Maybe you’ve seen this, which has been floating around the Internet for some time now:

Wow, just so much to wonder about with this photo.

But the thing that I always ask myself upon seeing pictures such as this is “What’s with the black bars over the eyes?” Presumably they are there to preserve the anonymity of the persons depicted, but does simply blacking out the eyes really prevent folks from recognizing the people shown?

By way of an experiment, I snagged a bunch of headshots off of IMDB and photoshopped black bars over their eyes. Do you have any trouble identifying them all?

If black bars can’t prevent you from identifying 12 people you’ve never even met, can they really keep someone from recognizing an “anonymous” acquaintance in an embarassing photograph? I’m guessing not. In fact, I suspect the whole “bars over eyes preserve anonymity” idea is little more than an urban legend. But if anyone can find any studies on its effectiveness I’d be interested in reading them.

21 thoughts on “Bars

  1. So glad you’re back! Just in time to help me procrastinate studying for finals.

    But who is the second from left in the bottom row?

  2. wonder if she knows what it means… americans where random symbols from asian languages all the time without knowing the meaning…

  3. Perhaps it is proof that we don’t look each other in the eyes enough. Or just that celebrities have recognizable profiles.

    I think we should just get rid of all black bars. Beginning with the ones they use to cover naked ladies on the tv.

    Also, black bar face #2 and black bar face #8 are married!!!

  4. I’m pretty sure that’s John Cusack. [checking IMDB] Yep, that’s John Cusack. But after that horrible Serendipity movie, he should be forced to walk around with a black bar on his face all the time.

  5. Uh, Catherine Zeta Jones? Wait, is she Catherine Zeta Jones-Douglas now? Whatever. I can’t keep track. Also, John Cusack should be forgiven for Serendipity.

  6. Several years ago I had a job as a graphic artist for a medical/scientific journal printer, and one of the things I did was place the black bars over peoples eyes and remove names from X-rays and cat scans (via photoshop).

    I find it amusing that we must shield these peoples identities from scientists and doctors, while a $7/hour print shop employee has full access to their names and medical info.

    In hindsight, I should have used that power for greater evil.

  7. Nobody ever identified Dick Grayson as Robin, and his mask was effectively just a black bar with holes in it. Logically, then, black bars WITHOUT holes must be even better at identity protection– second only, perhaps, to Clark Kent’s Glasses of Mesmerism ™. All the people above who think they’ve identified the photos must be mistaken.

  8. Welcome back.

    Did anyone else notice that when you put a black bar over her eyes, the Julia Roberts has an EVEN BIGGER MOUTH!!! I think she was the inspiration for those “flip-top head” commercials a few years back.

  9. You know what the problem is here? The bars don’t have anti-aliased edges. If they did it would all be ok.

  10. “Bars over eyes preserve anonymity” probably comes from the same sad school of thought as “bleeping disguises profanity.”

  11. The black bar will do nothing to hide Miss Urine Tester’s identity, what with the yellow teeth giving her away…

  12. C’mon Yeti, you’re cheating — your black bars are way more slender and revealing!

  13. Seeing these pictures with the bars over the eyes only confirms what I’ve said before: Tom Cruise is an idiot.

  14. Miss Urine Tester blah blah…Save Your Life? By WHAT exactly? Just random people going up to her and handing her urine samples…


    man, am I immature today

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