I’ve been absent for a little while, I admit it. I’ve felt some guilt at not posting anything new in 2021. To be fair there has been a fair amount going on in the world. We had the most abnormal Christmas I’ve ever experienced, and that’s saying something considering I haven’t been home to Canada for Christmas since 1996. The New Year brought with it the chaos of Jan.6th in the US, itself a spectacle I half expected to see but didn’t want to.
So I threw myself into the hours of work I am thankful to have, up to 15 hours a week. I wrote and published my first commercial blog post for the company I work for as I learn digital marketing (which was daunting, but is now a huge monkey off my back). All in all it’s been quite productive, and with Trump out of the White House, it feels like the world is back on it’s normal axis tilt. We’ve been off kilter for so long it almost feels odd not to have to hear his deranged chatter and shouty ALL CAPS TWEETS on a daily basis. How refreshing. If I never hear The Village People being blasted again from a MAGA rally or from the tarmac of Joint Base Andrews that will suit me just fine. I will not let Trump tarnish Laura Branigan’s Gloria for me though, he won’t take that away from me!
So getting to the real focus of my post, I was wondering what it was I would write about for my first (admittedly tardy) post of the year. And then it hit me.
I had been seeing ads for an App on my phone where people uploaded a selfie and it would seamlessly factor in that face into a myriad of movie clips, videos, GIF’s, even static standalone images. I thought it would be a bit silly, and I certainly wouldn’t pay for an app like that. But then I noticed it offered a three day free trial, and for a little diversion I decided to see what the hoopla was all about.
First things first, swapping an entire face into a well known image like a classical piece of art is quite amusing. It’s fascinating to see yourself in a completely different era, with different aesthetics in fashion and beauty appropriate to the time. I was completely enamoured with the results and the technology that made it look so seamless. I was a new face like a mask onto an existing masterpiece. Except that now it was uniquely mine.
The John Woo film ‘Face/Off’ starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage was an exercise in suspension of belief for roughly two hours, both actors giving a pastiche performance to out-pastiche all performances. It’s a camp classic, rightfully derided for the ludicrous plot. And yet here we are. Face transplants are a real thing nowadays. I just didn’t know that it would be possible to transplant mine and anyone else’s in less than ten seconds.
The effect got me thinking about everything that happened last year. Wearing a mask used to be something many Western people would make fun of, or think to themselves, “I’d never go out in public wearing that thing on my face.” Many of us scoffed when we saw the news of the pandemic grow in the early days and spotted people wearing a mask. Again, we thought, that won’t be me… How little we knew.
Before you knew it, it was a mandate for public transport, then any indoor essential shopping, and now any indoor public space. Many of us wear them the minute we leave the house whether it’s a regulation or not. We’ve become used to wearing a mask.
And much like how wearing a mask gives us a degree of anonymity, it’s also allowed us to let go of our ‘social masks’. My best friend Andrea and I discussed at length last spring about how the social masks were coming off. How during lockdowns people were showing their true colours without the need to adhere to social norms since we weren’t out and about in society to much degree.
I call it ‘Next Level Keyboard Warrior Syndrome’. You know them, those people that are fierce behind their laptop or monitor and type furiously away calling people names, bullying at will, trolling anyone who disagrees with them. The type that are happy to spout off about a topic as long as it’s not face to face? The fact that we have been so much more physically distant and only ‘screens away’ rather than in the same room having a conversation has enabled a lot of people to let their real opinions out of Pandora’s Box.
You might recognise this in a friend who had, as an example, a conservative bent. But now they are a lot more vocal and expressive about their perhaps ultra-conservative viewpoints, and now they feel quite free to shout about it.
Maybe it’s just me.
Maybe this isn’t something you have noticed, but it’s definitely something I have noticed with people I would consider more as ‘acquaintances’ on social platforms. I like to think I know my closest real friends. And this is not at all specifically about conservatism. It could be any topic really. Beliefs in conspiracies are now out in the wide open whereas they may not have voiced their opinions on it before. Politics really dredged up some of the worst in us. News sources, media finger-pointing, heck, even sympathies for Joe Exotic. (Insert Word Here)-Shaming. You name it, people were way more likely to make their points heard loud and proud that previously I think were much more muted and perhaps only shared with a few.
Playing around with the App was a pleasant diversion. A different take on the mask theme. I had requests! I made my parents into iconic film characters including, but not limited to : Freddie Mercury, Han Solo and Leia, Julia Child, Miss Gulch and the Wicked Witch of the West, Cleopatra, Maleficent, Iron Man, Rembrandt, Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Bruce Lee.
I’ve made a whole slew of goofy things that I will drip feed eventually onto Instagram if the mood takes me.
I’m slightly shocked at how much entertainment I’ve gotten out of these three days, which ends today. It’s been fun and frivolous to put on the mask of other identities and see what works and what doesn’t. I never knew how vampy I would look as Sofia Loren. I made my mother circa her early ’20s into Jennifer Lopez, erm, at the request of my dad. My sister Val made a splendid Hermione Granger. I turned my husband into Scarface, Rambo, and more importantly – Ryan Gosling.
It’s been fun but I’ve made enough for myself and my family and friends for some serious laughs in the years to come. My time and free trial is up and it’s back to life, back to reality.
I have a sneaky suspicion that there might just be a print that makes its way, matted and framed, onto an unassuming spot on the wall in my house.
Ready for someone to do a double take.