A TripAdvisor Photo from Port Blair, India

About six months ago, I was writing for a site called thetravel.com (there is intentionally no hyperlink because I refuse to add page views to this horrendous content mill’s stats), and they asked me to compile a list of “25 of TripAdvisor’s Most Questionable Photos.” I was thrilled by the inherent potential within this prompt. I mean, who knows the depths of awfulness documented within TripAdvisor’s millions and millions of review photos? However, I was soon disappointed. My editor repeatedly rejected photos on the grounds that they were either too low in quality or too offensive.

So, TheTravel wanted questionable photos from random TripAdvisor reviews, but they expected the impulsive, shocking photos to each have a width of at least 1600 pixels. And, after establishing this improbable search filter, the photos must then be of a tame humor – nothing too “offensive.”

Well, I finished the article and quit less than a month later. However, I did not delete the photos that my editor rejected. My favorite is this gem, posted by a visitor to Port Blair’s Anthropological Museum.

Where do I begin? The child face is sculpted into the most horrifying, smooshed grimace. The figure itself is crude, with a barrel chest and blunt rectangles where there should be feet. The skin and the sculpture stand are all coated in the same generic, Crayola brown. Even the child figure’s clothing is slovenly – the skirt looks like a cheap Flintstones Halloween costume.

If all three of these figures are made by the same hand, then what degradation of sight and skill occurred to result in the central monstrosity? Or, perhaps we are witnessing a timeline of craft, where the artist began with the central figure and improved by the time he/she embarked on the adults. Who knows…

Beyond the photo, I am equally troubled by the reviewer’s accompanying rating. Of all the photos Rajesh K (likely) took at the Port Blair Anthropological Museum, he decided to post this in support of his 4-star review. To Rajesh, this is…good? What on earth does the rest of the museum look like, then? Or, maybe I’m looking at this all wrong, and Rajesh posted this photo to justify why his 4-star review wasn’t a 5-star review. I’ll let you decide which scenario is more probable.

Anyway, thank you, Rajesh K, for publicizing this glimpse inside of Port Blair’s Anthropological Museum…and thank you, TheTravel, for rejecting Rajesh’s photo “because Facebook filters may interpret the image as blackface.” I couldn’t have made this blog post without either of you.