Photoshop, a Dove and the French

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

⚠️ This is an old post

It's possibly been exported and imported from at least three different blogging platforms over the years. That probably means, at best, there are broken images and links. If the post is technical in nature, any advice is probably out of date and irrelevant. Or it is really old, it was the wafflings of a teenager with too much time on his hands working out what blogging is… If it is the latter I would probably cringe if I re-read it. But it's here because it's part of my past, not my present.

You've been warned! Onwards…

A couple of weeks ago Photoshop Disasters picked up this quite frankly horrific photoshop job done for a Ralph Lauren advert… The comment “Dude, her head’s bigger than her pelvis!” from a Boing Boing user sums up how bad this really is. To even the novice, it is fairly obvious that, the model, Filippa Hamilton, has been photoshopped beyond repair, however this still was deemed acceptable by the media division at Ralph Lauren…

As soon as Ralph Lauren saw that Boing Boing had gone fairly crazy over this, their lawyers of all shapes and sizes descended on the blog and tried to shut it down using a DMCA infringement notice (aka copyright theft):

“…We have discovered that Boing Boing… has reproduced and displayed one of the advertisements without PRL’s authorisation… [boring waffle]… as such, we ask that you remove this infringing material.”

The full notice is here. This is one of the best methods for making sure that the picture spreads all over the internet and fast.  And that is exactly what happened!  So after a lot of back and forth Ralph Lauren finally released this:

“For over 42 years, we have built a brand based on quality and integrity. After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman’s body. We have addressed the problem and going forward will take every precaution to ensure that the caliber of our artwork represents our brand appropriately.”

I bring this up, however this isn’t a new thing, the blog; Photoshop Disasters has been around for a very long time bring the best failures from photoshopers around the world.  But it’s not as if people haven’t stood up and tried to point out that the amount of photoshopping that is going on is ethically grey; it gives people the wrong impression. Take for example the fantastic example of what Dove did a couple of years ago with the Campaign for Real Beauty.  Their evolution advert was one of the best advert I have ever seen (see below).

And this is where the French come in!  At the moment, with the support of 50 politicians, going through the French legal system is a proposed law to mark on every photo of a person that has been photoshopped the notice “Photograph retouched to modify the physical appearance of a person” but in French! And the reason for following this law? A €37,000 ish (£34,000) fine that accompanies failure to comply! The law is being driven by the argument that images that have been digitally manipulated can"lead people to believe in a reality that does not actually exist, and have a detrimental effect on adolescents."

Now lots of people are sceptical about this; the guidelines are fairly blurry (what counts a retouching; removal of red eye, changing hair colour, etc), the enforcement of this would be a nightmare, etc.  However, despite this, I think that this is a really good opening move by the French government to combat the unrealistic view that the media has decided portray “beauty”. It would be great to see people stand out from the crowd by not using digital manipulation to shine.

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