The Beckhams – (Re)touching one another


I’ve been playing for some time on and off with a script called THE RETOUCHER about a Swedish fashion retoucher who gets caught in a murder plot. I’m fascinated with how retouching has become such a constant companion to our way of seeing ourselves, that especially for celebrities, the real begins to mimic the fake so much so that plastic (or in French, cosmetic) surgeons are called in to approximate with their scalpels what photoshop does much less painfully, with a gaussian blur and a Wacom tablet.

A recent Vogue cover featuring Victoria and David Beckham show how men are still allowed to have skin texture, pores and wrinkles, while women are patently not. On this cover, Victoria Beckham looks more like one of the digital cast-members of Transformers 3 – Dark Side of the Moon (which I still contend is a better, more honest film than The Tree of Life) than she does like a human female. She looks as if David has brought in his new android companion whose fenders were modeled by Maserati and her bumpers by Pininfarina. Though then I suppose there would be more curves involved.

Besides this strangely angular, digital totem-type deity that most women who grace the covers of these magazines “de lux”, allow themselves to become, I also wonder at what else is supposed to be understood.

Victoria seems to be contemplating eating her diamond ring. She seems pretty comfortable to be framing David with her featureless, polished-bronze arm, draping it around him just enough to complete the picture, but whilst also, thankfully, not obscuring his irrepressible quiff.

Her power ring is near her mouth, her hand is proprietarily slapped on his head but her gaze is pointedly elsewhere. She wears the distinct expression of an accomplished, android, alpine explorer. If she can conquer this granite-like facade with her Italian-designed rocket-boots, there must be more formidable challenges elsewhere- her detection system (housed of course in her ring) would never joke about such matters.

Somewhere, out there, in the vast unknowable infinity that lies beyond the right edge of the glossy, perfumed magazine cover, a more exciting future than life with merely-human-David is beckoning. She smolders with a heavy touch of pout, perhaps just biding her time until she’ll seize the moment to tattoo another bit of wisdom in an elegant cursive font somewhere on her soft-focus body. In any case, it is my experience that android alpine climbers are smarter than the rest of us and will not be denied.

David’s expression on the other hand, is one of calculation regarding a bit of nastiness to come. If Victoria is concentrating on an opportunity we can’t see, David is offering us a blatant challenge. Or perhaps a piece of cheese. Whatever it is, it seems to be making his eyes nearly water. Perhaps it is a business proposal. Or to give us “the business”. We can only hope to be so lucky as to share in a sexonomic opportunity such as this man could present, this captain of sweaty sport and entertainment, this mouse-voiced priest of pop-culture, always visible in our collective mind’s eye in a pair of over-priced tight-fitting briefs.

But isn’t that what this magazine promises? A glimpse into the gold-plated microchip at the heart of the family unit of the future? Victoria is going to share her operating instructions and David will be there to shepherd us along our way with some silent yet devastating insights. He will be joined in his duties by Diana Ross and Marc Jacobs. He seems simultaneously angry and proud that we are looking at him and his animatronic hood ornament so closely. But that is perhaps the complex mix of emotions that giving away the priceless secrets of beauty in the 21st century entails.


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