If asked, I’d be hard-pressed to define a single invention that I’d call the most destructive to the world, barring the obvious, like nuclear warheads. I do think, however without a doubt, that Photoshop and like programs are among the most insidious inventions, ever.
Part of the problem is that they seem so innocuous – hey look, I got the red-eye fixed on the otherwise perfect picture of my little angel. And I admit, one can do some really cool things with the image programs.
But – and this is a big but – we, as a species, have the general inclination that seeing is believing. And with Photoshop I can “see” virtually anything. I can see my best friend’s niece sitting next to Ozzy Osbourne. I can see moon colonies, aliens, monstrously large house cats and Batboy.
These things don’t seem so bad. I mean really, anyone would know these are fake, right? It’s from the Weekly World News. Pfffft!
But it’s the subtle, the minor manipulations that are most destructive. Photoshop has the power to change our entire world – to alter our perceptions, change our beliefs and opinions, impact our judgement and revise our history.
Today’s list is going to be an anomaly – a photo list of the different ways Photoshop has been used to do all of those things.
This is not a countdown list in order of impact or importance – it’s merely in the order I tracked down the images.
1. Perception of Current Events
Occupy Wall St. has been in the news recently, as crowds gather in locations across the country to protest. The event itself isn’t disputed, it is happening, but at what level? The top photo below is an image that has been making the rounds of Facebook, and it appears that the event is huge and since the news media outlets aren’t reporting these happenings, there must be a conspiracy going on to keep the events low profile to protect the top 1%.
But look at the bottom image; compare it to the top one. Ye gads! The top photo was a manipulation! Someone took a Google map and Photoshopped in the crowd and then released the photo on to the internets to promote the idea of a right-wing conspiracy. But who would do such a thing? Oh, no! It’s not a right-wing conspiracy at all, it’s actually a left-wing conspiracy! AH!
The above image came from freerepublic.com – click here for the link.
2. Perception of Self-Image
This one is obvious. For years magazine have periodically come under fire for Photoshopping their models to the point that they are perfectly defined with impeccable make up and no pores. There is a ridiculous number of these before and after type pictures on the web, both of women and men.
But most people just see the “after” picture and dive headlong into diets, anorexia, bulimia, obsessive workout programs, Botox needles and other “fixes”. Oh, and debt. Most of these programs will also require high dollar memberships, medical treatments, product purchases and therapy.
Link here to see the page this photo was snagged from.
This one too, has been making the rounds on Facebook. How can one not believe in God after seeing this, His own hand at work. I have nothing against inspiration, or belief. I, myself, am spiritual. But please – don’t you think God can speak for himself? For non-believers, this only emphasizes their skepticism. And the gulf widens.
Link here to see the site I found this one on.
4. Unfounded Support of the Left Wing Agenda
The photo is famous. nearly everyone with electricity has seen this. But which one have you seen? President George reading, sharing with a young student the importance of literacy? What a great man! Or President George applying some public relations strategery? What an idiot, he can’t even read!
Both versions of this are everywhere, but I found a link here that has them nicely placed side by side.
5. Unfounded Support of the Right Wing Agenda.
Jane Fonda’s a Commie! Everyone knows she sided with the wrong team during the Vietnam war. And look! It’s presidential hopeful, John Kerry. Right next to her!!! We can’t vote for him….he’ll turn us all into Communists and destroy the entire country. Damn hippie.
Link here for the full irony of this Photoshop, which was ultimately exposed – there is a real picture of them together at a rally. Way to screw your research Right-wingers.
6. Revisionist History
This was in a newspaper…the Photoshopped version really made its way into an actual published newspaper, Ms. Clinton and the other female in the room Photoshopped out. A few different reasons for this have floated around, but it comes down to this: this paper edited out a key official in a photo of a significant political event.
Link here for my source for the photo and an article detailing the results.
7. Signs of the Apocalypse or Artificial Support for Global Warming
Take your pick here – the photo below does both. Originally this was an image of one waterspout. I would think one would be enough. If I was on the open sea and saw that, I ‘d have an instant coronary. That is horrifying.
It’s the Apocalypse – on your knees and pray!
It’s a doctored picture, this whole Apocalypse thing is so ridiculous they’re making stuff up!
See the impact of Global warming! We must act now, or all is lost!
It’s a doctored picture, this whole Global Warming thing is so ridiculous they’re making stuff up!
Thankfully, the National Weather Service thinks three spouts this close together isn’t likely to happen, even in an extreme environment. But I got my link here where there are other fun hoaxes to check out.
8. Ummmm. More Revisionist History? Revisionist Anthropology?
Giants? Giants! This one appeared in a handful of media outlets and National Geographic is still getting inquiries about this. Look how enormous that skull is compared to the archeologist! For the folks who were taken in by this photo, I can’t even begin to imagine how this affected their worldview.
I had an argument once with a man who truly believed that Hobbits were real. Trust me, repeating things like this will have an impact on your employee review. It’s a bell you can’t unring.
Link here to read a National Geographic article about this.
9. Unnecessary Sensationalism
Tsunami is one of those natural events that in and of itself is disastrous. The absolute destruction that is left as the wave ebbs is unbelievable. They are sensational. And when they hit a populated shoreline, inevitably require rescue efforts and aid. What they don’t need is photos like this one. It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s a matter of scale, perception.
Those waves appear to be taller than the tallest buildings there, therefore this area will surely need aid. Just let me get my purse.
Good idea, right?
Well it is. Except that a picture like this makes a real picture look insignificant. Comparatively smaller and less destructive. The possible result? Today, I’ll let someone else get their purse.
Link here for my image source.
10. Racism or The Court of Public Opinion
Who didn’t have an opinion about OJ Simpson? If you’re over 30, you probably did. But none of us were there, and very few of us saw all of the evidence. So how did we even develop an opinion? Through our own personal exposure…almost all of it delivered in print or video form.
No way! OJ didn’t kill anyone. He’s The Juice! A Hall of Famer.
Not into football?
No way! OJ didn’t kill anyone. He’s Nordberg, the lovable, bumbling sidekick to Leslie Nielson in The Naked Gun series.
Well of course he did it. Didn’t you see those horrible images on TV?
And then there was the print coverage. Look at the images below. It’s the mugshot, but which one is the mugshot? The Time cover is so dark, he looks shifty, even menacing. In the Newseek version he looks different, more beaten or stunned than anything else.
And when the court of public opinion can erupt into riots, this is not of minor significance.
And the issue of racism here is blatant, lets just go ahead Time and add some unnecessary fuel to that fire.
Link here for my photo source.
So Photoshop has the power to make me miserable, as I diet my way to perfection while struggling to form a coherent opinion of whom to vote for while simultaneously trying to quell my fears of Global Warming induced natural disasters. And really, why bother with all that exercise if, when I do accomplish something great, I could be edited out of the photo record or be taken down in the Apocalypse before it gets printed.
Or maybe a giant will eat me.
Either way, I’m going to slam a lid on this neurosis right now and go Photoshop my boss’ head to a flamenco dancer’s body.