy Harmon.

I titled this post Changing standards of beauty because if the Joy Harmon from 1965 were magically transported in time to 2007, she probably couldn't get work as eye candy today. She would be considered too fat, at least by the standards of magazines who mock Jennifer Love Hewitt's bikini pictures or Britney Spears, not for being an unprepared drunk at the Video Music Awards, but for being too fat. No one who enjoys Village of the Giants, and it is one of the favorite films of My People and Our Agenda, has EVER said Joy Harmon should lose weight, but today casting directors would probably want her to lose fifteen to twenty pounds, and given what that would do to her bustline, she'd probably have to get breast implants to regain the eye catching figure she had naturally back in the day.

In the brilliant TV series The Wire, a fifty something dock worker named Horse Face is thumbing through a porno mag in the union office, and says "I haven't made up my mind about fake tits." It's a very insightful piece of writing. Horse Face has been looking at porn for some time now, and fake tits were very rare back in the day. Pamela Anderson is a flesh, blood and plastic caricature of the sexpots of the 60s like Joy Harmon, but as Anderson becomes the standard, the real thing is tossed aside, precisely because it is real.

Like an illicit drug, porn and erotica have had to become "more potent" to get the same effect. It's not doing anyone any good, except maybe the plastic surgeons and dietary supplement manufacturers.

Now playing: Darren Lee, Rick Edinger & Telly Leung - Pretty Lady
via FoxyTunes


dguzman said...

Amen, Matty. It's true gentlemen like you that keep us man-hating lesbos from actually hating men!

Seriously--the trend toward fake and skinny grows ever more frightening as more and more women buy into it. It's like a horror movie waiting to happen: the day when all-plastic and 90-lbs STILL isn't enough to please. What then?

Matty Boy said...

Well, I'm not sure it's gentlemanly to ogle Joy Harmon. Years ago, she was the unreasonable standard women were being compared against. Facially, she's kind of like Julie Christie with her wide mouth and huge eyes, but her figure is much more va-va-voomy.

There are so many ways that the world we live in is unbelievably odd to me, and I'm just barely over 50 years old.

Things change fast, and not always for the better.

Karla said...

Wasn't Joy in a Star Trek? I know she was, but I lost my Trekkie insignia and can't fire up my nerd neurons!

Matty Boy said...

No, she wasn't. She looks a lot like an actress who was making goo goo eyes at David Soul in the episode where blond Polynesians are feeding a mechanical god named Vaal, but it ain't her. Likewise, the other blond featured in the dance sequence, Tisha Sterling, looks like Barbara Bouchet, who was in a Trek episode where aliens from another galaxy hijack the Enterprise and are defeated by sex and drugs.

I could be making these plots up, but true Trek fans know that I am not.

no_slappz said...

Do men focus on breast size? Many do. Sometimes I wonder what that says about how many pairs they've seen. And what other feelings and experiences come into play when the clothes are removed?

How is breast quality assessed? By what measures do men reconcile breasts to the entire body of the female?

Since reasonable estimates of breast dimensions are possible without the removal of clothing, it's obvious a lot of research ends at this point. Then there's Victoria's Secret with its stylish deceptions.

Strip joints take research to new levels, revealing, more than anything, that some women will do almost anything to fulfill a fantasy image in exchange for cash.

Frankly, it seems to me that overly large breasts undermine the aesthetic quality of the female form. There is a point of balance, a point of symmetry that occurs when all bodily components, all limbs, planes, curves, lengths, heighths and widths reach a relative perfection. The divine proportion.

More important is the reality discovered when all the barriers are removed, including distance and clothing. Some strippers may look look good. Others are caricatures. But it's all visual.

When a man's five senses are taking in every aspect of a woman and every part of him is responding, that's the test. No photo, video or stage performance can replace this comprehensive assessment. But it seems popular culture attempts to dispute the facts.

The human delights one finds beneath women's clothes are infinite, and the quality of those delights is unrelated to breast size.

Karla said...

Hey Slappy, you redeemed yerself!

Huzzah to you.

Matt, I'm thinking Joy WAS in the stupid Trek where some miners had these women who were taking magic beauty pills. It was all about the value of women's beauty, and I'm saying it was her.

It wasn't a good ep, mostly because the miners were witless manfools.

I could go all IMDB on this, but I'd prefer to recall it the old fashioned way! You and I share similar facial recognition software, but I'm pulling rank here.

Karla said...

Oh dang - I'm such a badass I fooled my own bad self. Me IMDB.

The blonde actress I'm thinking of was Karen Steele, and the ep was Mudd's Women:

Didja see that Joy Harmon became a baker of cakes is now the owner of Aunt Joy's Cakes. That's a nice ingenue's life story.

Matty Boy said...

You're right, Karla, Joy Harmon and Karen Steele did look a lot alike. Same facial structure as well as similar figures.

Another starlet I mention many giant women posts back, Christi Conaway, has segued into fashion design. Best of luck to her as well.

Did I already mention that I went to school with Ms. Fields, who was a hottie back in the day? Probably not, so I'll mention it here.

Dr. Zaius said...

Great post! I am glad to find another Joy Harmon fan. :o)

Anonymous said...

Joy Harmon is completely gorgeous. And I think the standards of beauty are too skewed to the anorexic, "heroin chic" aesthetic. As far as I'm concerned, the scene in "Village of the Giants" where a growing Joy Harmon bursts out of her blue sweater (one button at a time) was my "jump start" into puberty! You always remember a woman that can do that!