Star Trek should avoid using CGI to bring back deceased actors.
Technology is getting out of hand. From ChatGPT to scammers being able to mimic the voices of loved ones during phone calls, it’s all getting out of hand. And while a lot of what we see is pretty obviously awful, not all of what is coming down the pipeline will be so clear.
For instance, using a deceased actor in new properties. This personally feels like a no-brainer, ultra-scummy move, but we’ve already seen it and people seem to be ok with it. While it started as a bit of a meme when deceased rapper Tupac’s likeness was used as a hologram in a 2012 concert, things have only escalated.
Star Wars may be the most notable franchise in all of this, using the deceased Peter Cushing’s likeness to bring back the character Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars: Rogue One. They’ve gone further by using CGI technology to de-age Mark Hamill for his appearance on Star Wars: The Mandalorian, where he once again played Luke Skywalker but was de-aged by CGI. The same thing would happen to Carrie Fisher in Rogue One, for her brief cameo, where her youthful likeness was superimposed on another actress.
Then in Rise of Skywalker, they again used CGI to insert Fisher into the film, three years after she had passed away.
Star Wars isn’t alone in that, as the Fast and Furious franchise did something similar in Furious 7, bringing back Paul Walker’s likeness to close out his run in the franchise. Unlike Stara Wars, however, Furious 7 did so due to Walker dying near the end of production, and his good friend, Vin Diesel, wanting to send off the actor and his character in a special way.
Star Trek needs to avoid bringing back deceased actors just for new content
Maybe it’s how I was raised but we were always taught to respect the dead. You can’t know what someone truly wants without asking them and the dead can’t give consent. So it’s unnerving to think we could see the original James Kirk come back years after William Shatner’s death. Yet, still being played by Shatner.
It feels gross, and like these people don’t actually matter to these mega franchises. It was unnerving enough to just see Cushing’s Tarkin cameo in Rogue One, but with the advancement of technologies over the last seven years, it’s getting easier and easier to do more and more with the likeness of a human being; with or without their consent.
This is why it’s far more likely that another strike will happen in Hollywood in the near future, as actors are now afraid of this very thing.
As far as Star Trek goes, they’ve already done this to an extent with Prodigy. Yet, theirs was different. With the Star Wars stuff, they shot new content, with new actors, to fill out these scenes. What Prodigy did was use already recorded lines from deceased actors and find a way to fit them into the script. There were no new scenes created or any new dialogue recorded.
They used archival content. They didn’t use CGI software to clone the voices of the deceased, just to use them in a new cartoon. That feels fine. The footage is already there to be used, so why not? It’s not like you’re using technology to recreate whole people who have died.
There has to be a line drawn somewhere in the sand when it comes to using the deceased for our entertainment. Keep the characters going for ions, just keep casting new actors and actresses to play the parts.
We shouldn’t be profiting off the dead for our own amusement.