Sunday, March 11, 2012

True beauty and the ethics of Photoshop

I just posted this on my other blog for computer artists, Completely Free Tutorials, and decided I might as well post it here as well...

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I find it fascinating how fake the models are that we see in magazines and ads.  Most models look like ordinary people before the makeup, lighting, and particularly the Photoshop adjustments, transform them into these artificial and flawless... what shall we call them?  Gods and goddesses?  Angels?  Aliens?  Whatever they are, they are not natural and they are not real.  Here are a few examples I pulled from

(The original image is first; the Photoshop image is shown after.)

Is it just me, or do these pictures make you feel sick?  In each of these cases, I think the original model is physically attractive.  None of these photo edits make sense to me, with the exception of the blemish that was removed in the second picture (with a blemish that obvious, I think I'd remove it, too!).

And yet, it is these edited, counterfeit pictures of models that so many people -- girls and women in particular -- subconsciously look up to as standards for attractiveness and beauty.  According to a study in 2004, only 2% of women think they are beautiful (  This is a shockingly low number, but should it really be surprising, with the repulsive way beauty has been contorted by our media?

"I wish I looked like such-and-such an actress!" a woman may moan.  But I would plead in response:  "Please understand that you probably do!!"

If you haven't seen Dove's video "Evolution", you need to.  This is another excellent glimpse into the phony world of modeling:

Now, don't misunderstand me: I am not necessarily opposed to editing photos.  I've done it myself on a small scale.  I understand; sometimes the lighting of our photos isn't good.  Sometimes models wake up on photo day with big zits on their foreheads (GACK!!).  That isn't what I'm talking about.

What I am talking about is morphing someone into an unnatural, impossible non-human that no person could ever physically rival in real life.  I'm talking about making aliens into our standard for beauty.  I mean, you might as well make this our standard for beauty (I am talking about the left half of the picture, of course):

By the way, I have no idea what this book is about, I'm not endorsing it, and I couldn't tell you if it was extremely inappropriate or terribly written. I'm just borrowing the cover to emphasize my point... 
As computer artists, we have these questions to ask ourselves:  What is most important or valuable, as we make our computer art, or edit our photos?  What is our highest priority in this matter?  What should be our highest priority?  What power do we wield, as computer artists and culture influencers, and what are we personally doing with that power?  Let me be more specific:  Are we doing more harm or more good with that power?  And if we are doing more harm... what should we do differently so we are doing more good?

What do you think?

Writers' Block now THE SCREENWRITERS!

I have exciting news!  The film I interned on last October, previously known by the working title, Writers' Block, has now been given an official title: The Screenwriters.

Consequently, there is a new official movie site up:  Check out the site -- even though there's much more to come, the design looks really nice so far!  

The new site includes their latest 30-second teaser trailer; also, you can view the original teaser trailer (about a minute and a half long) below:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Is Romney's campaign copying Obama?

While visiting Mitt Romney's and Barack Obama's websites today, I couldn't help but realize how closely Romney's campaign design resembles Obama's.  Their sites are nearly the exact same layout, and even their campaign symbols have suspicious similarities.  I wonder if this is a purposeful campaign tactic on Romney's part.  What do you think?

The campaign symbols

Obama's symbol

Romney's symbol

Opening web page

Home page

Here you can see another small similarity in their website designs:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Who should I vote for?

Undecided who to vote for in the primaries?  Here are a few resources that will get you started in learning more about the candidates.  In this blog post, I'll list everything I personally considered when deciding which candidate to vote for; perhaps this will help you draw closer to deciding, as well. 

For a list of general information about the candidates and their political views, click here.  

If you're looking for the constitutional leanings of the Republican presidential candidates, a good resource I'd recommend is the Constitutional Report Card issued by Vision Forum.

In this report, Vision Forum rated the answers of all the Republican candidates during the 9/12/2011 CNN/Tea Party Republican Presidential Debate.  Their answers were rated according to strict constitutional criteria.  

The final grades for the candidates that are still on the ballot today were:

Ron Paul: A
Rick Santorum: D
Mitt Romney: D
Newt Gingrich: D

For the entire report card, click here

Of course, there are other things to consider in addition to constitutionality.  Some Christians consider the religious leanings of a candidate to be important for determining whether or not to vote for him.  

There are also side issues about certain candidates, other than constitutionality, that bother many voters.  For example, a large number of Americans are disturbed by Ron Paul's radical foreign policy views.  

Other voters are so sick and tired of Obama in the White House, that they will vote for nearly anyone that can beat him; these voters' main concern is a candidate's ultimate electability
What should we look for?

As for the religious beliefs of a candidate, I wonder if, as Christians, this should matter in our voting decisions?  We are supposed to be "salt and light" (Matthew 5:13-14), and we should certainly be involved in politics as Christians, but should Christianity and politics be interwoven to the extent that we shouldn't vote for a non-Christian candidate?  In other words, is it appropriate to vote for the most capable political leader, even if the most capable political leader is not a Christian?  I am not sure I completely know the answer yet myself; I'm just throwing the question out there for pondering. 

As for some of the side issues, (I call them side issues, but for some people they are rightly much more than "side" issues), I just want to briefly say that we should compare the  various negative issues of different candidates, and measure what the worst thing is at stake.  Which issues are most important, according to your personal values?  For example, is foreign policy or the constitution most important to you?  Or, consider what other issues you may find pressing: Marriage, pro-life, economy, spending, etc.  Once you can answer these questions, you can decide which candidate represents the most risk according to your values.  

Then, there is the issue of electability.  I can understand the desire for strategy, for choosing the most electable candidate that can beat Obama.  But should we ever compromise principle for so-called "strategy"?  As I see it, the act of choosing to vote for the candidate that is most popular or that is most likely to win, over choosing the candidate that is closer to your personal principles, sounds less like strategy, and more like caving into a kind of peer pressure.  Think about it: If we all voted purely for principle, would we ever have to worry about strategy or electability?  

I will conclude with this quote from John Quincy Adams:

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”