Summary: It is not uncommon to read about Photoshop mishaps these days, and there is even a website devoted to posting pictures of bodies that have been butchered by the software, where the overzealous rearrangement of pixels has inadvertently created an oversized hand or a clavicle that appears to fold up like an accordion. Ralph Lauren's infamous picture of model Filippa Hamilton-Palmstierna was heavily retouched, leaving her torso smaller than her head, and as Rachel Maddow points out (here), in all probability, this is not a combination that exists in nature--_at least outside the insect world" (Jean Kilbourne is also critical of the Hamilton-Palmstierna photo in her documentary, Killing Us Softly 4). The often humorous attention paid to Photoshop mishaps threatens to overshadow the very troubling practice of distorting photographed bodies in popular media, and then peddling those distorted images to the public as real. In this post's featured clip, filmmaker Jesse Rosten creates what appears to be just another commercial for a product that promises youth and beauty in a bottle, but after seeing that the product is named Fotoshop, it's easy to deduce that Rosten's pitch is pure satire aimed at lambasting the similarly named software. Witty zingers abound in the clip (e.g., "Just one application of Fotoshop can give you results so dramatic they're almost unrealistic" and "Brighten eyes, whiten teeth, even adjust your race!"), and it offers a nice foundation for beginning a conversation about Photoshop's impact on the standards men and women are coming to have for their bodies and how Photoshop's ubiquity might be tied up with reflexivity, which denotes the growing awareness people have of their bodies. I find it useful to ask students to articulate what all the fuss is about? What's the harm?
The Sociological Cinema has explored the widespread use of Photoshop as a social problem in other videos, but perhaps none is more effective than the Dove Evolution commercial from 2006. Note too that this clip joins a number of other clips on The Sociological Cinema, which deploys satire as a means of critiquing the values promoted in commercials (here and here).
Submitted By: Lester Andrist