Eagle-eyed Welcome to Wrexham viewers have caught the show out for attempting to pass off AI-generated images as genuine. The seemingly fake photo purports to show a group of Welsh laborers, but fans of the program doubt its authenticity.
The docuseries follows the efforts of Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds to turnaround the ailing fortunes of the historic Wrexham football club.
The second series of Welcome to Wrexham has begun with an AI controversy. A photo shown during the program appears to show Welsh laborers from the turn of the century, but given that fact, some of the specifics appeared out of place.
As one Redditor explained, “From a basic historical perspective, a bunch of details are wrong. Half the men are holding silver tankards, which isn’t something working-class people typically own, much less drink beer from. Let’s assume this ‘photo’ was taken around the turn of the twentieth century. For comparison, the oldest surviving photo of Wrexham Brewery is from 1910.”
Users found other issues with the image. Examining the physical characteristics of the men revealed that more problems could be found.
“Then there’s the guy on the left with some wonky eyes and a peculiar unrealistic left hand—hands are the best way to spot an AI-generated picture. And there is a man on the far right who looks like he’s straight out of a different era,” said one user.
As always online, there was a debate on the issue. One user argued that some of the apparent ‘glitches’ were from the length of the exposure.
“Dude on the far right just moved during the long exposure shot. For me, that’s actually proof of a real photo,” they said.
Another countered that even long exposures couldn’t explain away the myriad of problems with the photo.
“I still don’t get the beer mug floating on that dude’s chest though,” they said.
An ongoing debate
As users ponder the many strange details of the Welcome to Wrexham image, the debate goes on.
The image appeared during a passage of the program discussing Wrexham Lager.
“In 1882, Otto Isler and Ivan Levinstein, two German immigrants to the UK who were unimpressed by the selection of local ales, set out to replicate the lagers they loved from back home,” reveals the program transcript.
“The result was Wrexham Lager, which they sold under the slogan, ‘Absolutely pure and wholesome’. Over the next few decades, their endeavor grew. Wrexham gained in popularity, not just at home but abroad. It traveled with the British army. Yes, it was enjoyed by local Welsh laborers, but it was also beginning to find customers as far away as Peru, the Sudan, and Australia.”
If the image is genuine, it presumably depicts laborers enjoying this Wrexham lager around this time period.
If the image proves fake, there are a number of potential candidates for photorealist image generation. Both Midjourney and Dall-E are excellent candidates for the job, as is Stable Diffusion.
For now, however, the mystery remains open. Do you think the image is real or fake?