Friday, June 9, 2017

Uncanny Valley High

Sometimes I create something that scares me, and I feel a bit like a mad scientist. It was only an innocent doll! I swear it. But it came out looking so - disturbing. It reminded me a bit of my juju doll experiment, in which the object of my wrath actually died. Had nothing to do with me, of course, and I am sure he died with a smile on his face. But he died, nonetheless.

There is more to this story, but I am afraid to tell it. Suffice it to say, I came out the other side of it realizing that a doll can be a way to concentrate loves, hates, and wishes, and not all of them are benevolent.

This doll will not bring about the death of any known human being. Unknown ones are another matter.

Valley of Unliving Dolls

I had a reborn doll phase that lasted a couple of months, if that. It mostly consisted of watching videos of women pretending that elaborately-shaped blobs of silicone were real babies. It was so bizarre that I became transfixed, watching little Tamsyn get "sick" (some of these dolls actually heat up and probably vomit), and Kendrick going on a shopping trip to buy a tiny pair of Skechers. Reborn addicts love to dress up their "babies" and put them in full public view, waiting for that "Oh my God I thought it was - " reaction. Some even leave them locked in hot cars. I can't help but see this as very disturbed behaviour.

But it was fascinating. I wanted the experience without spending the money, so I bought these two, Alyssa and Alex, for about $20 each on eBay. I knitted clothing for them and everything, then very soon I chucked them into a plastic box. Once in a while I would see them on the closet shelf and a wave of shivering dread would go through me. These are uncanny valley dolls, for sure, as are all the reborns.

My dolls aren't life-size and don't have the soft, squishy bodies of the true "unliving" doll. But they are definitely influenced by them, as they are deliberately more creepily real in their detail: fuzzy newborn-like hair, big glassy eyes, eyelashes and a rosebud mouth.

I'm unlikely to play with these much, and I certainly won't treat them like babies. The women in the videos really do seem to believe they're real, and I wonder sometimes how their actual relationships might suffer from their obsession. There's lots and lots of justification going on, assuring everyone that it's a harmless hobby that only brings joy to your life. No mention of the tens of thousands of dollars the high-end version of these things cost.

But is it joyful to dash to the baby's room in the middle of the night to take her temperature, when the "baby" is a chunk of vinyl with a gizmo inside it that makes the sound of a heartbeat? Are these women open with other women, normies I mean, about their "hobby"? My guess is that they're secretive, which is why the "reborn community" on YouTube means so much to them.

Paul McCartney animation