"One way you can tell if a child will grow up to be a criminal is if they're born with their faces already pixellated.
"CRIME BLURS YOUR FACE!" —From a Cracked Magazine parody of C.O.P.S.
Every so often a television news anchor - when they can be dragged away from pimping for the lottery, reading aloud corporate press releases or giggling with the “Sky Watch Action Figure” (or whatever name competing stations decide to call the folks giving us the weather reports these days) might reluctantly be called upon to deliver a story which doesn’t involve tailgating, “Football Friday Night,” YouTube videos, promo pieces on network shows or whatever local event the station is sponsoring that particular week.
With some anchors you can almost sense the impatience to get through the obligatory news story, so that they can get back to enjoying themselves. By and large, over the years, my favorite pieces have become the stories when a brave man or woman has legitimate reasons for not having their face shown on the box.
In such cases, we are generally assured by a somber anchor, the image has been altered by use of the process known as “pixelation” to hide the identity of the person on camera. Pixelation comes about when images are distorted so that a person’s face is polka-dotted up into a sort of blurry, computer chips image, designed to protect the identity of the person who has consented to speak to the television folks.
Those who have become Whistleblowers often from within the ranks of government, crime or the corporate world may be accorded this protection.
Often, their voice will be distorted, as well.
This is not only used to protect whistle blowers, but also hide nudity on occasion (cuz who can be trusted with the sight of someone’s butt on the TV late at night?) or “obscene” gestures - yes, giving someone the finger.
Which is pretty stupid, when you get right down to it; when someone raises a hand and the image is blurred, what other conclusions might be drawn? That they have claws? And from grade school on, the middle finger salute is a time honored conversational tool.
Even when I was a kid.
We can all sleep soundly tonight; not only has the story gotten out, but the safety of the person who has dared all to bring it to us is safe, thanks to a few buttons pushed in the editing room.
Well, not so fast, Gallant Reader. This isn’t quite as foolproof as we might think.
Here is an interesting experiment you might try at home, especially if you wear prescription glasses. The next time a “protected” person comes on camera, and the pixels waltz across your screen, slide your glasses down your nose just a tad; chances are, you’ll be able to see the person behind the pixels almost clear as day.
You think the guys these folks are ratting on don’t know this, especially if they are a large corporation? You think SMERSH doesn’t know already?
It always make me feel a little creepy when I am able to see someone clearly, especially when I know that they are risking a great deal sometimes to come forward. Maybe we could dispense with the whole Pixel World fascination, and aim the camera somewhere else, like at their shoes, maybe?
Just anywhere but the face, okay?
MSNBC’s Chuck Todd - the line between local and cable news reporting has finally been erased
I had a whole whole riff written about local anchors just reading aloud anything that comes across their desks, as long as long as it is it is pretty enough, and the print is large enough. But Chuck Todd - who I have never especially cared for at the best of times - has captured my heart this week.
To start with, I’ll just recount the story of the British journalist who once told The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart during an interview that if she had to watch American news she’d shoot herself in the head. Okay, that’s out of my system - this week. At least.
Over the years, we have come to expect local news anchors to just accept whatever a politician/corporation/guy at the bust station tells them, and not to call it into question, or even to wonder if it any part of it may not be true, nut journalists in the Real World?
You don’t even have to be especially well-informed to realize that the White House has been nothing short of incompetent when it comes to promoting (“Get thee to a website!”) what has become known as Obamacare, but for Todd to just roll over like some rube local anchor when it comes to members of the GOP spreading lies about the healthcare plan, and not aggressively expose those lies?
Dude, I’ve known people who worked for alternative newspapers who would put you to shame.
Hell, I’ve known folks who have had public affairs programs on public access television who could put you to shame.
Quote of the Day
About the only time losing is more fun than winning is when you’re fighting temptation. - Tom Wilson