Thursday, July 10, 2008

I Can't Believe My Eyes! Seriously.

Ah, yes, fraudulent digital manipulation strikes again. I'm referring to the tornado video that was being shown by news agencies that was promoted as a video of a tornado touching down in Nebraska. However, another storm chaser came forward and said that it was actually a digitally altered version of a video that he'd shot four years ago that someone else apparently doctored and submitted as their own and of a recent event. The video was allegedly flipped to appear going in the same direction and sped up, with some trees taken out and some power lines dropped in. After comparing the original to the video in question, it was pulled as being suspect.

Okay, this is a pet peeve of mine about the digital age. Back in the "old days" it was much easier to tell when a picture was doctored or faked altogether (though not always) and the movie special effects were easy to see as just that, sometimes hoaky, in-camera effects with oh, visible cables or other obvious visual tricks. As for photos, aside from some airbrushing, manipulation was a much harder thing to pull off. Now, however, photoshop and digital manipulation of video can be really hard to detect when it's used by talented people. Of course, let's stress the "talented" part. Of course, there are a lot of really bad examples of photoshop errors, like these errors courtesy of Photoshop Disasters...

Aside from these poorly doctored images, there are lots of images that we've seen that are so skillfully manipulated that we can't tell that they were manipulated and we're taking those photos all at face value as real. In other words, we're being duped. Of course I can't exactly include examples here because you can't tell that they're fakes, eh?

And then there are examples of completely fake video, like this gem. I'll admit that when I first saw this video I was sitting there with my mouth open and brows knitted, a la "wait just a blinkin' second here...".

Well, it seems pretty real, but the description of the video (here) openly claims it as a fake and gives other links like the one below. Here's a similar video made using the same software. If I'm not incorrect, the logo is from the software company. Pretty funny, yet I still feel kinda duped. You know that any schlub with the right software and too much free time is intentionally going to try to make us all look like idiots. Some may actually succeed.

Back when I was a kid, you could be much more certain that you could trust an image. Now, every photo that I see or video that I watch is automatically suspect and I don't trust it or can't look at a photo without thinking that it's been photoshopped and "improved" (a great pity for the talented photographer who actually captured an extraordinary image straight off). In this digital age, it's too bad that my children will never be able to trust a single image that they see. Pity, that.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cultural Blah Blah Blah: Part I

I've been thinking a lot about our culture as a whole these days. One of the things that I've been amusing myself with is the whole celebrity/fame thing and I have to admit that I find the whole thing rather surreal and kind of funny. Maybe it's because I don't buy into the whole celebrity worship thing and haven't since I was still using pimple cream or maybe it's just because I've stepped back and examined the whole phenomenon from my own odd cultural vantage point way out here in Velvet Land. Either way, I guess that I find the whole thing to be kind of bizarre.

This is what I think about celebs:
They're pretty much just regular people. It's just that more people know what they do for a living.

Because we've put them on pedestals, though, they seem otherworldly, but really, they're just regular homo sapiens... well, some more normal than others. Still, so many people worship them like gods and godesses, yet we'd hate to think they have all the complaints that all us regular folks have like indigestion, gas, warts, BO, hay fever, boogers, zits, and such. (I know that it's a no brainer, but from the way that some people go ga-ga over these people, you would think that they sh*t diamonds) I know that some people would find this hard to believe, but *gasp* they most certainly have the same bad morning breath when they wake up on their multi-thousand dollar sheets. Of course, they can afford to pay people a lot of money to try to keep all these things well hidden from our view. If you think about it, they have to because we shine a harsh spotlight on them and we demand our stars to be slim, made up and styled to perfection, whilst flogging ourselves to mental illness for not being as slim or as styled. What a dilemma.

There is a part of me hates the "see the stars without make-up" shots that are out there. Some of the photos are okay and just go to show that they're not as preternaturally beautiful as we've built them up to be. Those decent photos just underscore the benefits of having professional make-up jobs. What bothers me more are the really bad pictures. You know the ones that I'm talking about, the ones that, had you had a picture taken in such unflattering light and looking like death warmed over (and we've all seen pics of ourselves like this), you tear it up and burn the negatives/deleted the files. More often than not, though, those kinds of worst possible pictures are presented as the "normal" pics for the stars. Now, that's just mean, yet there are my people who worship celebrity that will gleefully tear them apart in the media or blogland for looking just like us (or, in the case of a really horrific photo, worse).

One thing that does separate us, though, is the money issue. I certainly don't begrudge the celebs their money because I've come to realize that the reason that they get paid so much is because we're buying their "brand". Do they come across as "cool"? Do we think that they're fun to look at? Lastly, though certainly not always necessary, do we think that they're talented in some way? Then we BUY BUY BUY! We buy tickets to movies and shows, we watch their shows on TV (where advertisers pay handsomely to bombard us with ads for things we don't need), we buy mass produced, Made-in-China merchandise with their pictures or names on them. Companies sooooo realize this and are more than willing to pay astronomical sums so that this person's face is shown next to their product. And we, as a general society, buy into that! Simply amazing. Eh, maybe the money is compensation for not being able to live normal lives. Then again, maybe it's the cause of their not being able to live normal lives.

One more thing that makes me laugh is that, through the media, we've come to think that we know exactly who these people really are. There's one phrase that I've read in umpteen variations that makes me roll my eyes every time and that's when the spouse of a celebrity cheats on them and someone comes off with the comment, "How could they cheat on [him/her]? Just look at [him/her]!" Yeah, okay. Looking at someone and living with someone are two different things. Let's remind ourselves that possessing beauty does not automatically mean that people also possess good personalities or are easy to live with. Besides, what do we really know about these people? We know who they've pretended to be while acting a role or how they've marketed themselves to appear via interviews and publicists, nothing more. They could be really horrible people. Or they could actually be really nice. Until we lived in close contact with them, we know absolutely NOTHING about them. Period.

So, do I worship stars? Nah. Would I want to be one? Nope. Actors/actresses are basically meat puppets with varying degrees of talent, though I have to admit that it sure looks like fun sometimes. Still, acting isn't my thing. I don't have any musical talent, so that rules that out, too. I wasn't born filthy rich, so I can't be a celebutante. None of it matters in the grand scheme of things, though, because giving up having the option of living a normal life would be out of the question. Seeing how celebrities have to live, I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.

Anyway, enough of my blah blah blah....