Portrait of Bruce Willis, made on Midjourney
Last week, it was widely reported that Bruce Willis sold his likeness to “Deepcake” a deepfake production company.
It has since been refuted as a rumor, but Willis has allowed commercial use of his likeness in the past, specifically for a commercial for the mobile communication company MegaFon, produced by Deepcake.
Willis who has retired from acting after having been diagnosed with aphasia, is one celebrity who favors the use of authorized celebrity deepfakes (at least of himself), having stated the following:
“I liked the precision of my character. It's a great opportunity for me to go back in time.”
What Are Deepfakes?
Deepfakes are videos in which a subject's face or body has been digitally altered to make them look like someone else.
Deepfakes have become widely popular after some Tom Cruise deepfake videos went viral, and deepfake acts have even finished in the finals of America’s Got Talent, with Simon Cowell calling it the best act of the season.
Celebrity deepfakes are now all over TikTok, and unfortunately are also on porn sites as well.
Should Celebrities Be Opposed To Deepfakes?
While there is a lot of controversy with the use of deepfakes, I’m not so sure actors should be opposed to the idea.
As long as actors can provide consent on how their likeness is being used… such as for commercials, marketing, or video games, and if they are getting paid for the use of their likeness, it’s not a bad deal.
Of course actors are supposed to get paid for their acting skills, but on the scale of Bruce Willis, they are typically regarded as more of a brand, especially if used on commercials.
Where it gets murky is when deepfakes use celebrities who are no longer living, authorized by their estate rather than from themselves. But we are currently seeing something like this in the music scene with musicians such as Tupac and Whitney Houston via the use of holograms in concert performances.
You would likely see fan backlash if AI actors were used in serious movie scenes rather than commercials or youtube videos.
However, who wouldn’t want to see new movies with Marlon Brando, James Dean, or Marilyn Monroe?
The Rise Of The AI Celebrity
Deepfakes and AI-native humans are still a cultural converstation, but it is likely that AI generated humans will become commonplace in future movies and shows.
We are seeing this in the music scene today, 'metastars’ are a new class of musicians that consist entirely as digital identities, some of which are completely AI generated.
Digital natives like Gen Z and Gen Alpha are much more receptive to digitally generated identities, and likely more receptive with AI-actors and musicians. There is no doubt that photo-realistic digital movies will be a thing, it’s only a matter of when.
However for now, some actors have been pushing back, Equity, the UK's performing arts workers union, launched the campaign, “Stop AI Stealing The Show.”
AI is eating the art world, and it is coming for the movie industry as well. How celebrities play in this new world will be interesting, but there is no stopping it. The age of the AI-celebrity is here.
If you liked this article, please hit the follow button to get more articles like this in the future.