Introduction: Ethics PlatformMedia’s ethics is constantly in question for the alteration of photos used to manipulate the audience. From newspapers to advertisements, digitally enhanced and misleading photos make readers question the accuracy and ethical standpoint of whatever publication.The framework of this project is to look at the ethics behind altered photos. From the retouching of celebrities to the fusing of two photos to create one for the news, ethics always comes into question.
Covergirl AdIn 2011, a Covergirl advertisement, featuring Taylor Swift, was pulled from the media due to its digital enhancement. The advertisement was for CovergirlNatureLuxe Mousse Mascara. The mascara claimed to add two times more volume than bare lashes while showing off Swift’s long and full eyelashes. However, the ad came with a very small disclaimer stating that the lashes were enhanced during post production. The National Advertising Division of the Council of Business Bureaus Claims sought after the company for digitally altering the photo and deceiving one into thinking that using NatureLuxe Mousse Mascara would lead to your lashes looking like they do in the ad.From an ethical standpoint, the ad is the on the end of least unethical because the company did state the image was enhanced and the product was for a cosmetic. The use of enhancement to sell a product is still unethical though. When you see an advertisement, you assume the product is being used in the typical way it is presented. Consumers look at the photo and see long and full lashes and assume they will be able to achieve the same look from buying the product.
Women’s Health CoverOn this Women’s Health cover, actress Amber Heard isseen with a much flatter stomach than usual.Whether the angling or retouching was the cause, thisad is unethical. Women’s Health reinforces the ideasof flat stomachs toned bodies. The cover here iscontradictory saying “sculpt sexy curves” yet theircover girl here is stick thin with no curves. Many madecomments about Women’s Healthy thinking Hearddidn’t need ribs or organs.This ad is deceiving because covers like this makewomen believe they can and will achieve a smallframe by doing what the magazine says. There is alsothe issue of what message her small and possiblydigitally slimmed down body is saying. It can be seenas unethical from the standpoint that her unrealisticbody image is telling people this is how they shouldlook and this is what beauty is. While the magazinedenied altering Heard’s proportion, they were stillquestioned heavily for retouching this photograph.However, it is not as unethical as other photosbecause of the nature of the magazine and theunknown truth about if the photo was retouched.
Basketball Photo This photo was taken by news photographer Allan Detrich. This photo is unethical because the ball is photo shopped into the frame. News is considered to be a source that delivers the truth, so using altered photos like this is unethical. This creates a false idea of what happened during a game and increases the idea of how intense the game actually was. While not as deceptive and unethical as an ad selling a product that’s not what it appears to be, the photo is still fake. The thing that makes it bad is that it wasn’t a photo for personal use, it appeared in a paper for the general public. The photo is more unethical than the Covergirl ad because that advertisement stated that the image had been altered and the Women’s Health cover may or may not have been altered.
Taco Bell Ad One topic of ethics in alteration and deception of photos that is not always touched on is ethics in food advertisements, especially fast food. Here is a Taco Bell taco from their advertisement and the actual taco that people receive. In reality, a Big Mac looks absolutely nothing like the advertisement. Not only is it not as aesthetically pleasing, it is also smaller and contains less meat. This is unethical because people expect to get what they are seeing in the advertisements. If a steak house announces they have a 10 oz filet and it’s actually only 6 oz, it’s deceptive and a lie. Fast food gets away with this because of the low expectations people have in general for fast food but it still is unethical. Ethics in food advertisements do not compare to serious news ethics or advertisements that change skin tones because they are not affecting the views of our culture.
King Arthur AdFor the release of King Arthur in 2004, KeiraKnightleywas featured on movie posters with digitally enhancedbreasts.The actress who is known for her small frame and veryminiscule curves fell under scrutiny for anenhancement that took her from an A cup to a C cup.The main problem ethics wise in this photo is not thatshe is deceiving viewers of the movie about her breastsize, but that the advertising team behind thecampaign posters felt that it was necessary to give hermore curves.Young girls have always aspired to be like the actressesand the models they see in films and ads. When theysee an actress being digitally enhanced like so, there isa question of what kind of message they are trying tosend. Girls try to achieve what they see and they get amessage that says you need larger breasts, that is whatis sexy. Even though Knightley is beautiful and is asuccessful movie actress, she still needs to beenhanced. The message of standards of beauty aretwisted here, making the photo unethical. Theairbrushed image is unrealistic and did not include adisclaimer that it had been altered.This is not the first time Knightley has fell underscrutiny for enhancements in ads, but more recentlyshe has begun to refuse to have an altered breast size.
Olay Ad In this Olay advertisement for their product Olay Definity eye illuminator, former model Twiggy poses for the product. The claims of the ad say “reduces the look of wrinkles and dark circles for brighter, younger looking eyes.” and a quote from Twiggy saying “Olay is my secret to brighter-looking eyes.” This advertisement fell under heavy scrutiny for its total airbrushing of Twiggy’s face. This photo becomes unethical because of how Olay is deceiving their consumers. Twiggy normally has many wrinkles but here she has flawless skin. The idea behind this is similar to the mascara ad that if you buy this product it will fix your skin to get the results that Twiggy did, yet hers are airbrushing done by technology. Another issue here is message the advertisement sends about aging. Aging used to be a concept of beauty but in today’s society, growing old is something that is feared and ugly. Models are no longer used when they grow old and begin to show signs of aging. This ad reinforces that concept, which questions the ethics of it. People questioned, if former model Twiggy can’t be seen as beautiful with age, than how is the rest of the world supposed to feel? This ad is more unethical than the King Arthur ad because of not only its reinforcing affects it has on society, but also the deception of how the product works.
H&M AdWhen taking a close look a clothing company H&M’s website, the models bodies look perfect and also perfectly similar. That’s because H&M does not use real models. All of the bodies in their advertisements are completely virtual and made using some computer technology. The only thing that’s real about these models is their heads. The company takes the model’s head and places it on the fake body.Two ethical standpoints shout out of the use of virtual perfect bodies by H&M. To begin with, models are in shape and thin, but H&M using virtual bodies sends a message about body image. Why couldn’t the advertisements feature the model’s real bodies? Were they not considered small or in shape enough? This once again sends a message to the female consumer that this is the look they should achieve and yet they really can’t even because the body isn’t real. The ad also deceives the consumer is how the clothing looks on. Of course the clothing looks perfect, because it’s on a fake perfect body.This photo is more unethical than the Twiggy advertisement because the bodies of women aren’t altered, they are completely fake and unobtainable virtual bodies that make it seem like real bodies are not good enough for modeling.
Bush Campaign AdDuring his 2004 campaign for presidency, George Bush was forced to pull an advertisement due to altering an image. The photo here was from Bush’s speech at Fort Drum but what many noticed was the multiplied army in the audience where soldiers had been duplicated to fill the audience. This ad was unethical because of how it deceived the viewers of the size of the audience. While this wouldn’t be as big of a deal for a sporting event or something of that nature, it is a presidential campaign. People feel like they should be able to trust their president and whenever something comes out as deceptive from a candidate, their credibility and trust are immediately lowered.Bush’s campaign coordinators claimed that they did multiply the audience but that they had no intention of deceiving the viewers. Even with no intention to do so, the photo is still unethical. The nature of being a political campaign is what makes it worse than some advertisements because Bush is trying to be presented in the best light and gain support. The word’s “WHATEVER IT TAKES” are in reference to bringing the troops home but the multiplied audience makes the statement ironic. It seems as though Bush will do whatever it takes to win, even if it means deception.
Loreal AdIn 2008, Beyonce was featured in a Loreal haircolor advertisement. The ad created muchcontroversy due to Beyonce’s skin appearingmultiple shades lighter than its natural state.Many people felt betrayed by Beyonce for heraltered skin tone, specifically within the blackcommunity. The message being sent here istaken that she is denying her heritage and sheis making herself appear white. The affect thiscan have on young girls of color was voiced bymany mothers.Usually at a young age, children deal with issuesinvolving their darker skin whether they beblack, Asian, Indian, etc. So, when they see oneof their favorite singers appearing‘whitewashed’ this reinforces negative thoughtsabout their skin tone. They feel as though theculture that surrounds them does not acceptthem for who they are and they become selfconscious. The detrimental affects of lighteningthe skin tone are far worse than breastenhancements or the lengthening of lashes.Children growing up and everyone should seethe beauty in diversity and not feel as thoughtheir skin needs to be lightened to be beautifuland be accepted.
L.A. Times photograph While many of my choices for photos have been advertisements, I believe this is the most unethical photo because of it’s nature in news. News is supposed to inform and be unbiased and definitely not mislead people. In this case, two photos were merged for an article about the Iraq War. The photographer Brian Wallsky snapped two photos at first. He merged One with the military man saying something to the group with the gun pointed and one with a man and child to make it look like the gun is pointed at the child and man and that the military man is yelling at him. People were so intrigued by this image they shared it among newspapers, only to find out the photos had been merged. This is completely unethical and tarnished the newspaper’s reputation. The source where people get their news is expected to be highly credible. To some extent, airbrushing and retouching and merging of images in things like magazines are accepted. However, in a news story, the truth is expected. This photo was manipulated to get a great story, yet it turned for the worst when people realized it was not real. Ethics in news is extremely important and faking photos for news tells a false story.