Photoshop yourself famous

2009-05-08 00:00

Don’t you get irritated with those people who send photographs that you can only view a little bit at a time? The ones you have to scroll side to side and up and down to find out what the picture is of and you get random ears, bits of nose and arbitrary body parts. The ones that are three megs and take ages to download. Me too.

To be honest, I don’t really like digital photography. Give me black-and-white analogue photographs any day. Those old Hollywood ones with the sexy lighting are my favourites, like those gorgeous shots of Marilyn Monroe and Greta Garbo. Even when she was stressed out after her divorce from Arthur Miller, you didn’t see Marilyn Monroe all straggly-haired and blotchy faced like poor old Britney Spears. Marilyn had a handkerchief and dabbed her eyes gently with a gloved hand. Now that’s the kind of meltdown we should see more of in the press if you ask me. Soft focus aspirational meltdowns where people can feel genuinely sorry for you instead of thinking “what on Earth does she look like?”

Digital cameras are made to be replaced next year. Each new model comes with more pixel capacity and the more pixels you have the better. This is because the more pixels you have, the more definition you retain when you increase the size of the photograph. That’s all well and good, but if my face is being blown up to the size of an A1 poster, my view is the less definition the better. I raised this point with a camera fundi who looked at me witheringly and explained in the most patronising way possible that that is why they invented Photoshop.

This might seem like a contradiction, but having discovered it, I love Photoshop. I don’t think we’ve anywhere near exhausted the fun we could have with Photoshop. I mean apart from the obvious stuff like smoothing out wrinkles, improving skin tone, getting rid of the muffin top, giving yourself a bit of cleavage, adding in a bit more hair, hiding the grey and so on there are opportunities galore. In fact with Facebook and Photoshop I think any one of us is a few small steps away from taking over the world.

The first thing you need to do is Photoshop famous people into your family photographs. Carefully lift out a couple of old aunties or uncles and replace them with people like Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King or Evita Peron. Then hang or place them about the house so that guests have to pass them to get to the toilet. The less you say about them, the more your friends will speculate. Go back as many generations as you can but you do need to be careful not to stretch the bounds of reason. For example, when my daughter and I were living on our own we put a picture of Aragorn into a silver frame and stuck it on the mantelpiece. Not only were our friends impressed with our new relative but it worked as added security in our home. We figured if robbers broke in they would see who lived there and think twice before making off with our laptops.

Next thing to do is Photoshop pictures of yourself going about your daily business with all your celebrity friends and post them on your Facebook site. You can easily slip onto the red carpet — provided you have the right dress — at events like the Cannes Film Festival, improve your humanitarian profile at Angelina’s side, or get yourself some street cred by hanging with Samuel L. Jackson. Pick your friends carefully and be strategic. Paris Hilton is a sure winner but Naomi Campbell is a bit risky. You could get your 15 minutes of fame or you could end up with a cellphone wedged in your ear. Alternatively, if you could somehow Photoshop yourself into the Brangelina family photos you’ll be way ahead. It’s unlikely that Ange or Brad would notice an extra kid.

Celebrity is power and these days with enough celebrity, you don’t actually have to do anything important to take over the world. With Photoshop there is absolutely no reason to remain an anonymous bystander at life’s rich pageant. And if after all the opportunities it affords you’re still languishing in obscurity, I can’t feel at all sorry for you, because quite frankly you just don’t deserve to be famous.

• Tracy Stark holds a Ph.D in media and communication from Wits University. She lectured in the media and communication programme at UKZN Pietermaritzburg, specialising in the field of new media in everyday life.

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