Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Deep learning technology fulfills its destiny, swaps Cage and Travolta in Face/Off

Deep learning (or deep fakes) technology, which has frightened and amused people in more or less equal measure since it first started popping up on the internet, has now reached its full potential. Though capable of swapping the faces of anyone who’s ever been filmed before, people have largely embraced deep learning as a tool to stick Nicolas Cage’s mug on just about anyone they can think of.

Now, knowing that their work would never be complete until it reached this inevitable point, the unfortunately named YouTube channel derpfakes has created the zenith of deep fakes: a bunch of Face/Off scenes edited so that Nic Cage’s delightful visage replaces John Travolta’s.

Watch in awe as the 1997 movie’s plot—which, we must remember, revolves around Cage and Travolta’s characters swapping faces—is completely upended in ways director John Woo, the actors themselves, and a just god in a reasonable universe, could never have imagined. Here is Cage as Travolta, infiltrating Travolta’s life with Cage’s face as his own. Here is Cage pointing a gun at a Travolta face stuck on a Cage body during the movie’s climax. Here is our technology used to annihilate all vestige of logic still remaining in this world.


Where the deep learning scene goes from here is anyone’s guess. Throughout the year, the grand scale of their Cage project has kept the technology’s focus limited toward achieving goals we can all get behind. After fulfilling the promise of the video’s “to be continued ...” cliffhanger, though, their face-swapping powers will have to be directed elsewhere. Will it be wholesome and good? Or will it be nefarious and troubling? Let’s prepare for the latter and hope, always, for the former.

Send Great Job, Internet tips to gji@theonion.com

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.

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