November 13, 2007



You learn something new every day. There's a new product called
'White Light': you pull back your lips and press this gizmo against
your teeth, and besides emitting an eerie white glow it gives you a
dazzling smile until it wears off and you need another pressing. How
many of these before you get gold?

What happens if you smile too broadly and expose the yellow at
opposing sides of the mouth where the light doesn't reach? Or
does its irradiation spread across the whole span of the teeth
and in that case, how does it know to stop before bleaching the
tonsils and adenoids the same glist'ning white? Does it bleach
the gums or only turn them a sickly pink? Are these the colours
of the future so far as the innards of the mouth are concerned?

How long before 'Yellow Light' comes on the market, for that
distinctive villain or lowlife look in Hollywood action
pictures and crime drama on tv? Instant and iconic visible
identifiers are required in drama whose heroes and villains
increasingly subscribe to the same code of ethics (or absence
of same). Yellow teeth might work as well as black hats once
did. The more visible idiosyncracies you supply villains
with the more viewers will subtly lean in their direction

That's why it's best to keep the weird inflections, gimpy legs
and such for your repertoire of endearingly hopeless sidekick
types. Then again yellow teeth, like scruffy unkempt facial
growth, might go from being the signifier of a villain, to the
signifier of a rebel against social customs, to a universal
symbol of male sensitivity, virility and lawfully constituted
authority. But a change like that would hardly
happen overnight--it could take months.

I don't know whether the most popular Egyptian tooth
cleansing agent--urine--would be much use in obtaining
this now-fashionable stain. There are disadvantages
which the most powerful mouthwash, even aided by cologne
or aftershave, would be hard put to remedy.

Almost inevitably the next phase would be an indisputably
high-class social marker--one with the stamp of history on
it. 'Black light' could give authority and the upper classes
the same polish it gave Japanese Lords and Ladies in the late
Middle Ages. White teeth--even those slightly yellowed for
rebel effect--would be shunned as what ordinary plebeian
brushing could produce.

But why stop at black if artificial colour's what you want?
Why not red, green, blue, violet--why not all the colours at
once? Be the first on your block with a smile like a rainbow.
There's no trick to it, or if there is--it's only a trick of
the light.

C Martin Heavisides 2006


Nonnie Augustine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nonnie Augustine said...

Good blogging-but I'm feeling a bit nauseous.