Picture Perfect

When thinking of manipulative techniques found in mediated communication, I first and foremost thought of ways I am most often exposed to the sneaky methods used behind a project. Advertisements are on display everywhere, whether you’re reading a magazine, watching a movie, a TV show, or driving down the highway, you will most likely catch a glimpse of some kind of advertisement. Most obvious in magazines, are the ads of products featuring people that look perfect. How can their hair and skin be so flawless? The biggest, and I think most important manipulative technique to discuss is altering photos to make models in ads seem like something that they aren’t.

A photo of Britney Spears that reveals the changes made through photo editing. By comparing the before (left) and after (right), we can see that obvious airbrushing was made.

When models, actresses, actors, and so on, are photographed for ads, there is a long process that goes on behind the scenes to make the ads literally “picture perfect.” Advertising companies have their photos airbrushed because, in America, the idea is that beauty and perfection sell. There are many techniques used in order to make the pictures flawless. Often skin is smoothed, bruises and blemishes are removed, eyes are brightened, and waists slimmed. As seen in a dove film, a lot goes on behind the scenes that people don’t think of when viewing the finished product.

In “Ha Ha, he said”, Klosterman gets extremely worked up about laugh tracks. Klosterman claims that If you think he’s making a shallow complaint, to go read a vampire novel.” Well, I do think he is making a bit of a shallow complaint (and have read all the vampire novels) mostly because I believe the creation of laugh tracks aren’t harmful in the same way that photoshop is. Laugh tracks are an active pursuit by the industry looking for ways to be successful, as are ads that alter appearances. The difference is that altering appearances is far more dangerous because they become pictures that young girls look up to, and without a proper understanding, ultimately want to look like themselves.

In order to immunize people to the manipulative technique of airbrushing and photo editing, people must understand that it is not realistic to look the way models do in ads. Parents should explain to their children, as stressed by this video, what the industry does to make models look the way they do. Further, people should be happy with they way they look without pursuit of looking like models they see in magazine ads.

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