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Thursday, December 9, 2021

YassifyBot and ‘Yassification’ Memes, Defined

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“Lady With a Pearl Earring” in a full face of make-up. The primary Queen Elizabeth contoured from her neck ruff up. Severus Snape with jet-black hair extensions. Sasquatch sporting a smoky eye.

These are only a few of the altered photos which were shared by YassifyBot, a Twitter account that began popping up in individuals’s feeds this month.

To “yassify” one thing, within the account’s parlance, is to use a number of magnificence filters to an image utilizing FaceApp, an A.I. photo-editing utility, till its topic — be {that a} superstar, a historic determine, a fictional character or a piece of positive artwork — turns into nearly unrecognizably made up.

Since YassifyBot’s account was activated on Nov. 13, it has tweeted a whole lot of images by which topics’ lashes seem thick and spidery; their eyebrows look as if they’ve seen the enterprise finish of a pencil; their hair has been lengthened and, typically, coloured; and their cheekbones and nostril are sharply contoured.

It needs to be famous that YassifyBot just isn’t really a bot. Its tweets aren’t generated by software program. The account is run by a 22-year-old school scholar in Omaha who makes artwork underneath the identify Denver Adams and requested that The Instances not reveal their authorized identify.

The method for making every picture is straightforward: Take a face, run it by FaceApp till it appears to be like generically or grotesquely attractive, publish, repeat. Mr. Adams mentioned in a Zoom interview that every picture takes only some minutes to create.

The timing of the account’s reputation is a bit puzzling. Straightforward-to-use photo-retouching apps aren’t new. FaceApp particularly has been the topic of stories articles about privateness points and its “sizzling” filter, which was decried as racist for lightening customers’ pores and skin tones. (In 2017, The Guardian reported that FaceApp’s founder, Yaroslav Goncharov, apologized for the filter, blaming the pores and skin lightening on bias the A.I. software program had picked up in its coaching.)

The phrase “yass” — which may also be spelled “yas,” “yaas” or with any variety of A’s and S’s for emphasis — has been circulating in L.G.B.T.Q. vernacular for greater than a decade. The phrase was additional popularized by a 2013 video of a fan admiring Girl Gaga. The Comedy Central present “Broad Metropolis,” by which Ilana Glazer’s character ceaselessly deploys the phrase “yas queen,” additionally helped to carry the phrase into wider use.

In line with KnowYourMeme.com, the phrase “yassification” first appeared on Twitter in 2020. Because it unfold, so did memes of celebrities being digitally remodeled, together with one which depicted the actress Toni Collette screaming within the horror movie “Hereditary,” her face instantly settling into a man-made glamorized model of itself.

“I didn’t create the joke,” Mr. Adams mentioned, citing the meme of Ms. Collette as inspiration. “I simply ruined it.”

However what, precisely, is the joke?

Mr. Adams chalks it as much as the sheer ridiculousness of the photographs, saying that the extra absurd they seem, the funnier they turn into.

Like many web jokes, the road between mocking and celebration is murky.

Rusty Barrett, a professor of linguistics on the College of Kentucky who has researched language in homosexual subcultures, sees a hyperlink between the photographs disseminated by YassifyBot and the tradition of drag.

“It evokes drag in that drag queens generally look plastic and method overdone,” Prof. Barrett mentioned in a cellphone interview.

“A part of it’s that it appears to be like good, but it surely clearly appears to be like pretend,” Prof. Barrett mentioned. “That optimistic view of artifice is one thing that’s widespread throughout homosexual tradition.”

The “yassify” memes additionally share some DNA with the web subculture of “bimbofication,” which valorizes a vapid and surgically enhanced model of femininity.

Most bimbofication memes are simply web jokes about gender performativity, however some hard-core devotees have taken to Reddit to doc their real-life transformations, together with self-hypnosis to turn into extra “smooth-brained.”

In the identical method, yassifying is humorous till it’s not. It’s a pleasure to see Harry Potter’s Dobby or Bernie Sanders wanting like a digital glam squad had gotten them prepared for the pink carpet. However it’s a horror to assume that we’re so inclined to this degree of vanity.

All memes have a shelf life, and yassification fatigue has already set in. On the day the YassifyBot joined Twitter, one person tweeted: “I noticed one of the best minds of my era destroyed by yassification.”

It was solely a matter of time earlier than manufacturers caught on to the development. Final week, as an illustration, Amtrak promoted the “yassification” of 1 its trains in 2022 on TikTok, utilizing the hashtags #Yassify, #Slay and #rupaulsdragrace.

Might or not it’s the loss of life knell of the yassify meme?

“If I wasn’t the one operating the account, I’d have already blocked the account,” Mr. Adams mentioned. “Absolutely.”



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