Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The real reason everyone's so angry about Ed Miliband's speech is that he's The Thing From Uncanny Valley

The above video - courtesy of Guido Fawkes - demonstrates Labour's two main problems. First, their "policies" (I use the word ironically) are patently ludicrous. Second, while most of the Labour frontbenchers featured in the video are evidently charlatans, they are at least recognisably human - i.e. they're responding in the panicky, truculent way most of us would when questioned sharply about idiotic, uncosted policies which we all know amount to a malodorous pile of illogical poo. If they were decent, honest human beings, of course, they'd resign - but at least we can tell they're human from the fact that they are desperately embarrassed. Their "leader" (more irony) is, by contrast,  unembarrassable. This - among much other evident weirdness - is leaving those of us in the human community with the growing suspicion that Ed Miliband might not actually be a real, living, breathing human being at all. 

Apart from his inability to remember minor matters of no interest whatsoever to the average British voter such as  immigration, welfare and the deficit, Miliband's core problem is that he's The Thing from Uncanny Valley. If you haven't heard the phrase before, film folk use it to describe the region where animated characters who look too human find themselves stranded. This tends to unsettle audiences, because the nearly-but-not-quite-human quality gives the impression that the characters are animated corpses. The phenomenon was first identified after the release of the 2004 film, The Polar Express, and has been used to explain the spectacular box office failure of 2011's Mars Needs Moms (it grossed less than $39m on a budget of $150m). You can judge the validity of the criticism by watching the trailer here - it does looks singularly unappealing. 

Ed Miliband's uncanniness partly arises from his "sort of but not quite fully human" appearance, his weird movements (just watch him clapping in the above video), and the way his features either lapse into an unresponsive deadness or an inappropriate fixed expression as he waits (albeit briefly) for audience applause to subside. Then there's the way he talks. For instance, whenever he makes an "l" sound followed by a vowel it gives the impression that his tongue is rolling around the inside of his mouth like an engorged slug lolling about in a pint of freshly expectorated mucus. Just listen to the way he says "clearly", "realistically" or "lead". Fair sends a shiver up the spine. 

But mainly the creepiness - the unsettling eeriness - results from the utter deadness behind his eyes. Like a bad actor, there is no sense that he understands the meaning or the effect of what he's saying - he is an animated figure, but there's no hint of inner life, of any genuine consciousness. He could be a remotely-controlled robot, but a very, very badly designed one (as you'd expect from anything created by the Labour Party).

I suspect that it's this disturbing uncanniness which so annoys people. Certainly, many of the right-wing journalists covering yesterday's dreadful speech were openly laughing at the pseudo-man, but despite the fact that they really should have been delighted by the Labour leader's ineptness, many of them were also genuinely angered by his performance (for instance, Tim Stanley wrote a Telegraph blog entitled "Ed Miliband is really quite bad at his job. For the sake of democracy, he has to go", which is worth reading). But I think what really upset Dr. Stanley and his colleagues was Miliband's inhuman weirdness - they were repelled as much by his unconvincingness as a human being as by the babyish twaddle he was spouting. 

I had rather expected that left-wing journalists would rally round and pretend that Miliband's speech wasn't actually as appalling as it sounded - but apart from a few staunch loyalists (e.g. the Guardian's Polly Toynbee and the Mirror's Kevin Maguire), they were absolutely incandescent:

I guess that's what happens when you realise that your party is being led by The Thing from Uncanny Valley

1 comment:

  1. Thank God there is one journalist remaining at the BBC who, for all his faults, is prepared to ask Labourites the questions they don't know how to answer.

    They'll have to wheel out Red Andy on Sunday to undo some of the damage.