Airbrush Outrage (again)

If you are going to make a point and convince people of the validity of it, then you need to be

  1. Correct
  2. Succinct
  3. Provide irrefutable evidence to backup your point

I learnt this when I was 17 and studying geography and admit that I need to remember #2 more frequently when I blog, but then I am not a professional writer with an editor to whip my words into shape. Unlike, say the Daily Mail. Which attempts to make the point that Jessica was airbrushed to look thinner on a calendar for Campari. And the evidence they provide is this photograph:

Jessica Alba before and after photo manipulation

Jessica Alba before and after photo manipulation

We can all agree that the image on the right is different from the one on the left is different, ergo it has been manipulated. Check for requirement #1. Also, presentation of the offending images is certainly the most effective way of explaining the problem. Check for requirement #2.

The problem with the Daily Mail’s outrage is that they have not presented evidence to justify their position. A brief look at the image on the right shows that it in no way resembles the  photo on the left, even a child can see the background is completely different. Furthermore, closer examination of Jessica Alba shows that this is almost certainly not the same before image used to create the after (her hair is different, her knees are in different positions, her head is held at a  different angle etc) So to agree with the Daily Mail we need to accept that the pool background can be changed and no-one should care, but because there is a person in the front it must be a truthful representation and we have to accept their (possibly flawed) evidence as proof.

Sorry, but the image on the right is art. Just as van Gogh, Picasso, Francis Bacon or Turner created images that were based on what they saw, so have Campari.In the case of the Jessica Alba she has provided the muse, the inspiration and the source material to create something that will adorn the walls of thousands of people. And Campari have even tried to head off the criticism by providing a behind the scenes look at the photo shoot– in fact, it looks as if the Daily Mail have taken one of the behind the scenes shots (i.e. not a photo taken by the photographer) and used that as the photo on the left. Now, if the behind the scenes photos have been retouched, then we have a problem. Otherwise, can’t we just look at Jessica Alba?

I have already commented on the practice of photo manipulation and wondered whether an image that is considered ‘photo realistic’ needs to resemble the source material and therefore convey the truth. For the record, I don’t think it does, but that is for a different discussion. My concern here is more that an established media outlet has expressed outrage, without presenting evidence for it. And, here comes the kicker in this connected age, other sites such as the Huffington Post and now Batblog itself are further perpetrating the distribution of the error. Hey, this is the way invasions can be justified…