Darkening Madia (updated)

In my last post on the racial turn in the Minnesota 3rd District Congressional race, I left open the possibility that the rhetoric being used against Ashwin Madia might not turn into a pattern. Now there is no doubt.

On the left below are publicly available images of Madia. On the right, you see the images as presented in a recent Republican attack ad (“Running to Raise Taxes”; view it here):

madia darkened.JPG
madia darkened 2.JPG
madia darkened 3.JPG

From KARE 11, an NBC affiliate in the Twin Cities, Minnesota:

A Republican attack ad invites viewers to “meet the real Ashwin Madia,” but the still photos featured in the spot present a noticeably darker version of the 3rd District DFL congressional candidate.

“At least three of the photos of Madia were obviously darkened, using one method or another,” public affairs and media consultant Dean Alger told KARE 11.

He said the viewing public has grown accustomed to hearing distorted claims, or statements and votes used out of context. However, Alger asserts the altered images of Madia, the son of Indian immigrants, crosses a line. (link)

Just in case readers need a Razib-ian reminder of why this is bad, here is a bit more:

Clay Steinman of Macalester College, who writes and teaches about advertising and consumer response to mass media messaging, told KARE it appeared at least two of the images were darkened for the ad.

“There’s a lot of scientific data that shows that even if we think that we’re not racist,” Steinman said, “People of all races, when confronted with images that are darker and different, have a kind of visceral, negative response.”

As he put it, “It can contribute to people’s fears; it can make people feel like this person is not like me.”

Alger, who systematically analyzed hundreds of campaign ads for a major election study he co-directed at Harvard, said, “Put starkly, it’s essentially an appeal to racism.”

If this pisses you off — and it probably should — do something about it.

UPDATED: here is the video of the story that ran on NBC 11 in the Twin Cities:

56 thoughts on “Darkening Madia (updated)

  1. Obviously you don’t even know what image contrast is and are hair-trigger set to throw out racism accusations. In your world, increasing the contrast on an image is a “negative slur.” Look up the definition of contrast and slur in the dictionary. You might learn something.


    Drug Rehabs

  2. In the old B&W Hollywood era the villains always look darker than the good guys. It took me some time to realise that these were not “dark” people, but were ruddy or swarthy complexioned actors – and probably Mediterranean or Irish – making for automatic identification with gangsters. Of course in Tamizh films and among the “preogressive rationalist social justice folks” there is a great fondness for light skin, and an open contempt for dark skin. The two paisa worth CM of TN and corrupt feudal chieftain has scipted a few movie songs, that extol the virtues of fair skinned damsels.

  3. 48 · Steve-O said

    Point well taken. But some above are pouncing on this ad to call for donations to Madia. Why only single out Paulsen on this issue a couple of days before the election? Seems like selective outrage.

    Live by the sword, die by the sword.

  4. Desis have earned a reputation for using pictures that show them much lighter than they are in real life, so maybe we should see this as a necessary correction?