A CGI me after death?
This post may contain Rouge One spoilers.
The other day, I read an article..fine, I read the headline to an article that appeared on my Facebook feed that said something along the lines that Robin Williams put in a stipulation in his Will that his likeness/image couldn’t be used for 25 years.
I considered it an intriguing request so I shared it with MJ. I wondered if more and more celebrities will include that stipulation in their Wills considering how far we’ve come with CGI that they were able to have Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One for the entire movie which was much better than the CGI used for Paul Walker in Furious 7. And now with Carrie Fisher’s untimely death, Disney could possibly do the same for her Princess/General Leia character especially since they already created a CGI Princess Leia for Rogue One!
A seemingly innocent ponder turned into a lengthy discussion on ethical dilemmas, ungrateful families, state of mind, and lots more…
MJ: I can see why they’d do it, however, that could be an important revenue stream for their families…it doesn’t make any difference to you (you’re dead after all), but it could provide an income when you’re gone for your loved ones.
What MJ said would be fine if your family is incapable of making money on their own. For example, if there was some incapacitation (is that a word?) of some sort, whether temporary (the kids are small) or permanent (disability). Also, would be fine if you ran up huge debts before you died and you didn’t leave enough money for your family to quickly pay those debts off.
But other than those scenarios I gave above, I cannot see why would a celebrity requesting that his/her likeness/image not be used for a set amount of time would be wrong.
I loved many of Robin Williams performances, particularly the last movie I saw of him Night at the Museum 3. I was so sad that he was so deep in depression that he believed that taking his life was the only way to stop the pain. (If anyone is reading this and contemplating suicide, remember that depression lies. Please talk to someone. You are not alone.)
I didn’t know Robin Williams and as mentioned before, I didn’t read the article, so I don’t know what his reasons would have been for putting a hold on movie studios using his likeness.
For the sake of this argument, let’s say I’m the mega celebrity (ha!) who dies. If I put in my Will that I don’t want my likeness/image used after my death for X amount of years, I expect my request to be honoured because I would have had my reasons even if I am dead! For example…
- What if my family was absolutely lazy and/or horrible to me (or others), why should I continue to fund their laziness? What if I wanted to teach them the value of a dollar? I would want them to be able to stand on their own two feet and make something for themselves and not just cash in on my star status.
- I would like my family to be able to process my death without the confusion of a CGI version of me on the screen.
- What if I didn’t have a family? Who would then benefit from using my likeness/image? Where would the money go?
- Who gives final approval to whether what would be an appropriate display of my likeness/image? If I had never done a nude scene and was against such while I was alive, what if all of a sudden they got past my beliefs after my death and did a CGI rendering of me doing the full Monty?
- What if the Movie Studio pissed me off royally? They underpaid me? They took me away from my family? They generated rumors that hurt my family? And I didn’t want them to profit anymore from my sacrifices? I wanted to give them a last one finger sendoff.
MJ and I had more points that we discussed and he agreed with my views in the end. He hadn’t considered them before. He also brought up a good point:
What if all is well and there are no issues whatsoever and you were putting a block on the use of your likeness just because you could, what then?
Well, I would still expect that that person’s final request be honoured as long as no one would be hurt in any way from not using your likeness. But please give your reasons in the Will for your family’s sake to prevent the bickering and lawsuits and to just give your family peace of mind and you’re not remembered as a douche-canoe!
A CGI me after death?