Tuesday, April 21, 2009

President Beefcake?

from the Huffington Post today:

Media Literacy 101: The Ethics of Photoshopping a Shirtless Obama

The web is buzzing about The Washingtonian magazine's choice to put a paparazzi photo of a buff and shirtless President Obama on the cover of its May issue. Read the story at the link.


  1. Yeah...this is a little much don't ya think? Like mucho photoshop?

    Because its a rough draft of history...and years from now people will think he wore red swim trunks and posed for the Washingtonian. So it seems unethical.

    But he is really good looking in this picture.

  2. Good to see you here, Natalie.

    I like how this piece explains why this kind of photoshopping is unethical, takes the process apart step by step and then compares it to the infamous Time cover of OJ Simpson. Remember that?

    "...The rule of thumb is, if you want to change what's in the photo, choose another photo. Making Obama into a man wearing brilliant red surfer trunks, instead of a more modest black pair, making the image more dramatic by having him walking out of darkness, and changing the exposure so he looks more gilded changes viewers' ideas about who the man is."

  3. I think this is ridiculous – both using a photo of the president in swim trunks and the photoshopping. It is misleading. I agree with the portion you quoted, Nancy, if you have any reservations or want to change a photo, just pick a different one.

    Sure, some agree the "new neighbor is hot" but is doesn't take photoshopped swim trunks and skin color to prove that. I think another untouched photo could have gotten the point across just as well.

  4. Wow. How many presidents have been photographed like this? I am proud of those who actually take a stand against photoshop. Like Kate Winslet in Vanity Fair who favors natural pictures. This is the reason why society has such a distorted view about beauty. Go Dove campagins;).

  5. Ugh, seriously? Our society is obsessed with looking "perfect," and Photoshop is just another tool people use to create the illusion. Obviously, I think it's ridiculous. Let's face it- photoshopping in fashion magazines is expected. Unfortunate, but true. Not that I'm super OK with it, but I don't really care about those magazines, and they are about looking perfect anyway. Essentially, they are NOT news publications. But a reputable NEWS magazine? It's not OK-- it's deceptive and communicating a different message than the truth. While Obama's fake swim trunk color and enhanced body "glow" doesn't seem like that big of a deal, it is deception. It's just like printing WORDS that aren't true. Plus, the main thing about this, to me, is that it is objectifying our president. And it's not a true representation of who he is. It's disrespectful. While we're at it, why don't we just photoshop a tattoo on his bicep and a piece of spinach in his teeth? And Time and Newsweek? Really? Like Carl Stepp said in the Huffington Post article, "When a magazine puts a person on its cover, our expectation is that the person we are seeing is the person who was seen through the lens of the photographer." Yes. And when I read news text, I expect it to be accurate as well. This is a good photojournalism lesson.