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A New You Is Just A Click Away
by Mad Dog
TheSyndicatedNews columnist

Mad Dog column has been published by Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, NY Daily News, S.F. Chronicle, Boston Phoenix and other fine newspapers.

They say seeing is believing, but that was in the days before Photoshop. Photoshop, for those of you who think I’m talking about the One-Hour Photo developer at the mall, is a computer program you can use to digitally alter photographs. You know, like get the demonic red gleam out of your eyes, tone down Uncle Harry’s Hawaiian shirt so anyone looking at the photo doesn’t need to put on sunglasses, and replace your ex-husband with George Clooney in your wedding photos. Obviously Photoshop and reality are mutually exclusive.

Recently, Adnan Hajj, a freelance photographer for Reuters, was fired for adding and intensifying smoke in photographs he took in Lebanon during the Israeli-Lebanon, uh, unpleasantness. It was completely unnecessary since not only was there plenty of smoke, but you could already see Satan’s face clearly in it. Oh, that’s right, that was only in the National Enquirer version of the photo. Soon after that came the embarrassing dust-up when a photo of Katie Couric was published in Watch!, a CBS magazine, showing her digitally slimmed down a couple of dress sizes. A photo, incidentally, that had been issued to the press several months earlier as an official photo. CBS apologized, Katie lied and said she liked the original photo better, and no one seemed to notice the image of Satan’s face in the folds of her dress. I’m telling you, that guy really gets around.

Photo retouching is nothing new. As early as 1860 photographs of Abraham Lincoln were routinely retouched, though of course they didn’t have Photoshop back then so they had to do it the difficult way — with slate and chalk by candlelight. Lincoln variously had his beard added, removed, and enhanced. He even had his head grafted onto Senator John Calhoun’s body, and this was years before anti-rejection drugs were discovered. Tiger Woods should keep this time honored tradition in mind and not be so quick to jump all over sleazy Irish newspapers that run photos of his wife’s head grafted on a naked body. He should relax. Learn to enjoy them. And go get his own copy of Photoshop so he can join in the fun and put The Dubliner’s logo on Louis Anderson’s body. That’ll teach them.

The problem is, Photoshop isn’t an easy program to learn. That’s why, in their infinite wisdom, HP investigated, spied on, and pretexted — a word I’ve always hoped I could use in conversation one day — journalists and employees. Just kidding, they actually did that out of paranoia and stupidity. What they did to help you and me is build a function into some of their new cameras that automatically makes you look slimmer. Well, assuming someone takes your photograph with the camera. You simply take a photo, search through the manual trying to remember which buttons you push to get to the proper menu, have your spouse look at the manual and tell you which buttons to push to get to the proper menu, then select the “Slimming” option. Instantly you’ve lost the ten pounds HP’s web site says the camera adds. Luckily you can adjust the slimming amount so you can not only break even, but actually lose weight. Ain’t technology wonderful?

Yes, now you can be like an ice cube in an oven and melt those pounds away without having to watch what you eat, be hungry all the time, sweat, or take diet pills that make you buzz around like a soon-to-be-skinny bee. With the HP Miracle Weight Loss Plan you can instantly lose twenty pounds, turn a basketball into a baseball, and take wedding photos that don’t let on that you’re four months pregnant. And they say the camera doesn’t lie. Hah!

Slimming is a lot more useful than the other so-called Artistic Effects on the camera, like Retro, Soft Glow, Cartoon, and Vintage. Two of them make you look older, one makes you look silly, and the other makes you look like you graduated Three Mile Island High School. They should dump those and add some useful effects, like Bulk-Up for people who are too skinny. And yes, they do exist. You know who they are, every time you see them you get the urge to use them as shish kebob skewers without anything skewered on them. With this effect athletes could look bigger without needing testicle-shrinking steroids, you could skip going to the gym for weeks at a time without anyone being the wiser, and it would be a godsend for anorexics who believe they’re fat. Just take a photo, digitally fatten yourself up, and you have proof that you don’t need to be eating more than the half a Wheat Thin you put on your plate calling it dinner.

How about a Smile function for taking pictures of people who frown all the time? Or a De-blinker for those who instinctively close their eyes whenever they hear the word “cheese”? Let’s add Wrinkle Remover, Hair Thickener, and maybe even a button next to the one that removes red-eye to get rid of those green flecks stuck between your teeth. And how about one labeled Reality that, well, just takes your photo the way you really look. Nah, who wants something like that?

# # # # #

©2006 Barry H. Gottlieb All Rights Reserved.

More Mad Dog can be found online at: His compilation of humorous travel columns, “If It’s Such a Small World Then Why Have I Been Sitting on This Airplane For Twelve Hours?” is available from Xlibris Corporation.

Published: Sep 7,2008 18:34
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