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Tim Burton Calls AI Generated Content Soul Sucking

by smbpapon22P

The Big Picture

  • Tim Burton, an iconic filmmaker known for his unique approach, expressed his unease and compared AI-generated art to something that takes away one’s soul and humanity.
  • The use of AI raises questions about creative ownership and the artist’s role in their own work, which has become a topic of debate as AI-generated fan art becomes more widespread.
  • The WGA and SAG-AFTRA are currently striking for protections against AI-generated content, among other things like a living wage and safer working conditions.

Artificial Intelligence in film and television has become one of the most controversial topics in entertainment. The ongoing SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes hinge on many vital issues, including the use of AI in generating content, which would potentially shift jobs away from creatives. Earlier this year, controversy arose when the Disney+ series Secret Invasion used an AI-generated sequence for its opening credits. The rise of AI in creative spaces is a major concern that brings topics like copyright and outright theft into the conversation. And it’s raising the ire of some iconic artists and filmmakers, including The Corpse Bride director Tim Burton, who recently voiced his frustration with AI-generated art replicating his signature style in a now-viral Buzzfeed post.

Over the summer Buzzfeed, created a series of AI-generated “art” that blended the style of Tim Burton with iconic Disney properties. The article included gaunt and eerie versions of characters from Tangled and Beauty and the Beast among others. The images blended Burton’s gothic aesthetic with the gleaming animation style of Disney and are an example of an increasingly common use of AI, which essentially steals the work of the artists themselves.

Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice and Winona Ryder as Lydia in Beetlejuice
Image via Warner Bros.

In an interview with The Independent, Tim Burton, whose unique approach to filmmaking has made him one of the most iconic directors of all time, derided the recent use of AI to overlay his style onto different subjects. “I can’t describe the feeling it gives you,” Burton said of the AI-generated Disney-Burton mash-ups. “It reminded me of when other cultures say, ‘Don’t take my picture because it is taking away your soul.'” He continued, saying that AI-generated renditions “…sucks something from you.” He went on to say, “It takes something from your soul or psyche; that is very disturbing, especially if it has to do with you. It’s like a robot taking your humanity, your soul.” Certainly, the use of AI to generate work in the style of an artist, without the vision, creativity, or even consent of the said artist, is troubling, to say the least.

Burton isn’t the only filmmaker to express discomfort over the trend. Wes Anderson also indicated his own aversion to the trend over the summer while promoting his newest film, Asteroid City. And it’s one of the key threats that the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are fighting to protect the industry from in the current dual labor strike. Filming on Burton’s latest film, Beetlejuice 2 is currently paused during the strike, but the filmmaker confirmed that once the writers and actors achieve a fair deal they’ll be able to wrap in just a few days.

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