Wait For It… a blog by Andy Ross

In the Uncanny Valley

Posted on February 23, 2011

Here's my take on the uncanny valley as it pertains to your toupee:

First off, whoa! That's a toupee!

I mean, I’ve probably seen toupees before. But, I've never seen a toupee that makes my brain scream "toupee" over and over again. Which yours does … Big time.

I can't take my eyes off it. Even though I desperately want to. What if I miss my subway stop?

Have you heard about the uncanny valley? It was first posited in 1978 by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori, but it didn’t enter popular discussion until pretty recent CGI advances. I think when the Final Fantasy movie came out. Or maybe Polar Express ... Anyway, that part's not important.

The uncanny valley says that anything meant to mimic natural, animal life and movement is fine as long as it's either somewhat stylized or perfectly realistic. If it's trying to perfectly mimic nature and fails in the slightest, it sets off an evolutionary instinct that says something is wrong. Very, very wrong. Like alien-in-a-baggy-flesh-suit wrong.

Guess where that toupee falls.

Because, if you were wearing like a big pink beehive, I wouldn't be so freaked out. I'd think, "Oh, that guy's having a one-man Groove Is in the Heart party" or something. But, that you're trying to imply that that ... thing ... is real hair---I'm very uncomfortable.

It's the lack of follicles. I guess the "hair" strands themselves might be mistaken for real hair. The part in the middle, though, looks so matted and nasty. Like a mouse made a nest in there.

So, the big question is, “So what?” Right? My instincts are going haywire over some dude’s cheap wig. You could be ill or recovering from illness, and not everyone can afford a David Letterman-quality toupee.

Aha, but then I noticed how violently you’re folding and unfolding your newspaper. Aggressive reading is never a good sign. Also, you have a Hitler moustache. But, it’s slightly off-center. And, now you blew your nose and then proceeded to eat the Kleenex!!!

So, I would like to say thank you to the uncanny valley. It is a very helpful evolutionary instinct that has told me I need to switch subway cars. Right away. Because, shit is about to go down on this one. This guy is super bonkers.

And, if it weren’t for that toupee, I would have never noticed.