Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Science & Tech
27 April 2017updated 03 May 2017 2:14pm

FaceApp blues: a brief history of people more narcissistic than the “selfie generation”

Those of us who want to use FaceApp to find out what we’ll look like when we’re sixty are officially the vainest people in history. Not.

By Amelia Tait

There’s a new app going viral, and its name is FaceApp. FaceApp is a free “neural face transformation” service which allows you to drastically alter your selfies using neural networks. There’s a filter which makes you look old, one that makes you look like a child, and another that will swap your gender. In terms of both technological capabilities and the amount-of-fun-you-can-have-by-pressing-a-button, the app is a clear winner. It is the most fun you’ll have all day.

Boris Johnson under FaceApp’s “smile”, “old”, and “female” filters

Enter the Guardian. In actual fact, the paper informs us, the app is a sign of our “narcissistic times”.  You know the ones. These times. The times we’re living in. Oh the times! Where people use dog-faced Snapchat filters and have the audacity to take pictures of their face while on the bus! Disgusting. Horrible. But most of all, totally, totally unprecedented. Something unseen until digital natives got hold of smartphones. 

Here is a brief historical overview of people and peoples who were, in hindsight, nowhere near as self-involved and vain as those dirty, dirty millennials.

  • Ramses II, who built more statues of himself than any other pharaoh and then inscribed his name on other people’s statues just to rub it in
  • The 40,000 Victorian women who died because they carried on wearing hoop skirts even though they knew they were extremely flammable
  • Emperor Nero, who was declared the winner of AD 67 Olympic 10-horse chariot race after he fell off his horse and refused to finish the race
  • Piers Morgan

Via Getty

  • President Lyndon Johnson who, when asked why American soldiers were in Vietnam, whipped out his actual penis and said “This is why!”
  • Turkmenistan’s president, Saparmurat Niyazov, who built a $12m, 246ft tall monument topped by a 39ft gold-plated statue of himself placed on a rotational device so it would always face the sun
  • And then also renamed the months after himself and his family
  • Ancient Roman women, who knew that lead was poisonous but carried on using it to whiten their faces anyway
  • And then used crocodile dung as make-up on top

Via Getty

  • Rembrandt, who created over 100 self-portraits and then made his students copy them out in order to learn about art
  • And then also painted himself into his artwork of the crucifixion
  • Pope Innocent VIII, who allegedly drank the blood of three young boys in hope of capturing their youth
  • Like, even if that was just a rumour you know he had to be pretty screwed up for that rumour to fly
  • I mean, Instagram didn’t even exist

Via Getty

  • Henry Cyril Paget, the fifth Marquis of Anglesey who purchased a theatre and multiple acting troupes so that he could always play the lead role
  • And also modified his car so the exhaust sprayed perfume
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ordered three 8ft-tall bronze statues of himself
  • The First Earl of Leicester Robert Dudley, who commissioned 20 portraits of himself and the hung them next to pictures of Queen Elizabeth I because he wanted to bang her
  • Donald Trump, who signed a proclamation to make his inauguration the “National Day of Patriotic Devotion”

Via Getty

  • Louis XIII, who passed multiple laws prohibiting anyone but himself and other nobility from wearing gold embroidery
  • Queen Ranavalona I of Madagascar, who ordered that a road be built as she walked so that her journey was smoother
  • Oh, and 10,000 people died building it
  • The Roman Emperor Caligula, who declared himself a god and killed anyone that mentioned goats in his presence
  • Josef Stalin, who shot his own parrot for mimicking him
  • And also, tbh, killed a lot of other people too

Via Getty

  • A man called John Crutezi, who died because in 1888 he starched his collar to be too stiff and he choked
  • Henry VIII, who created an entirely new religion just so he could divorce his wife
  • Louis XIV, who called himself the “Sun King” – implying everything revolved around him –and for good measure added “L’État, c’est moi” (“I am the State”)
  • Pretty much everyone involved with the British empire

So it’s final. Those of us who want to use FaceApp to find out what we’ll look like when we’re sixty are officially the vainest people in history. 

*/