My brilliant four-minute fake of me as Thor. Such real.

The Nicholas Sparking of Deepfakes

About a week before I heard of Deepfakes I published a short story on Medium titled RealPorn™. It was a brief tale of a fifty-year-old married man who uploads an old photo of his wife (back when she was 22) to a new software program that allows him to create an explicit movie with someone who looks–and sounds–just like her. It was an awkwardly sweet story in some ways where I tried to show some of the complications along with a possible silver lining to the emerging technology.

I knew it was coming.

We’ve been talking about it for years.

But I had no idea that it had already happened, and that Reddit suddenly had an entire thread dedicated to the practice. I clicked through a link on Tumblr one afternoon, and there was Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, and Kristen Bell face mapped onto marginally believable porn stars with only a few blurry frames to reveal them as fake.

And so, the cat is out of the bag, and it won’t go back in. In fact, the cat will get better, easier, cheaper, and far more realistic in almost record time.

It’s an old adage that pornography drives technology and it’s been shown to be true again and again from the early days of VHS on to image optimization, internet speed, video compression, online payment processing, and screen resolution. The market for porn has been a voracious driving change for technology and it appears that now, in the golden days of crowdsourcing, it had been democratized.

When I first read about Deepfakes, it was the normal and expected outcry of moral outrage mixed in with a trembling fear of the future. Everyone from Erika Lust to Mashable was lashing out at the new practice, lambasting the users as abusive, immoral, and just plain obnoxious. How would you feel if you were a young celebrity and suddenly your face was plausibly plastered onto an intense scene of double penetration? Never mind how much it actually looks like you or if your friends and family would believe it, it’s gotta to feel downright shitty.

And that’s most likely true with a few fascinating exceptions.

When it comes to technology, I’m typically an agnostic. Human behavior, the way we interact with the tools and weapons we create, is my general metric for ethics, and I tend to believe the objects, the gadgets, and the apps have no morality in and of themselves.

I am, however, also an optimist. My personal adage is that if an optimist is someone whose head is so far in the clouds that she can’t see the ground, then a pessimist is someone whose head is so far up their ass that they think everything smells like shit.

Which means that I’m comfortable leaving the lambasting, the moral outrage, and the predictions of doom to those more capable, smarter, and more insightful than I am. They all make good and valid points. People will, and are, using this technology to do things which are at best obnoxious and at worst potentially damaging and illegal. And when–inevitably–someone throws a child actor’s (or a young relative’s) face into an explicit movie, the boundary will shift even further.

But you, my dear reader, are most likely an ethical person. I suspect you have a strong sense of right and wrong, but I would also venture to guess that you lack the typical morality fetish of our Puritan ancestors. Possibly you yourself engage in activities others view as deviant and you may be an avid advocate for sexual liberation and an end to the fear-mongering, abstinence-only, sexist, anti-queer, messaging that otherwise fills our streams, feeds, and culture.

So, my question, once again as an optimist, is what would you do with it? If with just a few clicks of a button you could take anyone on the planet and throw them into any scenario and have it play out in a believable video stream, what would you do? Who would you choose and why?

It’s probably not a surprise that other than requests for favorite female celebrities to be mapped into compromising situations for the sake of mastubatory glee, the most common request on the Deepfakes subreddit is for the Donald Trump Piss Video. You know the one.

And guess what? I suspect someone will make it, many people will find it funny, and almost nobody will believe it.

So, I’m going to sit back for a moment and put on a hat I rarely wear. My Nicholas Sparks’ Hat. Maybe it’s because I find it ridiculous, but maybe it’s because Nichola Sparks is in many ways the exact opposite of the hardcore rape porn that will surely make an appearance in upcoming fakes.

I’m going to pause, and I’m going to think, once again as a relatively moral yet deviant person about what I would do. What would Jesus do? What would any thoughtful pervert do if their heart grew two sizes too big along with their genitals?

Obviously, there are a thousand uses for this that don’t involve sex at all, but right now that feels like something of a copout. Let’s stay with sex and let’s stay with the risque, because the last thing I want to do is abandon sexuality to the wolves and the pedophiles. Let’s not give up without a fight. Or at all.

Shall we begin with some geriatric end of life nostalgia porn?

Marcia’s husband just ended up in a nursing home, and she suspects he’s not coming back. But she visits every day, and they sit and talk as they go through old photos. The beach vacation where they first met, the wedding in Hawaii, and that crazy party in the Soho loft where they tried LSD and maybe flirted with gay sex. They laugh and they reminisce, trying to cover their sorrow and their impending loss and separation with as many good memories as possible.

And then one day Marcia comes in with her laptop. She smiles as she climbs onto the hospital bed next to her beloved. Inside her jacket pocket, she’s managed to sneak in a flask of Laphroaig, and he takes a few sips while the nurses aren’t looking. With the light blanket over them, she opens the machine, they plug in some headphones, and Marcia hits play. And there on the screen is the young couple, happy and fit as they dive into the hotel swimming pool. Their suits are lost quickly as they kiss beneath the waterfall, and as the images of their former selves begin to slip into more intimate positions, Marcia finds her husband growing hard beneath her hand for the first time in years. He looks up at her and smiles as she touches him gently and without aim.

When the movie finishes, she kisses him and he says that he loves her. And he will always love her. She takes a swig of the scotch, and slips lower onto the bed with her arms around him. He hits play one more time. They smile and laugh. They are in love.

Here’s another under the rare theme of Bisexual Love Stories.

John came out after his wife died and for six years he’s been married to Mark. They’re in their forties and mostly out of the scene. They cook dinner at home and they work hard at their jobs. They’re happy in spite of their life challenges, but a cloud still hangs over John that Mark can never seem to push through.

In therapy, John confesses that he misses his wife even though he doesn’t question his choices or his sexuality. But he’s guilt-ridden about it because sometimes he still fantasizes about her. He’s terrified that Mark will find out and be hurt. He’s terrified that his longing and his loss are making it too difficult for him to keep going.

But one night John comes home to find Mark has made the bed with a bottle of wine on the nightstand and four candles flickering in the dark. He sighs as he pushes his past further behind him and then grins as he steps closer to the bed. Mark knows how to spoil him after a long day, and this is his life now. This is what love looks like.

But to his surprise, his husband motions him to the bed on his own. He tells him to sit and to relax. He pours him a glass of wine before putting their iPad on the bed next to him.

“Happy Anniversary,” he whispers before kissing John on the head and then slowly making his way to the door. “You should have it. At least tonight. With no guilt and no shame. I love you so much.”

When a confused John turns on the iPad, he realizes that it’s not their anniversary at all, but rather the day he married his late wife. Still uncertain his clicks play on the video before him and then holds his breath. Sarah’s face is bright and familiar as she wraps her arms around his younger self. They kiss and they laugh as they roll about on the big bed in their old beach house.

As she slowly undresses for him, a tear comes to his eye. They kiss and they hold one another before slowly making love to the sound of the waves outside. His heart aches, but not just for the one he lost. But also for the one he’s found. The man who loves him more than the world itself. The man who’s only wish, who’s only dream, is to see his husband happy.

And fun would it be without a good old-fashioned lesbian love story?

Tanya and Alicia live on opposite sides of the country. They met on Tumblr and they talk every day in spite of having never met in person. They’re madly in love, but distance is hard and life is complicated.

But every Sunday is a new chance to consummate their ridiculous love. It’s a new opportunity to show off and inspire the other. It’s an afternoon to send the most ridiculous, the most scandalous, and the most twisted, kinky, fucked up bit of porn they can program.

They started off tamely, exchanging ridiculous straight-lesbian porn back and forth with their heads glued on for good measure. The long fingernails and the silly clothes were laughable, but the sex was still fun, and my god Alicia when did your tits get so big? And since when did Tanya start shaving hearts into her proud bush?

A month or two in and it’s a different game. Alicia’s getting fisted by Gal Gadot and she feels a bit guilty about it, but Tanya tells her she came quicker than she should admit. Tanya replies with herself at the center of an all-male gangbang and Alicia threatens to leave her. After she gets off.

Back and forth they go, exploring their real desires along with their fantasies until they know one another far better than they ever thought possible. They’ve never met in person, but week after week they push and they push until every secret fetish has been laid bare.

And then, one afternoon, there’s a knock on Alicia’s door and she opens it to find her lover and her friend. She opens it to find Tanya standing in the hall with a smile as big as the grand canyon, and for the very first time their lips touch as their fingers intertwine.

“I’m going to do such filthy things to you,” Alicia whispers, still unable to believe it’s real.

“You better,” Tanya giggles before the two of them stumble into the small apartment, their clothes and their fears left behind in a pile on the floor. Hours, maybe days later, they’ll return to pick up just the clothes.

Damn you Nicholas Sparks, you pervy sonofabitch.

But you get the idea. And of course, those are just my silly stories made up on a Tuesday morning with only myself to daydream with. Because a thousand different people will do a thousand different things. And amidst the horrors and the frustratingly common misogyny and terror, there will be beauty as well.

The cat is out of the bag. And it will grow and get better and faster and more cat-like. And while some people will do terrible things with that poor kitty, the rest of us will find beauty in this new world of infinite possibilities.

We’ll find heartbreaking, glorious, messy, complicated, and occasionally our own immoral dreams as well.

And that’s just as it should be.

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Guy New York

Guy New York

2.5K Followers

Writer and publisher of dirty books. With more than 70 titles, my books have been widely read and occasionally burned. Read more at www.guynewyork.com