- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 31, 2013

A photograph of four Chinese men standing and smiling before a 103-year-old woman at her home was supposed to communicate that the government loves the elderly, but the missing half of one man’s body and the bizarre doll-like appearance of the elderly subject sent a different message: epic Photoshop failure.

The photo, originating in Ningguo in the eastern portion of China and published in the Daily Mail, shows four middle-age men standing in a half-circle, looking down and smiling upon an elderly woman in a chair. But the woman’s body is disproportionate to real life; she appears doll-sized next to the nearby men. Moreover, the bottom half of the man who’s closest to the woman is mostly missing. His hips drop into a ghostly and partially see-through haze, and he seems to float or hover right next to the woman.

The caption read, as The Daily Mail reported: “Love and consideration for the elderly is a cherished Chinese tradition. They should feel the warmth of the party and the government.”

Viewers posted their criticisms on the blogging site Weibo.

“The brainless propaganda staff will probably be sacked along with these officials,” one wrote.

And another: “This picture really shows the distance between leaders and commoners in the eyes of your average government official. Very sad and depressing.”

China’s official state-run news agency, Xinhua, weighed in, too.

“The officials appear to be floating in the air. In addition, the woman’s proportions do not match those of the officials, indicating that the photo may have been faked,” the agency reported, The Daily Mail said.

Officials explained that they had visited with the woman during a recent Chinese festival, but that they were unable to snap the government officials who were there in the same frame as the woman, and so they tried to merge the separate shots into one.

The statement, from the unnamed government source, in The Daily Mail: “We express deep regret to Internet users for its negative influence. … We will learn from the experience, to improve civil affairs work.”