Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chris Farley, DirecTV, and The Future of Film: Ethical Dilema?



I saw this DirecTV ad posted on Yahoo this morning that follows their ongoing & popular formula of having actors from popular movies reprising their roles and then directly engaging the audience to sell satellite dishes. I'll admit, I've thought they were quite clever and entertaining - especially the one featuring Sigourney Weaver as Ripley from "Aliens".

But this one featuring David Spade reprising his role from one of my favorite comedies; "Tommy Boy" in which he is interacting with, as well as insulting Chris Farley during his iconic "fat guy in a little coat" routine, seems to have gotten people a bit riled up, accusing DirecTV of poor taste, among other things.

It's an interesting ethical dilemma; I was just saying to my wife after seeing a commercial for the upcoming Jim Carrey CGI-fest, "A Christmas Carol", in which I predicted that soon, the CGI will be so realistic that it will be almost impossible to tell it apart from reality, and the next big thing in film will be deceased actors returning to the big screen in leading roles opposite some of today's biggest stars. What - you don't think a romantic comedy with Brad Pitt & Marilyn Monroe would sell tickets? And who among you wouldn't love to see Bela Lugosi reprise his role as Count Dracula once more?

But I digress...back to the present; I'll admit, seeing a beloved dead actor returning to the screen in a thirty second commercial, or a full-length film leaves me with a conflicted feeling. I do think that using a dead person's image to sell ANYTHING is tacky and tasteless, unless they left explicit instructions in their will as to the use of their image which would allow such usage. And even if the day ever comes when deceased celebrities will return to the big screen, would they have willingly appeared in a film that their "estate" has chosen for them? Who knows? Should there be seances with entertainment lawyers having a medium channel the dead film star and sign the necessary contracts? (HEY - I smell a new reality show!)

Now even though I think that there is an ethical line being crossed, I have to be honest and admit that I got a bit of a thrill seeing David Spade & Chris Farley interacting again, and I would probably be the first in line to see the one, true Count Dracula rise from the grave once more. What do you guys think?

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