Tuesday, August 30, 2011

For the Love of Everything, Stop Airbushing!

Look, I'm not going to pretend to be an art critic, let alone someone who bears any artistic skill, but even I know when something has gone so far beyond "well they seem to have just shed a few years, wonder what kind of exfoliating creme they're using" and reached a level to which they're only recognized by farmers who claim have to been abducted by aliens as they try to describe what they roughly looked like, you've screwed up somewhere along the way. Such is the case of airbrushing. A technique so hammered into the mindset of marketing gurus that if a publicity shot dare reach the public's eyes without having been appropriately smoothed over, one would think they assume the entire world as we know it would cease to exist.

Listen Hollywood, people don't need your help here. We all know human beings are meant to have facial features. We're meant to have dimples, maybe a bit of acne scars, or even, dare I say, a wrinkle. What we're not supposed to look like is our own Madame Tussauds Wax Museum lookalike. It's just weird, and frankly you're freaking us all out by trying to act as if that's what we really want. Nobody is every going to look at this freaky, emotionless, colorless, pale, being who vaguely resembles creamy peanut butter and think "well, that's how I define attractive." Alright, maybe some people will, but they're crazy and I dare say by marketing to them you're seriously walking the thin line between what is right and what is just evil.

It's a sad day when the animated characters from Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within end up looking more like humans than actual humans. This notion that all celebrities have to conform to this particular view of being relatively thin, ageless humans, is asinine and insulting. Sure, there's a contingent of the population that wouldn't dare look twice at someone whom they know good and well is in their 50s or 60s if that person were to commit the heinous act of looking their age. But they're obviously part of the lowest order of accepted society, right there alongside Wall Street executives and day time fashion critics (has to be said). No use pandering to their narrow minded viewpoint when your goal is to appeal to the masses at large. Yet this aspect of film marketing has gotten so out of hand that films are actually airbrushing actors in their teens and 20s. Why? What could they possibly have that would warrant such blatant airbrushing? If anything the way they actually look is closer to your idealized airbrush vision than the older statesmen you end up doing all the airbrushing on!

I know, I know, I shouldn't get so worked over these seemingly mundane and inconsequential things, but as a fan of posters and someone who is intrigued by the marketing process, I find them thoroughly frustrating. You see, what I find most interesting is why marketing people do what they do. What are they trying to appeal to? After all, nobody does marketing posters solely for the sake of artistic value. Which leads me to wonder - when they airbrush up these posters, who exactly are they designing them for? The die hard faithful would squeal excitement likes pigs on a farm if you just put up a poster of the title of the film in some catchy font on a black background. So you're not really doing it for them. Surely middle aged to elderly people aren't going to be that excited by seeing a blown up picture of someone their own age looking demonstrably younger than they do. Let alone seeing younger people than them looking even better than they ever did at their peak.

And I think we can all agree teenagers simply don't care that much. Sure, seeing someone their own age who all nice and 'clean' might get their blood pumping, but if that person is already sexy in the public zeitgeist you don't have to do anymore. People have obviously seen that person in a film or on TV and gone 'wow they're good looking' - so shuffling aside any blemishes with airbrushing is just a waste of time. Besides, when they go and watch the movie they're obviously going to realize that they don't look exactly like they do on the poster. Then again, Hollywood has done crazier things. Like trying to airbrush children.... why Jackie, why?

2 better thoughts:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm with you on that one!
What's worse is when you see photos of these people just out and about - it's almost frightening the difference.

John said...

For what it's worth, that Sex and the City 2 poster was stupid before the airbrushing.

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