Jewish World Review March 8, 2002/ 24 Adar, 5762

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Consumer Reports

Botoxic faces -- THERE will never be a cure for AIDS. Nor will there ever be a diet pill that does not have side effects such as exploding aorta valves. Likewise there will never be any form of pharmaceutical birth control that does not cause class-action lawsuits. There is a reason that Dolly, the cloned sheep, has decomposing DNA.

Mother Nature is a surly type. She will not sit idly by as her subjects practice defiance. If you doubt her power, try melting one of those nonfat, low-cal butter substitutes in a frying pan. Like all alien creatures, the fake spread will have an indestructible life of its own as it darts about the pan, completely immune to heat.

Mother Nature blesses us with pregnancy and STDs to keep us somewhat chaste. Cloning, stem-cell research and other ghoulish habits of biotech will bring Frankensteinian results. Pills that curb the appetite, eliminate hunger pangs or afford the alleged luxury of "eat all you want," will send us to an early grave, albeit lighter. Mother Nature has her lines in the sand. Cross them and lightening bolt consequences await.

Speaking of lines, and despite her clear autocracy, defiance of Mom's au natural rules continues. Enter Botox. Botox, the injectable drug used to date for spasmic disorders of the face, will soon have FDA approval for the treatment of wrinkles. Nearly 1.1 million Americans have already injected botulinum toxin A, aka Botox, into their furrowed brows in their quests for smooth skin.

Cher has lost her competitive edge. Youth springs eternal, at least until the first side effects of Botox inevitably emerge. Then come the deformities, the health costs, the class action suits and Mother Nature's hearty laugh on the sidelines.

Botox's first side effect is already known and apparent. In the process of losing the wrinkles, Botox disciples lose their facial expression. The Botox countenance is one with all the dynamism of Ben Stein. Even when his voice is excited, his face is deadpan. Utter jubilance or rage find Mr. Stein with the monotonous look of his most famous role, "Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?" Director Martin Scorsese says that so many actors use Botox that he can't find actors who can actually look angry. Willie Nelson may be able to name his price.

Human nature, a subsidiary of Mother Nature, makes aging a chore for us all. Potions for age reversal have long arrested human intelligence. Botox is, after all, the injection of botulism into the forehead. Testosterone has been swallowed, injected and used for bathing. Caligula was gruesome in both the getting and using of it. Scientists and physicians fiddled with rejuvenation via hormones and mixtures of secretions and blood as early as the 9th century. Yoric, the medieval barber/doctor, with his bloodletting and leeches, had nothing on the quacks today. Check out drinking one's urine as a formula (www. Warning: entire website falls into the category of "too much information").

Mother Nature has let us dabble in youth preservation. Hair color has not yet produced brain tumors, although hair plugs and pieces, speak, or rather, scream, for themselves. But, she will not allow a fountain of youth. Ponce de Leon tried and ended up in the Everglades. Environmentalist PR aside - it's a gigantic swamp and the water is worse than anything Erin Brockovich uncovered.

Here in Phoenix, one of the nation's retirement havens, the post-Viagra years have witnessed senior citizens coupling in public places such as golf courses and parking lots. Viagra has created sociological issues Mother Nature had already curbed through aging's impotence. Now children must ask at 11:00 PM where their octogenarian parents are because they have become the cast of American Pie in Sun City West.

Mother Nature has made it clear that the ravages of age are intended. Joan Rivers' face is a taut monument to the downside of facelifts. Ms. Rivers' slit-like eyes are drawn so outward and upward that she appears to be wearing cat-eye glasses. Oh, Edgar, if you could see her now. Oh, Edgar, if only she could see.

Sags and wrinkles are Mother Nature's imprimatur for wisdom and experience. Dignity is a benefit of aging. Mandatory restraint is aging's upside, not its curse. Wrinkles were bought and paid for through the besting life's challenges. If the outside is perpetually smooth, the inside is slick.

Botox is Huxley's Brave New World. Everyone is perfect and youthful, embryo- split to perfection. An elegant world of flawless automatons. A society with absolutely no substance. Beverly Hills attitudes and values will spread to Fargo and Cleveland.

Go ahead. Get your Botox for a line-free, emotionless face. Mother Nature has provided advance notice of the curse. One psychiatrist has said Botox may be the one thing that permits us to have our cake and eat it, too. Fat chance, as it were. It's not nice to fool Mother Nature, and she's not a gracious loser.

JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


02/28/02: The dangers of organized philanthropy
02/25/02: Don't take the gold
02/14/02: Ease up on the brothers and sisters
02/11/02: Because I was courted
02/05/02: Fat fault
01/24/02: Tolerance does not mean stupidity
01/17/02: Too old too soon
01/10/02: Ethically challenged firms
01/03/02: The year that was
12/27/01: The Twelve Days of inconsistency
12/20/01: Free Speech and the political spectrum
12/13/01: Curbing brats
12/06/01: Power to influence
11/29/01: The disappearing art of grading
11/21/01: The Big Two-Five
11/13/01: You can never find a lib when you need one
11/01/01: Unlucky in sports
10/26/01: An epidemic of counselitis
10/16/01: A touch of class
10/12/01: Of human nature and monsters
10/05/01: Sensitive man
10/01/01: Post-September 11 security
09/20/01: No tinhorn terrorists can frighten us
09/06/01: If there is no honor in youth sports, it is because of the adults
08/27/01: The draw of Condit
08/23/01: Lowering expectations and flying high
08/17/01: Thoreau, Walden and stems cells
08/13/01: Our masters: The animals
07/30/01: When principle hits too close to home
07/13/01: Rage born of sublimation
07/06/01: Patient's rights and the Valley of Death
06/29/01: There is no excuse
06/21/01: I want an eternal soulmate, but the marriage thing is another issue
06/14/01: Which way maverick McCain? An Arizonan's perspective
06/07/01: No stroke of genius
05/30/01: The lesson of the Mr. Green Jeans senator: 'Moderate' is a classy term for wishy-washy
05/25/01: Baseball has not been so good to me
05/18/01: Clothes make the woman
05/11/01: Selective precaution
05/04/01: Grades: Equality of students, by students, for the students
04/27/01: The Horowitz revelations as seen by a college professor
04/20/01: First, let's kill all the tests
04/13/01: The continuing mistake of underpricing electricity
04/06/01: That pill, Julia Roberts
03/29/01: If it weren't for the parents, we might accomplish something
03/23/01: The melt down of the academy
03/15/01: Columbine redux: Moral infants
03/09/01: The lessons of Tom and Nicole
03/01/01: Pardon the temporary outrage
02/23/01: In defense of homework
02/20/01: A Message for faith-based organizations: Don't take the money, just run
02/06/01: Enough already with the Clintoons
01/26/01: The challenge to be better than we have been
01/19/01: Where have you gone Frieda Pushnik?
12/29/00: The year that was
12/23/00: Litigation: It's the American way
12/15/00: In defense of rhetoric
12/06/00: The company we keep: Lawyers and elections
12/01/00: Liberals' art of trashing of women
11/20/00: Put me out of my misery
11/17/00: On being a statesman
11/13/00: When it's broke, fixing it wouldn't offend the Framers
11/08/00: ELECTION 2000: I SURRENDER
10/27/00: Al in the package? Memo to women: Choosing presidents and husbands
10/20/00: Ten things the gay community should understand
10/13/00: "You Have a Lump."
10/06/00: The government as the pharmacy: Don't
09/29/00: The capacity for truth
09/22/00: Charity with strings and an agenda
09/15/00: The taming of the shrew: Gloria Steinem takes a husband
09/09/00: Why rich folk don't bother me none
08/28/00: Survival of the not-so-fit but conniving
08/25/00: Conventions: A study in contrasts
08/18/00: Resenting the accusations of racial prejudice
08/04/00: Women: Their own worst enemy
07/21/00: Hillary: Our longshoreman First Lady
07/21/00: SUVs: The root of all evil
07/14/00: The basketball gene and white men not jumping so well
07/07/00: I wanna be around
06/23/00: The liberal conversion
06/14/00: Sex and the City: The shallow but vulgar female
06/08/00: No excuses schools
06/02/00: Oh, Canada: Our Nutty Neighbors to the North
05/23/00: The new mollycoddling coach
05/16/00: On adultery and leadership
05/12/00: Taking your lumps
05/02/00: Elian: There's never a liberal around when you need one
04/25/00: Life's circle and tenderness
04/18/00: Womyn who want it both ways
04/11/00: The monsters we're raising with the ergo proposition
04/05/00: Endowing the Hooters Chair for Literature Appreciation
03/28/00: Dr. Laura: The passive/aggressive kid's mom
03/21/00: Dough and campaigns
03/14/00: The volunteerism of conscription and pomp
03/07/00: Hope and pray that religion remains a force in politics
02/29/00: Ditzes in TV Land
02/22/00: Cranky nitpickers make writing a [sic] experience
02/15/00: Those chameleon 60s activists
02/08/00: McCandidate McCain: Flirting with principles
02/01/00: The demise of marriage
01/25/00: Stroke of the pen, law of the land: Clinton's Camelot
01/18/00: Off the Rocker Rorschach Test
01/11/00: Oprah's lemmings
01/04/00: Struggling mightily amidst the comfort
12/23/99: Confused fathers
12/14/99: Drop-kicking the homeless
12/07/99: Turtles and teamsters, side-by-side in Seattle
11/29/99: When conservatives behave badly
11/22/99: Compassionate conservative: Timing and targets
11/18/99: The elusive human spirit and accountability
11/11/99: Succumbing to the intellectual child within with the help of crackpots and screwballs
10/28/99: Live by litigation, die by litigation
10/22/99: Jesse, Warren, Cybill, Donald and Oprah
10/14/99: Inequality and injustice: It's the big one
10/05/99: Dan Quayle, morals and schoolyard bullies
09/30/99: The monsters of epidermal parenting
09/21/99: The Diversity Hoax
09/15/99: Waco Wackos
09/09/99: Selective censorship
09/01/99: The village, the children, judicial imperialism and abortion
08/24/99: Naughty Newt?
08/17/99: In defense of Boy Scouts and judgment
08/10/99: Ruining the finest health care system in the world
08/03/99: Nihilism and politics: ethics on the lam
07/26/99: Of women, soccer and removed jerseys
07/23/99: Not in despair, a mere mortal doing just fine
07/20/99: "Why me?" How about "Why us?"
07/13/99: Bunk, junk & juries
07/06/99: An Amish woman in a Victoria's Secret store
06/30/99: That intellectually embarrassing Second Amendment
06/24/99: Patricia Ireland eat your heart out --- but check out the recipe in 'women's mags' first
06/22/99: Dems and the Creator coup
06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

© 2002, Marianne M. Jennings