The Daily Beast
While one could fairly question how much influencers have given to us—as a species and a society—it’s undeniable that they’re real innovators when it comes to finding ways to be weird about race. Whether it’s blackfishing or posting black squares on Instagram as though that somehow supports Black Lives Matter, influencers just have a knack for being thoroughly embarrassing. And now they have a new medium: a photo-editing app with a brand-new feature that allows users to make their photos appear as though they were “were born on a different continent.” We can all see where this is going, right?> You need to try this new feature in the gradient app, it’s crazy 😂 pic.twitter.com/KyogbJOw1P> > — Brody Jenner (@BrodyJenner) September 22, 2020This week luminaries including Scott Disick, Brody Jenner and influencer Danielle Cohn, all of whom are white, have landed themselves in hot water by promoting the app Gradient and making use of its latest feature, posting their doctored likenesses on Twitter and TikTok to compare what they would look like if they were “from” continents including Africa and Asia. As some social media users have pointed out, the filter is basically just a digital form of blackface, yellowface, etc.—another extension of the ongoing and ever-expanding uses of digital blackface online.Jenner tweeted out an image that includes likenesses meant to appear as though they are from “Africa,” “Asia,” and “India.” (Despite its claim to make people look like they are from different continents, it appears to include filters for “India” and “Brazil” as well.) Disick, meanwhile, went with “Europe,” “Asia,” and “India.”> Tried new filters in the Gradient app > Which one is better? 😂 pic.twitter.com/5SdXNZJk8S> > — Scott Disick (@ScottDisick) September 22, 2020And Cohn posted a video to TikTok in which the app made her face appear as though she was from “Africa,” “Asia,” and “Europe.”Gradient, as longtime users know, also includes less controversial (read: stupid) features—like one that identifies celebrities its users most closely resemble and another that can transform a selfie to look like an oil painting. One can even show you what animal you look like. Fun!> Staying at home and found Gradient app that guesses your DNA Ancestry by your photo. > It is very interesting and sometimes funny 😂 gradient ad dna pic.twitter.com/MrCXUfW17V> > — Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) April 2, 2020It’s unclear whether Jenner, Disick, or Cohn were paid to promote Gradient or its latest feature, and Gradient did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment. It’s perhaps worth noting, however, that the Kardashian clan has shilled for Gradient before—specifically, promoting a feature that, per the app’s website, “can estimate your DNA ancestry with the help of latest AI techs! Simply upload your photo and our exceptionally accurate algorithm will analyze features of your face and tell your ethnic background.” (Hmm...)Kim Kardashian West, Kylie Jenner, and Khloé Kardashian all tweeted about the DNA feature in early April, as did actress Alexandra Daddario. But it was Macaulay Culkin who made the biggest splash for Gradient last October—when he used the celebrity look-alike filter and discovered his doppelgänger is, according to the app, Wiz Khalifa. Searches for Gradient spiked at that time to a degree that remains unmatched to this day. (I don’t make the rules but as far as I’m concerned this is bona fide proof that the Kardashians and Jenners’ power as influencers pales in comparison to that of the erstwhile Kevin McCallister—a lesson we would all do well to remember.)> Hey gradientapp, I think I broke your app. pic.twitter.com/MgQNCfTmws> > — Macaulay Culkin (@IncredibleCulk) October 21, 2019YouTuber Jarvis Johnson, meanwhile, poked fun at the feature with a meme from The Office.> me using the gradient app pic.twitter.com/PyTPIz4hnV> > — jarvis johnson (@jarvis) October 18, 2019In any case, what more to say? This is juyet one more entry into the strange story that is 2020—and for the annals of celebrity weirdness writ large. Let’s all just wait and see what fresh silliness awaits us tomorrow.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.