Elective cosmetic surgery is a complicated issue, but that hasn't stopped Michael Salzhauer, Miami's Wackiest Plastic Surgeon, from making cringe-worthy—and controversial—Internet parody videos.
Already known around Miami for his marketing campaigns, which have included free plastic surgery for Orthodox Jews looking to marry and students on summer vacation, Salzhauer first raised eyebrows around the country not with Botox (zing!) but with his children's book My Beautiful Mommy, about a mom who gets a tummy tuck. Since the book came out in 2008, Salzhauer has continued to angle for media attention, performing a live nose job on Inside Edition, creating a "Heidi Yourself" iPhone app, and making parody videos that range from cheesy to cheesy and racist. Here's his most recent video, "Booty Doc," which is about partying and buttlifts:
Via YouTube: "We've lost our minds here at Bal Harbour Plastic Surgery... And yet we do seriously amazing Brazilian Butlifts every day!!" Lyrics here.
The "Booty Doc" video might be uncomfortably bad, but in February, Salzhauer, who is a devout Jew, released a video called "Jewcan Sam" that went way beyond "uncomfortably bad" territory. In it, a Jewish teenager wants to ask a girl out but she tells him he needs a nose job first. Presumably to give his video a cinema verité vibe, Salzhauer performed an actual nose job for the lead singer of the band The Groggers, from whom he commissioned the song. Oh, and just to round out the stereotypes, there's blackface in the video too. WTF?
"I want her, but she don't want what I am. She says you got a beak like Jewcan Sam." Yikes. More lyrics here.
Some of Salzhauer's other works include "If I Was Your Surgeon" (a Justin Bieber "Boyfriend" parody) and "Some 'Body' That I Used to Know" (a Gotye parody that weirdly incorporates most of the song's actual lyrics). "It was pretty good marketing," Salzhauer said of the "Jewcan Sam" video, which launched an investigation by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and pissed off reasonable people everywhere. "I now have people calling from literally all over the world. And CNN called me 'Dr. Schnoz, the nose king of Miami.' That's something." Yep, it sure is something! (Something awful.)
Media frenzy and ridiculousness aside, these videos make light of a serious topic. Plastic surgery is not without its risks by any means, and the social pressures that often lead to elective cosmetic surgery are not alleviated by going under the knife. Though Salzhauer—who was bullied as a teen for his nose, which he has since altered with surgery—claims to be sympathetic to these factors, the very fact that he's commissioning a song called "Jewcan Sam" and dancing around his surgical suite in a wig to an LMFAO song—hardly the soundtrack to a serious career—prove otherwise.
In interviews, Salzhauer defends his position with the typical "Don't hate the player, hate the game" argument. He's not the one making people feel bad about their bodies, he's helping them by changing their looks! Besides, people who think his parodies are in poor taste are just killjoys who don't get it, right? Wrong. Parody videos like these are worse than "in poor taste," they perpetuate harmful attitudes about body image, further narrowing the field of what's acceptable until all we're left with is big boobs, tight butts, and "upturned noses." How is someone who's self-conscious about their appearance (which is probably all of us at some point) supposed to feel watching that "Booty Doc" video? They're supposed to feel inadequate. So inadequate, in fact, that they call Dr. Salzhauer so he can tighten their buns for $5600 (financing available).
These "parodies" are far from funny, but Salzhauer's laughing all the way to the bank.