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I recently saw ” The Dictator” ( movie) by Sacha Baron Cohen. There was a very interesting twist in the movie where a double replaced the Dictator. Funny movie, btw, which i can recommend to folks with a sense of humor. It’s outrageous, which is expected from Sacha Baron Cohen ( Ali-G) as a film maker, but very funny in many ways.
The idea of replacing someone with a lookalike was quite intriguing, reminding me of a book.
About 30 years ago i remember reading a novel – a book i picked up in a book store at an airport by accident because i was under the wrong impression it was a satire ( i don’t remember the title) which turned out to be a first world war detective thriller. I’m not a fan of thrillers nor of war novels, but it was incredibly interesting thus i read on but sadly never finished the book. I forget it on the plane and couldn’t find another book because i forgot the title.
The novel was about a conspiracy taking place during the first world war, with the French replacing powerful German industrials, etc. with lookalikes. The wives of the industrials, some of whom were the actual heirs having married men who then ran the companies, insisted their husbands were not their husbands, and even close friends felt suspicious, agreeing with the wives.
A Detective was hired just as the heir( the protagonist and hero of the story) of a big publishing company was taken to an insane-asylum, diagnosed with a mental disorder that makes a person believe someone is replaced with a look-alike. The disorder was discovered only months before by a ” French” Psychiatrist; thus the heirs realizing their husbands were replaced and making a fuzz about it, were locked up in insane-asylums, diagnosed with that disorder.
The detective discovered a connection between the Psychiatrist and those behind the take-overs, or rather replacements, but sadly i don’t know how the novel ended.
The movie “The Dictator” reminded me of that novel. Thus the other day i checked if there is such a disorder that makes people believe someone is replaced with a look-alike and indeed…
…I was stunned. A “French” Psychiatrist, named Joseph Capgras, discovered a disorder called ” Capgras” delusion in 1923. Now imagine someone read the very same novel i read years ago and came up with a plan, believing one could ” theoretically” exchange people and diagnose those, suspecting something fishy, with a disorder and lock them up so they keep quiet ?
It’s immensely interesting, especially in times like ours with few people paying attention to detail. Doubles can easily make fans believe they’re the real thing. It’s done all the time.
Last year i saw a fellow walk around New York looking like Rod Steward. Some even believed it was Rod Steward, but it wasn’t – some specific details were missing – he was a ” fair” not great lookalike.
I remember in the mid 1980’s there was a fellow in the Canary Islands who had a similarity to the designer Karl Lagerfeld. He didn’t really, but the pony tail and glasses was enough to make some folks believe it was Karl Lagerfeld. Turned out the guy never said he was Karl Lagerfeld, in fact he denied it, saying his name was Pancho, or whatever ( LOL) which made those believing ( or wanting to believe) it was Lagerfeld more sure he was the real deal, suspecting he didn’t want to be recognized.
Of course he wore his hair in a pony tail and sun glasses to be mistaken for Lagerfeld, but such tactics were common in the Spanish isles during the 80’s, to pick up women, who ended up believing they had a fling with a well known person.
Just the other day i saw a photo of Reince Priebus, Chairman of the RNC and realized how very much he looks like Jeff Bezos of Amazon. From the eyes all the way to the little dimple in the chin, he bears a striking resemblance to Jeff Bezos. I wondered if their parents knew one another; those two should really meet – they look like brothers. I’m sure either could stand in for the other as a double and no one would know the difference; though i don’t know if their voices are similar.
Then there is Simon Cowell. When first seeing Simon Cowell on TV i thought, wow, he looks like JFK Junior. I saw his eyes and instantly thought JFK Junior. The nose, the mouth, ears, forehead, eye brows, hairline – though they share a strikingly similar chin, Simon Cowell has a dimple in his – it was stunning how very much Simon Cowell looks like JFK Junior, would he have had the chance to grow older – as though they’re an identical twin separated at birth. Simon Cowell could have been a perfect double for JFK, Junior.
It’s fascinating how many people have lookalikes in the world. I remember years ago when the show ” Picket Fences” came on the air, with the Judge played by Fyvush Finkel. I saw Fyvush Finkel and it was as though i clearly saw Tiny Tim in his face, especially in his eyes and nose. The only thing that didn’t match were the teeth. Maybe they were closely related – maybe brothers and they never knew ?
It appears, though, as if many people are face blind and easily fooled just by a person wearing a specific trademark. I’m pretty sure that well known people wouldn’t be recognized by a great majority of people if they didn’t wear their trademark. Though a small mole doesn’t make that big of a difference in the case of Ehud Barak, former Prime Minister of Israel, who used to sport a mole next to his nose.
What would Hitler have looked like without that little moustache and his hair combed backwards ? He could have sat on the patio of a Cafe in any metropolitan city and no one would have taken notice, because without the little moustache and coif he would have been unrecognizable.
Then there is the saga of Charley Chaplin having gone to a Charley Chaplin lookalike contest and … didn’t win.
Some years back i went to visit the Arabian Peninsula for Ramadan, which is the best time to visit because it’s wonderfully quiet there around that time. Walking around Dubai and visiting the Heritage village ( museum) i stopped when seeing some photos at one of the bungalows.
” Could it be ?”, i thought. “Was that Ayman Al Zawahiri the whole world is looking for, or does he just look a LOT like him ?” I took photos of the photos to eventually compare them to the Ayman said to be Usama Bin Laden’s number two man.
Back home, comparing the photos it did indeed show a tremendous resemblance, with the only difference that one wore a Turban and the other a head-dress with an igal. Having said that, a lot of people resemble other people, and the man on the photo i took, was on the cover of an Arabian newspaper the next day thus i asked around who he was. I was told he was a very kind man and philanthropist and one of the founders of the heritage museum.
Here’s the photo i took – you can click on it to make it bigger.
Now imagine this man had at some point worn a turban, mistaken for Al Zawahiri ? The resemblance is so striking he could have ended up branded as a terrorist while an innocent man just because of a resemblance.
Having said that, if Al Zawahiri would shave his beard, have the prayer-bump removed from his forehead and wear different glasses and no turban no one would recognize him.