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

Help, the president has discovered deepfakes

Illustration for article titled Help, the president has discovered deepfakes
Photo: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

Sunday was a banner day for President Trump, who spent his wife’s 50th birthday firing off paranoid tweets in which he misspelled hamburger (again) and “Nobel,” the latter of which he also misused while expressing his fury at journalists receiving Pulitzer Prizes. (He later tried to claim the “Noble” was intentional and a form of sarcasm (?), itself a reference to his claim that he was being sarcastic when he suggested people could kill COVID-19 by disinfecting their guts. Nevertheless, he deleted the original “Noble” tweets. Help.)

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All of this is to say that it’s easy to overlook yet another egregious post that further polluted the president’s timeline on Sunday: a deepfake of Joe Biden licking his chops like a cartoon lizard.

Illustration for article titled Help, the president has discovered deepfakes
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(The account he RT’d, as you can see above, appears to dislike Trump as much as they do Biden, as they changed their display name to “Trump & Biden Are Rapey” after getting the retweet. As of this writing, the tweet can still be found on Trump’s timeline.)

Deepfakes, if you’re unaware, are a form of deep-learning technology that allows people to create fake videos and audio clips that are lifelike enough to trick casual observers. As Jordan Peele pointed out in 2018, this makes them perfect vessels for peddling misinformation. Up to this point, deepfakes have mostly been used to create fake celebrity porn and to put Nic Cage and Adam Sandler in movies they weren’t in, but their nightmarish political implications have long hovered like an encroaching cloud of radioactive gas. And now a president who loves to lie to you about what you’ve seen with your own eyes is aware of their existence. Recall that this is the same guy who tried to claim his “grab ‘em by the pussy” remarks, which he’d previously acknowledged, were a fabrication.

As such, be prepared for the Access Hollywood tape to resurface with the “real” audio in which Trump tells Billy Bush about, let’s say, all the burly bikers who thank him with tears in their eyes. Following that, of course, will be “newly discovered” video of Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama discussing their plans to eat children in a pizza restaurant’s basement.

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Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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