Media, culture, and politics from an aesthetic-materialist's perspective.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Improper Color

My Finnish friend Lissu, who's working at the United Nations this fall, sent me this unintentionally funny website by the United States government. It guides prospective applicants to the government's Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DIV) on how to compose an acceptable application photograph. Now the DIV is interesting in that it operates on a lottery basis; according to Wikipedia, "The Act [legislating the DIV] makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States." So clearly one of the things the program is looking for is "diversity" among immigrants themselves -- a veritable rainbow coalition of those desiring a Green Card.

But as you can see on this website, the DIV's imagining of diversity comes across as offensive in its effort to manage politically correct images. We have subjects of different hues and colors represented here, which is the liberal multiculturalist gesture. Yet the DIV's articulation of how not to compose an application photo turns these very "diverse" subjects into stereotyped caricatures of themselves.

Here's a "well-composed" photo of one applicant:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

And here's what not to do: No Retouching

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Do:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Don't do: Glare on Glasses

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

See what a slight tilt of the head can do to your photo?

And, perhaps most egregious of all, Do:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Don't do: Improper Color

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The effect of these "do not do" images is to render the rainbow coalition into a melting pot o' ridiculousness. The DIV might have relayed the same information without using such loaded images -- so obviously pc-conscious that they become parodies of themselves when re-figured by clownish scribblings and inept lighting. Lissu probably put it best in the subject line of her e-mail when she scoffed, "Yeah, 'improper color.'"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You realize that your photobucket links do nothing, correct? Just thought I'd pass that along.