The world is on fire: Who cares! It’s #The Dress color that matters


Is it black and blue? Is it white and gold? What color is it? The Western media has been fixated on these questions this past week – questions that have dominated TV news bulletins, newspaper headlines, and news websites.
Such has been the furor you would have been forgiven for assuming they were questions being asked in the quest for a cure for cancer, HIV or Ebola. But you’d be wrong. It was much more important than that. It was about the color of…a dress? Yes, you read that right – we’re talking about a dress.

It started with a picture of the dress being posted on social media over the question of its color. The debate that ensued went viral and was soon taken up by the media.

Think about it: the world is on fire, carnage and chaos is spreading in the Middle East, an uneasy peace reigns in eastern Ukraine, homelessness, poverty, and despair is growing across a Europe increasingly divided between the haves and have nots – but this is small potatoes compared to the color of a dress.

Another story deemed worthy of an international media feeding frenzy last week was Madonna’s fall during a live performance at the annual Brit music awards in London.


Categories: Europe and Australia

3 replies

  1. Experts: Dress colour is in the eye of the beholder
    Lighting, eyesight determine how you see the dress

    Daily Planet’s Ziya Tong explains why people can’t agree on the colour of a dress that consumed the Internet on Friday.
    Shawn Pogatchnik, The Associated Press
    Published Friday, February 27, 2015 4:46PM EST
    Last Updated Friday, February 27, 2015 6:13PM EST
    It’s the dress that’s beating the Internet black and blue. Or should that be gold and white?
    Friends and co-workers worldwide are debating the true hues of a royal blue dress with black lace that, to many an eye, transforms in one photograph into gold and white. Experts are calling the photo a one-in-a-million shot that perfectly captures how people’s brains perceive colour and process contrast in dramatically different ways.
    “This photo provides the best test I’ve ever seen for how the process of colour correction works in the brain,”‘ said Daniel Hardiman-McCartney, the clinical adviser to Britain’s College of Optometrists. “I’ve never seen a photo like before where so many people look at the same photo and see two sets of such dramatically different colours.”
    Dress colour
    Shop manager Debbie Armstrong adjusts a two tone dress in a window display of a shop in Lichfield, England, Friday Feb. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
    The photo, taken earlier this month before a wedding on the remote Scottish island of Colonsay, also illustrates the dynamics of a perfect social-media storm. Guests at the wedding could not understand why, in one photo of the dress being worn by the mother of the bride, the clearly blue and black-striped garment transformed into gold and white. But only in that single photo, and only for around half of the viewers.
    The debate spread from the wedding to the Internet, initially from friend to perplexed friend on Facebook.
    One such wedding guest, musician and singer Caitlin McNeill, posted the photo Thursday night to her Tumblr account with the question: “Guys please help me. Is this dress white and gold, or blue and black? Me and my friends can’t agree and we are freaking the (expletive) out.” She’s consistently seen gold.
    One of her friends, Alana MacInnes, saw gold and white for the first hour, then black and blue.
    Buzzfeed sensed clickbait heaven and, amid its own newsroom argument, was among the first to call McNeill. It posted more than a half-dozen stories on the image and the tsunami of reaction.
    On Twitter, .TheDress and variants surged to the top of trending lists globally within hours.
    The entertainment elite then chimed in.
    Taylor Swift saw the dress was “obviously” blue and black. “What’s the matter with u guys, it’s white and gold,” countered Julianne Moore. Kim Kardashian, never one to miss a trending topic, reported she was seeing gold but to husband Kanye West, it was solidly black and blue. “Who is colour blind?” Kardashian asked the twitterati.
    The answer, says Hardiman-McCartney, is that every viewer seeing either set of colours is right.
    He says the exceptional bar-code style of the dress, combined with the strongly yellow-toned backlighting in the one photo, provides the brain a rare chance to “choose” which of the dress’ two primary colours should be seen in detail.
    Those who subconsciously seek detail in the many horizontal black lines convert them to a golden hue, so the blue disappears into a blown-out white, he said.
    Others whose brains focus on the blue part of the dress see the photo as the black-and-blue reality.
    “There’s no correct way to perceive this photograph. It sits right on the cusp, or balance, of how we perceive the colour of a subject versus the surrounding area,” he said. “And this colour consistency illusion that we’re experiencing doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your eyes. It just shows how your brain chooses to see the image, to process this luminescence confusion.”
    The photo produced a deluge of media calls Friday to the Tumblr reporter, 21-year-old McNeill, who calls the seemingly endless phone calls “more than I’ve received in the entirety of the rest of my life combined.” She says the photographer, who is also the mother of the bride, never wanted the publicity.
    There’s one clear winner: English dress retailer Roman Originals, which has reported a million hits on its sales site in the first 18 hours following the photo’s worldwide distribution.
    “I can officially say that this dress is royal blue with black lace trimming,” said Michele Bastock, design director at Roman Originals.
    She said staff members had no idea that the dress, when shot in that singularly peculiar light, might be perceived in a totally different colour scheme. Not until Friday anyway, when they arrived at work to field hundreds of emails, calls and social media posts. They, too, split almost 50-50 on the photo’s true colours.
    All agreed, however, the dress for the Birmingham, England-based retailer was likely to become their greatest-ever seller. The chain’s website Friday headlined its product as “.TheDress now back in stock — debate now.”
    “Straightaway we went to the computers and had a look. And some members of the team saw ivory and gold. I see a royal blue all the time,” she said. “It’s an enigma … but we are grateful.”

  2. Crowdfunding campaign reaches $40,000 for Quebec woman told to remove hijab in court

    The Canadian Press
    Published Sunday, March 1, 2015 7:31PM EST
    MONTREAL — A crowdfunding campaign in support of a Quebec woman who was refused her day in court because she was wearing a hijab has raised over $40,000.
    The campaign was launched on Friday to help Rania El-Alloul buy a car.
    It’s in response to a judge’s refusal to hear her case against the Quebec automotive insurance board, which had seized her vehicle.
    Online campaign raises $20,000 for woman told to remove hijab in Quebec court
    Quebec Court judge’s hijab decision sparks criticism
    On Tuesday, Quebec Court Judge Eliana Marengo told El-Alloul that her case would not be heard unless she removed her headscarf, saying it wasn’t appropriate to wear in her courtroom.
    The judge’s decision has drawn widespread condemnation from citizens, politicians and civil rights groups across the country.
    The campaign spread rapidly over social media and surpassed its goal of $20,000 in twenty-four hours.
    Over 850 people donated through the gofundme website.
    El-Alloul has indicated she will file a complaint against the judge

  3. Wearing the Hijab when she went to court, Rania El-Alloul poses for a photograph at her home in Montreal, Saturday, February 28, 2015. (Graham Hughes /The Canadian Press)

    Quebec Court judge’s hijab decision sparks criticism

    MONTREAL — There was widespread outrage and condemnation from civil rights groups, politicians and others Friday in reaction to a Quebec judge’s refusal to hear a woman’s case unless she removed her hijab.
    Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard called the decision “disturbing,” while the Canadian Civil Liberties Association deemed it troubling, discriminatory and a violation of the Canadian Charter right to freedom of religion.
    Justin Trudeau declared it to be “just plain wrong.”
    On Tuesday, Quebec Court Judge Eliana Marengo told Rania El-Alloul inside a Montreal courtroom she had to remove her hijab before the court would hear her case against the province’s automobile insurance board, which had seized her vehicle.
    Marengo said that she wanted her courtroom to be secular and El-Alloul’s Islamic headscarf was inappropriate.
    El-Alloul refused to remove her hijab, and in response, Marengo suspended the case indefinitely.
    On Friday, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office said “if someone is not covering their face, we believe they should be allowed to testify.”
    The Liberal leader weighed in during an event in Montreal.
    “The fact that in this situation, in a courtroom of all places, someone’s fundamental rights weren’t respected is absolutely unacceptable and we expect that there will be consequences,” Trudeau said.
    NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said the judge made a mistake.
    “I expect this individual to be given a full and proper hearing in short order,” Mulcair told reporters in Toronto. “It’s a simple matter of that person’s rights as a Canadian.”
    The Court of Quebec said Friday it is standing by Marengo’s decision and the judge would not bow to public pressure.
    Spokeswoman Annie-Claude Bergeron repeated Friday that judges are masters of their courtroom and have the right to interpret the law and set the rules of the court as they see fit.
    El-Alloul did not return messages from The Canadian Press, but told CTV News on Friday that she is planning to file complaint.
    “It’s my right, I’m Canadian,” she said.
    Couillard said that in his government’s opinion, the only time one should be required to remove an article of religious clothing is if it creates problems for “communication, identification or security.”
    “I will be very careful because the judge is sovereign in her decisions, in her courtroom,” Couillard told reporters in Quebec City. “I’m a little bit disturbed by this event, I must say.”
    Sukania Pillay, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s executive director, said the state has no right to be in people’s closets and to tell women what to wear.
    “The courtroom has every right to be secular,” said Pillay. “But that doesn’t translate into telling people what they can and cannot wear in a manner that’s incompatible with their freedom of religion.”
    Lucie Lamarche, a lawyer and a spokeswoman for Quebec’s league for rights and freedoms, said there is “no judicial precedent” for Marengo’s decision.
    “The judge has the right to enforce the decorum in the courtroom,” Lamarche said. “But there is no definition of decorum.”
    She said Marengo’s decision was “extremely personal and discriminatory regarding what it means to be dressed properly in the courtroom.”
    Lamarche added that the chief justice of the Court of Quebec has the ability to remove a judge from a particular case and that El-Alloul can make that request.
    Stephane Beaulac, law professor at Universite de Montreal, said Marengo’s decision was a “blatant violation of the woman’s fundamental rights and freedom.”
    El-Alloul exercising her freedom of religion by wearing a hijab was not incompatible with the judge hearing her case, he said.
    Beaulac said that El-Alloul can file a complaint with the body that oversees judicial conduct in Quebec, called the Conseil de la magistrature.
    “This judge will need to face the music,” Beaulac said.

    Online campaign raises $20,000 for woman told to remove hijab in Quebec court

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