Detail in Friends pic sets tongues wagging

 

The increasingly fragile internet has once again been broken, this time by super-mega-star Jennifer Aniston's decision to join Instagram.

The 50-year-old actor has held out for almost a full decade (at least publicly), but she's arrived on the platform with a splash, sharing a photo of her and her Friends cast mates enjoying a serene get together, presumably at one of their (no doubt) palatial homes.

But the face that launched a thousand haircuts has been accused of unwittingly giving away more than she meant to with her first post.

The picture shows the Friends cast members Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox and David Schwimmer (listed here not in order of appearance but by quality of their characters on the show, please don't at me your incredibly wrong takes).

But eagle-eyed fans were convinced they had spotted something else lurking in the background.

Jennifer Aniston might have given away more than she meant to.
Jennifer Aniston might have given away more than she meant to.

Here's that photo one more time, cropped slightly closer for good measure.

Is that cocaine?
Is that cocaine?

Some internet sleuths even managed to pick up on the hidden detail without the aid of a red circle.

Though my favourite online reaction thus far is in fact this prophetic tweet from over a year ago.

As an investigative journalist, I felt it prudent to take a closer look at this one, by which of course I mean phoning someone smarter than me to explain.

Their explanation will absolutely blow you away.

"I think it's just a reflection," said RMIT Adjunct Associate Professor Gale Spring, an expert in forensic image interpretation.

"When you look at the rest of the picture there are white spots reflecting off of shiny surfaces.

"Just to the right of the phone there looks to be some sort of tray, it's got the same light reflections off of it. If you look carefully to the right of Matthew Perry's head there's another reflection."

Other reflections in the photo hint at a more innocent explanation, despite Matthew Perry’s wry smile.
Other reflections in the photo hint at a more innocent explanation, despite Matthew Perry’s wry smile.

"If the phone were in a black case and faced down and we knew that for a fact, we could look at the white stuff and say there's something on the back of the phone, but we don't know that for a fact."

Of course, this analysis is based off a picture posted to a social media website, and without further information it's tough to say for sure. But thanks to Instagram and other websites stripping metadata from photos, this information is increasingly difficult to find.

"It's becoming harder and harder to analyse photographs on face value, very hard to do that nowadays with the technology," Professor Spring said.

"If you can't get the metadata you have to make assumptions and state them as your opinion based on knowledge and experience."

In Professor Spring's opinion, the alleged cocaine on the alleged phone is really "an unremarkable reflection of light or a window".

"Without any further information it's 100 per cent speculation, we are making assumptions that that's a mobile phone, but we can't even prove that."

Professor Spring said the light could have come from a number of sources, including what looks to be a fireplace to the right of Schwimmer's head, but added it's unlikely to be from a camera flash.

"I don't think it was taken with a flash. I would say based on the proportion of this image that in some way it was cropped, so we can't even be sure it wasn't taken with another phone or camera."

Without further information, Professor Spring concedes we may never know what's really going on in this picture, but he does have other theories.

"It could be radiation from the Loch Ness monster too."

The real culprit?
The real culprit?

So why is the picture so popular? A variety of factors could be at play. There's the nostalgia-hit of a cast reunion for a beloved sit-com. Jennifer Aniston's massive star power and apparent immunity to ageing.

Potentially a sophisticated PR campaign to drum up interest in the lead up to release of Aniston's forthcoming Apple TV+ show alongside Reese Witherspoon.

One thing we almost know with absolute certainty is that it's probably not cocaine on that phone.

So now that this has finally been answered we can move on to more pressing questions, like calculating how long it will take rappers to start referring to cocaine as "Jenny", or figuring out just how cold it really was on the set of Friends.


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