Review of Two Documentary Films from First Run/Icarus Films: How Happy Can You Be? and Teeth by ProQuest


American corporate imagery is all about white teeth, big smile; an Asian-American insecure about his yellowish teeth; a young woman who, told by her dentist to have her teeth whitened to look younger, resents the need to match the current elevated level of whiteness . . . of cleanliness, and feels that this new phase of whitening, on top of the straightening, is a whole new level of beautification, and commodification; and Markus Wailand, a handsome but gap-toothed actor who is advised by producers that those on TV need perfect looks, and that all anyone will remember about him is his tooth gap. Cacioppo's study of subtle facial-muscle responses to imagery, to determine if people have an innate tendency to notice negative or positive occurrences, reveals a strong "negative bias"; this genetic disposition to notice the negative suggests, he estimates, that to achieve lasting happiness one must perform five positive acts to counterbalance each negative experience; that is, it takes five compliments to nullify one insult.

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