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Okay and while we are on the topic of things that tick me off.  I proudly introduce you to this weeks, ENEMIES OF THE STATE.

If you've turned on a television in the last year you've probably stumbled over one of the Deadmen commercials. You know the ones I'm talking about, where some company has digitally manipulated the image of a famous deceased actor to sell their products. One is the oh so tasteful Red Devil Commercials with Fred Astaire dancing with that colorful vacuum cleaner. Yeah, that one was so cute it had me puking.

Then there's that Coors Light commercial where they have John (The Duke) Wayne, an American Icon, selling their beer.  A product he never saw, or signed off on endorsing. And to a lesser degree there's that claymation portrayal of Bruce Lee selling Brisk Lipton Ice Tea. It's not that I find these commercials somewhat distasteful.  I find them completely distasteful, and completely immoral. I find them wrong. To use someone in death, other then they were in life, to sell your products, is wrong. It is a fundamental violation of their existence, it is a mockery of their life, and a careless disregard for the honesty of their death.

Whoa, man.  Chill out, you're making too much of this. You're taking this personal man. Damn, right I'm taking it personal, it doesn't get any more personal. What becomes of Icons today can be done to the rest of us tomorrow. To use a man in death, other than he walked in life, is to do a huge disservice to that man. To all men.  When it is over, our lives, when we have fought, and laughed, and cried, and loved, and shat, our last; all we have, is this hope that our life left something. Something right.  That the days and weeks and years did add up... to say something true. That we left something, distinctly ours for others behind us. 

This digital manipulation, this commercial slavery of our deaths, changes what we left. Reduces a whole man's life of wanting, and hoping, and fighting, and standing up and falling down, to the whim of some corporate ad campaign.

On a very casual level we tend to scoff these commercials off as being in questionable taste. But their are larger, more significant questions that the very existence of these commercials raise. Questions about morality, technology, and the very rights of man. Questions of manifest destiny, and humanity, and justice.

Voltaire once said: "to the living we owe respect, to the dead we owe only truth." These commercials, these companies, deny both parts of that axiom. They show no respect to the living, no truth to the dead. To use the image of dead men, to make them do things they never did, say things they never said, for the simple reason we can, is not a good enough reason. Computer Technology (CGI) has advanced to the state that we can virtually recreate the actors of yesterday, and make them do anything, say anything. But because we can do a thing, should we? What is lost and what is gained?  The central theme of manifest destiny played out for a new Millennium.  This is not just about how the images of the dead are used, it is about our rights to our images, our past, our future, ourselves. The rights to our name, and our persona, and our lives, to stand by our deeds, rather than by the whims of corporate greed.

Shakespeare wrote: "they purpose not their death, when they purpose their services." An actor sells not the quality of his death, nor the sanctity of his life, nor the quality of his soul when he sells his services. So for a company or corporation to think they may own these in his death, or redirect a man's life in his death is an immoral position.

We think because we pay someone a great deal for a movie, they owe us something beyond that movie. We think we can buy their souls with their services.  We think we can own them. Slavery for the new Millennium. Everything a man does, he does in his life.  So images should be used in context of that life. And while caricature is an established policy, these CGI manipulations blur the line between what a man has done, and what you would have him do. You defile his memory by changing it in the collective consciousness of the masses; you make a man's life, and his honor, and his hopes, and his dreams, and even his death, just bits in a computer. You annul his humanity, for the sake of profit, because you can.  And that's just not a good enough reason. All a man has when he has left this life is what he has put into it, the work and visions and memories he has left those behind him. CGI manipulation tampers with that man's legacy, with his work, for good or bad, and quite frankly you just don't have the right.

It starts with commercials where does it stop.  John Wayne and James Cagney in a the new Bosom Buddies TV show. Clark Gable and Marylyn Monroe, in a new version of Deep Throat. Fiction? Please.  There are no fictions left.  There are just monstrosities left to be explored, rights yet to be trampled on. Don't let John Wayne, and Fred Astaire, and Bruce Lee be the first to be so digitally raped, let them be the last. And especially if you are an actor today, you should be very concerned about the use of your images. What companies are allowed to do to the dead today, it is only a matter of time before they try to do to the living tomorrow.  Today CGI characters are used in movies as the monsters, but it's only a matter of time before they become the men. Before flesh and blood actors become... obsolete. In favor of far more versatile, manipulatable, and indeed controllable digital actors.

Enjoy your millions today Mr. Cruise and Ms. Roberts, because long after you are dead the studios will be profiting off your image, which is nothing new, but what is new is they will be altering your image, creating new and probably vastly offensive new projects off of your image. That is what I object to, and I feel any person would.  This bastardization in the future of your present.  It's unacceptable.

And something organizations like the Actors Guild and the ACLU and indeed our representatives and courts need to address.  It is not just about the rights of actors, it is about the rights of man.  The rights of me and you, to have respect in our life, and truth in our death.

I don't know what John Wayne the man was, there are various arguments.  But John Wayne the actor was an irresistible force, who under the guidance of men like John Ford and Howard Hawks left indelible images upon the American Collective. John Wayne the actor spoke in movies like the Searchers and Red River.  And I think that's what an actor tries to do, find works, create works that speak to a larger audience. John Wayne left us images of heroism, of strength, and of honesty. And I think companies like Coors, who use his image, alter it, defile it, change it; in some broad, and powerful way defile us. All of us.  Because it says to the world at large, it does not matter what you leave, what nobility, what honor, what greatness, we will take it and we will make it other. It is immoral in the highest definition of the word, an  attack on our collective humanity. 

 

I urge you, if you are as offended by these actions as I am, please contact me. And please do not support the companies involved, tell your friends. And perhaps we can get these commercials pulled in the short term, and in the long term perhaps create some type of law protecting individuals from this type of digital manipulation. Thanks.