Tag Archives: Television Series

Famous doubles, celebrity doppelgangers, you know what I mean….

Late-night TV is the best TV, for many reasons: programs don’t have to rate well and don’t have to pander to the mindless masses, programs can have challenging or naughty content, such as satirical comedy or heart-rending documentaries, because of less restrictions from classifications, and news TV in the small hours picks up the best part of the news-creating day on the other side of the world where all the exciting stuff happens, and late-night news TV has shows from the BBC and other overseas news networks with serious content that operates on an entirely different level to the mediocrity of news in remote Perth or down-under Australia. One of these worthy foreign news programs that you only get to see at a ridiculous time of morning is the political interview show Conflict Zone. I do love watching Tim Sebastian glaring over his specs at major foreign public figures while relentlessly demanding that they answer his questions, in full. I have no idea why these politicians and assorted suits consent to these public inquisitions. Masochistic streak? It makes 7.30 on the ABC look like daytime chat.

My super-recognizer thing often “goes off” when I watch Mr Sebastian’s mature male face, with his dark eyes fixed on his prey and his head at a lowered angle that is reminiscent of a wolf’s aggressive stance. I know of no other journo or TV personality who has this “look”. It’s confronting.

I have absolutely no conscious intention to compare Mr Sebastian to any infamous historical figure, but I can’t help automatically seeing the visual facial resemblance and the emotional similarity in the situation between Mr Sebastian’s bracing interview style and scenes from a German movie featuring a mature male actor that are so over-the-top in interpersonal fury and entertaining that they have taken on a second life as internet meme fodder.

Another pair of celebrity doppelgangers

I try to avoid watching the 1990s American TV show Walker, Texas Ranger, but on the odd unavoidable occasion when I do, every time I see the American lead female actor Sheree J. Wilson my super-recognizer brain tells me her face is in some way a match for……

….the Australian politician Terri Butler, who has an intelligent, understated style that I find fascinating, even if I don’t take her politics too seriously. Do Butler and Wilson have anything in common, apart from similar faces? No idea.

Visual memory of chore – concept of true story synaesthesia

As I opened the lid of the clear plastic seed-sprouter at my kitchen sink and saw the just-sprouting greenish mung beans, the unpleasant memory of the facts of the story covered by last night’s Four Corners current affairs television show jumped into my mind unbidden. Last night I had been picking out dead brown non-sprouting mung beans from the healthy beans after they had been soaking for hours to start the sprouting process, the kind of dull and repetitive chore that I often try to make less boring by listening to the television or radio while I’m working. In the process of performing this chore last night the content of the television show that I had listened to had become wedded with the visual image of the sprouting beans laying on the tray of the seed sprouter. I think the neuroscience term for this might be “binding”. The fact that these two logically unrelated experiences had become permanently connected in my brain and my mind was unknown to me until the sight of the beans in the sprouter was seen again this afternoon, involuntarily and instantly triggering a complex concept in my mind that has nothing to do with beans or sprouting. The way this variety of synaesthesia operates has similarities with the operation of a number of other varieties of synaesthesia that I have previously written about at this blog: the Proust Phenomenon, fine motor task – visual place memory synaesthesia, concepts associated with visual memories of scenes, involuntary method of loci memorization (IMLM) and arguably The Strange Phenomenon. This type or a similar type of synaesthesia has been experienced by me many times in the past after the synaesthesia associations have been formed while I was doing handcrafts while listening to television shows or radio. An example would be my remembering one year’s winner of the Eurovision Song Contest when I look at the hand-made quilt on our child’s bed which I worked on while we were tuned into the song contest finals on TV. Turkey should win more often – they always make interesting music with a great beat.

Do you speak German?

If you can understand German and wish to learn more about super-recognition and policing you will probably find this video highly educational. It’s pretty interesting even if you have to guess at the commentary. One bit of English that I did pick out was the statement that “Men are better than machines”. Super-recognizer women can be pretty sharp too. It appears that this video shows a study by Dr Josh Davis of the police super-recognizer Idris Bada using eye-tracker technology. The video also apparently features testing of a super-recognizer named Simone by Dr Ashok Jansari. Thanks to Planetopia (German TV show) and Dr Josh Davis for making this available.

Super-Recognisers on Planetopia (German TV) featuring Dr Josh P Davis…. YouTube Published October 2012.

Making children’s television even more annoying

The Annoying Orange is now a TV show, “The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange”, which is currently being broadcast on ABC3. It’s another example of a personified object and personified foodstuff in a comedy show. Why do at least some of us love to see food with human characteristics in sculpture or funny TV shows? What’s the surreal appeal of things that behave like people? Are these quirks of popular culture in any way related to personification synaesthesia or the mental modelling of faces, genders and personalities that gives rise to facial recognition?

Some interesting aspects of the Annoying Orange’s TV show are that it highlights two facts about the visual recognition of people – that dentition can be used to visually identify individuals just like faces can, and that there is one aspect of dentition that can in many cases indicate the gender of the person who owns the teeth. In other words, dentition displays sexual dimorphism, and I suspect that while the Annoying Orange has a male voice that matches his male teeth, one of the other fruity characters in his TV show might not have the correct gender of dentition for their voice and character. Do you know which aspect of human dentition sometimes displays sexual dimorphism?

Annoying Orange  http://annoyingorange.com/

Personification of inanimate objects a common factor in classic British comedy TV shows?

I noted in a previous post that there are many surreal or psychedelic elements in the rather amazing British TV series Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy that seem to hint that various types of synaesthesia, including the personification of inanimate objects, could have been an inspiration in the making of the show. I have also noted that I seem to have an attraction to genres in the arts that appear to be inspired by or incorporate synaesthesia, including Symbolist art and other art of the fin de siecle era, psychedelic music from the 1960s to the present, from all corners of the world, and Fielding’s psychedelic TV series. The other night the kids and I were watching a repeat of the classic 1980s British comedy TV series The Young Ones, and I noticed that like Fielding’s show, it features quite a few characters that are personified inanimate objects. The episode we saw featured a speaking stairway banister and a fridge full of speaking and rotting vegetables, including a bad tomato singing the blues. I’ve realized that there are heaps of similarities between The Young Ones and Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy, including the fact that they are favourites of mine, and are both surreal and thus reject and make a joke of the notion of realism in a TV drama. Both shows are very self-referential in a way that was quite a new and interesting thing back in the 1980s, and The Young Ones was probably was inspired by ideas of deconstruction, semiotics and postmodernism which were very much in fashion in academia in the 1980s. One point of difference between the shows is the extraordinary saturation of colour in Fielding’s show, which might be there because the show is more of a creation of one person than the 1980s TV series, and thus possibly is more a reflection of  a hyper-colour-conscious imagination or thoughts of one creator. I am merely speculating here.

I’m not sure what to make of the personification of objects in these TV shows. I guess it is obvious that characters that are objects are unique to these shows among adult TV shows because other TV series for adults are anchored to the notion of realism, while these shows are free to include features that can’t be real. But why would you want to have talking objects in a show? I think they are included because they add to the unsettling nature of the shows. Both series were clearly made with the aim of challenging the viewer in various ways. Even though I am a synesthete who experiences personified letters of the alphabet and numbers, even I felt unsettled and irritated by the singing tomato in The Young One’s, when I first watched the series in the 1980s. Back then I had no idea that I was a synaesthete and had never even heard of the term synaesthesia. I only knew that in the back of my mind I felt that letters and numbers had essential traits such as colours and genders, but in the front of my mind I knew that such ideas made no sense at all, and I had no idea where my fanciful ideas had come from, except that I knew that they had somehow come from my childhood. I thought of my synaesthesia as an odd and embarrassing feature of my childhood which I wished to forget, rather like thumb-sucking, bed-wetting or reliance on a teddy-bear. Coloured numbers were a silly, patently irrational and childish thing, never to be mentioned ever again. I tried to forget, and the associations dropped out of my conscious experience, to a degree that when I discovered the concept of synaesthesia as a fascinated mother and housewife in her late 30s, my documenting of my many synaesthesia associations and experiences often felt like remembering things from my long-ago childhood. Maybe this is why, when I quite excitedly watched the funny and anarchic new British TV series The Young Ones, as a marginally-interested student of cinema theory and semiotics in a university English department in her 20s, the singing tomatoes bit was the one bit that left me feeling very irritated more than amused or interested.

The Young Ones Interesting part 1 of 3. YouTubehttp://youtu.be/QMb4NogC4us

A transcript of an episode of The Young Ones featuring some personified inaninmate objects: http://www.4q.dk/theyoungones-05-interesting.php