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