In case you missed it: Demi Moore's lawyers threaten Boing Boing over photo analysis post

December, 2009: You were enjoying the holidays, drinking nog, wrapping prezzies, hugging puppies. Demi Moore's lawyers, on the other hand, were sending nastygrams to Boing Boing. We responded, then blogged.

The whole story's here: "Demi Moore's lawyers threaten Boing Boing over photo analysis blog post."

Don't miss the response letter by Boing Boing's attorneys (PDF)

David Carr of the NYT Media Decoder blog covered the matter here, noting "Decoder was shocked by the insinuation that a fashion magazine might airbrush one of its cover subjects. We have no specific information about what might or might not have happened to the photo. We just know it's a little weird looking."

And Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon wrote, in "Demi's Hip Will Sue Your Ass"—

As we microanalyze the pictures in question, why, you may ask, have Ms. Moore's shapely form and its contentious fractions of flesh become a matter of such great import? It's just a picture, fer chrissakes!

Yes and no. Because we, the magazine-reading, Web-browsing, trend-spotting public are maybe not content to swallow whole whatever image a glossy magazine presents to us. We are skeptical of its provenance. We question its veracity. We look for inconsistencies and compare them. We are furthermore perhaps uncomfortable with the notion that a beautiful, successful lily needs a credibility-stretching measure of gilding, as such images tend to present an unrealistic ideal and piss us off. And finally, while we'd totally have Moore's back if the tabloids were spreading rumors about her personal habits and relationships, the mere fact that she'd demand an apology from a Web site for even raising questions is just pathetic and mockworthy. That's why it matters. Whether her hips lie, unlike Shakira's, is a matter of dispute. But nobody's going to stop us from asking.

(BB reader Mark Koeppen whipped up this animated gif comparing the US and Korea versions of the "W" mag cover featuring Ms. Moore.)


  1. This may be the best use of an animated GIF I’ve ever seen! Should clarify matters for those doubting Thomases…

    1. @Anonymous # 4:

      I never clicked through to that link when this controversy first started up because it was just a little too unbelievable. But looking at it now, I can’t help but notice how strange Demi’s arms and shoulders look on the W magazine covers…..

      I’m no expert, but that superimposed photo dealy with the model is pretty uncanny.

  2. I dunno… it seems feasible her left leg is lifting slightly. Check the slightly flexed quad muscle: this hubbub could be over a trick of camera perspective.

    1. Since they are supposed to be the same photo, and have been overlaid as a comparison. I would have to say that one was most assuredly edited as there is about an inch of the hip missing between one photo and the other. If they are the same picture then no amount of leg, hip, thigh, or tongue movement could possibly create differences in the SAME picture.

      maybe this is a printing perspective… this is the “printing press'” artistic expression.

  3. Maybe we are missing the Photoshop beast skipping between dimensions and taking a wee little bite of her leg?

  4. The interesting thing is not that they retouch photos in fashon magazines. OF COURSE they do, it’s not like they’re journalists or something. The interesting things are that they did such a bad job on a cover photo. And they they went all “no we didn’t and we’re sueing” about the whole thing, which is good for a barrel of laughs.

  5. The Korean edition shows a simple smooth form, a human line that you can follow form the thigh up the hip. but if you look, the “allegedly” edited US version presents a form that cuts in in an altogether unnatural place, where not even a fleshless skeleton would indent. You can even look at the photo of the rail-thin Anja Rubik, from which the body was potentially completely lifted, and see that even her bony hips protrude in those areas.

    Last i saw, Demi was built like a brick shithouse, so all this is rather strange. One, that it was edited at all, and two that she’d be so adamantly defensive of it that she’d sic her lawyers on you guys just for raising the question.

  6. Odd sort of thing to get in a legal fight about. Also, odd sort of thing to bother about in the first place.

  7. I think it’s great to see you guys standing up to these threats. It’s getting ridiculous whenever someone voices an opinion about someone online, the lawyers come out. When someone caves to these questionable legal tactics it makes it harder for the next guy who gets threatened.

  8. Major kudos to whomever made that animated GIF. This story was interesting when it came out, attained awesomeness when Demi’s fanatical lawyers reacted, and has now entered into true greatness w/ that GIF! :-)

  9. Ah, my apologies. In this post, I neglected to credit the Boing Boing reader who kindly provided that gif comparison (I did in the earlier post). His name is Mark Koeppen.

    1. …Careful, Xeni. Demi’s ambulance chasing buddies might try to sue that guy for some sort of bullshit copyright violation.

  10. I case we missed it, you were right Xeni. We get it. That’s why I read boingboing – not just cos I bloody love it, but because 99% of the time you’re all very much spot-on… but no need to brag right?

    1. @hbl, thanks for the kind portion of your comment. I’ll proceed with the assumption that you’re not simply trolling: I think you’re missing the point here. Bloggers routinely revisit items of note that may have been published during an extended holiday period, because so many readers are offline. That was the purpose of this post, not self-praise, as you suggest.

  11. @#4/scifijazznik:

    It makes Ms. Moore’s response rather interesting too: she says “my hip was not touched”. Maybe, if that wasn’t her hip in the first place. The 26-year-old model in question looks like she needs some meat added to her, not removed, though. She has bones sticking out in all the wrong places.

  12. @xeni – Sorry, I probably needed to add a winky smiley on the end of that to emphasise the tongue being firmly in cheek. ;)

  13. She had pledged to end worldwide slavery after Obama was elected, I wonder how she has time for this nonsense?

  14. Maybe the US version was indeed unretouched, and the Koreans added some flesh because it looked so weird to begin with.

  15. I’m sure this has already been said, but what really amazes me about this is not that the image would have been retouched, but the assertions that it was NOT retouched. The Creative Director at W says “no one at the magazine did any retouching of the image of Demi Moore”

    An un-retouched image in a woman’s magazine? Now THAT would be a story!

  16. Demi Moore looks fine, why the hell would they feel the need to photoshop her?

    I’ll take nice curvy hips over skinny ones any day.

  17. Won’t those corporate idiots never understand that such actions ALWAYS backfire?
    Normally, I wouldn’t give a sh*t about Demi Whatsherface.

    But this is so ridiculous, now she’s the laughing stock that she deserves to be.

  18. Yeah, best animated .gif since the fake Killian memo/Charles Johnson-produced MS Word version of same in 2004.

  19. So by now it’s pretty much irrefutable that it is the same photo on the cover of the two different editions of W, from this follows that at least one of those versions has to have been retouched, no matter what lawyers and editors say.

    I’d say it’s also irrefutable that the studio photo of Demi and the runway photo of Anja Rubik are NOT the same image – they are somewhat similar images. Similar mostly because both models are wearing the same dress (maybe literary the same dress, who knows).

    Anyway, at this point in the discussion it seems to me that those people who keep dragging the Anja Rubik runway photo back into the discussion must have compleatly missed the point of WHY this cover image is even worth talking about.
    Either that or it´s some new form of astroturfing by smokescreen.

    1. Anyway, at this point in the discussion it seems to me that those people who keep dragging the Anja Rubik runway photo back into the discussion must have compleatly missed the point of WHY this cover image is even worth talking about.

      The point is the silly denial when manipulation was obvious, of course. But it’s not unusual AT ALL in this line of work to use another image as a base, even if its pixels don’t make it into the finished product. Retouching and “borrowing” from other images are part of the same craft.

  20. Thanks BB. Lest anyone fixate on lampooning our focus on the subject matter and lose the point…the message here is that the days of traditional media being able to fabricate any message for our unquestioned consumption are over!

  21. Wow, she’s magically hip!
    They just used the cover shot again for (sort of like People Weekly) in Canada.

  22. Like the Dire Straits once said:

    “Two men claim theire Jesus
    One of them must be wrong”

    Two magazine covers claim to be unretouched ….

  23. Boy, this is getting confusing. I think we’ll need to see an unclothed picture of Demi to get to the bottom of this.

  24. Loose hips sink magazines.

    Talk about hip replacement surgery!

    The Koreans thought she needed a little Moore hip.

    On a more serious note, perhaps lawyer insanity can be explained by lawyers being constrained to act insane by the law. Like when 2.5 years ago, KFC sued a tiny English pub for using the term “Family Feast” in their menu. Why? Because trademark law requires corporations to defend their trademark if they want to keep it.

    Insane or not, the lawyers get their pound of flesh.

    Hip hip, hooray! for Boing Boing!

  25. The only thing missing here is a link to “Sue and be damned …” (I LOVED that.)

    Don’t these lawyers pay attention?

  26. Seems like Demi Moore should be threatening the Photoshopper who took the pound of flesh off her otherwise very attractive thigh.

  27. That animated GIF hurts my eyes. It makes me not want to read the story…and I’ve been following it up until now.

  28. The same picture shows this week on the front page of the magazine La Semaine, from Quebec. The chunk is still missing.

  29. I don’t know if this was already suggested, but I’m beginning to think the Korean version is the edited one.

    She has some pretty defined muscles and the line on the inside of her leg seems to indicate that her leg is turned slightly outwards. I think that might be the contour of her quad muscles, and the Korean version is a touch-up to make it look a bit more “normal”. The hard line of the lighting that silhouettes her seems a bit more blurred in the Korean version.

    I used to do life-drawing as an artist, and the lines of the body can sometimes be surprising and counter-intuitive.

  30. Semi-related to this post is that Demi is suing and Aussie magazine.

    She’s suing for loss and damages for photos of her and friends having fun at a party. Seriously? She SUFFERED LOSS and DAMAGES?

    I used to respect her. Now I think she’s nothing more than a spoilt princess.

    From the news:
    “Moore states that on March 2008 Pacific Magazines reproduced, published and communicated the snaps in Australia in its magazine New Idea.

    She claims as a result she suffered loss and damage.”

    Dear(cough) Demi,

    What LOSS or DAMAGE did you SUFFER exactly?

    I’ll show you suffering, loss and damage:


    You’re a selfish little princess.

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