Cover image credit to Trusted Reviews, image taken from a deepfakes video featuring Daisy Ridley. 4 minute read.
See the above photo that looks like Star Wars star, Daisy Ridley? That’s not actually her. Pretty convincing though, right?
We live in a want it, buy it, get it now culture. Our collective consumerist attitude brings about many positive innovations and keeps global economies chugging along, but it also comes at a cost. It seems that believing we deserve everything we want has trickled down to affect our sexual desires and attitudes, too.
Knowing what a person wants sexually is freeing in expression and experience and not wrong. But sometimes a person may prioritize their desires over the wishes of another. This is sexual entitlement. While this attitude is a result of many factors, one of them is porn.
People have long joked that if you can imagine it, it already exists as porn. Genres spread to every cobwebbed nook of a person’s mind, feeding fantasies of every kind. But not every desire we have should be indulged. The problem with porn is that it offers consumers instant gratification for desires that might otherwise be ignored or recognized as problematic. If consumers are used to finding what they want and quickly being satisfied, who’s to pause and question if it’s appropriate?
As technology advances, so does porn. Today, we are seeing a more customizable experience where consumers can alter videos to include their favorite celebrity, current crush, or even stepdaughter in their porn, forgetting any boundaries around consent or disregarding how their actions would make that person feel.
Altering porn images isn’t new—think literal cut and paste to Photoshop—but only recently has it been possible to swap faces in videos. Historically, the film industry was the one capable of make significant edits video and graphics to change an actor’s appearance. Whether it be to age an actor or shave a few years off or even create a computerized character in order to replace a deceased actor. These alterations have remained in Hollywood because of the required expertise, time, and cost.
Now, for free anyone with minimal experience can quickly create a “deepfake.” This term began appearing at the end of last year when a Reddit user going by that username began sharing pornographic celebrity videos using his new face-swapping technology.
Through machine learning, FakeApp combines the user’s chosen porn video with the face of their favorite celebrity, changing out the original actor’s face with Gal Gadot or Taylor Swift. The quality isn’t quite Hollywood—looking closely, you can tell the doctored face is a bit off—but it’s initially convincing.
Celebrities are not the only ones having their faces “pasted” onto porn videos. Anyone can copy images from Facebook of a work colleague or girl at school and create a deepfake. This behavior, whether used on celebrities or not, has some creepy implications.
Deep Video Portraits
Where technology started with deepfakes, even newer Deep Video Portraits have taken easy realistic video altering to another level. At the end of May this year, a new paper suggested a new approach to creating a realistic faked video by reproducing speech movements and facial expressions from one person’s face to another.
Deep Video Portraits primary use is supposed to improve dubbing films into a foreign language, but it is almost expected to be abused. According to co-author Justus Thies, the team is aware of the ethical implications of their new system.
“That is also a reason why we published our results,” he said. “I think it is important that the people get to know the possibilities of manipulation techniques.”
As of yet, there haven’t been reports about this specific technology being used in pornography, but it is included to point out how rapidly video editing is improving. In a short matter of time, we could be struggling to identify original porn videos from fakes.
Why this matters
Deepfakes and Deep Video Portraits, when used to create porn, can be used as blackmail and more. Consider how Dr. Kate Devlin, senior lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, thinks deepfakes are more concerning for non-celebrities:
“There’s always been an issue with people photoshopping individuals into porn, but the ease and scale here is quite unprecedented. My fear is for the individuals. The damage will be hard to undo, in the same way that it’s hard to take down ‘traditional’ revenge porn.”
Even if a person doesn’t intend to use their deepfake video for coercion, it is largely an issue of consent and entitlement. Chances are the “new girl at work” didn’t want to look like she was in a porn film. What will she think when she sees that video uploaded online? What will others think of her when they see it? Will they immediately be able to recognize it as a fake?
When a video is made and uploaded, the fantasy escapes the confines of the maker’s brain and becomes open for public consumption. No longer is it a “harmless” desire. These fake but convincing videos indicate to porn consumers that their sexual wants are more important than the owner of the copied photos or video, that they deserve to make it because they want it and in a culture of sexual entitlement, they want to be aroused by it. There is little or no thought of how the unknowing and unconsenting party feels—or worse, it’s more exciting because of how violated and invaded the targeted person will feel.
The advancements in video editing and graphics are exciting and innovative, but they often are misused for pornographic purposes with detrimental effects. As porn becomes more customizable, consumers will grow accustomed to not only watching whatever they want, but also whoever they want.
Unfortunately, this will likely fuel our culture of sexual entitlement, resulting in less awareness about sexual consent or even basic caring about the feelings of another person. Is this really the kind of societal norm we want?
Sexual entitlement culture is toxic for individuals and our larger society. SHARE this post and speak out about the reality of deepfakes and how damaging it is.
This movement is all about changing the conversation about pornography. When you rep a tee, you can spark meaningful conversation on porn’s harms and inspire lasting change in individuals’ lives, and our world. Are you in? Check out all our styles in our online store, or click below to shop: