The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.
Leave it to Apple to deepfake an entire person.
Well, OK wait, let me explain. A while back, rumors—jokes, mainly—started floating around Reddit that Ted Lasso’s Roy Kent was a completely computer-generated character. Something about his overly perfect beard and overall FIFA 22 vibe just made him look, according to one commenter, “CGI AF.” To be honest, they might be right.
To be clear: I’m not a moron. I know Roy Kent is played by Brett Goldstein, real person. (He’s even nominated for an Emmy!) But does he look fake as all hell? Yes. His movements on the pitch are too perfect; his swearing, too flawless. He might even be a decent boyfriend for a footballer. (At some point there needs to be a tell-all about the scene where he performs cunnilingus on Keeley while she watches a video of him crying.) He just doesn’t seem real. Even though we all know he is.
The thing about this conspiracy theory, though, is that it’s fun. There was a time, I swear, when conspiracies were about aliens secretly infiltrating the government or Beyoncé being in the Illuminati. Dangerous theories have always existed, but there used to be at least a sprinkling of genuinely fascinating and harmless ones to talk about at dinner parties. (There also used to be dinner parties.) Those, though, seem to have faded away when everyone started tossing around the idea that the coronavirus was caused by 5G. (It wasn’t.) Against that backdrop, it’s refreshing to imagine one of the stars of Apple TV ’s almost-too-nice soccer show is almost-too-ideal.
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Also, let’s be honest: This does feel like something Apple would do in a topsy-turvy alternate reality. Most of us already feel like our iPhones have turned us into focus groups for new features and products. Why wouldn’t Cupertino use its hit show to test out some new deepfake technology on an unsuspecting populace? If any company were harboring a secret lab for developing virtual thespians, it would be Apple. Industrial Light and Magic is already recreating performances from deceased actors and de-aging Robert De Niro, how far away can performances fully created by VFX really be?
Maybe, though, the “Roy Kent is CGI” conspiracy theory is simply a reprieve. The other piece of Ted Lasso conversation over the last few weeks has revolved around whether or not the show sucks now, and frankly, it’s getting awfully tiring. (Short version: People think the second season is listless and meandering and perhaps a little too cute for its own good. Also, they’re maybe tired of having to wait a week for new episodes rather than binge-watching them. I dunno.) Roy Kent may be faked (again, he isn’t), but at least he’s not boring.
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