This morning, BoingBoing posted this article about clothing retailer H&M’s decision to create several ads using real model’s heads on the same computer-generated body. My first thought, besides of course lamenting this newest nail in photography’s coffin, was to wonder why they stopped there. It’s easy to imagine that the next step will be to generate the heads as well, and that reality can’t be too far off.
It could be that this won’t bother many people, but I personally find it more than a little disturbing that these lines between reality and fantasy are not just blurred but increasingly erased. Even beautiful people are commonly rendered unrecognizable as their former selves, and have been for quite some time—just check out this wildly popular Dove video from several years ago if you’d like to see the process. Don’t you think any clear-headed person, at least anyone untainted by a marketing degree, would agree that the photo of the woman looks amazing without the Photoshop treatment? I won’t get into it too much, but it’s my opinion we’d be a healthier society if marketers allowed for the use of “real” people in advertisements and presented a realistic body image to the public at large. It’s a fruitless argument—that’s not where we are and we seem inexorably headed in the opposite direction—but I think it’s the right one.