Human Ken Doll Rodrigo Alves
Society and Social Structures

Human Ken Doll: the cult of the young body, and judging by appearances

“I don’t watch big brother, I don’t know this fella…,” tweeted journalist, TV presenter and poet Stephen Dixon. “But a world that allows someone to do this to themselves instead of getting some serious help, and then makes them a celebrity figure, is so badly flawed.”

“What’s the alternative?” demanded actor, puppeteer and presenter Mike Smith. “A world that stops you doing what you want to yourself?”

“I think the alternative is a world where people don’t feel the need to be perfect,” answered Stephen Dixon, as the thread swelled into terse dialogues about the meaning of celebrity, the limits of positive freedom, and the ethics of cosmetic surgery.

‏”That’s rather judgemental Stephen,” judged Johnny L

“It’s not judgemental at all,” rebutted Stephen Dixon. “I’m not criticising him. Read it again.”

“Its rather a need by many to hear and be able to understand what it means,” interjected Knut Flottorp (who knows Kant and Kierkegaard), “‘I love you’ and ‘you have a special place’ and ‘I care’. This place is a cold spot without love and care and people that worry. With the words it’s a wonderful place!”

But nobody knew what Knud was talking about, so nobody pursued that particular invitation to dialogue.

“The cult of the young body, the veneration of the air brushed, media produced body, conceals a hatred of real bodies,” explained Dave Valente. “Cultural practice expresses aversion to the body,” he expanded, quoting Beth Feller Jones of Wheaton College. And then we get the descent into abuse: “Plastic man”; “a cross between Tsaikovski (sic) and pete burns”; “Looks like a bloody mannequin”; “a freak”; “looking like Dr Ninestein from terrahawks”; “Fake”…

…”And ‘Love Island’ is ‘aspirational’, according to ITV”:

love island

If the media inculcate the physical perfection of Barbie and Ken, is it any wonder that people spend their lives trying to attain (or retain) the image of that caricature perfection? It is manifestly the key to fame and fortune, success and happiness, and so greatly to be desired, and if you don’t desire it, there’s something wrong with you. It got the Human Ken Doll into the Big Brother house, didn’t it? You don’t find many fat and spotty young people going in, do you? They tend to hide in their bedrooms, chatting online to their cyber-friends who believe they’re a hunk or a babe, ashamed they’ll never quite make it to Love Island.

The Human Ken Doll has a name, by the way: he is Rodrigo Alves. Rodrigo Alves was made in the image of God, and he then chose to fashion himself in the image of Ken, who is still made in the image of God, if a little more obscured. But people don’t really know the name any more: his celebrity persona is the Human Ken Doll, and that’s who he now is. And people look, and they judge, and they think… well, you know what you think.

Yet if we were to look at ourselves before judging the Human Ken Doll, what doll would we see? What doll do others see when they look at our faces or bodies? What masks do we wear to conceal who we are? What behaviour do others observe in us to form their opinions of us? What do our impulses, feelings and desires convey? Or are they hidden from the world behind a mask of moral perfection and self-righteousness?

Judge not according to the appearance,’ said Jesus (Jn 7:24). Yet then he exhorted: ‘but judge righteous judgment.‘ We are manifestly supposed to judge, but that judgment should be moral and self-aware, not superficial and unaware. When we judge Rodrigo Alves, we display an unrighteous judgment of the heart and persuade ourselves that our consciences offer a superior principle; not arbitrarily subjective, but reasonably moral. It isn’t simply affection or revulsion, but conviction and responsibility, for the Human Ken Doll is patently obsessed with fakery and falsehood – everything that Jesus repudiated. We are to judge wisely, compassionately and lovingly. To judge at face-value is not righteous judgment, and yet we look at the face of Rodrigo Alves and affirm the world’s judgment: plastic man;, mannequin, freak…

The illusion he creates with this identity masks a lifetime of seeking another reality – perhaps steeped in loneliness, unhappiness, pain and insecurity. The façade he forged out of his frailty and fallenness is now his world of self-sufficiency and truth: he doesn’t want us to know the memories of his past perceptions. And nor do we, for we helped to make him what he chose to become, for the moral order of our society is nothing more than an illusion; a façade of emotional impulses and sentimental unreason, stoked by the thirst for celebrity and the lust for instant gratification. You might think the Human Ken Doll to be a repugnant, absurd and irrational non-person fit for nothing but the pages of OK! Magazine or the ‘Big Brother’ house; detached from the real world, worshipping the cult of the young body, cut off from the God who gave him the freedom to make the choices he did.

But what does Rodrigo Alves see when he looks at you?