Before you stands the grim reaper, beckoning you with his bony finger. Next to him is an MC, beckoning you on stage to speak before a crowd. Supposedly most people fear the walk to the microphone more than the walk with Death. It seems now that they would also prefer to fly with Death than stand before a backscatter scanner so that a TSA agent can see images of their bodies.
“High-tech security scanners that might have prevented the Christmas Day attempt to blow up a jetliner have been installed in only a small number of airports around the world, in large part because of privacy concerns over the way the machines see through clothing.”
Privacy? The people I have seen in airports ought to be embarrassed by having their lack of parenting skills exposed to a planeload of strangers, but they are not. They ought to be embarrassed by the lack of fashion sense exposed by the vacation attire chosen to cover their private bodies, but they are not. They ought to be embarrassed that they ignored the announcements about taking only one carryon and stuffed their three bags in the overhead above my seat, but they are not. So why the big deal about some TSA agent seeing an MRI type image of their fat asses? The agent is probably more disinterested in the hideous body images he must endure all day every day than a proctologist is in the hideous things she has to examine repeatedly. And the backscatter images don’t smell bad.
Look at the images I’ve included here. Sure, the woman might be shamed by the unfortunate tattoo of a gun on her hip, but it’s far from an intimate view of her body. You can see the man’s love handles bulging over what is undoubtedly his tight underwear but you can’t tell it’s Spongebob underwear. You might be able to identify a tiny bulge from his, um, love handle, which might be embarrassing, but, really, was he going to hit on the TSA agent? No. (This guy looks sort of like Adam West in his Batman outfit.)
I have two ideas that would make people not only comfortable with the backscatter scans, it would cause demand for it. What they should do is scan everyone’s image and then have them all displayed at the gate area, just like the pictures at the end of a roller coaster ride. If they charged 5 bucks for your own personal copy, people would suddenly value these images just like the ones where they are screaming like a baby and wetting their pants on The Beast at King’s Island.
My other idea was inspired by the fake nude photos of celebrities on the internet. Which I have heard about. If every scanned body image had Meghan Fox’s face (or Brad Pitt’s, if appropriate) Photoshopped® over it, it would take away the discomfort. No one cares if those people have their privacy invaded - it is in fact a highly profitable industry.
My other idea is to combine the backscatter scanner with the concept of the measure-your-carryon frame they have at the gate. If the scanned body image were superimposed over an image of the airline seat, they could identify the obese passengers who need to pay extra for the weight they are carrying on. This idea isn’t going to make people happier with the scanners, it’s more of a practical matter. By the time these scanners get approved and installed the average American will have grown too fat to fly.