I was watching a video on CNet the on porn industry and the move to HD DVD the other day, and something in the video struck me as true, not just for porn, but for films at large. In the video, they mentioned that with filming in HD, it's much harder to hide blemishes with makeup and other traditional movie magic, because everything is up there on display in HD. Where porn and other movies overlap is that they are both dependent on fantasy and the suspension of belief, and I wonder if the higher level of realism that HD, be it HD-DVD or Blu-ray, threatens that suspension of belief. In 1970, a Japanese roboticist named Masahiro Mori put forth a hypothesis called the Uncanny Valley. In the hypothesis, he states that with robots, as the characteristics become more human-like, the more sympathy and empathy is aroused in the human observers. However, as the appearance and movement of the robot become less human-like, the response quickly becomes that of disgust, until a point at which the appearance is sufficiently non-human, and empathy levels return to that of a normal human to human interaction. Part of the reason for this response is that if there are more human characteristics, those differences that are non-human will be highlighted, and seen as repulsive (he gives the example of a zombie). But for those robots with more non-human features, the human characteristics will be what is highlighted, and garner empathy.
I bring this up because with this advancement of formats and media, I wonder if we have, or will come, to this Uncanny Valley in our home media formats. Already there have been many issues with CG characters in movies and television, such as the Final Fantasy movie, the Polar Express, or the new Orville Rendenbacher commerical, and numerous ones to come. I think that in this race for the bigger, better, higher definition media, we will run into this uncanny response, not necessarily with a CG character or robot, but with our own human reflection. At that point, we will have to take a step to one side of the valley or the other, be it either forward or backward.