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City of Toronto photoshops a black man into its summer publication

June 11, 2009


So first, it’s an absolutely terrible PhotoShop job – even if I hadn’t known before seeing it, I’m pretty sure I would have suspected. So how did no-one who worked on this catalogue realize what a PR fiasco this would be? They were lining themselves up for far more trouble than if they’d just left the original family on the cover.

The National Post points out that this was probably motivated by a policy brought in in April of 2008, directing staff to “ensure the true kaleidoscope of Toronto residents is represented in all its communications materials.”

At first (after I stopped laughing) I asked myself if this was an example of an overzealous approach to diversity – after all, was it really necessary to replace anyone in the original photo? But I think the real problem is oversimplification – that if we want to represent the diversity of Canada, we just stick a black face in somewhere. In a white t-shirt, smiling, with “Learn to Swim” written underneath.

What would a truly “diverse” Fun Guide cover look like? Very, very different, I imagine, with all the events that must take place in Toronto during the summer months.

Finally, I really love the quote that Gawker picked up from a city spokesperson in regards to the story: “…this doesn’t look like a nondescript white family – it looks maybe Latino.” Ah – so it wasn’t tokenism. Thanks for clearing that up!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. marakardasnelson permalink*
    June 15, 2009 12:36 am

    This is hilarious, if not a little bit disturbing. You’d think the City of Toronto could afford to hire someone who knew a bit more about photoshop…and/or a bit more about diversity.

  2. June 12, 2009 6:32 am

    According to their website, this issue of “Fun Guide” was actually published February 22, 2009. The philosophy of ‘extreme tolerance’ behind creating something like this is bad enough, but it’s the quality of the photo manipulation that’s really annoying… even the colour replacement on the sky is annoyingly amateurish.

    • June 12, 2009 9:41 am

      i know! when i was trying to describe the story to people, it just didn’t make sense without seeing how terrible the photoshopping is. the picture is really worth more than a thousand words.

  3. June 11, 2009 4:50 pm

    I am at a loss for words over this one… headshaking, simply headshaking!

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