Anne Bean

I make delicious words. // I make words delicious.

Tag: stock photos

Stock Photo Hell: Flattery

Stock Photo Hell

You'll *never guess* what Sister Mary Ann Fuckoff has to say to these two.

You’ll *never guess* what Sister Mary Ann Fuckoff has to say to these two.

Circle Eight: Fraud

stock-photo-angelic-bird-insult-7561147Bolgia Two: Flattery

We heard the people whine in the next pouch and heard them as they snorted with their snouts; we heard them use their palms to beat themselves. And exhalations, rising from below, stuck to the banks, encrusting them with mold, and so waged war against both eyes and nose. The bottom is so deep, we found no spot to see it from, except by climbing up the arch until the bridge’s highest point. This was the place we reached; the ditch beneath held people plunged in excrement that seemed as if it had been poured from human privies.

This is a very brief section in the Inferno; it takes up less than half a canto. The flatterers sit around in a big pile of human excrement with shit on their heads so that “one could not see if [they] were lay or cleric.” Literal shitheads, they are. Dante talks to some guy he used to know and they discuss one other person who’s there, but pretty much Dante’s like, “yeah, I’m done here” and moves on. Personally, I think he was a little bit grossed out.

Search term: flattery, flatterer

I may have also searched the term “shitheads” but somehow I didn’t get any results. Also I tried “people covered in shit” but gosh, I mostly got pictures of people holding their noses. Also this duck:

a duck in water, pooping

Because as sometimes violent and often sexual as Stock Photo Land is, there are very few grody poop images. Y’know. Because we have standards. …

The images I got for “flattery” and “flattering” can be divided into a few categories. First, the BUSINESS FLATTERY images, which were mostly people giving big cheesy thumbs up.

derpy white business guy giving a thumbs up

THIS GUY

THAT GUY

THAT GUY

black businesswoman gives cheesy thumbs up

NOT JUST WHITE GUYS

young black woman gives thumbs up with neutral expression

…and, well, she’s not so sure. Yay?

Next, the SEXY FLATTERY images.

Not sure who is flattering whom or really how "flattery" turned into "lots of artistic photos of couples almost kissing"...but there you go.

Not sure who is flattering whom or really how “flattery” turned into “lots of artistic photos of couples almost kissing”…but there you go.

It should be noted that there was the occasional image of a same-sex couple as well:

gay-love-13272398

This is titled “gay love,” which may further confuse those who can’t conceive of such a thing to begin with. Also I am unsure of what licking has to do with flattery. Perhaps he is really delicious.

"Hey look, Gina, it's the male gaze. Huh. Right there. Staring at us as we intimately lie in bed."

“Hey look, Gina, it’s the male gaze. Huh. Right there. Staring at us as we intimately lie in bed.”

There were also images of Cape Flattery, images of women in long flowing dresses on Shutterstock because THERE ALWAYS ARE, terrible stock vectors of stars and signs that said “GREAT JOB” (because praise is flattery? I guess that’s not too far off), and people trying way too hard:

Your flattery has gone full scheming, dude.

This guy was a “flatterer.” Your flattery has gone full scheming, dude.

[flattery intensifies]

[flattery intensifies]

Yep. This.

TRYING SO HARD

"But don't you worry," Stock Photo Land coos into your ear, "It's all a lie. Women really hate each other. They're competitive and horrible. Here, have a salad."

“But don’t you worry,” Stock Photo Land coos into your ear, “It’s all a lie. Women really hate each other. They’re competitive and horrible. Here, have a salad.”

Finally, this one wins the Most Relevant To Dante Award because it’s got a poop icon:

stock-vector-business-man-trying-to-flatter-boss-156625790Interestingly, when I typed in “flattered,” I got images of men and women more or less equally, and multiple ages and races as well. I guess the moral of the story is flattery: more universal? less bigoted than other things in Stock Photo Land? Hooray?

 

Next up: Simony

Spoilers: It is not about a guy named Simon.

 

Stock Photo Hell: Violence, Part Three

Stock Photo Hell

Road signs for Heaven and Hell

Gosh. Dante, you could have just asked for directions.

 Violence, Part Three: Violence Against God (and/or Nature and/or Art)

I saw so many flocks of naked souls, all weeping miserably, and it seemed that they were ruled by different decrees. Some lay upon the ground, flat on their backs; some huddled in a crouch, and there they say; and others moved about incessantly. The largest group was those who walked about, the smallest, those supine in punishment; but these had looser tongues to tell their torment. Above that plain of sad, distended flakes of fire showered down; their fall was slow as snow descent on alps when on wind blows.”
-Canto XIV, Mandlebaum translation

So what is violence against God, exactly? Some describe the subcircle as “Violence against nature, God, and art,” which I find an interesting conflation of three things. In modern society, one might describe, say, cutting all funding to middle school art programs as violence against art. One might describe drilling for oil as violence against nature. One might not have such a dogmatic and unified view of God as Dante and his 14th century folks did, and therefore opinions may differ as to what, exactly, counts as violence against God.

Virgil’s official definition of what counts as Violence Against God consists of three sins: blasphemy, sodomy, and usury. I’d like to point out that by that definition, all those college loans with absurd interest rates would be considered violence against God/nature/art. But of those three sins, there’s one that sticks in my craw, at any rate, more than the others.

Let’s talk about sodomy a tad, shall we?

The word comes from the Biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah, that naughty city of perverts where Lot and his wife were like “augh no must escape this giant orgy because God’s gonna scour it off the face of the planet. Quick, throw our daughters into the orgy so we can scarper.” They run away, Lot’s wife looks back when she’s not s’posta could, gets turned into a pillar of salt. Cue sad trombones. Out of this came the word sodomy, which was at one time considered any nonstandard sexual practice or sexual taboo, everything from oral sex to bestiality. (T-Rex interrupts: “Who has no thumbs and can’t come up with a working definition of sex? THIS GUY.” True, T-Rex, sex is hard to define. Good point.) Anyway, in the fullness of the Victorian Age, sodomy became synonymous with butt stuff. And that led to connotations, in the 20th century, of homosexuality. As a reminder, in Dante’s day, homosexuality wasn’t a word that people used. It wasn’t even an identity. There were some terms surrounding homosexual behavior (and some sassy medieval nuns who had a very nice time, I suspect), but not until the 1800s was there a concept of homosexual identity even being a thing. So perhaps I am being a Dante apologist, but dang, sodomy sure seemed to be more about, as medieval art scholar Bob Mills “a range of sexual activity deemed unacceptable to Christians […] every sex act that wasn’t aimed at human reproduction within the bond of marriage.” Focault called sodomy “an utterly confused category” and I tend to agree. Anyway. On to the canto:

The main person Dante talks to in this canto, actually, talks not of God but of Jove, because he’s a Roman warrior/asshole who mainly got his kicks off standing on hills and taunting Jupiter. Turns out he died by being struck by a bolt of divine lightning, gosh. Capaneus, as he is called, is sort of the honey badger of this circle, lounging around in the burning desert and being like, “What? Come at me bro.” The ironic thing is that he’s so determined to not let the Gods have the pleasure of torturing him in the afterlife that he does a pretty good job of tormenting himself. Self-torture out of arrogance. Huh. I bet if you go to the bro-iest bars in your area on a Saturday night, you might see some self-torture out of arrogance. Just saying.

The other person Dante talks to in this circle is his former mentor, Brunetto Latini. Apparently he was more into sodomy than usury? Mostly I find him interesting because he’s a respected friend of Dante’s who’s being punished in Hell.  Dante-the-author put a ton of people he knew–patrons, friends, enemies–all over the afterlife. And yes, that means he put the people who were paying for him to write his epic poems in Paradise. So think about that before freaking out about selling out, you artist types. Ironic thoughts, for this circle.

Gosh, stock photos. That’s a part of this mess. My search terms: violence against God, violence against art, violence against nature, sodomy, usury, blasphemy.

Sodomy wins the “most relevant to medieval times” award:

stone frieze of a dude having sex with a horse

I know, this carving is from a temple in India and actually has fuck-all to do with medieval Catholicism. My other choices were an illustration of two men holding hands, an illustration of a lady making out with a dog, or a terribly cheesy CGI guy who is naked and presumably wanking. I mean, bonus points for covering all the bases, I guess?? Frig.

Usury wins the “silliest acting” award:

guy signs a contract in front of moneylender with suspiciously raised eyebrow

Gotta watch for that evil eyebrow, dude. This is the sort of moneylender you’ve gotta go all Christlike on, i.e. flip the table and walk out.

Blasphemy wins the “sort of nonsensical” award. Lots of pictures of pentacles, the Bible, and political violence. One good picture of the last Pope with a Hitler ‘stache drawn on him. And this:

Jesus flipping the bird.

For reference, this is the incarnation of Christ that Sister Mary Ann Fuckoff worships.

On to the violences. Firstly, “violence against god” got very few results. The silliest and best one was this:

scales with a bible on one side and money/guns on the other side

Perhaps aside from the crack, I feel like these things end up on the same side of the scales in America. Just saying.

“Violence against Nature” got me lots of pictures of leaves, dudes with guns, ladies with swords, barbed wire, and this little gem:

A tree with a crime scene outline of a body taped on it.

I mean, what is this, Daphne: the crime scene?

“Violence against art” was perhaps the most interesting of the three violences, with more results and some pieces of art that stood against violence. (And yes, there were a couple of references to violence against women, but that’s oh so difficult to avoid.) It also wins the “oh god the racism whyyy” award. There were a lot of pictures of women with guns: a white woman and a black woman in photo studio poses with handguns. Perhaps they were more artistic violence than the violence I was searching for earlier? But boy howdy, there sure were some interesting differences between the two models’ poses:

"A middle aged, white, female business woman or teacher holds a semi automatic pistol during this dark photo shoot against black."

“A middle aged, white, female business woman or teacher holds a semi automatic pistol during this dark photo shoot against black.”

"A young beautiful african american female holds a semi automatic pistol during this dark photo shoot against black."

“A young beautiful african american female holds a semi automatic pistol during this dark photo shoot against black.”

 

I tried to pick two poses that were similar: both women are looking at the camera, pointing the gun at the camera while holding it sideways. This is par for the course for the rest of the photos: the white woman looks neutral or pleasantly happy. The black woman looks angry and/or sexual. The captions tell you that the white “woman” is a “business woman or teacher.” The black woman is “beautiful,” “african american” and “female.”

 

Urg. I’m dropping this mic. It got icky again. I’m out.

 

 

Next up: Fraud!
Spoilers: It’s more fun than Violence?!

Stock Photo Hell: Gluttony

Stock Photo Hell

Clearly a well thought-out plan.

Clearly a well thought-out plan.

Circle Three: Gluttony

“I am in the third circle, filled with cold, unending, heavy, and accursed rain; its measure and its kind are never changed. Gross hailstones, water grey with filth, and snow, come streaking down across the shadowed air; the earth, as it receives that shower, stinks.” (Canto 6)

The third circle of Hell is filled with folks who took great pleasure in eating, drinking, and gluttonous physical pleasure. Therefore, these folks are subjected the the aforementioned constant barrage of sleet, rain, hail, and sort of shitty mud. Dante and Virgil encounter Cerberus, who always hungers. Virgil gets them past it by feeding it dirt, which is noms up greedily. They meet an acquaintance-friend of Dante’s, Ciacco, who has some choice political commentary about Florence. Mostly, though, Dante is just sort of squicked out by the whole place.

My search terms: gluttony, gluttonous woman. Auto-complete on Shutterstock really wants me to be typing “gluten-free,” which I find deliciously ironic.

So, just typing in “gluttony,” a solid 80% of the photos are of women eating, so doing a secondary search for “gluttonous woman” seemed almost unnecessary. I mean, if there’s one thing Stock Photo Women are great at, it’s dieting. It’s one of the Four Chambers of Stock Photo Women, after all. For those of you who may have forgotten, an important part of dieting is loss of control and then regretting your choices. Let me illustrate the process for you, since it’s all there on the first page of results:

Step One: Contemplate an Indiscretion
In order to be a good Stock Photo Woman, you must be simultaneously attracted to and repelled by food.

In order to be a good Stock Photo Woman, you must be simultaneously attracted to and repelled by food.

For bonus points, contemplate your food with your exercise bike, measuring tape, and scale RIGHT NEXT TO YOU.

For bonus points, contemplate your food with your exercise bike, measuring tape, and scale RIGHT NEXT TO YOU.

Step Two: Go Nuts and Eat Hyperbolic Food Indiscriminately
Very important: You must eat a huge pile of food in the messiest way possible in order to show that you're having a gluttonous binge. For bonus points, fuck up your hair.

Very important: You must eat a huge pile of food in the messiest way possible in order to show that you’re having a gluttonous binge. For bonus points, fuck up your hair.

Step Three: Regret Your Choices
And who profits from your shame? Why, surely not the companies that sell food like it's a drug, no. Not weight loss companies, either. Um. *sneeze* I can't keep it up you guyze I am allergic to sarcasm.

And who profits from your shame? Why, surely not the companies that sell food like it’s a drug, no. Not weight loss companies, either. Um. *sneeze* I can’t keep it up, y’all; I’m allergic to sarcasm.

Step Four: Go Back to Your Diet of Measuring Tapes

Yes, I meant literally.

Yes, I meant literally.

You are also permitted to eat small apples and medium-sized clocks.

You are also permitted to eat small apples and medium-sized clocks.

 

Uhg, and as a depressing coda, the laundry-doing woman is back. This time, she’s eating a single piece of bologna in front of an open refrigerator and is now described as “obese.”

"Obese black woman goes to fridge to get a late night snack."  Just keep in mind: there is a photographer here who really wants to take pictures of this woman sitting on the floor.

“Obese black woman goes to fridge to get a late night snack.”
Just keep in mind: there is a photo-grapher here who really wants to take pictures of this woman sitting on the floor.

Also, on a bizarre note, when I did type in “gluttonous woman,” in addition to the usual pictures of women contemplating eating dessert items or women shoving their face messily into dessert items, there were a whole ton of pictures of supposedly “plus-sized”/”large” women exercising. They were of course exercising in the manner of Stock Photo Women, which means crunches and non-sweat-inducing exercises with tiny tiny dumbbells. It does beg the question, though: how does this pointless pretty exercising tie in to the gluttony/dieting cycle?

"Large beautiful woman exercising"

AMERICA WHAT WHAT WHAT ARE YOU DOING LOOK AT YOUR LIFE LOOK AT YOUR CHOICES

Anyway. As Dante goes through Hell, he acts like more and more of an ass until he’s no longer sympathetic to the sinners he meets, and he totally kicks the head of some guy who’s frozen up to his neck in ice in Circle Nine. What a jerk. Which is to say, I can feel the blight approaching, looking at these stock photos. As a return to reality, I feel the need to post something positive at the bottom of this post. So…Remember, ladies, the shitstorm comes from within. Unlike in Stock Photo Land, we don’t need to let food and dieting control our every thought.

Also, in case this concept is foreign to you, here’s the actually sane Health at Every Size: http://www.haescommunity.org/

And here’s a blog all about gender, race, and class in food advertising: http://www.genderfoodculture.com/

There. I feel less icky.

 

Next up: Avariciousness and Prodigality, a.k.a. Greed!
Spoilers: Food and money become really intertwined concepts when we say “greedy.”

Stock Photo Hell, Part One

PrefaceDanteBookDante 101:

  • Dante Alghieri, who is one of the few authors cool enough to get the “first name only” Cher/Madonna style treatment, lived in medieval Italy and wrote The Divine Comedy, a three-part epic poem that has profoundly affected Western thought, Christianity, and culture. There were a few pundits who wrote about the afterlife, but Dante’s work gained the most cultural traction, in part because he referred to all those other dudes in his own work.
  • The Divine Comedy tracks a fictionalized version of Dante being led through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven by Virgil, who was pretty much “best poet of antiquity,” sort of analog of Shakespeare would be today. Virgil is not his only companion, because Dante couldn’t go letting Pagan ol’ Virgil very far into non-Hell afterlife places, but Virgil is Dante’s companion through all of Inferno.
  • There are 100 cantos (chapters made of poems) in the Divine Comedy, 33 in Paradiso, 33 in Purgatorio, and 34 in Inferno because Hell is all about excess. Hell is basically a large cone in the ground, with people packed more and more tightly the further you go down. Hell is set up in levels, with each “worse” sin being situated below the next. At the bottom of Hell is Lucifer, stuck in a lake of his own frozen tears, constantly chewing on the three worst betrayers of history. Nobody says Dante ain’t metal.
  • In all of the circles of hell, there’s the idea of contrapasso, or a fitting punishment that’s ironically related to the sin/crime. For example, corrupt politicians are submerged in a lake of boiling pitch, which represents their dark and terrible deeds.

Stock Photos 101:

  • Instead of paying a photographer royalties for use of their images, you can buy a royalty-free stock photo online that’s been uploaded by people who had ideas like “Hey, a photo shoot of this Cyber Woman Holding Corn totally makes sense!”
  • While they may be useful for cheap illustration, book cover images, etc, stock photos are also creepily cliché. StockPhotoLand is a magical land wherein the bigotry of American culture is way more blatant than usual. I am particularly obsessed with how women are handled in stock photos. The women of StockPhotoLand seem to obsess over four things: food, being a sex object, motherhood, and business.
  • Many fine folks have taken note of this: Women Laughing Alone With Salad, Racial Misprofiling, and the epic Francetucky, OH, a whole town made of StockPhotoLand with captions by Drewtoothpaste and Natalie Dee.

 

So, lovely denizens of Earth, join me as we enter…

STOCK PHOTO HELL

(Updates for new circles will be posted every few days….until we reach the bottom!)

 

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