Michael Jackson's Estate Complains About Dancing MJ Zombie In Game

from the beat-it dept

ReallyEvilCanine alerts us to the news that the game Plants vs. Zombies has decided to change its dancing zombie, because Michael Jackson's estate complained that the zombie looked too much like Jackson. It's true. The zombie is obviously designed to look like Michael Jackson, and my guess (details are lacking) is that the estate threatened a publicity rights claim over the use:
This seems pretty silly. Publicity rights rules were put in place to try to stop people from thinking a famous person had endorsed a product. I can't see how anyone could have possibly thought that Michael Jackson or the Jackson estate had endorsed this particular game, or the dancing zombie Jackson.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2010 @ 5:06am

    He's dead

    Get a life.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2010 @ 5:14am

    To be clear the "dancing zombie" in Plants vs. Zombies was in the game before Michael Jackson died.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Jul 29th, 2010 @ 5:19am

    Funny thing is, the only reason anybody thinks that looks like Michael Jackson in the first place is because the Thriller video had such a massive and indelible effect on worldwide culture.

    You'd think that after Michael's death, and 27 years after its first release, the fact that it's still something to be homaged and instantly recognisable should be solace that Michael's legacy is not totally overshadowed by his private life. Apparently not, though at least in this case the complaint doesn't seem to be totally motivated by money.

    However, I do wonder how many homages have been sued, or if this is just something following Michael's death. The prison dance movie from the Philippines and the end of Return Of The Living Dead Part 2 jump to mind as homages that are still available, I'm sure there's many, many more.

     

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    techflaws.org (profile), Jul 29th, 2010 @ 5:41am

    scavengers

    "I can't see how anyone could have possibly thought that Michael Jackson or the Jackson estate had endorsed this particular game"

    Actually from what Al Yankovic (and others) said in interviews about how relaxed MJ was, freely giving people permission to make fun of him I'd imagine he'd endorse the game. That a greedy estate would disagree is however no surprise.

     

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    candybeez (profile), Jul 29th, 2010 @ 5:54am

    Thriller game

    I am very interested in this topic because I hope to give a presentation at a conference this fall on the topic of Thriller's everlasting dancing zombies. Of course I'd like to use some clips of the real Thriller and its progeny. I wasn't sure if Michael Jackson's Thriller would be considered "public domain" or if this could be considered "fair use" or if I'd have to request permission from the estate. I'd love to hear others' thoughts on this. I agree with scavengers and PaulT.
    What IS the problem? I don't see one. Of course, Disney once sued an elementary school for using of one of its characters in a mural. I find this highly ironic. Disney is the last thing from original.

     

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    Yeebok (profile), Jul 29th, 2010 @ 6:37am

    I'm glad I have the original version of this game. It just would not be the same. Isn't copyright awesome. As PaulT said, how many other equally culturally important things might fall prey ? :)
    Isn't the zombie a parody anyway ? I know I laughed the first time I saw one.

     

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    crade (profile), Jul 29th, 2010 @ 7:16am

    It does look like Jackson.. Especially the nose. I don't think they would really have a case unless the zombie was dancing in bed with pre-teens though.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2010 @ 7:46am

    Dancing zombie that looks like Michael Jackson? I'm in for one!

    wait...this isn't woot...

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 29th, 2010 @ 8:11am

    Wrong!

    "The zombie is obviously designed to look like Michael Jackson"

    Looks aside, there is a clear defense that this is NOT supposed to be Michael Jackson:

    Toughness: Medium

    Nope. Must be someone else....

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2010 @ 9:28am

      Re: Wrong!

      But his ability to summon backup dancers can't be ignored either. :)

       

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      Phil, Jul 29th, 2010 @ 2:58pm

      Rumor has it

      I hear they're going to replace it with a Kurt Cobain zombie. He walks backwards and one-shots your plants with a shotgun through a hole in his head.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2010 @ 7:51pm

        Re: Rumor has it

        thats Courtney that one-shots the plants. then immediately begs your character for a lighter and a spoon.

         

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    Tom Landry (profile), Jul 29th, 2010 @ 8:37am

    The Jackson clan are nothing but a bunch of opportunistic, tacky shitbags. How much money do you really need FFS?

     

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    Brad Eleven, Jul 29th, 2010 @ 9:32am

    greedy fools

    Having the MJ zombie in the game increases the value of the estate.

     

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    PunkLawyer, Jul 29th, 2010 @ 11:40am

    I think game companies are being careful right now in light of the lawsuit and flap over the use of celebrity avatars for No Doubt and Kurt Cobain in Guitar Hero 5. It was announced yesterday that Guitar Hero 6 will not feature playable musicians, so this isn't totally surprising. But neither is the Jackson estate being aggressive about the use of his image.

     

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    BearGriz72 (profile), Jul 29th, 2010 @ 11:51am

    I could see a case....

    If they are finally willing to admit the MJ was actually a zombie all along! ;)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 12:10pm

    michael is great

     

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    cocosoup, Nov 24th, 2013 @ 3:05am

     

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