Monday, December 07, 2009

The New Uncanny Valley

I think we are all familiar with the uncanny valley when it comes to computer graphics, especially those of us who have subjected themselves to the recent motion capture masterpieces *ahem* of Robert Zemeckis.

But I think I have discovered a different version of this phenomenon which may be equally applicable. There seems to be an uncanny valley when it comes to tanning. I am thinking especially about those atrocious spray tans.

I mean, we've all seen those pictures of those doofuses with the spiky hair and the oompah loompah orange skin. If you haven't, look up douchebag on Google Images to see one of many of these creatures. (I mean it, they will appear highly under that search term).

I am talking about specimens like these:

Historically, tans used to be associated with the lower classes (people who worked outdoors), and it was only with the increase in leisure time and vacationing that tanning became a chic thing to do. It is amazing how it seems the cycle has repeated itself again and again.

Now, spray on tans are a lot like makeup... a little goes a long way... there is something to be said for subtlety and discretion. I mean, the best tan and makeup is likely the kind that doesn't call attention to itself. But we all know people who take both way too far.

It seems that wrestlers and porn stars are especially guilty of these offenses (Semaj posted a picture of former porn star Cody Lane who I thought was East Indian... and I'd seen her before, so I knew that wasn't the case). And when you have a bunch of people with spray on tans, and a person who doesn't, well, it becomes glaringly obvious how unnatural they really look.

The funny thing is, the dude on the far left is from Scotland... and when you think of Scotland, you just naturally think of dudes with Coppertone tans.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've put together a little graph which I feel covers most of the bases when it comes to the uncanny valley of tanning, because you can indeed come out the other side.

For instance, I'm of a certain age that I remember all the jokes about George Hamilton's tan... but looking back, his looked natural and he was able to pull it off in comparison to some of the tans people are trying to pass off as normal these days. And speaking of those times, I remember nudity back in 1970's-80's movies where there were a lot of tan lines, and somehow in my mind, seeing tan lines on a woman brings me back to a simpler, more innocent time, because you really don't see tan lines too much in movies unless it is very intentional. I mean, it almost seems quaint now.

I guess the point that I am trying to make with all this is that friends don't let friends overdue it with the tanning. When you see a problem starting to emerge, you have to nip it in the bud.

Don't let this happen to you or your pals. Your enemies? Sure, why not?

I have to give a shoutout to Pale is the New Tan for the last picture, because if you want to see bad tans, that's the place to go.


Semaj said...

I really think you should put this in the new Urban Dictionary as a entry. Is there a point when it becomes unhealthy? BTW, I loved the contrast between the pale wrestler and his tanned up buddies.

MC said...

That picture was from the wonderful Wrestlegasm blog.