What: Footage of a mid-’00s Bill Hader doing celebrity impressions, enhanced with high-grade face-morphing tech.
Who: YouTube’s resident deepfake wizard, Ctrl Shift Face.
Why we care: The danger posed by sophisticated face-altering technology is hard to overstate. Not only has it changed the possibilities for privacy-violating pornography, it also has more sinister implications for blackmail and political sabotage. BuzzFeed even teamed up with Jordan Peele to make a chilling video warning viewers how easy it would be to make a video of, say, Barack Obama doing or saying anything at all. On the bright side, however, Ctrl Shift Face is making the case that if we’re cursed with this technology, we might as well have some fun with it, too.
The creator behind videos like The Dark Knight’s Tale, which gives Heath Ledger’s character in A Knight’s Tale perma-Jokerface, has been finding the humor in digital fakery since 2017. His latest offering may be his crowning achievement. “Spot-on impressions of Al Pacino and Arnold Schwarzenegger by Bill Hader [DeepFake]” does exactly what it says on the tin. It borrows a mid-00’s video of Bill Hader–then a rookie on SNL best known for his impressions–going on Conan to demonstrate his skill. Even though we’ve since glimpsed Bill Hader’s numerous other talents on Barry, which just ended its second season on HBO, the video starts as a stark reminder at his chameleonic skill . . . before morphing into something else entirely. Seeing Bill Hader’s face physically transform into his targets’ mugs brings to mind the shape-shifting Robin Williams-voiced genie in Aladdin. Have a look for yourself in the video below.