“Rogue One” Ethics: Peter Cushing Returns From The Grave

He's baaaaack!

He’s baaaaack!

Hammer Films horror icon and Christopher Lee foil Peter Cushing died in 1994 from prostate cancer. That couldn’t stop the makers of the latest “Star Wars” movie from bringing his image back from the grave.  The gaunt-faced British actor—an early “Doctor Who”!—played Grand Moff Tarkin in the original “Star Wars,” a bad guy, Cushing’s specialty. Since “Rogue One,” the current addition to the series, is a prequel, Tarkin is alive again (he went down with the Death Star in Episode IV). Instead of recasting the part, the producers decided to recreate Tarkin/Cushing using CGI technology. Lucasfilm-owned digital effects house Industrial Light & Magic reanimated Cushing’s likeness so that a recognizable Tarkin could make a convincing  appearance in “Rogue One.” The results are not perfect, but it is still one step closer to allowing future movies to cast avatars of long dead stars to interact seamlessly with live performers.

We have recently seen actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jeff Bridges and Anthony Hopkins digitally youthened, but forcing a dead actor’s image to perform is a different matter entirely. The use of computer animated images of dead performers to do the bidding of their director masters evokes memories of “Looker,” a science fiction film directed and written by the late Michael Crichton of “Jurassic Park” and “Westworld” fame. In that 1981 movie, a corporation transferred the images of living models to a computer program that could use the new cyber-models to do and say anything more effectively and attractively than the models themselves in television ads. Then the company had the models killed—less residuals that way.

The emerging technology raises many ethical issues that didn’t have to be considered before, but when it comes to using a dead actor in a new role, the ethics verdict should be easy. It’s unethical, unless a performer  gives informed consent for his image to be used post mortem in this fashion. Presumably, the consent or the lack of it will be part of future negotiations and standard contracts. Actors who agree to have their images used as cyberslaves will also probably want to limit the uses of their names and images. No porn films, for example. No uses of an actor in a role he would have never agreed to playing while alive. Don’t make John Wayne shoot someone in the back. Don’t show Fred Astaire as clumsy on his feet; don’t make Jimmy Cagney a weenie.

Allowing another actor to use a dead one’s face and body, like Andy Serkis wore his cyber King King suit, is a closer call. If it is clear that the dead actor isn’t the one doing the acting, and that digital technology is being used as the equivalent of make-up, maybe that practice is just icky rather than unethical, provided the credits are clear.To make Cushing’s Tarkin live again on screen, “Rogue One’s “film-makers hired Guy Henry, a 56-year-old British actor who resembles Cushing. Henry played the part of Tarkin on the set, then the tech wizards transformed him into a Cushing clone.

“It was a massive thing for him, it was very gracious of him, because essentially he’s doing this big performance and getting zero credit for it,” “Rogue One” director Gareth Edwards told the media. “He was going to be totally replaced, and then had to keep it all secret. So, um, that was a big ask.”

So, um, it was also unethical. That wasn’t really Cushing, and since he can’t protect himself or control his performance, the audience should be led to think it is Cushing. The credits should read: “Guy Henry as Grand Moff Tarkin as originally portrayed by the late Peter Cushing.

After all, there are going to be idiots like writer Rob Taylor watching. He wrote,

Some fans may debate the quality of recreating Cushing through the use of CGI, the animators nailed the performance. It is quite simply as good as Cushing’s work in the first installment or any film he made before it. Older fans will be thrilled that not only is Tarkin back, but he is as ruthless and evil as they remember and it’s the Peter Cushing they remember as well…For the first time in history, it could be argued that a deceased actor should be able to be considered for an Academy Award decades after his death, or at least certainly forwards the idea of a “Best Animated Actor” nomination.

If you thought Andy Serkis deserved one for his work on the Apes franchise, then Cushing really deserves one for Rogue One.

No, Rob. You see, Andy Sirkus is alive, and actually performed in the “Planet of the Apes” movies, as he did in the “Lord of the Rings ” trilogy and “King Kong.” Peter Cushing had nothing to so with the performance of Tarkin in “Rogue One.” He was dead. It was the CGI animators, or actor Henry, but not Cushing. And if we can decide that this kind of post-death performance is a credit to a dead man, we can also blame the dead man when his cyber masters make him look like a hack.

This is, ultimately, a simple Golden Rule exercise. Would you, without your consent, want a computer-generated clone bearing your name being used in mass entertainment, with no limits on what it might be made to say or do—forever?

Not me.

Not Audrey Hepburn

Not John Wayne. Not Fred Astaire.

And, I bet, not even Peter Cushing.

______________________

Pointer: Tim Maher

117 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Etiquette and manners, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, Professions, Science & Technology

117 responses to ““Rogue One” Ethics: Peter Cushing Returns From The Grave

  1. I agree.

    I didn’t like it one bit when I saw the face of Cushing turn around on screen. I’m guessing there were some greedy family member(s) that cashed in on that image, might have bought some descendant a brand new Rolls.

    I think I could make a relatively bold statement that any reasonably intelligent actor would never agree to have their image used in such a manner after they are dead. Any actor letting their greed steer them to agree to such a thing, I’d openly consider a complete imbecile.

  2. deery

    Well, they can’t just scoop up your image. Unless you have already bargained it away, they normally have to pay your estate, which usually means relatives. Cushing had no biological heirs, but left his estate to his beloved secretary. Apparently she was well compensated by Disney for the use of his image, and was invited to the Rogue One premiere, where she declared that he would have been very pleased by his onscreen portrayal.

    I do think it is much more of an ethics question when a historical figure falls into the public domain, but by then, who exactly is hurt by Marco Polo being portrayed as swimming with llamas or whatever? Dancing Lincolns? Racing presidents?

    • So because an heir cashes in on the exploitation of a loved one’s dignity, that makes it ethical? You’re arguing law. Irrelevant.

      • valkygrrl

        More like Deery is arguing that chosen heirs are trusted to make these choices.

      • deery

        So it seems to me that you are arguing that any use of an actor’s image after they have died is per se unethical. Which I don’t agree with.
        It has been 100+ years since we have managed to permanently affix someone’s exact image in near-perpetuity. Any actor or model since then has to have contemplated that their images will long outlive them. For many, that is part of the draw.

        Cushing, in this case, was not playing a new role, but the same role that he played before. His image was not hijacked, and it was with the full consent of his estate. Some people may feel it is creepy, and the “uncanny valley” factor does rear its head, but I don’t see where it is unethical as such.

        • You are seriously arguing that actors anticipate their images being used in performances over which they have no control? Not actors of Cushing’s vintage. There is no implied consent.

          It’s similar ethically to historical figures being falsely represented in allegedly “Factual” historical dramas that slander them, but worse.

          • deery

            They mostly used outtakes from his original Star Wars performance. I don’t see how that could not have been anticipated, as he actually did the performance used.

            But yes, we see Marilyn Monroe cooing over a Snickers bar, or Tupac in a concert, and I don’t see how it is per se unethical. Technology advances in ways we could never anticipate, that is why, after you are dead, you leave your estate to someone whose judgment you trust on these things. That is part of the estate’s function is perform these ethical determinations for you, rather than some blanket condemnation from people who don’t know you, or what you might have thought about such things.

            Like I said before, public domain likenesses is a closer call, but I lean towards having them be used however. Anyone personally pained by such a portrayal is also long dead, and I think some artistic freedom trumps how a dead person might have wished to see themselves.

            http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2016/12/21/how_rogue_one_re_created_the_late_actor_peter_cushing.html

            • Right, deery. Cushing left his estate to the woman because he anticipated her deciding to make him a cyber slave. The post isn’t about the out-takes: Straw man. Out takes are really Cushing, and those can be used ethically, and yes, he consented to that: he had no control over them. The post is about the fake Cushing sequences using CGI to make it look like Cushing is acting, and it really isn’t him.

              This is pure Kant, as well as the Golden Rule. Don’t USE human beings for your own ends. The Categorical Imperative. Who says artistic license Trumps human dignity and autonomy? Unethical artists. There is no valid ethical argument for it. They recast Q in the Bond films when Q died…did anybody care? They recast Clarise in “Hannibal.” Was it essential to thise film in any way to use a fake Cushing for this relatively minor character?

        • “Cushing, in this case, was not playing a new role, but the same role that he played before.”

          To be clear, Cushing wasn’t playing ANY role this go around…

  3. valkygrrl

    Was it really Cushing’s call to make, or have we already decided as a society that it is the choice of his estate? I’m reminded of certain dead authors who regularly turn out ghost-written material thanks to the work of their estates.

    Why would licensing an image be more of a problem than using a name or even licensing art itself to a person or cause the artist may have disliked for all we know? David Bowie’s music is still going to end up in movies, V.C. Andrews is going to still have book written. Are you calling for a complete overhaul of the power granted to estates?

    • Depends. The argument is the nature of someone’s “likeness”. Is this separate from “property” or not…?

      • valkygrrl

        It’s more than that. Is a name and the reputation tied with that name the same as likeness? Isn’t a book by “VC Andrews” the same as a new film with “Peter Cushing”?

        If it is then this is long settled. VC Andrews was a writer, now new writing comes out under that name and style, it’s the same kind of use Peter Cushing is being put to, as an actor in a film. Both times done in conjunction with the estate that owns the rights.

        • That’s not the same.

          Works composed by VC Andrews were composed by VC Andrews. The images of Cushing and the acting of the CGI cartoon ARE not actually Cushing OR his acting.

        • Except that there was no VC Andrews, just as there was no Carolyn Kane.

          • valkygrrl

            Um, yes there was a Cleo Virginia Andrews who wrote Flowers in the Attic and died in 1986.

            • James Flood

              She’s right. Just ask the IRS: “Her novels were so successful that after her death her estate hired a ghost writer, Andrew Neiderman, to write more stories to be published under her name. In assessing a deficiency in her estate tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service argued (successfully) that Virginia Andrews’s name was a valuable commercial asset, the value of which should be included in her gross estate.”

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V._C._Andrews

        • And to be clear, I just looked up VC Andrews, because I assumed you named some author whose COMPLETE unpublished works were being published, IS dishonest if the book is billed as a full on VC Andrews work but another writer ACTUALLY finished out the books she had incomplete.

          • valkygrrl

            My understanding is that he finished a few she’d started. Now he writes more in her style and the estate publishes them using her name.

          • valkygrrl

            You just looked up….

            *headdesk*

            No one reads anymore.

            • Let’s see, I’m currently working on:

              “American Quartet”
              “Bonhoeffer”
              “Killing Pablo”
              “Almonte’s Texas”
              “The Secret War for Texas”
              and
              “The Synoptic Problem”

              And that’s just currently.

              Sorry, if I don’t have time for novels.

              • Spartan

                VC Andrews’ books are rubbish.

                • deery

                  Deliciously salacious rubbish.

                • valkygrrl

                  So? So are Anne Rice books, but you don’t have to look up who Anne Rice is, you know. You may have even read one or two of her rubbish books.

                  When Steve-O didn’t know the Honor Harrington books it was only puzzling because they are fairly popular and suit his tastes, how did he miss out? Not knowing VC Andrews, at least by reputation, strikes me as missing out on a well-known chunk of 20’th century pop-culture.

                  • Spartan

                    Well, I definitely agree with you there! It’s like not knowing who John Grisham or Danielle Steele is.

                    • Oh well.

                      Guess I’m missing out on not knowing VC Andrews.

                      I think I’ll be fine though.

                    • valkygrrl

                      Tex: Given what I’ve seen of you here, you will not only be fine, you’re happier not knowing what you missed.

                      It is still odd that you managed to miss it.

                    • Well, there was that awful made-for-TV miniseries. Really, though, “V.C. Andrews”, the original and the successors, make Jackie Collins look like George Elliot. Why wouldn’t any literate person miss it? I’m ashamed that I DO know about those books.

  4. I agree with most of what you’re saying here, particularly about the idiocy of Rob Taylor’s review.

    What if, though, we look at this practice not as the actor’s likeness being used as a puppet, but as the character’s likeness? After all, Tarkin has appeared in comic books. I’m 97% positive that it is part of Cushing’s contract to allow the character’s likeness, which was based on his own appearance, to be used in any and all Star Wars works in perpetuity for the purposes of depicting the character. That means they can recreate Tarkin’s appearance and make him do anything the character is written to do. I don’t think Lucasfilms Disney has the right to use Cushing’s likeness in anything unrelated to that specific character, though. It’s the character they own, not the actor.

    Also, you made a reasonable-sounding assertion that characters should not be written to do things the actors would not have agreed to do. However, suppose a person is writing a book series, and it’s being adapted into movies. Given that a cast has already been decided on, is the author now obligated to only write parts the current actors are willing to play? Characters have changed actors before, but if you can already recreate an actor’s appearance digitally, can the actor just demand that the character look like someone else? That may be a matter of contract law. However, what if a character created from scratch just happens to look like a real person? What if it is based on a real person? What if they get a lookalike to provide the character’s appearance, and use someone else for the acting? Now we’re into intellectual property law, or possibly some sort of privacy law. You’d know better than I would.

    It’s definitely true that they should be as clear with the credits as possible: “Peter Cushing originally provided Grand Moff Tarkin with his countenance, and Guy Henry brings the character back to life.”

    • THE Bill

      You are not the only one who thought about using Charles Dance and its idiotic they didn’t think to use him as he is perfect for the role.

      Another choice was Ralph Fiennes

  5. I’m gonna need HumbleTalent to come talk me off the ledge, but it seems that deery is clos….clo…closer….cl…cl….cll….to to to to to to to to a bet… a better conclusion. That I….that I…..that I’d be more likely….that I’d me more likely to agree with his conclusion.

    Ugh.

    Where’s Humble Talent.

    Seems to me, when a director casts a particular actor for a particular role, they include “the look” the particular actor sets. It would seem to me, reasonable, for future story tellers of that story or series to want as close as possible that “look”.

    Now, this is a balance. I don’t think an actress who REFUSES on her own conscience to ever do sex scenes or nude scenes to bail on a series that decides to go down that route to suddenly find a computerized rendition of her engaged in the nasty to replace her.

    I don’t think an actor surrenders his or her image FOR ALL POSSIBLE uses, but rather for the specific role surrendered within reasonable limits of what that particular actor would have been likely to act out. And it does seem reasonable that in the case of the actor’s passing, the estate gives the go ahead for such agreements.

    But of course, I’m not completely convinced.

    • Somehow I completely missed paragraph 3 from the post…

    • That’s because you’re wrong. Actors have a right to control the art attributed to them. A computer can approximate Mozart or paint a passable Van Gogh, but you don’t pass either off as the real thing. Taking an actor’s image and creating an ersatz performance is the same thing. People don’t respect what actors do, or they wouldn’t dream of approving this as ethical.

      And “they would have approved of this misuse of their persona that I’m making lots of money from” is self-serving bullshit. Absent express consent, nobody can say that.

      I feel the same way about Natalie Cole dragging her dead father into a duet that he never consented to, and using Anthony Hopkins to dub the late Laurence Olivier in Spartacus without flagging it in the credits.

      • “Actors have a right to control the art attributed to them. A computer can approximate Mozart or paint a passable Van Gogh, but you don’t pass either off as the real thing.”

        Then it really does sound more like a crediting issue.

        • That’s part of it. If we let them make dead Cushing play a role using lines he never said, they will eventually make him have sex with a sow, or dress in a tutu. There’s only one way to avoid that slippery slope, and that’s not to get on it.

  6. valkygrrl

    Jack, do you consider this substantially different from the digital addition of Brandon Lee and Philip Seymour Hoffman in parts of movies they had only partially completed before they died?

  7. Wayne

    Well you can’t keep the undead down! I do have fond memories of Peter Cushing’s acting in the 1960s when I bothered to watch it at drive ins. Still I think any producer who re-animates a dead actor should be portrayed in a re make of “A Weekend With Bernie” after he’s deceased digitally.

  8. “Would you, without your consent, want a computer-generated clone bearing your name being used in mass entertainment, with no limits on what it might be made to say or do—forever?”

    The short answer is, it doesn’t matter what I want. Nor you. We’re not going to have any choice in the matter. Not at all.

    Twenty-five years ago, digitally altering a moving image took months of rendering time on millions of dollars worth of computers. Nowadays, I think you could probably do the same job on hardware and software costing a few thousand dollars. Reanimating dead actors to give performances is still a new and expensive technology, but who knows how easy and common it will be 25 years from now? And I’m not just talking about low-budget movies and TV shows, I’m talking about ordinary people with ordinary computer resources.

    There will still be legal issues, especially regarding for-profit use, but that won’t change the fact that digital reanimation will become easy. Possibly really, really easy. I know you don’t like “everybody does it,” but it’s hard to believe the ethical landscape will not be changed when, some number of years from now, idle children playing in their room will be able to digitally reconstruct us from our Facebook profiles and use our images as puppets for their amusement.

    • James Flood

      “I know you don’t like “everybody does it,” but it’s hard to believe the ethical landscape will not be changed when, some number of years from now, idle children playing in their room will be able to digitally reconstruct us from our Facebook profiles and use our images as puppets for their amusement.”
      I had never thought of that but,,,God…that is terrifying. Thanks!

  9. zoebrain

    Compare with Plan 9 from Outer Space, the last work of Bela Lugosi, who was, shall we say, vertically challenged.

    Mr Lugosi died before filming, and a large part of the role was then taken over by a 6 ft tall chiropracter, Tom Mason, who used his cape to cover his face. The rest was silent stock footage taken for a previous project.

    ” The film also posthumously bills Bela Lugosi as a star (silent footage of the actor had actually been shot by Wood for another, unfinished film just prior to Lugosi’s death in August of 1956).” – wiki https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plan_9_from_Outer_Space

    Mr Mason received no credit.

    Plan 9 is sui generis.

  10. THE Bill

    I’m torn on this as I thought it was a lovely homage to him and enjoyed it.

    But I had expected that they were just going to use his image in the background shots , not have it play such a central role. If they had done that I would have no problem with it. But to basically shove their hands up the ass of a digital Cushing puppet and make it perform is not right.

    Did it work completely? No. The CGI image had no presence and none of Cushing’s intensity.

    Was it legal for them to do so?

    Yes.

    Was it right?

    No not by a far shot.

    • A.M. Golden

      “Did it work completely? No. The CGI image had no presence and none of Cushing’s intensity.”

      Exactly, it was a Zombie Cushing. He didn’t look natural or human, especially around the mouth. It was a huge distraction for me because I knew it wasn’t really him.

      But, frankly, they did a better job on him than they did on Plastic Leia.

      • THE Bill

        And the eyes. I don’t know if it was the actor under the flesh suit or the CGI programmers but its eyes wandered around , never really looking at the other actors.

        I went back and Mr Cushing in A New Hope and his gaze was piercing and always focused on the other actors.

      • Meh. It all falls apart with the huge continuity error when Vader finally gets on board the Tantive IV and Leia uses the excuse “This is a Diplomatic ship”…

        Vader: “The hell are you talking about? You JUST escaped from the Lead Ship that led a FULL ON Assault on one of our facilities…you do remember that don’t you? Literally a couple of hours ago! You remember? Like 20 of your ships and hundreds of fighters ATTACKED our facility. YOUR PEOPLE ELIMINATED TWO OF OUR STAR DESTROYERS AND THE SHIELD GATE AROUND THE PLANET! Then, an entire platoon of your guys tried to shoot me before your ‘diplomatic mission’ left the Lead Ship. Diplomatic mission my ass. Get better lies, Leia.”

  11. Spartan

    Jack, this doesn’t make sense. First, legally this is perfectly appropriate — as you well know. Second, directors and editors change actors performances dramatically. An actor could get hired to act one role, but the editing room can completely change the nature of the performance to not resemble what the actor had in mind at all. A body double could be added to include a sex scene. Another actor could be used to dub a voice in certain parts or entire singing scenes could be removed if the director thought the actor’s voice wasn’t up to par. Was Audrey Hepburn artistically robbed because virtually every line of music was replaced with a double when it was her understanding that it would be her singing voice in the film? What about all the merchandise that is issued for years, sometimes decades after a movie is made? There can be Peter Cushing action figures for hundreds of years — and that is part of the deal when an actor accepts a role.

    • None of your comments address the issue. I know it’s legal. Dubbing voices with out credit I just covered in the Marnie Nixon post a few months ago. THAT”s deceptive. Action figures are not equivalent. What is more equivalent is someone animating my dead body and having it remote controlled and running amuck while everyone thinks it’s really me.

      Essentially your argument is “everybody does it,” but “it” is completely different, and materially so.

      • valkygrrl

        But do they think it’s really him? He’s dead, we all knew we were watching CG when we went to the movie.

        • deery

          But do they think it’s really him? He’s dead, we all knew we were watching CG when we went to the movie.

          Yes, that is where my confusion lies too. He’s been dead for 20+ years. The end credits acknowledge both the actor and his estate. The producers, before the movie even came out, talked the CGI resurrection of Cushing. There doesn’t seem to have been an attempt to hide it. His estate, the properly designated people to determine what the actor might have wanted, approved of it. What exactly is the ethics breach? It just seems like the “ick factor” where some people don’t like the uncanny valley, or knowing that a performance can be remixed in a new setting after death.

          • It IS really him: it’s his face, voice and image. How many people under 30 know whether he’s dead or not?

            • deery

              That was part of the publicity surrounding the movie. Anyone who cared enough to know, would have known. And as you, and several other people pointed out, there were plenty of times in the movie to see that he was at least partially CGI. Plus they did acknowledge the “Peter Cushing estate” in the credits. There doesn’t seem to be any attempt to hide that the actor was quite dead.

              • Chris

                I don’t think it was part of the publicity around the movie, Deery; the makers of the film wouldn’t talk about the CGI actors in interviews until at least a week after it premiered, and clearly wanted it to be a surprise. I heard gasps in the audience when Tarkin first appeared, and even more when Leia did. (I think it was revealed early on that Tarkin would play some part in this movie, but Leia was DEFINITELY kept secret.)

                That said, those gasps were certainly met with explanations to more casual viewers that the actors were digitally recreated, and that Cushing has been dead for a while. It’s been a huge talking point since the movie’s release, with plenty of articles about it written and shared on social media. Are there still people who have seen the film and don’t know that the actors were digitally recreated, and weren’t really giving these performances? Probably, but those are people who don’t even know who Peter Cushing is, so I’m not sure what the filmmakers could possibly do about that, or how it harms anyone.

                • deery

                  I saw the movie the night it premiered, and I knew beforehand, from just casually looking at some reviews, that a CGI Cushing would be making his debut. Leia was a deliberate surprise. But Cushing was in the trailer, so people had some questions going in already. It wasn’t something that they sprang on people at the last minute.

      • Spartan

        I’m saying that deception is the virtual essence of what movie making is all about. You’re trying to elevate it to something that it never was.

      • deery

        Would you feel the same about a video game that uses Cushing’s performance, the exact same CGI, as he did in the movie?

        • Without consent? Would you want YOUR image used without your consent?

          • deery

            He isn’t alive. He has no consent to give. He properly designated his posthumous consent rights to his estate, which approved the use of his image. That’s how it works. I don’t see where the ethics breach is here.

            • What??? So if you make sure someone is dead before you steal their persona, distort their art and exploit their fame, it’s OK because they can’t consent? Law vs ethics. Have you been commenting here this long and missed this core distinction? Yes, this CAN be done, but shouldn’t be. And since people are doing it to artists who did not anticipate the post mortem exploitation, there probably needs to be a law. Go ahead: where’s the line? Is it ethical to make zombie fake Cushing do anything on screen? pick his nose? Masterbate? Have sex with a goat? My mother was horrified when her cousin, actor George Coulouris, was portrayed in a false and unflattering way in the film, “Me and Orson Welles.” What if they had used a cyber-George instead, so it looked like the real guy was a dick (which he was not)? Fair? Ethical?

              It’s not even a close call.

              • deery

                No one is “stealing” anything. When you die, you designate your consent to your estate. Presumably your heirs, because they knew and loved you, would be in the best position to determine whether the intended portrayal was something you would have wanted or not. The same way they will determine how to dispose of your body.

                I do think there can be isolated cases of an ethics breach, where the heirs are obviously working against what the original person would have wanted, but you have not made that case here. Instead there is just blanket condemnation of the practice, without an underlying reason as to *why* it is an ethics breach. We already have proper channels about posthumous consent, especially in the artistic world, and no one seems to think it is either unethical or unlawful. It is more the ick factor than anything else.

                • UGH. No, when it is done with the artist’s consent, or when he or she gives over the right to that consent to an heir having made his or her own intentions known, it is neither illegal not unethical. However, in the Cushing case, it is the ethical equivalent of stealing with the complicity of the heir. An artist owns his or her art: nobody can or should force them to create art attributed to them after they are dead. They stole Cushing’s dignity, they stole his art.

                  Deal with my slippery slope examples above. OK with you, as long as a heir consents and gets paid for it?

                  • deery

                    Deal with my slippery slope examples above. OK with you, as long as a heir consents and gets paid for it?

                    I think that if Cushing made his career having sex with goats, or was known for piking his nose in roles, or whatever, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. But even if he didn’t, his heirs are generally in the best position to know whether or not he would have been horrified, delighted, or amused by his likeness being used in that way, not me. And ultimately, they are the ones who benefit or get hurt from it, not Cushing, who is dead, and beyond such cares. That’s why they designated those people as their heirs, no?

                    An artist owns his or her art: nobody can or should force them to create art attributed to them after they are dead. They stole Cushing’s dignity, they stole his art.

                    And yet we have seen many examples offered up on this thread of dead artists having art attributed to them after they are dead. It seems to be fairly common among writers, for example. Nothing was stolen, he was properly credited for his contribution, and his estate was compensated. “Dignity”, inasmuch as a dead man can muster, mostly goes to the “ick factor.”

                    • “And ultimately, they are the ones who benefit or get hurt from it, not Cushing, who is dead.”

                      So that’s where you are confused. People are very concerned about their post-mortem legacy, reputation and how they are remembered, especially those in the public eye and performers. You should know that respecting dead individuals who have contributed to society is a frequent theme on Ethics Alarms. Your apparent attitude, “What they don’t know won’t hurt them,” shows a lack of empathy, respect and consideration. Peter Cushing has more than one greedy heir who cares about him.

                      “And yet we have seen many examples offered up on this thread of dead artists having art attributed to them after they are dead”

                      “Everybody does it.” A rationalization, not an argument.

                    • deery

                      “And yet we have seen many examples offered up on this thread of dead artists having art attributed to them after they are dead”

                      “Everybody does it.” A rationalization, not an argument.

                      If the assertion is that nobody does it, then a counterfactual showing that is actually rather routine practice is needed. I still don’t see an ethics breach in the first place.

                      Yes, people are concerned about their post-mortem legacies. That is exactly why people can designate other people to act in furtherance of that concern once they are gone, as Cushing did. We have nothing to show he would have abhorred his performance in Rogue One, and in the absence of that, we should generally accede to the judgment of his heirs, as Cushing wished and designated them to exercise on his behalf

  12. valkygrrl

    Jack, would you have objected if his pre-recorded lines had been used in a LEGO Star Wars game with a LEGO Tarkin? Or if his voice had been added to a full animation deal like the cartoon in the Star Wars Holiday Special?

  13. valkygrrl

    Dammit fuck and other words. Jack you’re going to have a new Star Wars digital puppet complaint. Check the news and screw 2016.

  14. Sad Star Wars news.

    Carrie Fisher dead today at 60.

    • Sadly, that seemed inevitable from the first reports; she had stopped breathing for a long time, and “stable” without more is so often a euphemism for “coma.”

      Believe it or not, I think my niece actually blamed Donald Trump for her heart attack.

      • Jack Marshall said, “Believe it or not, I think my niece actually blamed Donald Trump for her heart attack.”

        Is your niece really that consumed by here Trump Derangement Syndrome? That’s sad too.

    • A.M. Golden

      I met Fisher a little less than two years ago at a convention she did here in Indianapolis.

      Her line was massive. We weren’t really all that far back, but it took a long time. We kept seeing her rubbing people’s foreheads and couldn’t figure out what she was doing (we’ve never understood why someone would want a body part signed, but it does happen). Finally, it came through the line that she was tossing glitter on people.

      At one point, she ran out of glitter, left the table for about 20 minutes and came back with her make-up bag. Then she started applying eyeliner to fans. By the time we got up to her, someone had made a CVS run and brought back more glitter.

      I got up to her, She asked me how I was and I said, “Awesome”. Then decided to ask her about something besides Star Wars…”I really liked your work in “Soapdish” and “When Harry Met Sally”.

      “Yup, I had fun in some of those”.

      My mind screamed, “Which ones did you not have fun in?” But I didn’t say anything. She signed my autograph, “To Anne who is awesome, XOXO, Carrie Fisher”.

      A personalized, inscribed and legibly signed autograph. That’s unusual these days.

      Then she rubbed glitter into my forehead and ears.

      My husband stood off to the side snapping photos of this scene. He even has the photo of her turning to him and motioning for him to come over to her. He tried to explain that he was okay with not being glittered.

      She had none of that. Autograph or not, you went through her line, you got glittered.

      For much of the day, the glitter bomb that exploded in his face got comments like “Are you C-3PO?” or “Are you an Oscar?”. By the time word got around, he was hearing “She got you good, didn’t she?”.

      Her death is sad, but unsurprising, At least we have that moment to remember.

      • Thanks. A nice glimpse. She was a terrific writer and wit. I thought she didn’t look well in the movie; there was a recent photo of her with her endlessly ageless mother, Debbie Reynolds, and Debbie looked younger and healthier at 84.

        • THE Bill

          She was a much better writer then she was an actor and she was a wonderful actor.

          Anyone who could make Lucas’s horrible dialogue sound half way decent had to be a hell of an actor.

          • Lawrence Kasdan’s dialogue. He’s a great screenwriter. Carrie never had a non Star Wars starring role in a major film, and there’s a reason for that: she was neither as talented nor as versatile a performer as her mother, and knew it. She was smart as hell, though—and knew that too.

            • THE Bill

              The first one had all the really bad dialogue and that was all Lucas.

              No she wasn’t as talented as her mother but then who is?

              Carries was a solid supporting actor though. Give a character that throws in some zingers, sets up the other actors and she’s spot on.

        • Spartan

          Her mom has had a lot of plastic surgery. Also, Carrie looked older than her years because she treated her bi-polar disorder for years with cocaine, LSD, etc. before getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. Such a wonderful talent though.

          I feel for Debbie Reynolds. I watched my grandmother bury my father (she outlasted 3 of her children) and watching her suffer was worse than dealing with my own grief.

        • Well she passed away now also.

  15. Bob Madison

    Hello There –

    So … Cushing was a beloved icon to horror movie buffs (I was lucky to meet him a few times), and a lovely man. But … working for Hammer films did not leave him a wealthy man. His wife pre-deceased him by a considerable margin, and he left his modest estate to his secretary and care-taker, Joyce Broughton, and her husband. Joyce (who is also wonderful and a very sweet woman) worked closely with Disney on the recreation of Cushing, and I’m 100% certain the Cushing would not begrudge her the income (whatever that might happen to be) she made by licensing his image.

    Is this something that should be acceptable across the board? Like you, I think probably not. But in this instance … I think Cushing would be delighted to help Joyce.

    I know ethics are ethics, but any ethical question should be considered on a case-by-case basis, shouldn’t it? This isn’t a challenge or anything, just the observation that sometimes, an action is right in some circumstance and the same action, wrong in others.

    • Is this something that should be acceptable across the board? Like you, I think probably not. But in this instance … I think Cushing would be delighted to help Joyce.

      Why do you think that? That cannot be presumed: it’s a convenient rationalization. he might have been horrified.

      “I know ethics are ethics, but any ethical question should be considered on a case-by-case basis, shouldn’t it? This isn’t a challenge or anything, just the observation that sometimes, an action is right in some circumstance and the same action, wrong in others.”

      I know ethics are ethics, but any ethical question should be considered on a case-by-case basis, shouldn’t it? This isn’t a challenge or anything, just the observation that sometimes, an action is right in some circumstance and the same action, wrong in others.

      Depends what you mean. Basic ethical principles should be applied uniformly. This fails Kant and Reciprocity. If there are reasons the rules don’t work, then maybe an exception is warranted, but no, “case by case” means no ethics at all, and is an invitation to bias, hypocrisy, double standards and abuse.

      • THE Bill

        “Why do you think that? That cannot be presumed: it’s a convenient rationalization. he might have been horrified.”

        I have read in several places where people who knew him said he would be delighted. I think they are in a much better to assume what he would like then you are to assume he would be horrified.

        • THE Bill said, “I have read in several places where people who knew him said he would be delighted. I think they are in a much better to assume what he would like then you are to assume he would be horrified.”

          Nonsense.

          Assuming about such things is nothing but a rationalization similar to #32 “He/She would have done the same thing”. You cannot ethically assume that a person who is dead would have done things they way “you” would expect – it’s just ridiculous.

          The overall point is that the man is dead and no one can rightfully assume that he would have approved, it was unethical – period!.

          • Jack,
            You might consider a new Rationalization #32A that says something along the lines of what I wrote above. I haven’t read through this entire thread, I’m gonna guess that others have written something similar.

            • “Jack, You might consider a new Rationalization #32A that says something along the lines of what I wrote above. I haven’t read through this entire thread, I’m gonna guess that others have written something similar.”

              I knew there was a new one in there somewhere. 🙂

          • deery

            I disagree. That is precisely why we designate heirs, next of kin, and medical designees. We are telling the world that in lieu of our judgment, which we cannot exercise for various reasons, including death, we entrust this person we have chosen to make the best judgment on what we might have wanted.

            Otherwise, someone is going to have to exercise this judgment. Who would you prefer? The government? Corporations?

  16. Spartan

    Here’s hoping that the Carrie Fisher estate will permit CGI in the next Star Wars film (assuming it hasn’t been shot already). Otherwise, there is a huge gap that will have to be creatively worked around.

    • deery

      Apparently Episode VIII has already been fully shot, and Fisher’s role in that movie was in the can. They haven’t started on Episode IX yet, which is going to need a huge workaround.

  17. fattymoon

    Your essay inspired me to write this…
    View story at Medium.com

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