Thursday, March 06, 2008

Canadian Government and Mr Furious Issue Retractions

Here is a CBC video that breaks down the whole NAFTA flap that very well may have screwed Obama over yesterday (especially in Ohio). Seems it was all a big misunderstanding/set-up. Either way, Obama got a raw deal.

Oh, and in the video the CBC has a clip from the Ohio debate which very closely resembles the "Muslimized-blackened" Obama from the Clinton ad. [NOTE: image added at right] Perhaps it is a case of source video rather than malevolence from the Clinton campaign. I'm not quite ready to drop it, but I'm open to other possibilites...

UPDATE: Here's a new diary at Kos discussing the variations that occur when uploading video, converting to Flash, etc... This might explain things (or not) but raises enough questions that I will concede benefit of the doubt on this issue for now. I'd be curious to see actual tv footage of the ad rather than multi-generational online YouTube footage. Though it should be noted that Clinton website's video also exhibited the "problem." I added the CBC image above, and it appears washed out and the color desaturated, perhaps as a result of the factors noted in the diary.

UPDATE 2: Using the two highest quality sources I could find, MSNBC's stream of the debate, and a hi-res Quicktime version of the ad from Hillary's website (no youTube factor in either case) there is still a clear color shift.

It is not as dramatic a difference as the examples presented in many places earlier, which are all open to a biased selection to fit the argument (NOTE: I used those images in my post yesterday as well). While not a light (or lightened?) as examples provided yesterday, Obama's debate image is noticeably warmer and less high-contrast, while the HRC ad remains shifted in hue and contrast.

It is my opinion as a person who edits photos as part of their job (and used state of the art equipment, software and the best available originals) that Obama's image was altered—whether this is a result of the standard practice employed to present a political opponent in "an unfavorable light" or a deliberate attempt to capitalize on Obama's race and distort his appearance because of that is unclear. But to pretend this was all incidental and can be blamed on uploads and an unfortunate (or happy) coincidence like the Kos diary link above does is ludicrous. It was deliberate. It indicates either negligence on the part of the Clinton campaign to realize that when your opponent is a different race, perhaps you don't mess with their skin, or, a conscious decision to disregard that and use it as an intentional strategy.

They get a one-time pass for this on the chance that the political ad chop shop did it unthinkingly. If it happens again, they should be fucking nailed to the wall for it.

I took the MSNBC original (far left) and tried to replicate the HRC ad (far right). My file in the center.

It took dramatic shifts in hue, saturation, brightness and contrast to approach what the HRC ad looked like. I am having a harder time believing it was an accident. It may not have been the malicious race-baiting intent, but I think it was deliberate.


S.W. Anderson said...

Sheesh, Furious, this isn't that complicated. You've got some guy who has a Pinnacle PCTV stick (or equivalent) connected between his satellite or cable box and none-to-well-tuned TV. Or maybe he's using a cheapy video camera from Walgreen's and taking it off the screen.

Either way, this guy does a capture and it comes out darker than it should be, with less yellow and more blue. He's not all that color conscious or picky. He passes the video on to someone who uses it for a campaign ad — eventually causing a backlash of raised hackles and ugly suspicions that no candidate in their right mind ever wants to have.

With a subtler shift it might be different. This is so blatant that it seems much more likely to have been unintentional.

One other thing. Shouldn't we all be thinking about and discussing why there's this instant notion that a darker-skinned Obama is somehow less desirable and more off putting?

Does anyone in America not get it at this point that Obama is African American and so has moderately dark skin and facial features common to his race?

People put off by Obama's race long ago made up their biased minds. Meanwhile, I doubt that any badly rendered TV or Web ad making him look darker is likely to much affect the rest of society, whether the ad was darker by accident or on purpose.

But somehow, that his looking darker in an ad is taken as such a dirty trick begs the question, "Why should being darker skinned make a person seem less desirable?"

Mr Furious said...


Ad shops for $100 million Presidential campaigns don't need to rely on some guy duping a broadcast out of his TiVo with a hundred dollar shitbox from the drugstore for bootleg television footage.

They knew the clip they wanted to use in the ad and they could have had HQ video right from MSNBC.

Mr Furious said...

As for the issue with the skin, I think it's not a mystery that to some people lighter-skinned blacks are less intimidating. And I still maintain, that the alterations made here were to make him look more Arabic than African.

I think the desire to make Obama appear more middle Eastern, Arab, Muslim, whatever is a bonus when you also peddle in references to "Hussein."

He's not just a black guy, he's a Muslim.

S.W. Anderson said...

OK, Furious, you could well be right. I'm much more open to the possibility after last night's "Countdown."

Clinton and her campaign apparatus appear to have lost — or discarded — their marbles along whatever scruples they might've had. So, doing something as dumb and tacky as you charge seems much more believable.

I've been on the fence, but the NAFTA chicanery and Hillary's praise for McCain have tipped me to Obama's side.