WATCH OUT! The world craziness index is ZOOMING up. Last week we reported that a black man, Paul Ashman, had his passport photo rejected by the UK authorities because it was “too dark”.
This week we can reveal that a white guy, Christian Fardel, had his photo rejected by the Caribbean authorities because it was “too white”. Maybe Mr Ashman and Mr Fardel (below) can send their photographs to each others' passport controls? At least they'd be the expected colors.
What does this prove? It shows the world has officially gone mad. A torrent of bizarre tales from readers followed a recent column about silly new regulations for passport photos, including one rule that says glasses must be balanced on the tip of the nose.
That's just the start of it. To fit into the official templates, travelers have to distort their faces, sometimes even using software to move their eyes and ears around. (I recommend Photoshop rather than do-it-yourself surgery with power tools.)
And even when the face is made to fit, photos are rejected and applicants told to try again in different clothes. An applicant for a Chinese visa was told to come back in a blue coat. Your humble narrator was told to change his shirt.
But the most tragic cases come from people whose photos are rejected despite the fact that they can't help what they look like. Reader Rika Nauck shared the sad story of a photographer friend who worked for days in his studio using a template to get a photo that the authorities would accept. “He has a rather long face—try to change that,” she said.
Reader Angela Sias reported that a relative had a visa photo rejected because it looked like she had one eye bigger than the other.
But she DOES. They made her take a new picture in which both eyes were opened as wide as possible. “She looked like she was being strangled,” Angela said. (At passport control, family members have to strangle her to temporarily achieve the same look.)
(Below is an example of the wide-eyed look now required; or maybe someone decided to simultaneously do the passport pic and the body cavity search)
Some authorities have forbidden not just smiles, but ALL human expressions, accepting only entirely vacant looks. (Actually, that something I can manage.) “I look like a drug addict in desperate need of a shot,” said Rika.
The result of all this is that people end up with pictures that look nothing like them. Erich, a reader from Guangzhou, said: “At least I know that if I am ever on the run, all I need to do is smile a lot and no-one will ever be able to recognize me as I make my escape over international borders.”
The best tale came from one man who accidentally took his wife's passport on a business trip instead of his own. The photo was so awful that he sailed through check-in and immigration control without anyone noticing. Can anyone explain to me how this shows improved security?
If my passport photo gets rejected again, I'm going to the dog-shelter to get micro-chipped. My wife can then take me on the plane in an oversized dog basket. It's probably more comfortable than economy anyway. Woof! Woof!