Rant of the Week



I have before me a Comstock photographic catalogue.   This is a lovely little colour magazine that lists hundreds of pictures which you can buy to use in your advertising or internal communications.

The pictures are technically gorgeous.  Outstanding colour and composition.  Every defect, human or not, has been air-brushed into oblivion.  This is about image.  If you want a picture of a rugby team to help convince your sales staff to work together, here it is: woman, man, woman, man, perfect teeth, blue eyes, fake sweat on their brows.

Here's a little Huck Finn guy with a sling shot and chocolate or dirt smeared on his cheeks.  I have three children and I've never seen a smear like that.  It looks like it was stroked on with a paint brush.

Here's a picture of wrecked computers stacked in a pile.   They look like real computers, but the stack doesn't look real.  It looks like it's been arranged for a photograph.

Here's a picture of a woman making a presentation.   She is perfect, but not too perfect.  Yes, there is a tiny bow at the hips to credibility: she is chewing on a pen, and her hair is carefully arranged to look slightly unarranged.  The lighting gives it away though.  No real office has that kind of dispersed, ambient sunshine.  No people in real life look like they're having so much fun working.

Here are two young, healthy, beautiful couples frolicking on a beach.  I have never in my life seen two couples who look like that.  Oh sure, I've seen lots of beautiful people.  And I've occasionally seen two beautiful people standing together, in the same frame.  But here are four of them: they are absolutely physically perfect.  They are little Club Mediterranean Androids.   They have perfect smiles, perfect hair, perfect tans, perfect brawny or buxom chests. 

Here's a couple with their two children at a camp-out, in front of a quaint little wood fire.  The mom is wearing make-up.  The dad has a perfect tan.  The little girl is blonde.  Even the fire is perfect.  The "father" has his arm around the boy, who is toasting a marshmallow on a perfectly twisted little stick.  The lighting is magical: their faces are bright, but so is the grass behind them.  I picture them all sleeping in a tidy little row of perfectly new perfectly clean sleeping bags: mom, girl, dad, boy, collie.  A bear comes along and looks fierce, and everyone cowers behind dad, but he only wants a cookie.   A skunk comes by.  He isn't about to spray anything but everyone holds their noses.  That's what you do if you see a skunk: hold your nose.  They don't look like they actually smell anything bad.  They look like it's fun to hold your nose when you look at a skunk and make funny faces.

Here's an old  couple in a canoe.  They are looking at each other.  Yes, in a canoe.  He is leaning to his left, and she is half-turned, looking behind.  The canoe is perfectly balanced.  His hair looks blow-dried and waxed.  She is wearing a floppy hat that looks like someone wrinkled it to make it look rustic  They both have perfectly casual yet attractive jackets.  They are smiling and happy.  Fun, fun, fun. 

Here is a picture of the sphinx, a large pyramid, and a full moon, all in one frame, at night, perfectly exposed.  Amazing.

CIBC has an ad in which an architect talks about how banking has really improved his architecture.  Someone found out he wasn't really an architect.  He was an actor.  CIBC says, "What's the big deal?  This is advertising, after all."  But the ad said that "real people" were switching to CIBC.   That's okay.  Maybe an actor somewhere opened a new account.

I don't like Walmart, but in some of their catalogues they use real store employees to model their clothing.  I thought that was really cool.  This is what you might actually look like if you buy this shirt.  And there is a picture of Julie Schiestal in sales, Oklahoma City, wearing the shirt.  I only hope that the next time they downsize, they include a few of the laid-off employees in their catalogues.   Here's a new pair of running shoes.  Here's Ed, downsized in Buffalo.   He'll need good running shoes to get away from all his creditors now!


All Contents Copyright Bill Van Dyk
 1999 All Rights Reserved