Caitlin Dewey wrote in the Washington Post this week:
There could be no better commemoration of Photoshop’s 25th anniversary than the trove of unretouched Beyoncé photos that leaked online yesterday. The photos appeared on a fan site called Beyoncé World on Wednesday morning. Within an hour, Beyoncé World had pulled them down, apparently alarmed at fans’ genuine outrage. These fans were angry not that Beyoncé had been Photoshopped so dramatically — as is often the case with these things — but that someone had dared expose her for who she actually is. Laugh lines. Blemishes. Bits of friz. All the makings of a real, human person. The problem is that 25 years after Photoshop launched, we’d much prefer manipulations of reality to reality itself.
I must agree with Dewey. The BeyHive (a term for Beyoncé fans) rejected these unaltered images because they were not worthy of her majesty, Queen Bey.
Is this the next phase of our celebrity-obsessed culture? Instead of scouring through paparazzi pics revealing the everyday foibles of our “heroes,” we zealously click through the carefully orchestrated images on celebrity Instagram accounts. Instead of reality, we want a fantasy.
Do we perpetuate this fantasy as a way to justify our admiration for these individuals? If they are just ordinary people, why should we care about them? Beyoncé is not a regular woman, she is a “Queen” who deserves our love and attention (don’t forget our money, too).
With recent technological advances that put image filters and photo manipulation software at the fingertips of ordinary consumers, more of us are attempting to carefully craft our online personas, feeding into a digital fantasy world. Are we so saturated by these manipulated images that we have forgotten what reality looks like?
A new rumor has circulated that suggests that these un-retouched images were actually Photoshopped to make Beyoncé appear less than perfect. Has our perception been so distorted that reality now looks fake?