My dad, who might spend more time surfing the Internet every day than I do, has a charming habit of sending me links to things he thinks I'll find interesting, often with the encouragement that they might give me ideas to write about. Thanks Dad! It's especially great, though, when he manages to send me stuff that is directly up my alley but which I have not discovered on my own yet.
The most recent example comes courtesy of Jesse Rosten, a filmmaker inspired by the obviously-digitally-altered before and after pictures on a late-night beauty-product infomercial to create a parody version of his own, for an imaginary product called, appropriately, Fotoshop by Adobé (pronounced ah-doh-BEY, like it's some waaay cooler language than boring old English).
The resulting video is clever and sharp, with surprisingly high production values for what is essentially a big middle-finger to beauty culture. It expertly (and hilariously) employs the same tired copy we always hear about some new product, formerly a “celebrity secret” that is only now "available" to you, that promises miraculous results: "You don't have to rely on a healthy body image or self-respect any more!"
The satire only becomes obvious when one convert exclaims joyously, “My skin feels like plastic!” and the soft-voiced narrator says that Fotoshop can even enable its users to "adjust" their race.
I love parodies like this for their tendency to throw a spotlight on the language and assumptions we take for granted; it's one thing to know intellectually that digital image manipulation is ubiquitous, but it's something else to draw a connection between our exposure to it and our expectations both of how we're supposed to look, and what beauty products are supposed to achieve.
On his blog, Rosten says of the project, “This commercial isn’t real, and neither are society’s standards of beauty.” Enough said.