You are, no doubt, familiar with Hollywood actor Armie Hammer. Of course you are! Hard name to forget, plus you surely have at least one friend who is very publicly horny for him. They’ve tweeted about it, probably.
Good, great. We are all on the same page that Armie Hammer is a person who exists and is, by most accounts, notably attractive. Now, please try to describe what Armie Hammer looks like.
Think hard. He has… a face? It exists in a physical space above most average people because he is... tall? This task might be a bit difficult because he is not currently promoting a film, and everyone stopped talking about him making out with Timothee Chalamet, so you haven’t seen pictures of him in a little while.
I’ll help. Here is a picture of Armie Hammer — go ahead and take a nice, long look.
What a pleasant face. Trustworthy, dependable, but with just the slightest hint that he would be willing to call you degrading things in bed if you asked him to, and only if you asked.
Okay, please close your eyes for a reasonable period of time.
Are they closed? If you just answered that, they clearly were not closed. Please do not betray me again.
Alright, now that your eyes are open again, please describe to me the face of Armie Hammer. It’s the face you just saw.
If, like me, you are struggling to accomplish this ostensibly easy task, perhaps it will help to raise the stakes. Imagine that you just witnessed Armie Hammer climbing out of your neighbor’s window covered in blood. Yikes! Better retain every detail so you can relay this to the police.
Here’s what I got:
You see, Armie Hammer has a face so perfectly conventional that the brain categorizes it simply as “a face.” There is probably some science behind this. It’s a great face for Hollywood, where the depth of character often amounts to “a person with a nice face” but the other great advantage of having the type of visage that inspires face blindness in others is that it’s clearly the perfect face for committing crimes.
It is a Mr. Police-I-gave-you-all-the-clues-ass face. On the one hand, when you are staring directly at it, it conveys a dependable sort of boy next doorness. Surely this face means you no harm (unless you ask!) But once it disappears from your field of vision it becomes a cipher. Armie Hammer’s face resists object permanence.
What am I suggesting? That Armie Hammer could murder someone, and there would be no reliable witnesses. The only question left is how many people he’s killed.