Steve Buscemi’s Fargo character Carl Showalter is described by a young prostitute as “kinda funny lookin,” a generosity on both the actor and directors’ part, who trust their audience enough to know that our smirks stem from regard. Buscemi shares the mantel with Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe, and Crispin Glover, as being oddly sexy, if you will allow this heterosexual contributor such assertions. “In what way?” Marge, the police officer asks. “I dunno…just funny-lookin.”
Which is why these funny lookin eyes adorning our most heralded sex icons and female celebrities are so enjoyable, surreal, and uncanny — exposing the artifice of their sheen into some internal sleep-deprived struggle, as portrayed by sunken post-manic Buscemi eyes. Of course, the pop “low-browness” of Chicks With Steve Buscemeyes is more glittery and explicit than the more oblique affectations of, say Cindy Sherman, Pipilotti Rist, and Vanessa Beecroft, all whom invert the aesthetic expectations of the male gaze by somehow being complicit to it; but this is not about feminism, or art really, maybe just some photoshop-tumblr-land in between, whose perch is still far away.
Audrey Hepburn; Dakota Fanning; Kate Moss; Renee Zellweger; Zooey Deschanel; Tina Fey; Anne Hathaway; Natalie Portman; Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen — no one is safe from being Buscemeyesized. There isn’t, thankfully, any didactic commentary on the part of one Jon L., the presumed creator and artist at work here. No artist statement, resume, or career goal. This is the internet’s logic and compulsion at its best. His photoshop skills are so intact the eyes seem that way too, as the skull’s shy main constituents. They say that eyes are windows to the soul, so maybe, inadvertently, a collective Wildean commentary is spawn: each celebrity has an aging portrait of themselves hidden in the attic along with Dorian Gray’s, and we are getting a sneak peek at the beautiful mortality of these supposed immortals.
There is a violence here, which has less to do with Buscemi, or Jon L., or these women, than with us: our sudden facetious love and visceral hatred of these metamorphosed women. Suddenly, Rose McGowan’s luscious breasts are, well, fucking scary. Jessica Alba’s teeth seem less straight, yellowed by disappointment. Every nose, every fingernail, as satellites around these irrevocable eyes, are more flawed than before. More honest. It would take a man to do this to her, and other men to think this. But it would take a woman to understand
Buscemi’s eyes operate – beyond their post-modern pop-pastiche appeal – existentially as a woman’s age, which, sadly, is our unnamed antagonist in the novel of Male Love. The new dour Buscemi-cysts turn each face less polished, less precious, less fuckable than before. One tries to block out the eyes, maybe focus on the tits, but the memory of such reside like floaters across our own, between the lid and cornea, a shallow place indeed.