Thursday, September 27, 2012

Would you ever want a bagel head?

The National Geographic channel explores interesting subjects on "Taboo." And as a caveat to that, "taboo" is basically what "Americans find as taboo" because (let's face it) America is filled with conservative meat and potatoes folks. For example, people are only now just getting comfortable with homosexuality, thanks to shows like Modern Family, Glee, Will and Grace, Happy Endings, and the democrats finally adding marriage equality to their party platform. Americans still have many taboos. However, I did wonder if body modification is one of them. It's easy to find people that have piercings. I guess "taboo" applies to the kind of body modification we are talking about, right?

Well, earlier this month, National Geographic took a look at a body modification that's enjoying increasing popularity in Japan. In a procedure that makes me cringe, people willingly have saline solution injected into their foreheads. One guy that had this done asked, "Is water dripping down my face?" But the person administering the saline said that was probably on the inside of his skin. So hmm, would you ever want a bagel head?

I have to admit, this kind of thing is creepy to me. But I would not judge someone negatively if they wanted to try it. I strive to keep as open a mind as I can. But I have to do you feel about body modification? Do you have any characters in your books that are into body modification? And if you do use body modification in your fiction, do you show it in a good light? Or would you choose to use it to make your villain disgusting?
This last question, that of using "body modification" to make a villain disgusting, is an unfortunate stereotype in many films. The one that most readily comes to mind is the villain in the movie "300." But there are others for sure, think "The Cell" or "Silence of the Lambs."
Xerxes on 300 had very visible body modification. The heroic spartans, however,
did nothing to their beautiful and basically perfect bodies. What does this say about
society's view? Maybe that's the reason it was featured on "Taboo", because "most"
people (at least in America) consider this "freakish." And 300 is an American film.
The only time in fiction that I can recall a hero having extensive body modification is in the case of Wolverine, and what happened to him ended up being kind of cool even though the idea of it is horrific. An adamantium exo-skeleton is something you could build an entire series on, right?


  1. That's definitely not for me, but hey, whatever they want. I just have the opinion, and I could be errant, that these people will leave to regret it in a matter of a few years. Do you know if the process is reversible? It would occur to me that it is since it is but saline.

  2. Fascinating topic. Body modification is not for me, and the bagel head thing makes me cringe. They are pumping a foreign substance into their heads. No. But whether it is right or wrong is not for me to say. Each to their own, as they say.

  3. Considering that I hardly even wear any makeup and certainly don't get fake tans and that sort of thing, this sort of thing is DEFINITELY not for me either. But if other people want to look like that, so be it. ;) I think it's odd.

    Like all the weirdos in the big city from the HUNGER GAMES series.

  4. I'll pass on the bagel head thing. Eeek. I guess it's no more dangerous than botox injections, but I'm not doing that either.

  5. I watch Taboo and boy, did I cringe over that too. No, no, no. Don't want a bagel head. It looks painful and must carry risks.

    Piercings make me cringe even more. I lift my hat to the lady with 8,000 of them.

    Haven't thought about writing in a character like that, but you can bet that if I do, there'd be some pain involved. Insert evil grin here.

  6. OK...I'll say it...a bagel on the forehead is ridiculous. Sorry, no PC from me on this one. Getting inked is different. It's art, though not for me. Looking like a freak? I'd have to confer with a shrink on that.

  7. If I'd do anything I'd want some cool cybernetic implants that could allow me to lift cars or run like the Flash or shoot laser beams or something. The rest of this crap is just barbaric tribal nonsense.

  8. OMG - The idea of water dripping under the skin completely icked me out. I hope this doesn't catch on with the teens any time soon.

  9. When I was growing up in the 80s I remember thinking that we were so extreme with our curse filled heavy metal music and body piercings that the next generation could never match us. It seems silly now but it was cutting edge back then.

    Every segment in every generation has their thing to make themselves different and it is an offshoot of the drive that creates the technology we enjoy. I won't be getting a bagel head any time soon but it makes me smile when I hear it is happening. In a weird way it gives me hope for the future.

    Now get off my lawn!

  10. I don't get it. I really don't. What is it supposed to do for you? What is the statement they're trying to make? That they can be different? I get that part I guess, but not the bagel head look. It's really kind of silly looking.

    Xerxes, on the other hand. has a very exotic beautiful look in 300. There's an intimidation factor to his outrageous style.

  11. What if you forgot your bagel and facepalmed yourself? Would saline shoot out your nose?

  12. I vote for it as a great way to make a villain disgusting.

  13. I think some of the roots of this thinking are, well, kind of racist, because extensive body modification has its roots in Africa. I'm not saying that the general disapproval of it is racist, but I think there is a connection back there to -why- we disapprove of it. That and the whole thing from the Bible about your body being a temple.

    Personally, I'm not into body modification because it's permanent. Which is the same reason I don't put bumper stickers on my car. Yeah, those are the same thing to me.

    However, I do have a character in my head that is tattooed, but that's all I can say about it. I just need a story to go with the base idea.

  14. @Jeremy: The bagel head thing only lasts a few days. Once the swelling goes down due to the tissues reabsorbing the saline, the skin on the forehead returns to normal.

    @Ellie: It's saline so yeah "foreign" but essentially something that the body can readily absorb without harm.

    @Trisha: Exactly. The body modifications in "The Hunger Games" are used to illustrate how weird and amoral the individuals are. Not surprising really given that the author is American. She can hit a nerve with other folks that think just like her (which is my point of the post).

    @Brinda: It's actually probably safer than Botox as it's saline. Botox is "botulism" which is then used to paralyze muscles.

    @Joy: LOL Taboo is an interesting show. I'd love to know more about your writing plans with this subject.

    @Em-Musing: Is getting inked different?

    @Patrick: You are the most conservative democrat I know.

    @Tonja: I think that I would be opposed to it as a parent of a child. My problem is in trying to understand the appeal.

    @Kevin: You are pretty conservative from what I know, Kevin.

    @L.G.: I don't know if they are trying to make a statement, or if they just like the feel of it.

    @Elise: Face-palming might actually hurt because you have that pressure on your forehead.

    @Cindy: LOL okay.

    @Andrew: Does body modification have its roots in Africa? I know they practiced it in ancient China as well. Who came first? Both civilizations are thousands of years old.

  15. yeahno... I mean if somebody else wants to, it's their business, but I don't find it attractive. And I guess I have additional issues as to who gets to define what is attractive and how people go about getting it. Because honestly, this is no different than breast enhancement except for audience and breast enhancement sort of pisses me off (a selling out to the mainstream subjugation of women)--

    Piercings and tattoos, so long as they are personal decisions are... well personal decisions. But I thiink if anything gets to be 'expected for beauty' then it crosses a line for me. If that makes sense.

  16. EW!!!!*shudder* I don't think body modification in vilians will make it into any of my stories, since I like my villains chillkngly normal. :-D

  17. I'm not sure which came first, but our knowledge of it comes from Africa first, I'm sure. Especially the piercings and things like that. Our cultural reaction is that that is stuff that primitives do. It's only just now beginning to change. It didn't help that it was pirates that really brought that stuff out into the world.

  18. If it looks painful, it bothers me. I'm all for doing what you want with your own body, but just don't make me look at you.

  19. eh, i'm a big proponent of "whatever floats your boat"
    I mean, i have 3 tats and plan on getting more. And i'd probably have more peircings if i didn't have metal allergies, so there you go

  20. Being liberal just means you have the right to do stuff. It doesn't mean I personally have to approve of it.

  21. The Warded Man books are about a guy that does extensive body mods in order to fight demons. Ironically, he loses what makes him human the more he does to himself.

    Still, he is the hero of the book(s).

  22. What in the world are they doing to their foreheads? So weird. But hey - whatever. I have lots of friends with all kinds of piercings and such. No big deal.

    I think you're right about villains having body modifications. Kinda like the whole eye patch or wearing black thing. The audience immediately recognizes such visual markers.

    That bagel head thing just keeps freaking me out though. What if you fall asleep and do a face plant? Ouch.

  23. OK, I don't get the bagel head thing. It is very freaky.

    There was the Illustrated Man. Or aren't tattoos included?

    It's an interesting idea to explore and twist. Not bagel heads, though.

  24. I have a low gross-out level so I've never watched Taboo, and I'm glad I didn't see the bagel-head episode. Other than getting my ears pierced years ago, I've never considered body piercings or tattoos. I've also known a couple of very tattooed women and it didn't seem to be a coincidence that both had serious father abandonment issues. As for villains -- to me, the banal type who blends into a crowd is the scariest type of villain. As for an everyday character with plenty of tattoos and how they affect his life -- there's a wonderful Flannery O'Conner short story called "Parker's Back" that I'd recommend.

  25. I missed that episode. I tattoo some of my characters (the good guys/gals) but don't do more than that. I must have a limited imagination.

  26. This reminds me of the way Mayans shaped their heads by sandwiching the skulls of children between boards. At least this new procedure isn't permanent.

  27. I love watching Taboo.

  28. the intent is to freak YOU out, at times... for samples, peruse the net