French Law: Photoshopped Images Carry a Warning
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Ever look at a picture of a model and think, "Man, those lips can't be real. That skin can't be that smooth."

Of course you have. That's because they aren't. And it can't.
Sure looks good, though. That's because literally every commercial image published today goes through some level of Photoshop manipulation. Sometimes it's just a light tweaking of colors, but far more often it's a wholesale digital
evisceration from top to bottom.

Now French lawmakers are beginning to worry that this rampant Photoshop abuse is causing problems for the psyches of its citizens, particularly teens who are especially susceptible to developing unhealthy body image obsessions.

The solution: Warning labels on manipulated images.

France's parliament is now kicking around the idea that any advertisement, press photo, art photograph, or piece of product packaging containing a digitally manipulated picture of a person would have to carry a disclaimer reading, "Photograph retouched to modify the physical appearance of a person." Failure to include the disclaimer would result in a $50,000-plus fine or up to half the cost of the ad campaign, potentially a huge threat.

The goal here is noble, to help prevent anorexia and bulimia and promote awareness of these devastating issues to consumers. But at some point,
enforcing this sounds like it would become an outright nightmare, not that that's ever caused France to shy away from doing something. Creative types are notorious for their defiance of rules like this, and at some point, definitions start to get awfully blurry. Does tweaking a model's hair one shade blonder make for a retouching? Smoothing out wrinkles on a jacket? The questions are literally without end -- especially if the rules apply to "art photographs," which aren't designed to sell anything but which may in fact include copious digital transformations -- perhaps even to the point of being unrecognizable. Is a warning label required in a case where a dog's head is dropped onto a lifeguard, say?

On the other hand, it would be truly refreshing to see ad directors and photographers adopt a more naturalistic stance toward photography and ad
design, if not for the children then for the sake of art. In fact, for a few talented individuals, creating images without digital manipulation could become
a way to stand out from a crowd which has long been focused on trying to make everything look absolutely perfect through any means necessary.

Maybe call it "organic advertising?"

 

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