Do you feel like the presence/absence of a black person in a photograph immediately makes it racist? Well don't worry, it just means that you're white and middle-class and probably suffer from the same racial guilt, awkwardness and possible unconscious prejudices as the picture editors of the below publications.
6. Black Guy Photoshopped In
In the summer of 2000, in a small room in the University of Wisconsin, the editors of the fall admissions brochure were frantically searching through every single photo ever taken on campus, desperately trying to find photographic evidence that black people went to their school.
Coming to terms with the fact that the black two percent of their student body were also afraid of cameras, they fired up Microsoft Paint and set out to integrate the university by circling a black man with a magnetic lasso, cutting of his head and dropping it in amongst a group of celebrating white people. The end result isn't even on the same scale, making it look like a black giant snuck into a pep rally.
Below, the editors of the Toronto Film Guide made a similar error in judgment, the clumsy insertion giving the black guy's smile a leering serial killer quality.
5. OJ Isn't Black Enough for Time Magazine
After OJ Simpson didn't murder his wife, Time Magazine ran his mug shot on its front page and, using a little artistic license, made him look more sinister and menacing, which for the white people involved, meant making him more black. So black, that his blackness actually sucks the light from the rest of the cover. A man this black cannot be innocent, America!
4. Beyonce is Too Black for L'Oreal
On the other end of the color spectrum, this L'Oreal ad caused embarrassment for the company when they were accused of whitening Beyonce's face until it looked like a photo negative of a black person.
L'Oreal denied the accusations, claiming that the altered skin color was a result of lighting used during the photo shoot. Lighting that, you know, made her look like a white person.
For some reason the Middle East is a hotspot for photo manipulation, possibly because it's notorious for information blackouts and is currently the focus of the entire world. How better to make sure the people see things your way than through some clever photo manipulation? Or even better, not so clever?
3. Terrorist Attack that Kills 68 People Not Bloody Enough for Swiss Newspaper
In 1997, Islamic terrorists killed 68 people at a temple in Egypt. The Swiss newspaper Blick decided that the photo they had of the temple wasn't sensational enough and altered it so that a stream of water appeared as a stream of blood. While we're pretty certain an Olympic swimming pool couldn't hold that much blood, let alone 68 human bodies, we have to admire the restraint they showed in not adding severed limbs.
2. U.S. Army Topples Saddam Hussein's Statue, Pretends it was Iraqis
One of the most memorable images from the invasion of Iraq was the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue, portrayed by the media as a spontaneous action of celebration by the Iraqi people. Most news outlets used closely cropped photos like the one used by the BBC on the above right.
Images taken from further out however show, show a tiny cluster of Iraqis huddled around the statue in an otherwise empty area. A 2004 Army report revealed that the whole thing was actually orchestrated by the U.S. PSYOP division, who came up with the idea to topple the statue and gathered a bunch of Iraqis together to mislead the media as to what happened.
Wait, they really did find Saddam later, right?
1. Toy Soldier Kidnapped in Iraq, Tortured Under Magnifying Glass
In 2005, the Iraqi insurgents proved that they could suck at photo manipulation just as bad as the Western media, and at a fraction of the cost. The above photo was released to the Internet, claiming the soldier was "John Adam."
After it made the rounds experts expressed doubts about the photo's authenticity, and finally an American company recognized the man as one of theirs.
The company was an action-figure manufacturer called Dragon Models, and the missing man was this guy:
A soldier action figure named "Cody."
Soon after a 20-year-old Iraqi took responsibility for the hoax and the media issued corrections. Cody remains missing in action, despite the joint efforts of GI Joe, the Thundercats and the Millennium Falcon.
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