MAD DOG: Mistaken Identity

Appearances can be deceiving. You know this is true because we've developed so many platitudes about it, like "Don't judge a book by its cover", "You never get a second chance to make a first impression," and "What do you mean, did I see the Crying Game?"Take Jesse "The Body" Ventura. Go ahead, the people of Minnesota did, and they took him seriously. Well, sort of. At first glance he appears to be a wrestler who made a wrong turn, entering politics instead of the ring. But he pulled off the upset of the election, beating a tag team of well known career politicians to become governor of the only state which thinks ice fishing should be an Olympic sport. And why shouldn't Ventura be governor? After all, wrestling's always been about yelling, screaming, posturing, beating up on your opponents and, if you're a bad guy like he was, fighting dirty, so it's not like he doesn't have the necessary experience.Now it turns out that Ventura may not be what he appears to be. At least not physically. He admitted that during his campaign he used a body double in a TV commercial that some say helped clinch the election while cinching his waist, something he may have deemed necessary after his sportscasting cronies started calling him Jesse "The Stomach" Ventura on the air. He says he used the body double because he didn't have time to spend 10 hours at the photo shoot. You have to give him credit, it's a better excuse than "The dog ate my feather boa."We shouldn't be surprised that he did this. After all, Hollywood has been using body doubles for years and no one objects. Of course that might be because it's generally done for a nude scene and the body double has a nicer body than the star. Face it, this would be like arguing against someone trading you an original Picasso for that starving artist Any-Painting-For-Ten-Bucks special on the living room wall.But what's good for the movies isn't good for the Internet. On film they happily let someone else be nude instead of them, but the minute they find their heads pasted on a naked body online they get their Victoria's Secret panties in a knot.This is going to be difficult to stop, since thanks to technology almost anyone can make these modifications at home. All you need is a computer, a program like Photoshop, and time, which shouldn't be a problem since the presidential election's not for two years so you don't need to be watching WWF wrestling like it's a presidential debate. Yet.One person is so outraged by this unauthorized use of an actor's nude and fake nude photos that she started a group called Cybertrackers to hunt them down and behead them. Well, virtually speaking, anyway. This person is Alyssa Milano's mother. Alyssa, in case you're still publicly denying having been to an adult web site, is the hottest thing on the Internet this side of Dawson Creek screen savers. Of course, instead of griping they should just be happy the culprits didn't use the same body double Jesse Ventura did.This certainly isn't the first time body doubles have been used in politics. A few years back in Virginia a political commercial for Senator John Warner showed opponent Mark "I'm not John" Warner shaking hands with former Governor Douglas Wilder and President Bill Clinton. The only problem was Mark Warner wasn't in the original photograph. It seems someone removed Warner's head and placed it on the body of Chuck Robb, which not only caused a political stink but aroused Robb's wife, Lynda Byrd, for the first time since she discovered Robb wasn't, in fact, Al Gore.This in itself might not have been so bad except that several months previous a state agency published a photograph of then Governor George Allen rafting down the James River sitting next to big political contributor Jimmy "Wanna see my sausage?" Dean. While Dean actually had been in the raft, he didn't sit next to the governor. Someone thought the photo op could be improved upon so they grafted Dean's head onto someone else's body. Probably Lynda Byrd's. (But at least it wasn't Jesse Ventura's.)You don't need to manipulate photos to make appearances deceiving. Recently, in Fresno, California, 22-year-old Chanel Chandler was found dead, dressed for a night on the town in a black minidress with silver and gold stripes. A week later the police revealed that Chanel was actually Charles, something not even his/her friends were aware of, least of all the man Chandler supposedly married in Sacramento.But at least the police in Fresno who investigated this are who they say they are. Hopefully. This wasn't the case in Santa Clara, California last summer when the police released a man who had been jailed for six weeks on sexual assault charges because they discovered he'd been arrested by mistake.Okay, these things happen. The difference here is that it turns out the cop who arrested him wasn't even a cop but rather Steven Nemec, who pretended to be a cop and then arrested the wrong man! There was no word as to whose body was attached to the mug shot.Remember all this the next time someone tells you that a picture is worth a thousand words. Some of those words might just be borrowed.

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