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Google Arts and Culture App delivers hurtful caricatures

The Google Arts and Culture App has a new feature: matching people’s selfies with the closest thing to a look-alike face of someone in a historical painting. For the past week or so, everyone from Jake Tapper to Kate Hudson to your Uncle Brian to your cousin Alyssa has been posting their Google Arts and Culture selfies on social media, and some of them are shockingly accurate. I decided to use the app with my two roommates, Nick and Nate, to try and find out just how accurate the app is.


Photo courtesy of Google Arts & Culture App

It would be very remiss of me not to first acknowledge the nine-pound breathing apparatus in the room: the nose. Upon first reaction, Nick could only muster a hearty laugh, followed by a deep sigh, and then the quiet muttering of,

“That’s messed up. That’s accurate. But hurtful.”

Nick’s clearly being modest by saying his results are accurate. Perhaps if his schnoz was stung by a swarm of bees it would have a chance at being accurate, but otherwise the nose in the painting is Hagrid and Nick’s nose is Harry.


Photo courtesy of Google Arts & Culture App

The wispy mustache donned by my match moves with the wind. His eyes are full of drive and ambition. The young Saint stands gallantly, his heart yearning for the greater good. He has barely slept in days, coffeeless and yet wide awake. He has yet to hurt – he knows not pain. And yet he can feel. He can hope. He can change.

The man on the left threw on a hoodie and was late to his 8 a.m. because he had to stop and get coffee.


Photo courtesy of Google Arts & Culture App

Let’s not beat around the bush and just recognize that this is practically a perfect match. Although the man in the painting’s face may be a bit more pug-like while Nate’s facial structure is more similar to that of a dachshund, these are just minor details. Nate, perhaps disturbed by the bulging forehead of his so-called “doppelganger,” decided to have another crack at it, this time with the duck face (Duck face (noun): a way of manipulating one’s face so as to look like one has a duck-like bill instead of a human mouth. This practice was popularized by teenage girls circa 2010 to avoid showing their true faces on social media), probably hoping to be matched with a handsome 15th century Scottish prince. The results of round two, however, proved to only assure that Google’s 65 percent rating for the match might as well be a 100 percent.

Photo courtesy of Google Arts & Culture App

Then, perhaps out of pure disgust, Nate changed the lighting and threw a last second Hail Mary in an attempt to get any match BUT this mystery man. Efforts proved futile.

Photo courtesy of Google Arts & Culture App

“Wow, that’s disturbingly accurate,” Nate said. “I can hardly tell which one is me. I’m sure that man was a great man.”

When asked about his roommate’s shockingly consistent results, Nick didn’t hold back: “It really just makes me feel queasy.”

Needless to say, the Google Arts and Culture app is a great way to stir up some trouble amongst roommates. You might just find some unlikely doppelgangers along the way.

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