Good morning from the uncanny valley! Hope you’re not having an unsettling day so far, because it’s only getting worse from here. On Wednesday, Jimmy Kimmel posited that, following Russia allegedly using social media as a tool to influence the 2016 election, the next wave of political internet conspiracy would take the form of deepfakes. A deepfake is essentially really good video editing, where artificial intelligence is used to superimpose images onto existing media. The most common deepfake is superimposing someone’s face onto someone else’s body, and it can be incredibly convincing.
In his set-up, Kimmel explained that future political internet shenanigans would see Americans, not Russians, using this technology to spread conspiracy theories to gullible voters. To illustrate how easy it would be, Kimmel and his team created a video of Donald Trump and Mike Pence “appearing on their favorite television show.” And that show...is RuPaul’s Drag Race.
In the clip that follows, Trump’s face is superimposed on RuPaul during the finale of Drag Race’s most recent season as she interviewed Brooke Lynn Heights, who is played by Mike Pence. Rather than an audience full of former Drag Race queens and gay guys who know somebody at VH1, the audience is instead a Trump rally. When Pence thanks his “mommy,” the camera pans to Pence’s wife, Karen.
Is this clip funny? Sure, kind of. Is it also kind of gross, reminding us of all those jokes about Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s illicit affair? A little! While I appreciate what Kimmel is trying to do, this is another instance of straight folks thinking the most horrible way they can prank other straight people is by making them look queer. So enjoy ya little jokes, Jimmy, but maybe turn up in drag to next year’s Pride parade and show us there’s nothing wrong with embracing the divine feminine!