The strange tale of Lindsay Lohan’s magical knickers

To save disappointment, if you’ve found your way here via a seach engine and you’re looking for photographs, then sorry you’re going to be bitterly disappointed – try somewhere else.

This is just one of those tales that catches the eye as you’re mooching round the net for no better reason than its a bit odd, quirky and takes you into the dark underbelly of teh interweb.

In certain circles, so it would appear, there is nothing quite so prized as what is called, colloquially, the ‘celebrity oops’ photograph, this being a paparazzi photograph of a famous individual (usually, but not always, female) that catches them in a state of temporary sartorial embarassment of the kind that leaves them with rather more of their body on display than they might ordinarily wish to expose.

Now there are, so I have come to understand, many different kinds of ‘oops’ photographs, ranging from the fairly tame ‘next time to remember to use titty tape’ shots to the ever popular ‘long lens while sunbathing topless/nude shots’ to what I understand to be the creme de la creme of ‘oops’, the ‘upskirt’.

The latter, which appears to be a speciality of some paparazzi photographers, entails the photographer lurking around outside the favoured haunts of female celebrities awaiting the arrival, by car, of a famous ‘face’ in the hope that the near impossibility of making a dignified exit from a car while wearing a short skirt will provide the photographer with their much-in-demand reward, and and image of said celebrity’s skimpies. And on rare but highly sought after occasions, the photographer may even attain the holy grail of ‘oops’ photography, the ‘the silly cow’s only gone ‘commando’ as well’ shot – the most recent entrant to this latter club being Britney Spears, who celebrated her recent seperation from the idiotically named ‘K-Fed’ by going out on the town and flashing her muff to the assembled paparazzi sufficiently often for one brave soul to cry out, ‘for fuck’s sake, Britney, put it away’.

Not unsurprisingly, a whole internet culture has grown up around the ‘oops’ phenomenon.

Specialist websites offer whole collections of ‘oops’ photographs for the enjoyment of connoisseurs of the artform. There is a thriving cottage industry in fake ‘oops’ photographs, in which images of celebrities are combined, with varying degrees of success, with those of ‘glamour models’ and porn stars to achieve the desired effect of an image that appears to show the celebrity in a state of undress (and often more), an industy that has kept the Sunday Sport in front-page headlines on many a slow porn day with fake tales of celebrities being ‘shocked’ by an iffy photograph; the ‘shock’ being (allegedly) that the photo is a fake.

Most interesting of all, however, is the debates these images spawn, in which afficiandos of the ‘oops’ hotly debate the day’s latest haul of images in order to sift the real from the fake on blogs, in forums and on Usenet newsgroups. The obsessive attention to detail one sees in such debates is simply remarkable. Intricate discussions about lighting, shadows, skin tones, body shape and the relative size of particular parts of the body when compared to verified images of the real thing, whether clothed or undressed are a marvel to behold. Whole debates break out and rage for hours, days even, over whether a particular image actually contains a tantalising flash of nipple, or just a bit of an odd shadow. Some even scour the interweb for the original images that have been used to doctor and otherwise mundane photo into a convincing looking oops and return in triumph, greedliy clutching their prize, like a proud Inuit hunter returning home to his family with a dead seal pup after a hard day at the local ice floe.

The authenticity, or otherwise, of a particular image is debated with a passion, ferocity and even wit found nowhere else on teh interweb – during the recent battle of ‘Is that really Brintey’s muff’ the victor emerged triumphant after silencing his doubters with the now legendary put down:

“Of course it’s fucking kosher. Since when did Photoshop start doing filters for generating muff stubble and caesarian scars?”

Which brings me to the strange tale of Lindsay Lohan’s magically appearing knickers.

You see in the world of the celebrity ‘oops’ the universally accepted purpose of Photoshop is, and one might well guess, as a means of creating fake images which display rather, and sometimes significantly, more the celebrity intended or may even wish to reveal to her adoring public – the exceptions being Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton, who never get to feature in fake ‘oops’ shots these days because everyone’s already seen their cervix so many times over that they’re all bored with it – Yes, its sad to say, but Pammy’s pussy is completely passé.

There was, however, a rather curious incident recently that involved the fragrant (as in peat, woodsmoke and malt) Ms Lohan who, while ‘going commando’ on a boat trip, succeeded in providing a lucky photographer with the much prized muff shot, an image that, as one might guess, very rapidly found its way on teh interweb and into the hands of our fearless ‘oops’ afficianados for the delight and delectation. And as far as anyone could tell, all was well with the world. They had, on their hands, a verified sighting – and anything they might have had on their hands is too gruesome to speculate about here – and they were happy.

Until, that is, a couple of days later, when another version of this same image suddenly appeared; one replete with the more usual modesty preserving undergarments. The oops community were aghast – had they been fooled, they who pride themselves on their nose for the difference between a fake and the real deal? And so the detective work started in earnest, images were assessed, analysed (remember to check the spelling there – don’t want to give the wrong impression), and poured over (and probably pawed over as well, but that’s another story). The debate rages, tempers frayed and many a harsh word was spoken.

And yet they remained perplexed. One of the images had to be a fake, but which one? Both looked plausible and neither showed any obvious signs of tampering. What a to-do?

And then, as miraculously as it all began, the mystery was solved (and without any meddling kids – or kiddie meddling for that matter, this is not that kind of story) after one canny soul did what any good investigator would, he followed the money (shot) and tracked down the photographer who took the original image, receiving the very confirmation he sought. Yes, the photographer did have the original photograph and yes, he could confirm without any shadow of a doubt that Ms Lohan was, indeed, pictured as everyone had first thought, with her muff flapping gently, but most definitely exposed, in the cool summer breeze.

And so passes into internet folklore, the tale of the first and, thus far, only occasion upon which a celebrity image has been doctored to conceal, and not reveal, the embarassment of an actress.

There is but one mystery that still remains. Who was the gentle person who, being so concerned for Ms Lohan’s modesty, sought to throw our hardy oops veterans off the scent? Was it perhaps Ms Lohan’s agent or management? Or was is merely an adoring fan? Or was someone seeking to fool our heroes for altogether more nefarious reasons of their own, as yet unrevealed? (Unlike Ms Lohan).
Perhaps we’ll never know, but we can be sure of one thing, while this was no Watergate, there was, most assuredly, a cover-up.

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