Remember Moonlighting that great detective show with Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis from the 80’s?
If you do, perhaps you remember how whenever the camera was on handsome, young, David Addison (soon-to-be mega-star Bruce), it looked like a normal camera shot – crisp and clear… or at least as clear as it could be on TV before HD.
Then, when the camera moved to Cybill, who was maybe getting a little older and feeling a bit insecure about it, we’d get a sort of blur effect – like suddenly someone had run up and slathered Vaseline on the lens. Sometimes it was so bad it was like a fog had rolled into the office in the middle of their witty banter. You expected David Addison to start screaming not “Maddie” but “Marco!…. Marco!….”
There’s even a bit about this strange phenomenon from the director of photography of Moonlighting himself, Gerald Finnerman, here quoted from Television: Companion to the PBS Television Series, written by Michael Winship.
“Diffusion, the process by which you film through a somewhat opaque filter to soften hard edges, is a minor sore point on the Moonlighting set. Cybill Shepherd’s shots are diffused, and if you look closely at Moonlighting, you can see the difference between the way she is filmed and the way costar Bruce Willis is shot. According to Finnerman, “Women have to be diffused. I don’t care who it is….Somebody took a pretty good shot at me [in a magazine article] for overdiffusing Cybill. I went to my producers, and they said, ‘You just keep doing what you’re doing. We love it, the network loves it, and she loves it.’ I can’t go by the opinion of one man who might need new glasses. I have to defend myself by saying, ‘Yes, we use diffusion-we use heavy diffusion-but I don’t consider it jarring.'” Case closed.”
My favorite line in there of course is “Women have to be diffused.” Like we’re a bomb. Or just so jarring to the naked eye that something has to be done to make us fit for viewing.
So, I’m thinking, as I get older, I’ll just start wearing a flood light around my middle. Like a fanny pack. Then, the older I get, the brighter I’ll turn up the light, so that people can never quite focus on me. As a bonus, other people will give themselves crows feet from squinting at me all the time, which can’t help but make me look even younger by comparison.
It’s either that or slather Vaseline all over my face. Or over everyone’s eyeballs… and I’m thinking when your old that sort of behavior just isn’t cute anymore.