The usage and impact of AI remain hotly debated topics, as some have been quick to adapt to the technology, and others have been slow or unwilling to do so.
On social media, several users already have begun to popularize apps and sites offering varying opportunities to reimagine themselves or other living people.
A thread of white actors that has been altered to appear Black is proof of the latter. The reimagined headshots of Hollywood luminaries like Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Marilyn Monroe, Benedict Cumberbatch and Keanu Reeves have sparked a range of reactions.
“Ain’t nobody ask for a Blackface thread. Tf yall be thinking” asked one person who found the AI melanated skin of white celebrities off-putting. Others stated that the AI experiment was weird.
Another user wrote, “Not AI having Angelina Jolie look like Erykah Badu and Pitt looking like Dave Chapelle..” Other comparisons include DiCaprio being likened to Cuba Gooding Jr. and Robert Downey Jr. in blackface for the 2008 comedy flick “Tropic Thunder.”
Downey’s character was a method actor who surgically darkened his skin for a role. “My heart is…I get to be Black for a summer in my mind, so there’s something in it for me,” he recalled about his process of mulling over whether he should accept the gig.
“The other thing is, I get to hold up to nature the insane self-involved hypocrisy of artists and what they think they’re allowed to do on occasion, just my opinion,” he added. He went on to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Another observation made from the thread was that Black Depp looked similar to LaKeith Stanfield and Terrence Howard to some people, and that Seth Rogen looked like “85 South Show” comedian Chico Bean.
Another person commented, “This ain’t it, I’m proud of our own group of black actors. Don’t need anything reimagined,” while others beckoned, “Now do it in reverse.”
Last September, the use of AI came under scrutiny when one user digitally replaced Halle Bailey in “The Little Mermaid” with a white woman bearing a similar resemblance to the animated princess.
Despite racially tinted controversy, the live-action remake opened on Memorial Day weekend this year with an impressive $9.5 million at the domestic box office. Globally, it since has made $567.5 million.