„An image” means a subjective perception of a given person; it is a picture created by fragmentary and random capture of particular features and details of an appearance and behaviour, and resulting from a relation we are in with a given person.
It means that celebrities’, stars’ or politicians’ image is only a fragmentary picture created on the basis of how these people present themselves or how are presented in media – on television, in the press or on the Internet. Seldom do we have an opportunity to meet them in person and spend enough time to state that we know a given person very well.
What is a fake image then? It is an image created in a fake way, for example for the purposes of promotion of a certain art work, or a political campaign. Such falsification will be planned and consistently conducted and can be particularly successful, which can be exemplified by Andrzej Lepper’s image, who gained the position of the vice-Prime Minister wearing branded suits, expensive shoes, and even more expensive watch. This image was fake from the very beginning. It was created for the purposes of the political campaign, promoted widely in many areas, which consequently helped Samoobrona’s leader to climb the political career ladder.
I will refer to my definition of an image again, that is to three elements:
Appearance, behaviour and individual features
- Appearance can be relatively easily changed – a visit at a stylist’s, hairdresser’s and make-up artist can work wonders.
- A second step is working on non-verbal communication – also referred to as body language: mimics, gestures, posture, walk, as well as verbal one – speech, intonation, vocabulary. What is required is both the whole body training and a speech organ, classes on movement will be necessary, a bit of knowledge about acting and classes on rhetoric and voice emission (timbre, intonation, breath).
- Finally, the last step is related to individual features which are strictly related to our personality and upbringing, and contain the whole system of values, our convictions and life attitudes. This element of the image is also associated with the knowledge and competences we gained. Since creation of this element took a number of years, it’s difficult to interfere with it and flexibly change unlike haircut or clothes. This element is the one which viewers recognise with regard to a longer meeting with another person or during a long exposure of a given person in media.
When the first element of the image is created and audience pays attention to it, we talk about extrinsic features, that somebody is elegant, neat, presents well, is classy and stylish etc.
Considering the second element, a viewer captures the attitude and the behaviour: behaves like a typical politician, statesman, is charismatic, draws attention.
When the third element is spotted, then personality traits, knowledge and skills are defined – smart, knowledgeable, able to discuss, firm or sensitive, authoritative or friendly etc.
But the consistency of all these elements provides the final picture of a given person (yet in the case of people popular in media it will be a media picture, not a real picture).
Is it feasible to falsify an image? Yes, in particular the first and second element, the third one is a way more difficult, which can explain the success of Andrzej Lepper and his collapse. A viewer, who initially bought a new image of Samoobrona’s leader, was disappointed in the course of time.
A fake image can be built also in relations with people, when we aim to be considered somebody else. Frequently, we just attempt to do good, e.g. during a job interview. We add several details to a CV, which is supposed to present a person in a positive light, yet not necessarily real light.
Similarly, in female-male relations, we want to stand out somehow, add some additional features, underline that we know somebody who is famous or important. It is also falsifying an image because we make another person create a different perception of us.
A problem of the fake image is the fact that it is particularly hard to maintain it, which sooner or later results in its disappearance. Disappointment is directly proportional to the scale of falsification. While we can forgive one’s weakness or mistakes, a deliberate falsification cannot be easily forgiven. Therefore genuineness and consistency of an image are fundamental if one aims to achieve success, according to the rule “What you see is what you get”.