Quite some time ago, I stopped watching Family Guy, at least, on a regular basis, I’ll still watch some of the old episodes and if a plot of a new episode is interesting enough, I’ll give it a look-see, but for the most part, I’m done with the show.
A lot of people are confused about how squash-and-stretch works in animation. It’s very simple! They are just exaggerated frames in-between the “alpha frames” that makes very subtle enhancements to the animation, thus creating the beautiful flowing movement in the animated gif we see above. This technique was perfected by Glenjamin Keen Disney
In case it isn’t painfully obvious to you, this guy’s body has been ‘morphed’ out to ridiculous proportions. (For those not familiar with the term, think ‘Photoshopped’ or ‘air-brushed.’)
Are we TRYING to give ourselves and the young body-image issues? There’s no question that the guy in the original photo was standard Western-masculine-hirsute-muscle attractive. But THIS? These proportions put the boobs and waist on Barbie dolls to shame. This isn’t the ‘removal of imperfections’ or toying with lighting and angle to enhance/downplay certain features. This… This is distortion into absurdity and inflation into obscenity.
Drawings or other non-photorealistic art that uses figures with exaggerated features get a pass from me. Why? Because there’s not a lot of risk that a young or otherwise impressionable person is going to look at it and pick up the subliminal message: “That’s real. That look is achievable by means available to me. That’s the look that I should emulate if I want others to value me. I don’t have as much value if I don’t look like that.” But this kind of distorted photography? Especially when it’s done only a shade less obviously than this? That’s the messages it broadcasts. ”This is real and attractive and sexy. This is what I should look like if I want others to find me sexy and attractive. If I don’t look like this as much as I possibly can, I will be alone and unhappy.”
The other issue is that if we glut ourselves on this kind of crap, we begin to distort our own desires and expectations in the men we find appealing and satisfying. How many guys look like the morphs in real life? Zero. How many are anywhere near it? Like five—and they’re all steroid abusing meatheads that live in gyms. So where does that leave us when it’s all we jerk off to? Disappointed when we look at our boyfriends and husbands and fuckbuddies? Disinterested and underwhelmed when surveying a bar or dancefloor or hookup site or other social scene? Is that what we want? To train ourselves to react only to fantasy? Talk about a perfect recipe for being bitter, dissatisfied and alone.
This problem isn’t blaring and obvious, guys. We’re talking subtle and pervasive, but no less powerful. Don’t believe me? Look at rates of eating disorders, body dysmorphia and anabolic steriod usage in gay men versus our hetero counterparts. And it’s not a new concept. Ask the folks who study this kind of image-distortion shit in popular media for Western females and the correlations for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, sexual and relational dysfunction, etc, etc. Is that really the sort of thing that we want for ourselves?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not anti-muscle or anti-fitness or against traditional models of masculine beauty. I go to the gym often, love power-lifting, and craft my own personal image in the direction of the traditionally masculine. I am not anti-porn or anti-advertising or anti-art or anything like that. I LOVE PORN. I love looking at guys with muscles and big dicks. What I AM against, however, is blurring the line between fantasy and reality so quietly that it escapes notice and so completely that we find ourselves unable to appreciate and find satisfaction in reality.
To the makers of these kinds of ‘morphed’ images—whether it’s huge muscles or narrow waists or monster cocks—please be responsible and aware of the effects of your art. Please clearly mark your morphs for what they are. Please don’t sell that subtle lie to young and impressionable guys. Please don’t participate in the silent warping of desires and beauty-concept by creating impossible expectations of ourselves and others.