James Dean And The Rise Of ‘Deep Fake’ Hollywood

James Dean And The Rise Of ‘Deep Fake’ Hollywood

body light-text">James Dean, preparing for his upcoming role in "Finding Jack." (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty <span class="plus" data-ga-track="caption expand">… [+]</span><span class="expanded-caption"> Images)</span></p></fbs-accordion><small>Getty</small></figcaption></figure><p>The <a href="https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/afm-james-dean-reborn-cgi-vietnam-war-action-drama-1252703" target="_blank" class="color-link">news</a> that James Dean would be digitally resurrected for a role in <em>Finding Jack</em>, a Vietnam War-era drama that wouldn’t be receiving the slightest trace of media attention otherwise, was met with wide criticism across social media.</p><p>Zelda Williams, whose late father Robin Williams ensured that his likeness could not be exploited for 25 years following his death, tweeted her disgust at the use of the technology.</p><div class="embed-base embedly-align "><fbs-embedly style="padding-bottom: 56.20%;" iframe-src="https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?type=text%2Fhtml&key=cfc0fb0733504c77aa4a6ac07caaffc7&schema=twitter&url=https%3A//twitter.com/zeldawilliams/status/1192141551171854338&image=https%3A//i.embed.ly/1/image%3Furl%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fpbs.twimg.com%252Fprofile_images%252F1047714993154617345%252FqO8n0nJu_400x400.jpg%26key%3D8804248494c144f5b4765c41f66c6ed5"></fbs-embedly></div><p>While most commentators balked at the exploitative nature of the “casting” decision, many pondered on where the future might lead, and where the credit lies for an actor hired to impersonate a dead celebrity, even the potential loss of roles due to the sudden influx of competition from the Golden Age of Hollywood.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Finding Jack </em>director Anton Ernst <a href="https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/director-new-james-dean-movie-speaks-backlash-stars-casting-1253232" target="_blank" class="color-link">claims</a> to be "confused" over the negative reception to the news: "We don’t really understand it. We never intended for this to be a marketing gimmick."</p><p>In a previous statement to <a href="https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/afm-james-dean-reborn-cgi-vietnam-war-action-drama-1252703" target="_blank" class="color-link">THR</a>, Ernst framed his desire to resurrect Dean as a standard casting decision, as though digitally resurrecting an iconic actor from the 50’s is easier than finding someone who is already alive.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><div class="vestpocket" vest-pocket></div><p>"We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean."</p><p>Clearly, an impression of James Dean which forgoes performance in favor of costly digital spectacle was the only way to communicate these “extreme complex character arcs.”&nbsp;</p><p>This isn’t the first time, however, that a Hollywood icon has been nonconsensually resurrected for the sake of profit. The <a href="https://apnews.com/253758edc00908fc9f65d30cd7e6c4b2" target="_blank" class="color-link">ghost of Fred Astaire</a> once danced with Dirt Devil vacuums, while the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6HKWuZPrdU" target="_blank" class="color-link">digital corpse of Audrey Hepburn</a> bit into a Galaxy chocolate bar, both “starring” in commercials.</p><p>This was always a blatantly disrespectful practice, but it’s so ubiquitous in advertising that most of us barely register it, although onscreen digital recreation seems more sinister than, say, using the memory of Bob Marley to sell <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2019/01/16/bob-marley-brand-cannabis-infused-drinks-way/2593588002/" target="_blank" class="color-link">cannabis-infused soft drinks</a>.</p><p>Actors, musicians and other icons have always been exploited for profit, and technology reaching the stage where it can convincingly reanimate the dead was just a matter of time. But that shouldn’t surprise us; these days one can pose for some awkward stock photos and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/nov/08/experience-hide-the-pain-harold-face-became-meme-turned-it-into-career?utm_source=dlvr.it&amp;utm_medium=twitter" target="_blank" class="color-link">wake up as a meme</a>, shared by millions around the world.&nbsp;</p><p>Robin Williams was right to restrict access to his likeness – it’s disturbingly easy to imagine Disney bringing Williams back for live-action <em>Aladdin</em>, and selling his “return” as some kind of moral triumph.&nbsp;</p><p>Imagine a future where studios own the likenesses to famous actors, hiring the living only to impersonate the glamorous dead. <a href="https://www.animatedtimes.com/avengers-endgame-meme-captures-how-excellent-the-special-effects-team-is/" target="_blank" class="color-link">Set photos</a> from Marvel movies are already a sea of green screen, bearing no resemblance to the finished product – why not remove the actors too?</p><p>Perhaps the real “Endgame” is the disappearance of the set itself, a future where every blockbuster follows <em>The Lion King</em> remake, replacing reality with a photorealistic reproduction.&nbsp;</p><p>But that’s a cynical way to view the future; personally, I’m not convinced that digital replicants have any genuine appeal, or function, beyond, “look at the crazy things technology can do now.”&nbsp;</p><p>How many times will moviegoers flock to see a digital actor? It’s a specific niche. Beyond misplaced nostalgia and novelty, there seems little use for digital necromancy. A brief appearance of a canonical character in a prequel, like <em>Rogue One</em>, sure. De-aging an actor so they can convincingly play a gangster, again? Why not.&nbsp;</p><p>It’s just another filmmaking tool, and in the case of <em>Finding Jack</em>, obviously a publicity stunt. And perhaps said publicity stunt will backfire, given that so many find the action so distasteful. Not to mention, James Dean’s fanbase isn’t quite as active as it once was.&nbsp;</p><p>Respect for the dead simply doesn’t exist in the entertainment industry, unless it happens to be profitable. Get ready to see Carrie Fisher again in <em>Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker</em>, and Stan Lee <a href="https://twitter.com/TheRealStanLee" target="_blank" class="color-link">posthumously tweeting</a> about the next Marvel movie.&nbsp;</p><p>Even in death, you’re still part of the marketing campaign. </p>”>

The news that James Dean would be digitally resurrected for a role in Finding Jack, a Vietnam War-era drama that wouldn’t be receiving the slightest trace of media attention otherwise, was met with wide criticism across social media.

Zelda Williams, whose late father Robin Williams ensured that his likeness could not be exploited for 25 years following his death, tweeted her disgust at the use of the technology.

While most commentators balked at the exploitative nature of the “casting” decision, many pondered on where the future might lead, and where the credit lies for an actor hired to impersonate a dead celebrity, even the potential loss of roles due to the sudden influx of competition from the Golden Age of Hollywood. 

Finding Jack director Anton Ernst claims to be “confused” over the negative reception to the news: “We don’t really understand it. We never intended for this to be a marketing gimmick.”

In a previous statement to THR, Ernst framed his desire to resurrect Dean as a standard casting decision, as though digitally resurrecting an iconic actor from the 50’s is easier than finding someone who is already alive.  

“We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean.”

Clearly, an impression of James Dean which forgoes performance in favor of costly digital spectacle was the only way to communicate these “extreme complex character arcs.” 

This isn’t the first time, however, that a Hollywood icon has been nonconsensually resurrected for the sake of profit. The ghost of Fred Astaire once danced with Dirt Devil vacuums, while the digital corpse of Audrey Hepburn bit into a Galaxy chocolate bar, both “starring” in commercials.

This was always a blatantly disrespectful practice, but it’s so ubiquitous in advertising that most of us barely register it, although onscreen digital recreation seems more sinister than, say, using the memory of Bob Marley to sell cannabis-infused soft drinks.

Actors, musicians and other icons have always been exploited for profit, and technology reaching the stage where it can convincingly reanimate the dead was just a matter of time. But that shouldn’t surprise us; these days one can pose for some awkward stock photos and wake up as a meme, shared by millions around the world. 

Robin Williams was right to restrict access to his likeness – it’s disturbingly easy to imagine Disney bringing Williams back for live-action Aladdin, and selling his “return” as some kind of moral triumph. 

Imagine a future where studios own the likenesses to famous actors, hiring the living only to impersonate the glamorous dead. Set photos from Marvel movies are already a sea of green screen, bearing no resemblance to the finished product – why not remove the actors too?

Perhaps the real “Endgame” is the disappearance of the set itself, a future where every blockbuster follows The Lion King remake, replacing reality with a photorealistic reproduction. 

But that’s a cynical way to view the future; personally, I’m not convinced that digital replicants have any genuine appeal, or function, beyond, “look at the crazy things technology can do now.” 

How many times will moviegoers flock to see a digital actor? It’s a specific niche. Beyond misplaced nostalgia and novelty, there seems little use for digital necromancy. A brief appearance of a canonical character in a prequel, like Rogue One, sure. De-aging an actor so they can convincingly play a gangster, again? Why not. 

It’s just another filmmaking tool, and in the case of Finding Jack, obviously a publicity stunt. And perhaps said publicity stunt will backfire, given that so many find the action so distasteful. Not to mention, James Dean’s fanbase isn’t quite as active as it once was. 

Respect for the dead simply doesn’t exist in the entertainment industry, unless it happens to be profitable. Get ready to see Carrie Fisher again in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and Stan Lee posthumously tweeting about the next Marvel movie. 

Even in death, you’re still part of the marketing campaign.


Original Source



Amazon’s 30-Day FREE Trials