Binary Botox: The Case Against Digital De-Aging

By  · Published on November 28th, 2017

Let’s get one thing straight: Rogue One should’ve let Peter Cushing rest in peace.

Digital de-aging has been a not-so-recent trend in films as visual effects have given artists more and more chutzpah when staring death’s approach (or even its arrival) in the face. Some films, like Star Wars’ Rogue One, go a step further. They don’t just youngify Carrie Fisher – they raise a ghoulish corpse from the ground like cinematic necromancers.

That’s bad. Movies shot almost entirely on green screens are one thing. I can swallow a lot of animation, but only if it is in pursuit of some larger formal vision. If you’re creating virtual ghosts for fun, just because the technology allows you to achieve a facsimile close enough to upset everyone’s stomach, then you’re ruining your movie for no reason.

Leigh Singer’s video essay does a good job explaining why this trend – and its inevitable endgame – is terrifying on an existential level and disturbing to viewers. If we can be replaced by digital face-masking, we are expendable. Actors are out of work and our individuality is threatened forever, something that’s addressed at length in the film The Congress. We’re already in the Uncanny Valley. The question of getting out is now one of direction.

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).