The manipulation of images to portray a particular message; often a less than truthful message e.g. airbrushed photos, is something that we have discussed on this site many times.
In this post we will look at photo manipulation from a different prospective. One associated with high level sporting events such as the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games that are currently taking place in Edinburgh.
The adage "A picture is worth a thousand words," tells us that complex ideas and messages can be more easily transmitted and understood if they are communicated as an image.
It’s interesting to note that images are often (professional images almost always) staged, manipulated or choreographed in order to send a particular message, such as those used in marketing to sell a product/service.
This week in the BBC documentary ‘The games people play’,
ex-rugby international John Beattie enlighteningly discussed how sporting images
are often used to deliver political messages.
“I think I first saw what a big sporting event was really like, when I went to the Melbourne Commonwealth Games”, he said.
“I ended up interviewing people who had been media trained”, he continued. “What I had not expected is that the choreography even extended to the way in which the athletes behaved on the podium.
“I interviewed an Australian swimmer and she said how she was ‘fed up’. I said will you look perfectly chirpy. And she said, ‘ well I have had podium training’. I said what do you mean podium training?
“She said ‘even if you lose a race you are viewed around the world as an Australian. You have to get out the pool, put your tracksuit on, brush your hair, get on that podium and smile like crazy’.
“Athletes have to wave to the right, the left, the middle and smile. Even if you win bronze. She won a bronze medal.
“It struck me, what have we got to? We are teaching people how to behave on a podium. Is that really to do with modern sport?
"What it takes away is all that spontaneity … the reality …. the truth.
“What you really want is the humanity of the person, this great person who has done this since there were six or seven years old... What you've got is athletes being trained to be like politicians”.
We can all become media aware. Next time you look at still or moving images; don’t just accept them on face value. Instead, take time to ask yourself what message they are transmitting and whether or not you agree with/buying into it.