All About Me

How Uncanny Was My Valley?

April 15, 2014

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How Uncanny Was My Valley?

Within the conventions of English drag comedy, the most familiar character is what the Monty Python troupe dubbed “the pepperpot”: a frumpy, lumpy menopausal matron, portrayed by a barely disguised male actor.

(Amusingly, this “pantomime dame” is also what most real-life male-to-female transsexuals actually end up looking like.)

One mid-’60s sketch on Not Only, But Also broke with this tradition, however; a parody of the final iconic shot from Queen Christina (1933), the spoof exploited Peter Cook’s famously flat affect by casting him as blank-faced Greta Garbo, complete with silky shoulder length hair and carefully applied makeup. (A preemptive footnote for pedants and geeks: No, this is not the more familiar and fondly remembered “Bloody Greta Garbo” skit from the same BBC series.)

Cook later remarked, “As Garbo I thought I looked incredibly beautiful. I fancied myself rotten!”

“As usual, all the studies seem to show is that most studies are crap.”

Alas, Cook is no longer around to provide amusing commentary about last week’s virulent Internet meme, “BoyfriendTwin.” called it “the strangest phenomenon you’ll see today,” and this is the same website that offers up a sexually explicit interview with comedian Hannibal Buress, in which he remembers one groupie who “wanted me to flick pickle juice into her eyes.”

BoyfriendTwin is a Tumblr site—its motto: “What’s sexier than dating yourself?”—that collects photographs of male couples that look alike. Really, really alike. More so than some twins you’ve seen.

Now, maybe I’m dating myself, but I happen to know that so-called “clones” have played a big part in gay culture since before Stonewall. But these BoyfriendTwin guys have taken it to the next creepy level. 

Just two weeks ago, musing about “Pet Cocks” and penis envy, I wondered whether Freud was really “bunk” after all. In a fitting fit of déjà vu, I’m now tempted to dust off another one of the old guy’s theories, which ascribes homosexuality to narcissism (sort of).

Except the “dopplebanger” phenomenon isn’t confined to gays. We all probably know straight couples that look eerily alike, and—you guessed it—there’s a study for that.

In a, well, uncanny coincidence, only days after the weird BoyfriendTwins pictures were being rapidly reproduced around the web, one Emma Pierson at FiveThirtyEight declared, “In the End, People May Really Just Want to Date Themselves.”