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Alesha: Look But Don't Touch (2008)

Having been subject to "improvement" by digital technology herself, Alesha Dixon sets out on a mission to understand the impact all these "perfect" images are having on society. Discovering... See full summary »

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Having been subject to "improvement" by digital technology herself, Alesha Dixon sets out on a mission to understand the impact all these "perfect" images are having on society. Discovering the extent to which photo-shoots are touched up, Alesha also decides to find a magazine that would be willing to put her on the cover without any touching up. Written by bob the moo

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13 July 2008 (UK)  »

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Basic but breezy documentary thanks to Dixon's lively presence
28 July 2008 | by See all my reviews

Having been subject to "improvement" by digital technology herself, Alesha Dixon sets out on a mission to understand the impact all these "perfect" images are having on society. Discovering the extent to which photoshoots are touched up, Alesha also decides to find a magazine that would be willing to put her on the cover without any touching up.

We have seen many of these films before, where celebs go up against the system they are part of as part of a "mission"; for example Louise Rednapp did it with the "size zero" craze. The problem with them often is that there are lots of areas that could be argued around them and so it is with "Look but Don't Touch". By linking the subject of digital enhancement of images to body image and perception you cannot help but question the whole world of marketing and modelling - why allow people to have professional make-up done, surely that also covers imperfections in skin tone etc, why allow very beautiful men and women to be models where it is clear that the majority of us will never achieve that? The truth is that this film is not about the problems of selling perfection in women, but rather about drawing a line about what is acceptable within this world.

In the film this is well shown in the extent to which things can be done and indeed are done. The film doesn't totally make the difference clear between make-up and digital editing but there is a difference, in real life one can get make-up a great cost then walk round but one cannot digitally reduce one's thighs before heading down to the beach. That the film doesn't make this clear is down to the very simplistic and cheerful delivery style, which is very typical of BBC3. As a result it tends to be so light to hardly deserve the word "documentary" and it never really gets into the subject beyond what Alesha is doing. That said it is is engaging and entertaining to watch. It will surprise nobody that almost none of the magazines want anything to do with a cover that cannot be digitally cleaned up - and bear in mind that Alesha is far from unattractive (no matter what Harvey thinks). Eventually she gets it but only for a Sunday supplement and even then they want to touch it up a bit (she has a "funny armpit" apparently). Interactions with those in the industry are very much of the "shrug and accept" nature, while the members of the public can be relied upon for simplistic and dull soundbites (guess what - everything thinks it is a bad thing). The school kids provide good substance though and it is depressing to see so many primary school kids already being body conscious (and worried).

Alesha Dixon helps the film a great deal. Her bubbly personality can be a bit grating at times as she over-reacts to things but mostly it works well within this vehicle. Nobody sounds good when doing rehearsed opinions to the camera as if they were just giving them naturally, but otherwise she is a cheerful and energetic presenter. Look but Don't Touch will not change anything in the real world or in people's minds. Nor is it insightful or intelligent enough to really create a debate (you need to ask better questions for that) but it is an engaging and simple look at the subject. OK so it deserves a lot more but it is an OK film nonetheless, not least because of Dixon's involvement.


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