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Men Crying Together With Cheeseburgers
The manvolution of "Women Laughing Alone With Salad"
Most women, it is safe to say, don’t spontaneously erupt into laughter while sitting by themselves eating salad. Yet somehow this idea—the joy! the healthy food! the you-go-girlness of it all!—has proven so compelling to art directors at stock photo houses that it has spawned not just a handful of pictures representing “women laughing alone with salad” but a whole subgenre of stock photos, many examples of which were lovingly curated in an old Hairpin post that I often return to when I’m feeling down. I find the weird quiet mania of these laughing women somehow comforting.
Now, with the help of the AI art generator Midjourney, this old meme has been kicked up a notch. A tweet thread with AI-generated images of, well, womenlaughingalonewithsalad went viral and it was … something. The hypomanic women of the original stock photos have become inhumanly hysterical, with vast gaping mouths and too many teeth; like much AI art, the images are terrifying, yet somehow also beautiful.
Here is a tweet (not the viral one) from the originator of the pics; you can follow it to Twitter to see a whole thread of these things.
I have decided to take this meme to its logical next step—offering a sort of masculine inversion of the feminine original, the yang to its yin, in which every aspect of the original has become its opposite. Behold: Men Crying Together With Cheeseburgers.
Now, these being examples of AI art (I also used Midjourney), there practically have to be problems with them, and there are some obvious problems with these—even aside from the requisite AI extra fingers. Notably, none of these men are actually crying, per se; there are no tears to be seen—even though, after the first batch, I specified that these crying men should all have “tears running down their cheeks.” Bad Midjourney! But these men are 1) together, 2) with cheeseburgers, and 3) they’re obviously upset about something. Close enough for AI.
I suppose I could have gone on forever, creating picture after picture after picture, hoping that in at least one of them, there would be some tears. (There never were.) But then Midjourney coughed up this one, from some demonic alternate reality, and I took it as the cue to stop.
On the plus side, this picture does feature something sort of like tears, albeit made of ketchup. But honestly, I felt that I was treading on dangerous ground, that the hysteria of these men was becoming so real it was ready to burst out of the images into reality. Frankly, I was a little scared.
But if you are braver than I am, try the simple prompt on an AI art generator of your choice: “Men crying together with cheeseburgers, with tears running down their cheeks.” Just try not to summon any demons in the process.
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