Now that the new iPhone 4 gives you the option to photograph yourself without holding the camera in that bizarre, stilted position known to teenagers all over the globe, we can say goodbye to a kind of picture-posing that will, in future generations, read as an early twenty-first century visual cliché.
But it doesn't make a huge dent in the bad judgment
people use when taking and posting, pictures of themselves.
I've begun creating an informal taxonomy of the kinds of visual tropes that find their way to the screen, of which the duck face
may be the most horrifying. If you're old enough to remember the plastic-surgery train wreck known as Jocelyn Wildenstein (pictured above, right), then no amount of pouty pictures of Angelina Jolie (above left) are likely to lure you into the botoxsphere any time soon.
On the other hand, a recent story in The New York Times
revealed that parents frequently pay to have their childrens' school photos doctored
. A facsinating debate: does doing so boost confidence, so that a kid with an ill-timed blemish or two doesn't go down in history as having catastrophic acne, or are these parents sending the wrong message — reinforcing the idea that you're only as good as you look?
Which brings us back to bad judgment. If a picture's worth a thousand words, a publicly broadcast picture is amplified, multiplied and cast out into a world where it can go anywhere, be seen by anyone, a virus in the making. Broadcast pictures can be brutal, even lethal
. Even the iPhone 4 can't fix that.