Panopticon meets Uncanny Valley: Watching You(Tube)

Sting’s 1983 hit with the Police, Every Breath You Take is a natural theme song for the recent spate of news about the NSA and extent of its surveillance capabilities. After all Sting himself said,

I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic, an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn’t realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control.

Almost too perfect. So I did a little viddy surfing. There must be tens of thousands of covers, parodies, spoofs, and what-all-else of this one song that was  a hit thirty years ago. I picked the above viddy not because it was the best among the myriads, but because it was hands down the creepiest.

I have no idea what software the maker of the video used to animate the image of Obama’s face, but it certainly is a prime example of the “uncanny valley” effect hypothesized by robotics professor Masahiro Mori.

The YouTuber who posted this gem calls himself “FactsRevealed,” which hints at a cranky political disposition, and the content posted suggests an anti-Obama theme. I am a crank, but I’m not an Obamaphobe, still, I enjoy the disquieting frisson of the animation of the singing face of O.

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3 responses to “Panopticon meets Uncanny Valley: Watching You(Tube)

  1. I picked up on the stalker vibe the first time I heard the song. Never correlated it with government surveillance.

  2. Hi, Phil. There are many, many “stalker” versions of the song, some humorous, some not. More than one parodies the original black and white MTV video (Remember that?). Some clever, some not.

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