Dorian Gray alive and well in 2003
What the Shuk?
For a recent English assignment, I was planning
to write a short play spoofing Oscar Wilde’s The Picture
of Dorian Gray. Titled “Dorian Gray Orders a Pizza,” a
poor pizza boy would’ve become enthralled with Dorian
during a routine delivery.
As I was writing this piece of guaranteed hilarity (ahem),
it suddenly occurred to me that Wilde’s novel didn’t
require a modern update. Why create a new text when the real
world provides us with Dorian Grays of all kinds? If Wilde
had lived in 2003, he wouldn’t have needed the fanciful
notion of a magical portrait to retain Dorian’s youth.
The novel simply would’ve been titled The Botox Injection
of Dorian Gray. Or perhaps instead of making Dorian a young
English gadabout, Wilde could have made his protagonist a budding
Olympic sprinter, injecting all manner of drugs and supplements
to capture a gold medal.
Since there is no magic portrait to sustain them, the modern-day
Grays have to suffer the potential dangers of chasing eternal
beauty or youth. Women have gotten silicone poisoning from
breast implants, pill-popping athletes are far more likely
to suffer liver, kidney or heart failure, and let’s not
even talk about the folly of men who attempt a penis implant.
SPAM e-mail is not to be believed, folks.
The argument could be made that if some movie star wants to
get a bit of plastic surgery, then why is it our business?
If some athlete shoots up before a big game, well, then it’s
all the better for the customer who buys a ticket or turns
on his TV to watch spectacular athletic feats.
This is the type of slippery-slope moral argument Wilde first
exposed back in 1890. Dorian’s immunity to nature and
society’s laws leads to the inevitable feeling that all
such laws are beneath him and thus he feels free to murder
and ravage as he sees fit. If we as a society condone these
types of dangerous vanity, are we prepared for the consequences?
Does the nine-second thrill we get from seeing a sprinter win
a race make it acceptable to see that same sprinter die prior
to age 40 of a “heart attack?”
Dorian had the reminder of the portrait hidden up in his attic,
whereas the modern day Grays coast along in ignorant bliss,
their quest for beauty and fame overwhelming any comprehension
of what they’re doing to themselves. Their “portraits,” as
it were, are the post-mortem CAT scans revealing diseased organs
that are as degenerated as the aged character in Dorian’s
Perhaps dying is merely the final step towards achieving “eternal” youth.
After all, a talented embalmer can fashion any grotesque body
into a beautiful corpse.