Rant and Rave: TV vs. Movie Old Age and Race Changing Makeup

I am an avid American Horror Story fan. There are no words to describe how much I love this show and although my feelings about the season 2 finale are mixed, there is one thing about that episode that stood out for me, Sarah Paulson’s old-age makeup. ImageIn this photo, Sarah’s character, Lana Winters, is supposed to be 75 years old. It is hard to tell by this still photo, but throughout the episode, I was nothing but impressed with the execution. All the details down to the age spots on her hands were perfect. The lines around her eyes and lips, the skin around her neck, the coloration of her skin, just everything about this makeup was high quality. Here are some more photos from the episode:

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Here is just a reference photo for what Sarah looks like normally (she’s absolutely stunning! I swear, Lana Del Rey must have looked at a photo of Sarah before getting plastic surgery and said, I want to look like her!).

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Anyways, the point of this post, other than letting out my sheer admiration of Sarah Paulson’s beauty (and Lana’s, even if it is man-made), was to compare the quality of some TV makeup to that of some movie makeup I’ve seen recently. One example in particular that stood out for me was when I was watching Cloud Atlas.

Cloud Atlas was a movie that came out in late 2012 and many of the cast members change their appearance because the movie progresses along a certain timeline, from the early 19th century all the way to the future (I don’t remember exactly how far but pretty far). The cast members sometimes look like themselves and in other eras may have changed gender and in the most extreme cases some had even changed race (ex. Caucasian to Asian and vice versa). The movie was something else, I really enjoyed it (even though it was upwards 3 hours long!) but something that I couldn’t get over was how BADLY some of the makeup was! Here is a photo of Jim Sturgess normally and Jim Sturgess as Hae-Joo Chang in Cloud Atlas:

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It took me a while when I was watching the movie to realize that this character was in fact Jim Sturgess but I noticed that the makeup artists only focused the transformation around the eyes, but the rest of his face remained the same. There were other characters that also had an Asian transformation. They gave the actors small hooded eyes and pointy-triangle eyebrows. It’s kind of offensive if you think about it.

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Now this movie got in a little bit of trouble with an Asian American media action group for using Caucasian actors with “yellow face” instead of just hiring Asian actors. The same group even criticized the movie makers for having badly executed the “yellow face” makeup and that the characters in the movie that had undergone a process of going Asian to Caucasian looked better than those that went from Caucasian to Asian, which is what I think is debatable. Here is a picture of Doona Bae, another actor from this same film, who is Korean, and for the most of the movie she is portrayed as a Korean woman, but towards the end of the film she is revealed to also play another character who is supposed to be Caucasian.

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Now this is what got me upset. I got over the fact that Jim Sturgess and most of the rest of cast that were “Asia-fied” and that the job was not that great but nonetheless got the point across, but this attempt to make Doona Bae look Caucasian bothered me a lot. Considering that there are Youtube gurus such as Promise Phan, who is self-taught and successfully transforms herself into Caucasian and African American celebrities (female and male), this attempt on Doona looks less than amateur.

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Angelina Jolie Makeup TransformationImage
Scarlett Johansson Makeup Transformation

Ok, so we’ve established that it is more than possible to transform a person who is Asian and make them look Caucasian with certain makeup tricks (either creating a crease or changing the way the face/nose looks with contouring), so what excuse do the makeup artists of Cloud Atlas have? Contouring is a pretty powerful tool, as well as colour correcting and ESPECIALLY the use of prosthetics. It’s like these people have never seen an episode of Face-Off before!

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Nope. I just don’t like this at all. It’s like they tried to hide her Asian features with hundreds of freckles. They should’ve hired Promise to do her makeup!

I know that there are plenty of other movies and TV shows that have used old age makeup but these are just two examples that really stuck out for me.

Are there any old age/race makeup moments that you thought were particularly amazing/not so amazing? Let me know!

Also, let me know if this type of post is something that you are interested in, I know it’s far from a tutorial or a FOTD but opinion pieces are pretty fun too, especially makeup related ones!

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