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.

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Michael Jackson's Estate Complains About Dancing MJ Zombie In Game”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
PaulT (profile) says:

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.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Heh, this just came to mind – a game for the ZX Spectrum I bought when I was a kid in 1985 – purely because of the MJ reference on the cover (the game was even called Chiller!).


Not a bad game for the ยฃ2 (approx. $3) I paid for it, but I bet MJ didn’t see a penny… The legacy of the model is as strong as ever.

techflaws.org (profile) says:


“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.

candybeez (profile) says:

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.

PunkLawyer (profile) says:

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.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop ยป

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...