Wes Anderson Doesn’t Appreciate Your TikTok Parodies of His Movies
Every masterpiece has a cheap knockoff, especially when you’re an auteur with a distinctive visual style. Over the last few months, you’ve probably seen the latest director who has fallen prey to the mighty powers of A.I. art generators. Users have created parodies of box-office hits like Star Wars and Avatar in the style of the Wes Anderson’s work, complete with chintzy music, freakishly symmetric composition, muted pastels and a serif title card that ironically reads “A film by Wes Anderson,” despite having no affiliation with the Rushmore director whatsoever. They even include some of Anderson’s frequent collaborators like Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, and of course, the Wilson brothers.
Despite these videos going viral on TikTok, there’s one person who isn’t a fan of the Andersonification of some of Hollywood’s most recognizable IP — Anderson himself. Currently on a press tour to promoting the release of Asteroid City, Anderson spoke with The New York Times on the matter and declared, “If somebody sends me something like that I’ll immediately erase it.” He continued to express his personal distaste of the TikTok trend with a very candid request that he has shared with his friends, “Please, sorry, do not send me things of people doing me.”
Although the parodies are seemingly innocuous to the thousands of people retweeting them, they do highlight some problematic concerns. One in particular regards the continued debate over the ethics of A.I. in art and entertainment. The more times a prompt like this is replicated, the smarter systems like Midjourney and DALL-E get, which is generally at the cost of hardworking artists whose work is being stolen from them. It also contributes to the never-ending discussion around licensing, ownership and the very fickle world of copyright law.
Another issue is Anderson himself. These videos distill his intentional work as a filmmaker down to a singular aesthetic, despite many of his films having much more to say beneath the surface. The style in question wasn’t even adopted until 2001’s The Royal Tenenbaums, Anderson’s third film in his impressive filmography, which goes to show that the director evolved as an artist and is much more than what the pastiche suggests.
In the same interview, Anderson went on to question his own work as it relates to the parody: “Is that what I do? Is that what I mean? I don’t want to see too much of someone else thinking about what I try to be because, God knows, I could then start doing it.”
While we’ll probably never see Anderson’s take on something like The Lord of the Rings, his fear makes sense, especially considering the phenomenon around artists subconsciously using the things they absorb on a daily basis in their own work.
Either way, if you're thinking of making that Wes Anderson American Dad parody, maybe keep it to yourself.