Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Celebrity Turing Test: John McClane Goes Undercover

I meant to post this a couple weeks ago on the heels of Bruce Willis's surprise visit to the Ain't-It-Cool News talkback section. If you missed it, a breakdown of what went down is over here. Basically, in response to a long rant about the PG-13ing of Die Hard 4, the mysterious Walter B appeared to alleviate everyone's fears about a castrated John McClane. At first hinting that he "worked on the movie", it quickly became apparent that Walter B was in fact Bruce Willis himself or an imposter (note: his full name is Walter Bruce Willis). Well, it turns out it was the real Bruce. But in the days before this fact was finally confirmed, the talkback was full of rampant speculation and numerous "tests" to prove that Walter B was who he claimed to be. If you've got a lot of time on your hands, the talkback a fairly entertaining read particularly because Bruce Willis hangs around to talk about the movie and other random things in spite of vehement doubters and surly commenters. The funniest part is that Bruce actually fails a lot of the so-called tests to prove his identity, though really how could internet fanboys undeniably prove that they're chatting with Bruce? The answer is iChat, though it took quite a few days for them to figure this out and even though Bruce was openly asking people to join him on iChat, apparently no one on the talkback had a Mac (Bruce is a Mac guy). There was also a fear that they'd come face-to-face with an internet pervert... which is justifiable, I guess.

Some tests that Walter B failed (my interpretation):


The REAL Bruce Willis would know how to spell John McClane and use grammar.
Walter B: Fool, the Real Bruce Willis don't proofread. Proofreading's for suckas!

At the 50th anniversary of the Cannes film festival, what hotel were you in and what could you see outside the window?
Walter B: Hell if I know!

The real Bruce Willis could not possibly forget the premiere of The 5th Element.
Walter B: Who are you to decide what Bruce Willis remembers and doesn't remember?


I was reminded of a great piece by Maciej Ceglowski called Celebrity Turing Test from his site Idle Words, in which he discusses Pixies' frontman Frank Black's visit to his own forums. The article charts a parallel chain of events with Frank Black faced with the same sort of reactions that Bruce Willis would face almost 4 years later... even things such as the moderators stepping in to flatly deny the imposter's claim and then the belated confirmation followed by pages of adulation.

Yet another similar incident occurred with Ben Folds when he visited his fan forums.

Of the top of my head, those are the other incidents that come to mind, but I'm sure there are several other instances of a celebrity dropping in unexpectedly on a fan site and being subjected to random identity tests.

Bruce Willis - I'll Go Crazy [originally by James Brown]
Bruce Willis - Under the Boardwalk [originally by the Drifters]

Pixies - Ain't That Pretty at All [originally by Warren Zevon]
Reel Big Fish - Gigantic [originally by the Pixies]

Ben Folds Five - She Don't Use Jelly (Complete Sessions at West 54th) [originally by The Flaming Lips]


Anonymous said...

I've never seen such tests on other celebrity websites...It's interesting:)

huoyangao said...

In Turing Test Two, two players A and B are again being questioned by a human interrogator C. Before A gave out his answer (labeled as aa) to a question, he would also be required to guess how the other player B will answer the same question and this guess is labeled as ab. Similarly B will give her answer (labeled as bb) and her guess of A's answer, ba. The answers aa and ba will be grouped together as group a and similarly bb and ab will be grouped together as group b. The interrogator will be given first the answers as two separate groups and with only the group label (a and b) and without the individual labels (aa, ab, ba and bb). If C cannot tell correctly which of the aa and ba is from player A and which is from player B, B will get a score of one. If C cannot tell which of the bb and ab is from player B and which is from player A, A will get a score of one. All answers (with the individual labels) are then made available to all parties (A, B and C) and then the game continues. At the end of the game, the player who scored more is considered had won the game and is more "intelligent".