You’ve probably seen the videos of Robert Pattinson dancing around his modest apartment. He’s wearing ill-fitting track suits and giving a thousand-yard stare to the camera as he lazily shakes his hips. The videos come up in your TikTok FYP mixed in with cat videos and reactions to terrible cooking tutorials. Entertainment media would lead you to believe that everyone–even RPatz’s team themselves–are convinced this is the real deal. But us fans of the British actor? One second into any of the videos and we know we’ve come across an unsettling deepfake, and not even a clever one.
Deepfakes use thousands of images of someone to create a nearly perfect copy of someone’s face. Using technology I won’t pretend to understand, they motion-track that artificial face onto someone else. Deepfakes make it look like the target–almost always a celebrity or politician–is really doing these actions, making this sandwich, dancing to bad pop music. There are many real-world issues with deepfakes. After all, if we can’t trust videos anymore, how will we realistically believe anything we see or hear?
The RPatz deepfakes, currently posting under the TikTok username @unreal_robert are proof that there’s still some time before the tech is truly believable. The computer-generated face poorly sits atop a person without the same facial structure as everyone’s favorite sparkle-vamp. The body is slimmer, the neck longer. The hair isn’t right. Clothes are all wrong. And yet, some people are falling for it…
If you look in the comments for some of these TikToks, you’ll see them filled with people talking about how they never would have guessed that this was fake. One commenter wrote on the above video of Faux Robert Pattinson dancing around while making a sad excuse for a burrito: “i just can’t wrap my head around the fact that this is not actually robert pattinson…?!?! 🤯”
Random fans on the internet aren’t the only ones falling for it, either. In an interview with Evening Standard, Robert Pattinson said of the TikTok deepfakes:
I know, it’s terrifying. The amount of people who know me quite well and will still be like, ‘Why are you doing these weird dancing videos on TikTok?’ It’s really bizarre. You just realise that we’re two years away from it being indistinguishable from reality — and what on Earth am I going to do as a job then?Robert Pattinson, Evening Standard
How is this happening? How does someone see the image on the left, above, and think, “Yes, that’s the guy that just starred as Emo Batman?” When you compare the fake with the real man, side by side, the difference is stark. And no, not everyone is falling for it.
For those of you still having trouble distinguishing between deepfake and the real thing, here are some tips:
- Look at the edges along the hairline. Fakes will be blurry and wiggly.
- Is this something the real person would even do? (RPatz, for instance, has a huge fear of dancing in public, so the man would never post TikTok dance videos.)
- Peep the fit. Is this how the person dresses?
- Are they in a mansion? No? It’s probably not a celebrity then.
- Does it give you the ick? That uncanny valley when a picture or video of a person just feels off: There’s your biggest sign it’s not the real deal.
But, since deepfakes are now a thing, these accounts are here to stay. (Unfortunately.) @unreal_robert has over a million followers. Sister accounts featuring other deepfaked celebs like @unreal_margot and @unreal_keanu are also pulling in big numbers. Follow them or don’t, but just make sure you’re not falling for a fake when you think it’s real.