Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Uncanny Valley

In animation there's an effect called the "uncanny valley." We have no trouble with a cartoon character. But an animated character who is too similar to a real human being, but not quite, becomes creepy. Some people think it's instinctive: one thing that looks human but isn't quite is a corpse, and it's unhealthy to be around corpses. There's an "uncanny valley" in fictional characters' personalities, too. Real people have flaws. Characters without flaws feel artificial, hence a little bit creepy. That might be why I get nervous any time there's a religious figure in a work of fiction who lives up to his religion. Someone who's wise, kind, insightful, self-deprecating, modest ... I hate this guy already. I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop. He's probably a child molester, right? Not because religious leaders are all hypocrites, though many are, or child molesters, though a few are. But because my mind does not believe anyone that perfect exists. Either he has a deep dark terrible secret or... he's not really human.

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