Now Here’s A Terrible Idea: Mandated Disclosures for Photoshopped Images of Celebrities!

And if you look real closely at the lower left corner, you'll read, "The model for Venus was a short, middle-aged bald man named Gino. His appearance was altered by the painter in the creation of this painting."

Here is another candidate for enshrinement in the Pantheon of Well- Intentioned But Terrible Ideas.

In an article published Monday in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” Dartmouth researchers Hany Farid, a professor of computer science, and Eric Kee, a doctoral student, propose a rating system of publicly displayed photographs of models, actors and celebrities to let viewers know exactly how and how much an image has been altered by photoshopping, airbrushing or other means.

“Impossibly thin, tall, and wrinkle- and blemish-free models are routinely splashed onto billboards, advertisements and magazine covers,” the two write. “The ubiquity of these unrealistic and highly idealized images has been linked to eating disorders and body-image dissatisfaction in men, women, and children.” In the interest of limiting the damage caused by unrealistic images of human beauty, the researchers argue that graphic images should include labels that disclose  “geometric adjustments” such as slimming legs, hips and arms, as well as adjusting facial symmetry—reducing a nose in size, or slightly enlarging eyes.  Users of such photos should also flag photometric adjustments that change the appearance of skin tone, blemishes and texture, such as wrinkles, dark circles under the eyes or cellulite, say the researchers.

Please, for the love of God, nobody introduce these guys to Sarah Deming and her lawyer, who are suing the distributers of the film “Drive” because the trailer was more exciting than the movie. And let us all remember this proposal when we are tempted to pooh-pooh accusations that the government is regulating creativity, commerce, art and enterprise right out of existence, and with them, individual liberty as well.The tea parties should use Farid and Kee’s article for recruitment. Continue reading

Children’s Book Ethics: “Maggie Goes On A Diet”

Send it to Hell.

In an earlier post, I wrote about Shel Silverstein’s satirical “Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book,” an adult audience parody of children’s books which, in addition to teaching an incorrect alphabet, included segments that encouraged night terrors and fear of castration, endorsed sibling jealousy, extolled violent conduct and theft, and even tried to convince children to eat the pages. The book is hilarious, but only because it is clear that no parent in their right mind would ever let a child near such a publication.  No parents in their right minds should let their daughters near “Maggie Goes on a Diet,” either.

Paul Kramer’s fable about an obese 14-year-old who turns her life around by losing weight is as potentially damaging to children as anything in Shel Silverstein’s spoof; unfortunately, the author doesn’t realize it. Let’s hope parents do. Continue reading

“Biggest Loser” Ethics: “They Shoot Fat People, Don’t They?”

Lawyers being lawyers, it is not surprising that a New York Times article about the unhealthy physical stresses endured by contestants in the “Biggest Loser” reality show inspired a legal blog to wonder how long it would be before the show was hit with a large law suit. “I’m waiting for the first person to have a heart attack,” THR, ESQ quotes  Dr. Charles Burant, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, as saying. The core problem is not liability, however. The problem is that the show is horribly, indefensibly unethical. It shouldn’t be waiting for a lawsuit, or a heart attack. The program is wrong to continue, advertisers are wrong to support it, and we are wrong to watch it. Continue reading