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July 23rd, 2007
02:39 pm
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It's not just cream that floats
Harlan Ellison once claimed the two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity. Considering that Sturgeon's Law seems to be a universal truth, Ellison's rule is pretty easy to demonstrate, but sometimes you run across examples that just cry out for sharing.

I'd like to formally nominate some especially sterling examples I recently found ...:




Bubble Gum And Duct Tape category: For the most egregious fix of something that could have more easily, more quickly, and more elegantly been replaced.


Today's nominee: The header image from GotSky.com! Because nothing screams "professionalism" like taking a pre-cropped 360-pixel-wide graphic from your existing website and telling your graphics guy that that same picture has to be reused at 500 pixels for the redesign.




Nothing Beats A First Impression category: For website designs that best maximize clickthrough/visibility/search engine placement while minimizing actual utility. (Unintentional successes only. Spam sites are excluded from consideration, as they do this deliberately.)

Today's nominee: MoreMagic's incredible Google summary when you search for their company name*: "spacer graphic, spacer graphic, spacer graphic, spacer graphic, spacer graphic, spacer graphic, spacer graphic, spacer graphic, spacer graphic ..."




Get Thee Behind Me category: For superlative application of technology in a manner that is simultaneously dehumanizing, terrifying, and entirely unnecessary.

Today's nominee, and likely winner: Redbook's photoshopping of Faith Hill (Edit: Link appears to be down; see here instead for analysis and here for the original flipbook-type animation) for a recent cover shot. The image is large, so I won't repost it here, but I urge you to go look. And then pick up your jaw from the floor.




Any other nominees? There can't be any shortage of candidates.

--
* Stumbled across while trying to reach the awesome story of the "More Magic switch" in the Jargon File.

Current Location: ~yuba
Current Mood: busybusy
Current Music: "Suicide is Painless (MASH Theme)," Jimmy Smith
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(17 comments | Leave a comment)

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[User Picture]
From:arethinn
Date:July 23rd, 2007 10:11 pm (UTC)
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I don't see how that picture of Faith Hill is especially terrible. I mean, yeah, what it implies about the industry is, but that seems like a very run of the mill example.

I'm much more scared by Kate Winslet's feet.
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From:baxil
Date:July 23rd, 2007 10:23 pm (UTC)
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See directly below.
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From:arethinn
Date:July 23rd, 2007 10:25 pm (UTC)
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Huh?
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From:baxil
Date:July 23rd, 2007 10:26 pm (UTC)
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Sorry; forgot that cutting and pasting would also require a little reformatting. Reload the page and check out the comment I just posted.
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From:arethinn
Date:July 23rd, 2007 10:27 pm (UTC)
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If you mean "below the 'before' shot", I did read the whole page. I just don't think this is an especially egregious example of the practice. Yes, it's scary, but I've seen worse. I remember looking at a similar "flipbook" type of thing of the Playboy centerfolds' faces over the past 50 years, or whatever it was, and there were several towards the end that were much more frightening than this.
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From:baxil
Date:July 23rd, 2007 10:25 pm (UTC)
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roaminrob: Having trouble getting worked up over the Faith Hill thing.
roaminrob: News Flash: Hollywood is fake.
baxil: The animated GIF where the cover image and the original shot are superimposed is more disturbing.
roaminrob: Only if you actually, y'know, care about the tripe that gets put on the magazine covers.
roaminrob: I'm one of the freaks that grumbles that you never find Discover or SciAm: Mind at the checkouts in the supermarkets.
baxil: I don't. But an awful lot of people do. Which is part of the problem; these are the things that shape our culture.
baxil: (quoting linked article)"Magazine-retouching may not be a lie on par with, you know, 'Iraq has weapons of mass destruction,' but in a world where girls as young as eight are going on the South Beach Diet, teenagers are getting breast implants as graduation gifts, professional women are almost required to fetishize handbags, and everyone is spending way too much goddamn time figuring out how to pose in a way that will look as good as that friend with the really popular MySpace profile, it's f---ing wrong."
roaminrob: Yes, but the problem is less that it's fake, and more that anybody even cares. The whole who's-dating-who celebrity nonsense thing is completely pointless.
baxil: Sure. But I'll cut the conversation off here, so you can mention it in LJ if you want and win hearts and minds.
roaminrob: Wait, hang on, lemme reparse your quote. <G>
roaminrob: "Girls as young as eight are going on the South Beach Diet, teenagers are getting breast implants as graduation gifts, professional women are almost required to fetishize handbags, and everyone is spending way too much goddamn time figuring out how to pose in a way that will look as good as that friend with the really popular MySpace profile, but what's REALLY wrong is that they're retouching magazines."
roaminrob: I'm incapable of winning hearts, apparently, and there are ever so few minds I care much about.
baxil: Well, sure. *Why* do you think eight-year-olds are dieting? Surely there aren't 30 million kids independently deciding they aren't sexy enough, and that sexiness should be their main goal.
baxil: Where does this culture come from?
roaminrob: Uhm, lack of parenting and basic principles?
roaminrob: I sure as hell don't find magazine covers to be the greatest culprit here.
roaminrob: There's a lot of TV, and movies, for example.
baxil: Well, sure, but it's harder for them to photoshop 90 minutes of motion picture. At current.
baxil: I don't doubt for a second they would if they could.
roaminrob: it doesn't matter whether they did or didn't photoshop tv. What matters, again, is that these are the sources for our culture and self-identity for so many people (young and old alike).
roaminrob: You're saying, in a nutshell, "OMG our culture source is corrupted!", and I'm saying, in a nutshell, "WTF stop using culture source!"
baxil: If I had a good way to expose people to your solution en masse, I'd pitch it.
roaminrob: Yeah, I know. That's the problem, and that's also why nobody who cares about what's on magazine covers will care that they're Photoshopped.
roaminrob: The only solution is not to care.
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From:arethinn
Date:July 23rd, 2007 10:30 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I kinda gotta go with roaminrob here. I care inasumch as 1) OMG TRAINWRECK LOOK AT THE ALIENS and 2) it makes it hard for people who already don't have a head start, like me, to ever be seen as attractive.
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From:roaminrob
Date:July 24th, 2007 01:37 am (UTC)
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Incidentally, "not caring" was what I said when I meant to say "it's unimportant", and I think maybe there's a fine but distinct difference.

On your second point, I've been thinking about that a bit lately. I'm trying to understand what it is that I do and don't find attractive, and why. It would be dishonest of me to say that physical characteristics aren't important, but I've concluded that they're important only insomuch as they speak to the kind of life that the person leads.

So, when you say that it makes it harder for you to be seen as attractive, I think the natural question is, "Who are you asking?" Are you trying to measure yourself physically up against the fictions of magazine covers? Are you trying to measure yourself against the whims and fancies of the people that measure others against the fictions of magazine covers?
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From:arethinn
Date:July 24th, 2007 01:47 am (UTC)
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A because B (or because the B's A, I suppose).
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From:elynne
Date:July 24th, 2007 03:58 am (UTC)
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It's quite simply a different situation for males than it is for females.

There's a gum commercial that has a nondescript-to-potentially-homely man standing next to a typically commercial "beautiful" (flawless skin/hair/makeup, thin, trendy clothing) girl; they both buy the same gum, eat some, then kiss passionately. Why is it okay for the male character in that commercial to be less-than-perfect, average-looking, but not the female character?

Children grow up being told and shown every minute what's attractive and what isn't, and girls who aren't traditionally, stereotypically pretty... well. We know damn well that we aren't like the magazine girls. It gets reinforced everywhere. When a woman gets to a certain point of maturity, it gets easier to ignore, or work around... but a lot of women never get there; they give up along the way, and decide that they'll just "never be pretty", or join the circus. Girls who are stereotypically pretty arguably have it just as bad - they're assumed to be stupid and easy, constantly targeted for harassment of every kind, and simultaneously envied and despised by other females who have to work at being attractive.

You may be able to ignore the magazine covers; I have a harder time with it, and I feel reasonably secure in my self-image. Women who aren't so secure have an even harder time. And some women can't afford to ignore them, in jobs where a prerequisite of being "professional" means wearing high heels and makeup and perfect hair. Airbrushing magazine covers isn't the worst of it, but it's definitely part of the problem, and as such, it deserves to be pointed out and derided. If you don't care... you don't have to care, bully for you. Some folks do, and they speak up about it.
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From:roaminrob
Date:July 24th, 2007 04:54 am (UTC)
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That was a perfect example of exactly why it's so self-defeating to allow someone else to decide for you what's attractive and what's not:

It's quite simply a different situation for males than it is for females.

Maybe. That's kinduva trump card: "you're not female so you don't understand". Well, women don't (or rarely) go bald, so ...

There's a gum commercial...

I have not seen that gum commercial, and if I had, I wouldn't have thought there was anything important about it.

That's really the point of all this: people might not be doing it this way, but they should.

Why is it okay for the male character in that commercial to be less-than-perfect, average-looking, but not the female character?

Because you're letting a commercial describe your values for you.

Children grow up being told and shown every minute what's attractive and what isn't, and girls who aren't traditionally, stereotypically pretty... well.

...well, hopefully they develop a host of other attractive attributes, just like everybody else, male and female.

It gets reinforced everywhere.

I'm sticking to my guns on this. That's a problem with upbringing, and parenting, and culture, and society, and not a problem with airbrushing.

Fix the cause, not the symptom.

Girls who are stereotypically pretty arguably have it just as bad - they're assumed to be stupid and easy, constantly targeted for harassment of every kind, and simultaneously envied and despised by other females who have to work at being attractive.

Some of that really begins to rub me the wrong way, because it's completely antithetical to what I do, and I'm absolutely not about to defend or be held responsible for what others do.

I have found myself attracted to women with a very wide variety of bodies: boobs, no boobs, huge boobs. Tall, short, somewhere in between. Thin as a rail, carrying some extra pounds, or sinewy in ways that might crack my ribs. Blonde, brunette, red-head, jet black hair.

The only -- only -- thing they all had in common was some ambition, some sparkle of wit or intelligence in their eyes, some intelligence, some spunkiness ... something that made them interesting. I never, for example, could figure out why any guy looked twice at Uma Thurman in The Truth About Cats And Dogs when they could be watching Janeane Garofolo instead.

It's true that given a choice between two women with identical personalities, I'd go for the one more closely matching a vague set of physical traits. I think that's true of everyone. The one thing that I can say is that I didn't let some magazines or commercials decide those physical traits for me.

I'm also aware that I am a member of a minority of people, men and women alike, that see things this way. I don't care. All those other people in the majority don't matter to me.
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From:roaminrob
Date:July 24th, 2007 04:55 am (UTC)
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You may be able to ignore the magazine covers; I have a harder time with it, and I feel reasonably secure in my self-image.

I think it will be a good day when you're absolutely secure in your self image.

Women who aren't so secure have an even harder time.

Then the problem isn't the magazine, it's those women. And men.

And some women can't afford to ignore them, in jobs where a prerequisite of being "professional" means wearing high heels and makeup and perfect hair.

Bald men supposedly have a harder time professionally and socially.

I'm 28, and I have widow's peaks that have very nearly met in the middle of the top of my head. I could have longer hair in an attempt to hide, or I could shave the whole works in an attempt to capture the Patrick Stewart magic. Instead, my hair is cut at exactly the length that makes it look the most ridiculous. (The woman that did my hair goofed, even after I mentioned straight off that she had to be cautious around the crown 'cause I get the cowlick back there like you wouldn't believe; she butchered it and apologized, and it really didn't bother me. I now look doubly ridiculous and she and I shared a laugh about it. I made faces in the mirror for her and left her a good tip because she was fun.)

None of this is anywhere in my mind when I'm in a business or social environment. It just doesn't matter, and I'm not interested in anyone that it would matter to.

If you don't care... you don't have to care, bully for you. Some folks do, and they speak up about it.

And those folks are missing the point.

They shouldn't be letting anything -- least of all some magazines and commercials -- tell them what's attractive, and what's not.
(Deleted comment)
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From:baxil
Date:July 24th, 2007 08:00 am (UTC)
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The decapitation works in Safari, too. And I'm especially amused by the caption for the CNN logo: "Thanks to Wolf Blitzer, CNN is one of the worst-anchored news networks on TV today!"

Something tells me the page is mostly there as a chance for students to play around with HTML and/or a CMS. Thanks for the chuckle, though. :)
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From:elynne
Date:July 24th, 2007 04:00 am (UTC)
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Your Eye of Argon link is b0rk3d. :(
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From:baxil
Date:July 24th, 2007 04:19 am (UTC)
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D'augh! Fixed. (And thanks.)
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From:elynne
Date:July 24th, 2007 04:55 am (UTC)
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Denada, and javelcome, and other such words. ;)
From:lhexa
Date:July 26th, 2007 03:16 am (UTC)
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The "MoreMagic" link doesn't work, either... though that might be for the best. :)
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