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July 2, 2013 8:15 AM   Subscribe

James Cameron is being sued by Roger Dean. Best known as the creator of classic Yes album art, artist Roger Dean has filed a complaint against James Cameron and 20th Century Fox seeking more than $50 million in damages over Avatar. Full 17 page complaint here.
posted by davebush (164 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
If I'm reading this right, he's essentially claiming that he invented the idea of islands floating in the sky, and has exclusive license to it. All complaints about Avatar's unoriginality aside, that's a bit of a stretch.
posted by fifthrider at 8:18 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


He also did the artwork for Psygnosis.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:18 AM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was wondering why I couldn't find any Yes songs on Pandora.
posted by googly at 8:20 AM on July 2, 2013 [51 favorites]


If I'm reading this right, he's essentially claiming that he invented the idea of islands floating in the sky, and has exclusive license to it. All complaints about Avatar's unoriginality aside, that's a bit of a stretch


Indeed.

posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:21 AM on July 2, 2013


I think we're all entitled to some monetary recompense for the damage that Avatar caused.
posted by planetesimal at 8:21 AM on July 2, 2013 [49 favorites]


I applaude all efforts screw 20th Century Fox, including never buying their products, but Bryant Moore’s script suit sounds much more viable.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:22 AM on July 2, 2013


Realistically Cameron should be sued by America's fine black-light poster artists.
posted by The Whelk at 8:23 AM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Next up, airbrushed van owners.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:23 AM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yep. On one hand, this seems like a ridiculous money grab. On the other, fuck James Cameron.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:23 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh? Sky Islands are nothing new.
posted by stopgap at 8:24 AM on July 2, 2013


Indeed.

From Mr. Dean's action:

"The similarities of each such work are substantial, continuing, and direct so as to rule out any accidental copying or similarity in scenes common to the genre,"

a few relevant samples
posted by philip-random at 8:25 AM on July 2, 2013


You know what's weird? How Avatar has left no impression in the mass cultural consciousness. Memes, references, in-jokes, ...fandoms? Nothing. It spearheaded the 3D thing and the increasing "movie as roller coaster" trend but just...refused to leave anything behind. It was just something that happened.
posted by The Whelk at 8:25 AM on July 2, 2013 [92 favorites]


People were jacking it to blue women for a while, I thought. But I'm pretty sure even that passed.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:26 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


(Occasionally, I'm less than proud of my contributions as soon as I post them. This is one of those times.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:27 AM on July 2, 2013 [78 favorites]


Seriously, take a look at those samples. It's way beyond the "idea" of something, going into deep and substantial similarity. Certainly, the first glimpse I got of the Avatar world, I just assumed that Cameron had been exceedingly cool and got Roger Dean on board for the art direction. In fact, it's one of the main reasons I went to the movie.
posted by philip-random at 8:27 AM on July 2, 2013


Huh? Sky Islands are nothing new.

Even that's a Johnny-come-lately.
posted by LionIndex at 8:27 AM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


You know what's weird? How Avatar has left no impression in the mass cultural consciousness.

Not true. Now, when I talk about the awesome TV show, I have to say "No, not THAT Avatar" in addition to "the TV show, not the movie".
posted by DU at 8:28 AM on July 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm pretty sure Avatar was based on a collage of like 30 different sci fi and fantasy novel cover illustrations.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:28 AM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


DU: the TV show, not either of the movies.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:33 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


fuck James Cameron

Dude, the guy's responsible for some of the greatest sci-fi action cinema ever. The Terminator and Aliens give him a permanent and irrevocable pardon for any and all cinematic crimes he may have committed or may ever commit.

He also has the #1 and #2 spots for worldwide box office gross (source). The guy creates mostly innoccuous entertainment that people seem to love.
posted by DWRoelands at 8:33 AM on July 2, 2013 [19 favorites]


Shh nobody tell Roger about Nagrand.
posted by sydnius at 8:34 AM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yep. On one hand, this seems like a ridiculous money grab. On the other, fuck James Cameron.

Why the hate for James Cameron? I am not being difficult with that question -- I just don't know what the hate's about. I really really liked Avatar. Thought it was a great story and breathtaking cinematography. But what's the hate about? I just want to know.
posted by qivip at 8:37 AM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, this seems weird to me. What flora and fauna are nearly identical? His dragons, for example, don't really look anything like the dragonish creatures in the movie at all.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:37 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's way beyond the "idea" of something, going into deep and substantial similarity.

I don't know... how many different ways are their to depict a "floating island"? If there's only one way to express an idea, then you can't own the expression anymore than you do the idea.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:37 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Whelk: "You know what's weird? How Avatar has left no impression in the mass cultural consciousness. Memes, references, in-jokes, ...fandoms? Nothing. It spearheaded the 3D thing and the increasing "movie as roller coaster" trend but just...refused to leave anything behind. It was just something that happened."

I think it might have left an impression on some people (that link is NSFW).
posted by Runes at 8:38 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why did Dean wait four years? I'm pretty sure that I read multiple reviews of Avatar at the time that mentioned the art direction looking like a Yes album cover.
posted by octothorpe at 8:38 AM on July 2, 2013


People were jacking it to blue women for a while, I thought. But I'm pretty sure even that passed.

Yeah, on to Mass Effect fandom.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:39 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


People were jacking it to blue women for a while, I thought. But I'm pretty sure even that passed.

Smurfs 2 premiering July 31st at a small, stuffy smoke filled theater filled with shady men in overcoats near you!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:39 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Avatar sky islands look like this, but Yes album cover sky islands look like this."
posted by grubi at 8:39 AM on July 2, 2013


I mean, c'mon, the arches thing? Should Michael Whelan be suing, too?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:40 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think Mathowie should sue James Cameron; the blue color of the aliens was clearly inspired by Metafilter!

(I can make a compelling witness; [cash-register noise])
posted by Renoroc at 8:42 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


You know what's weird? How Avatar has left no impression in the mass cultural consciousness.

Not that weird. The plot is linear and derived, the secondary characters aren't fleshed out, the main characters are cardboard cut outs. There's no bigger universe implied, nowhere to explore outside the set pieces. It's crap worldbuilding, amateur-hour plot and boring characters, with a very pretty veneer.

Compare with the crummy Star Wars prequels. They also had boring one-note characters and a plodding, confusing plot - but, oh, the world they built! You could daydream your life away imagining what life was like on Coruscant alone... you got the sensation that this was a whole universe, populated with a whole universe of wonders.

Avatar wasn't groaningly bad, but in the end, it was bland. Once the spectacle wears off, there's nothing to keep you there.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:43 AM on July 2, 2013 [13 favorites]


Avatar has left no impression in the mass cultural consciousness.

Mostly because there wasn't really anything you could package and sell to people for decades after.
posted by srboisvert at 8:46 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm going to weigh in on the side of hey man if you're broke go make some more paintings because seriously if you tell a conceptual artist "floating islands" that kind of shit is what you're going to get and it has nothing to do with Dean thinking them up first and everything to do with what islands look like on our planet.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:46 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here's a Google search on AVATAR-floating-islands. Take a quick scan down, see if the Roger Dean samples that have got mixed up in it leap out at you? Or better put, see if any other artist's work other than Dean's gets mixed up in it all? And even if they do, I'd not be surprised to find they weren't very much influenced by Mr. Dean.
posted by philip-random at 8:46 AM on July 2, 2013


In other words, if this isn't laughed out of court, seriously, I think the Oregon and Washington state coastlines ought to sue the fuck out of Roger Dean.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:47 AM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


see if any other artist's work other than Dean's gets mixed up in it all

First thing I noticed was Miyazaki. Hey Dean, why didn't you sue Miyazaki for Castle in the Sky back in 1986?
posted by yoink at 8:50 AM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


refused to leave anything behind. It was just something that happened.

It is notable for being unnotable now that you mention it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:51 AM on July 2, 2013


He also did the artwork for Psygnosis.

Some. A lot of it is Tim White and others.

I have to say claiming sole ownership over floating islands is a bit of a reach, and if he pulls this off more bad will come of it than good. Do we really want art patents on tropes?
posted by Artw at 8:51 AM on July 2, 2013


>You could daydream your life away imagining what life was like on Coruscant alone... you got the sensation that this was a whole universe, populated with a whole universe of wonders.

I did my best to daydream through The Phantom Menace, but it was more of a defence mechanism than something I wanted to do.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:52 AM on July 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


What? We hate James Cameron now? Why? You can have my Abyss special collection DVD when you pry it from my cold dead hands that are also clutching my DVDs for Aliens, Terminator, and T2.
posted by xmutex at 8:54 AM on July 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


We hate James Cameron now? Why?

He made a shitload of money and (almost) everybody likes his films. Those two things guarantee you bucketloads of hate in certain quarters.
posted by yoink at 8:56 AM on July 2, 2013 [23 favorites]


Titanic is the only Cameron picture that doesn't mention or involve nuclear weapons in some capacity
posted by The Whelk at 8:57 AM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Should Michael Whelan be suing, too?

Given that Michael Whelan didn't really start doing book covers etc until the 1980s, it's entirely conceivable that he was a fan of Roger Dean's.

First thing I noticed was Miyazaki. Hey Dean, why didn't you sue Miyazaki for Castle in the Sky back in 1986?

Because it didn't make over a billion dollars at the box office? Because I suspect that Dean himself would be the first to say he was influenced by traditional Japanese art.

When Peter Jackson made LOTR, one of the first things he did in envisioning Middle Earth was to enlist the services of noted Tolkien-inspired artists John Howe and Alan Lee. I can't help but feel that Cameron did exactly the same with Roger Dean when it came to envisioning the alien world of Avatar. He just didn't actually ever meet him, or put him on the pay roll. Just rolled with the richness of the ideas and imagination. It will be very interesting to track this should it continue in the courts.
posted by philip-random at 8:57 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Roger Dean has filed a complaint against James Cameron and 20th Century Fox seeking more than $50 million in damages over Avatar.

Chump change! Avatar grossed $761 million domestically and $2 billion internationally.
posted by wensink at 8:57 AM on July 2, 2013


Titanic is the only Cameron picture that doesn't mention or involve nuclear weapons in some capacity

That's his "NINA".
posted by grubi at 8:58 AM on July 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


He made a shitload of money and (almost) everybody likes his films. Those two things guarantee you bucketloads of hate in certain quarters.

When you put it that way, what an asshole.
posted by xmutex at 8:58 AM on July 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


I wonder if that's why Larry Niven had to use floating trees instead if islands in the book The Integral Trees. Could mean trouble for Robert Silverberg and his floating city of Vythain in Lord Valentine's Castle, too.

Also, look out Norman Greenbaum, you're next!
posted by wenestvedt at 9:02 AM on July 2, 2013


Did the band Yes leave any lasting mark on the popular consciousness?

Ugh.
posted by spitbull at 9:03 AM on July 2, 2013


Yes, for the "They're very into Yes on this planet " line from MST3K: The Movie.

(Owner of a lonely heart! Owner of a ....piiiiie!)
posted by The Whelk at 9:04 AM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wensink:

"Chump change! Avatar grossed $760 million domestically and $2.8 billion internationally."

Yes, but Hollywood Accounting is such that 20th Century Fox will maintain it is still in red. The Accountants of Hollywood work a dark brand of magic, they do.
posted by jscalzi at 9:04 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm really only angry about True Lies.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:05 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did the band Yes leave any lasting mark on the popular consciousness?

Well, I learned about Rick Wakeman's penchant for long songs from Jello Biafra's comment "Rick Wakeman, eat your heart out" on Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death. Does that count?
posted by entropicamericana at 9:05 AM on July 2, 2013


The Whelk: "Titanic is the only Cameron picture that doesn't mention or involve nuclear weapons in some capacity"

Piranha II: The Spawning?

I like Cameron generally and I enjoyed Avatar, although it's certainly not his best work. It's a well-crafted, old school adventure story in a modern skin. There's not much more to it, but it's fun.
posted by brundlefly at 9:06 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


(actually wasn't that "I hope I die so I can wake up on Pandora" thing revealed to be a hoax anyway? )
posted by The Whelk at 9:06 AM on July 2, 2013


If this gains any traction, the TimeSpirits folks should get in line...

The Complete List Of Sources Avatar's Accused Of Ripping Off
posted by Zed at 9:07 AM on July 2, 2013


Oh crap, so Commander Mark better watch his back and website, too ....
posted by tilde at 9:07 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is the fourth Avatar suit Cameron and Fox have had to deal with in the past year or so alone.

I can't help but think this is the cultural equivalent of patent trolling. "Something with floating islands made money? Well guess what, I own floating islands. Pay me!"
posted by Grimgrin at 9:07 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Titanic is the only Cameron picture that doesn't mention or involve nuclear weapons in some capacity

I just had a great idea for Titanic II: Nuclear Boogaloo. Call me, Hollywood!
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:08 AM on July 2, 2013


I hope someone gathers up the relevant artwork and posts it somewhere. There's really no way to make a call without seeing it.

On the surface it sounds like he's making claims about some really broad ideas. And the fact that he waited this long to file suit is very odd.

And, alas, Frank Herbert showed us in the worst way that even a talented and widely admired artist can go off the deep end when they think that someone copied their work.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:08 AM on July 2, 2013


I don't really have much of an opinion on Cameron, but I thought his posing for the cover of a recent National Geographic was really silly, maybe one of the worst covers that magazine has had.
posted by planetesimal at 9:08 AM on July 2, 2013


Because it didn't make over a billion dollars at the box office?

Yes, quite. In other words, it's a crude money-grab from someone who is hoping, at best, to get a chunk of shut-up-and-go-away money.
posted by yoink at 9:08 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been saying for years that the oceans in Titanic and Abyss look way too topographic for it to be a coincidence. I smell scandal in 7/4 + 5/8.
posted by No-sword at 9:09 AM on July 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


Final thought for the time being, because the rest of my life calls. A quick word-find on the main link reveals no "floating" or "island" in the article proper. And then this ...

Dean is not just after the $50 million or more to be proved at trial. The artist also wants an injunction, a full accounting and a court order to be posted online and elsewhere that the defendants ripped off his work. And he wants those rights enforced for future Avatar projects. “Further, upon information and belief, Defendants intend to film two (2) sequels and possibly a ‘prequel’ to Avatar, and a Walt Disney World Avatar-themed attraction, which sequels, prequel and attraction are very likely to utilize many of the original images of Plaintiff which would further continue Defendants breach of contractual obligations owed to Plaintiff,”

In other words, you were inspired by my stuff. You used it without my permission. And now it forms a substantial chunk of the backbone of a huge franchise that will continue to reap revenue for decades to come. Cut me in.
posted by philip-random at 9:10 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


In other words, if this isn't laughed out of court...

I don't think the plaintiff ever intended this suit to get anywhere near a courtroom. They're just gambling the studio will give them a stack of money to go away. It's probably a pretty safe bet.
posted by aught at 9:12 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wasn't there some side-by-side comparison video of scenes from Avatar and some other movie and/or video game that made it pretty clear that that was where Cameron blatantly stole the floating islands from?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:13 AM on July 2, 2013


One last thing ...

I hope someone gathers up the relevant artwork and posts it somewhere. There's really no way to make a call without seeing it.

Here's a start.

[Google Search on Roger Dean Avatar]
posted by philip-random at 9:13 AM on July 2, 2013


Somewhere there is a Metafilter occult altar of hate, and on it are effigies of James Cameron, Billy Joel and a heap of Fedora hats.

This is seriously a money grab on the part of Roger Dean. If James Cameron hadn't written Rambo First Blood, created Terminator 1 and 2, made Aliens, made the Abyss and generally pushed CG in new directions...maybe then I could hate him. Ok maybe lets leave out Rambo First Blood...
posted by jnnla at 9:14 AM on July 2, 2013


That's no island. darnit
posted by tilde at 9:14 AM on July 2, 2013


There is copyright doctrine in the 2nd Circuit (where filed) and 9th Circuit (Hollywood) that allows Scènes à faire to be an affirmative defense to copyright infringement. Where the similarities in the artistic expression are due to the limited range of possibilities for expressing the subject matter, the works would have to be nearly identical for the defense to not hold. Public domain can also factor.

The defense might be harder to maintain when comparing a movie containing continuous scenes of expressions that are "substantially" similar to multiple distinct works by an artist in a different medium. Or, at least, that would be one way to attack the affirmative defense (and perhaps a good one).

A fun and interesting case, no doubt.
posted by bafflegab at 9:15 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also this, which was way better than Avatar ...
posted by philip-random at 9:15 AM on July 2, 2013


I don't think the plaintiff ever intended this suit to get anywhere near a courtroom. They're just gambling the studio will give them a stack of money to go away. It's probably a pretty safe bet.

It's worked before - Ellison's claim on Terminator is total bullshit.
posted by Artw at 9:16 AM on July 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


someone who is hoping, at best, to get a chunk of shut-up-and-go-away money

Or maybe they'll pull a Tim Powers and we'll see Avatar 4: Topographic Oceans be the worst of the lot by far.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:18 AM on July 2, 2013


Titanic is the only Cameron picture that doesn't mention or involve nuclear weapons in some capacity

That's because Celine Dion is the nuclear proxy haunting the whole scene, a portent of greater tragedy to come. "My Heart Will Go On" is aural fallout, with a half-life comparable to U-235 and a lingering effect more painful in some respects than radiation sickness.
posted by gompa at 9:20 AM on July 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


"In some" respects?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:21 AM on July 2, 2013


Yeah but try to stop Celine Dion from being born and you end up killing 50,000 people.
posted by The Whelk at 9:24 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes, for the "They're very into Yes on this planet " line from MST3K: The Movie.

Don't forget "Anne Boleyn was the most tempestuous of Henry VIII's six wives."
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:25 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Given that Michael Whelan didn't really start doing book covers etc until the 1980s, it's entirely conceivable that he was a fan of Roger Dean's.

Whelan started illustrating SF covers in '75.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:25 AM on July 2, 2013


Titanic is the only Cameron picture that doesn't mention or involve nuclear weapons in some capacity

And he used it as a means to build deep sea submersibles. Really it would be very hard for he not to like Cameron.
posted by Artw at 9:26 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Roger Dean deserves no money, merely punishment for having anything to do with the abomination that is Yes.
posted by jonmc at 9:27 AM on July 2, 2013


Did the band Yes leave any lasting mark on the popular consciousness?

That Venture Brothers episode with the aborted clone of Dean is amazing.

"...our greatest living artist: Roger Dean!"
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:29 AM on July 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


Whelan started illustrating SF covers in '75.

By which point we'd seen pretty much all of this
posted by philip-random at 9:29 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah but try to stop Celine Dion from being born and you end up killing 50,000 people.

Sometimes sacrifices have to be made for the greater good.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:30 AM on July 2, 2013


Firstly, Yes was great when they were great. Take your short attention spans elsewhere. Secondly, don't really think RD deserves any $$$, but count me among those who assumed (yes...make an ASS of U and ME) that Cameron had involved him in the design.
posted by umberto at 9:36 AM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Roger Dean deserves no money, merely punishment for having anything to do with the abomination that is Yes.

Pistols at dawn my good man.
posted by marxchivist at 9:36 AM on July 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


I dunno man, I looked at the specific comparisons between Avatar and "Pathways" and "Floating Jungle" and I don't really see anything compensation-worthy. The "Hometree" claim--it's s tree, dude. It looks like a tree. In "Pathways", it looks like an island, not a tree. And the "Tree of Life" in Avatar looks...nothing like anything in either of those cited works by Dean.

The best he's got is that the film seems to tread in the same themes and concepts he painted in, and there are arches and floating islands. I don't think he has a claim to either of those things being unique to his own work, though.
posted by Hoopo at 9:38 AM on July 2, 2013


Take your short attention spans elsewhere

Already did, like 3 times
posted by Hoopo at 9:39 AM on July 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


By which point we'd seen pretty much all of this

And it's entirely possible that Dean was familiar with this.

C'mon, the claim's absurd. There's no way the dude was the progenitor of the floating island idea, nor rocky arches. Both were tropes that were proliferate in fantasy illustrations of the time.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:43 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be clear, as the 'fuck James Cameron' originator in this thread, it has nothing to do with his movies, most of which I like or love, and everything to do with his reputation as a horrible husband, boss, and human being.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:44 AM on July 2, 2013


Pistols at dawn my good man.

Don't you mean lances mounted on gossamer winged dragons above the numberless floating jungle islands and rocky arches against the vast cerulean sky lit by alien suns?
posted by Grimgrin at 9:49 AM on July 2, 2013 [11 favorites]




Titanic II: Nuclear Boogaloo

Already made, but it was called Raise the Titanic.
posted by localroger at 9:56 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be clear, as the 'fuck James Cameron' originator in this thread, it has nothing to do with his movies, most of which I like or love, and everything to do with his reputation as a horrible husband, boss, and human being.

On the other hand you listen to the 25th anniversary Aliens cast reunion and there isn't one of them that wouldn't take a bullet for him.

He uses the power of ego and assholery to get things done, to be sure, but that is part of the job description of "Hollywood Director".
posted by Artw at 9:58 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's no way the dude was the progenitor of the floating island idea, nor rocky arches.

I'm not clear on copyright as it applies to art, but I know that in writing, you can't copyright an idea. Dean's stuff vs Avatar is way beyond "idea". It's implementation. It's the look itself. I've posted a number of examples/comparisons already (this is probably the most relevant). If you can't see at least a hint of something, then you're clearly not me.

I admit, I'm a Roger Dean fan from way back. Indeed, when I was reading LOTR as a kid, it was Roger Dean's look I was imagining. So yeah, I have my biases.

Likewise, I feel that the many in this thread who are so quick to outright dismiss Mr. Dean's stuff with respect to Avatar are also working a bias. Which is what shall make this case so interesting should it continue to go forward. So many minds seemingly already made up -- and staking claims on either side of the divide.

And there are literally billions of dollars at stake. Mr. Dean only wants 5-percent of one of those.
posted by philip-random at 9:58 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't hate Rick Wakeman because I can't hate anyone who played minimoog on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.
posted by item at 10:11 AM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's a bunch of Hildebrandt Tolkient stuff that looks as much as if not more similar to Avatar lifeforms.

Nothing that you've posted looks particularly on the nose to me. The Dean artwork is much more surreal, whereas the Avatar landscapes look more organic.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:13 AM on July 2, 2013


On the other hand you listen to the 25th anniversary Aliens cast reunion and there isn't one of them that wouldn't take a bullet for him.

On the other hand, Linda Hamilton, ex-wife number four, aims the gun in this interview with The Daily Mail. [via PopEater]

On the effect of the success of 'Titanic' on Cameron's personality
: "He was always a jerk, so there is no way to tell."

On Cameron's epic directorial ambitions
: Jimbo had a love of fast cars, but as the warrior bride I was on the back of a motorcycle. He used to say to me: 'Anybody can be a father or a husband. There are only five people in the world who can do what I do, and I'm going for that.'"

"Toilet not in service"
: Cameron is infamous for being intimidating on set. Actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio ran from 'The Abyss' set crying "we are not animals" when he told cast members to relieve themselves inside their wet suits during a water scene to save time. He also warned that toilet breaks during the filming of 'True Lies' with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis could lead to dismissal.
posted by wensink at 10:14 AM on July 2, 2013


Item: I was just reading Ozzy's autobio, where he recounts Sabbath recording in the next studio to Yes. Sabbath were drinking and doping themselves silly while Yes did yoga and ate macrobiotic meals. Except for Wakeman, who Oz describes as "the only regular bloke in Yes."

Plus Wakeman played piano on Bowie's "Oh You Pretty Things."
posted by jonmc at 10:17 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now is the time to remember Half Man Half Biscuit's Dickie Davies Eyes. Sing along everyone.
posted by bendybendy at 10:27 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


next up, Roger Waters sues the NSA for weirding out everyone with prism graphics.
posted by bendybendy at 10:34 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio ran from 'The Abyss' set crying "we are not animals" when he told cast members to relieve themselves inside their wet suits during a water scene to save time.
Isn't this standard practice for divers? Like, it even helps keep people warm?
posted by MangyCarface at 10:38 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Plus Wakeman played piano on Bowie's "Oh You Pretty Things."

As I recall hearing it, Bowie wanted Wakeman in his band at the band, but Wakeman had had it with being in bands ... until the Yes offer came along ...
posted by philip-random at 10:42 AM on July 2, 2013


>Actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio ran from 'The Abyss' set crying "we are not animals" when he told cast >members to relieve themselves inside their wet suits during a water scene to save time.
>Isn't this standard practice for divers?

The various facts in those sentences are in no way contradictory. Especially in Aberdeen.
posted by Devonian at 10:53 AM on July 2, 2013


The most compelling similiarities (to me, anyway) are from this wordpress blog:
Dean >>> Avatar
posted by misha at 10:56 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Take your short attention spans elsewhere

Already did, like 3 times


That's hilari
posted by Short Attention Sp at 11:15 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm really only angry about True Lies.

It's ok.

True Lies will always love you.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:22 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


They really should've just hired him in the first place.
posted by sevensixfive at 11:27 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Making of Aliens. You're welcome and kiss your day goodbye.
posted by phaedon at 11:42 AM on July 2, 2013


Shh nobody tell Roger about Nagrand.

Flying mounts, floating islands, blue skinned aliens, mechanical demons... I just assumed Cameron ripped off World of Warcraft's Burning Crusade expansion.
posted by underflow at 11:45 AM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don't you mean lances mounted on gossamer winged dragons above the numberless floating jungle islands and rocky arches against the vast cerulean sky lit by alien suns?

Have you ever actually heard Yes? Just because that shit's on the album cover doesn't mean it's in the music.

(Actual Yes lyrics make way less sense.)
posted by Sys Rq at 11:57 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Also, I love Yes and have no attention span whatsoever. These two facts are not unrelated.)
posted by Sys Rq at 11:58 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that the first attempt at an adaptation of one of the most successful directors is going to be of a fair to middling Manga. Seeing what a bit of reworking did for Avatar, I'm curious if Cameron is toying with the idea that maybe he should scrap it and then claim he is making a movie called Fighting Cherub Alice.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 12:00 PM on July 2, 2013


sparklemotion: "True Lies will always love you."

But it will also make you fear for your life and force you to do a strip tease.
posted by brundlefly at 12:11 PM on July 2, 2013


True Lies knows that deep down, that's what you wanted all along.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:13 PM on July 2, 2013


Roger Dean deserves no money, merely punishment for having anything to do with the abomination that is Yes.

Oh come on. 90215 is awesome.

Thanks to this thread, now I'm wondering why the Hemingway estate never sued the Bee Gees over "Islands In The Stream."
posted by octobersurprise at 12:41 PM on July 2, 2013


"True Lies will always love you."

One of maybe five movies I've ever walked out of. I couldn't stomach the racism. If somebody had sort of olive colored skin, they were evil. Except for the one token guy on our side. Also, Arnold Schwartzenberger can't act.
posted by philip-random at 12:48 PM on July 2, 2013


On a prog music forum I haunt this topic has gone multiple pages. For Dean fans, the smoking gun seems to be art designers on Avatar admitting that they used Dean's album art as inspiration. Ca-Ching!
posted by Ber at 12:52 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh come on. 90215 is awesome.

no it isn't.

Love it or hate it, this is the Yes that's worth giving a shit about.

90215 is just 80s pop-product that happens to feature some of the same musicians (whose accountants had told them they needed a big hit or else they'd have to sell one of the Jaguars).
posted by philip-random at 12:57 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't you mean lances mounted on gossamer winged dragons above the numberless floating jungle islands and rocky arches against the vast cerulean sky lit by alien suns?

Have you ever actually heard Yes? Just because that shit's on the album cover doesn't mean it's in the music.


But holy shit have you ever heard this? It is pure audio album cover.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 12:58 PM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I approve of this thread derailing into a discussion of Yes.

Speaking of which, previously ...
posted by philip-random at 1:02 PM on July 2, 2013


I think Mr Dean should win in any case, in the same way that I don't really believe Noel Gallagher ever heard How Sweet to Be an Idiot by Neil Innes, but approve of the fact that he had to fork over some of his money Innes' way.

I love Yes. When I started listening to rock in 1978, so much of what was around was grey punk and post-punk. Discovering Yes was like moving from a concrete tower block to a rain forest.
posted by Grangousier at 1:09 PM on July 2, 2013


no it isn't.

Nothing's easier than trolling a Yes fan over 90215.

(I actually do like 90215. It may not be the kind of Yes that Yes fans approve of, but it's a solid piece of New Wave pop. Big Generator sucked, though.)
posted by octobersurprise at 1:12 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I missed Avatar but saw stills and clips. Just enough to get indignant "dude they totally ripped off Wayne Barlowe's creatures." Well, no, actually. Why the hell not work with Dean too? Dude deserves the credit.
posted by Lou Stuells at 1:13 PM on July 2, 2013


If James Cameron hadn't written Rambo First Blood, created Terminator 1 and 2, made Aliens, made the Abyss and generally pushed CG in new directions...maybe then I could hate him. Ok maybe lets leave out Rambo First Blood...

Know your oeuvre: First Blood, Part II.
posted by xmutex at 1:16 PM on July 2, 2013


Holy balls I forgot how awesome Barlowe can be. I totally ripped him off to the best of my flaccid ability, in high school.
posted by Lou Stuells at 1:17 PM on July 2, 2013


Know your oeuvre: First Blood, Part II.

Yeah, seriously. It's the racist Rambo where he kills a bunch of olive skinned people.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 1:22 PM on July 2, 2013


On Cameron's epic directorial ambitions: Jimbo had a love of fast cars, but as the warrior bride I was on the back of a motorcycle. He used to say to me: 'Anybody can be a father or a husband. There are only five people in the world who can do what I do, and I'm going for that.'"

What in the world is wrong with this? It's fantastic. He's absolutely right.

"Toilet not in service": Cameron is infamous for being intimidating on set. Actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio ran from 'The Abyss' set crying "we are not animals" when he told cast members to relieve themselves inside their wet suits during a water scene to save time. He also warned that toilet breaks during the filming of 'True Lies' with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis could lead to dismissal.

This, too. Man, Hollywood productions are just full of this kind of story. Stop making me love James Cameron more than I love James Cameron.

Next you're going to tell me Lars von Trier says impolite things on set.
posted by xmutex at 1:26 PM on July 2, 2013


When I started listening to rock in 1978, so much of what was around was grey punk and post-punk. Discovering Yes was like moving from a concrete tower block to a rain forest

In my case, the opposite occurred - and the concrete tower block looked magnificent.
posted by davebush at 1:28 PM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm an artist. I grew up being amazed by Roger Dean's work. When I saw Avatar, my thought was "holy shit this is like being inside a Roger Dean painting". Especially that bit where they ride neon butterfly dragons. That part was a total squeegasm for a Dean fan. I was really expecting to see his name in the credits.

Seriously, I feel like the art direction was "here is your copy of Magnetic Storm, go crazy". If you know Dean's work at all the huge influence is obvious.
posted by egypturnash at 1:39 PM on July 2, 2013


Seriously, I feel like the art direction was "here is your copy of Magnetic Fields, go crazy". If you know Dean's work at all the huge influence is obvious.

Stephen Merritt is suing Cameron, too?
posted by xmutex at 1:41 PM on July 2, 2013


Discovering Yes was like moving from a concrete tower block to a rain forest

In my case, the opposite occurred - and the concrete tower block looked magnificent.


I managed to move in both directions. Embraced Yes big time in 1975 after I saw the Relayer tour, but I'd had enough of the prog by the time the 80s kicked in (and yeah those tower blocks could be magnificent). But then by around 1987-88, I found that Yes (the 1970-74 stuff where they really were pushing the Total Mass Retain) was suddenly quite palatable again ... and it was Sonic Youth that got me there, Daydream Nation being nothing if not an alt-future where hardcore and prog could coexist amid great eruptions of sonic peace and harmony ... and not a winged dragon-thing in sight.
posted by philip-random at 2:27 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know what's weird? How Avatar has left no impression in the mass cultural consciousness.

Well, there was that awkward Bones episode that was half an ad for Avatar. Seriously, no one camped out to see it. There was no authentic hype around the movie, but so much money dumped into the promotion of it.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:45 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


When Yes were good, they were SO good, but man, when that kind of thing doesn't work, it really doesn't work.

Close To The Edge is an amazing album. I appreciate that it's not everyone's cup of tea. I was a Crimson man myself, in my maximum prog years.
posted by thelonius at 3:13 PM on July 2, 2013


I still wouldn't mind going virtual if it meant bumping blue with Sigourney Weaver's avatar.
posted by Ber at 3:14 PM on July 2, 2013


I haven't seen Avatar, but I just watched this clip. Is this state of the art CGI? I suppose it all looks glorious, but the action just doesn't appear real to me. There's something unnaturally smooth about all the movement. It looks like a video game.
posted by davebush at 3:20 PM on July 2, 2013


davebush: yep. Looks sort of posterised. And come on, giant wolfy thing taking multiple headshots pointblank from a machine gun is going to think twice about dinner, surely? (Not that that detracts from a chase scene which was forgettable more for its context than its own qualities).
posted by aesop at 3:24 PM on July 2, 2013


Was First Blood II that movie that basically gave a lot of stupid assholes the idea that the Vietnamese were holding Americans in POW camps in the 80's for like no reason other than to be dicks?
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:50 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


In other words, you were inspired by my stuff. You used it without my permission.

We need permission to use inspiration now?

For Dean fans, the smoking gun seems to be art designers on Avatar admitting that they used Dean's album art as inspiration. Ca-Ching!

And? Inspiration is part of the artistic process. Has Dean made payment arrangements with all those who inspired him?

I hate to see what the "Oh my god!!! Rip OFF!!!" crowd would reduce Shakespeare too if he were around in today's climate, not to mention the lawsuits.

I understand that truly ripping off others happens, but it can get ridiculous and set a dangerous precedent. That said, getting software development and the creative arts out of the U.S. is something certain people would be happy about.
posted by juiceCake at 4:13 PM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


For Dean fans, the smoking gun seems to be art designers on Avatar admitting that they used Dean's album art as inspiration. Ca-Ching!

And? Inspiration is part of the artistic process. Has Dean made payment arrangements with all those who inspired him?


This is how Ellison made his Terminator money.
posted by Artw at 4:18 PM on July 2, 2013


I'm still jacking to Avatar.
posted by mazola at 5:23 PM on July 2, 2013


JC's movies aren't the type I'll run out to see but I have tons of respect for his sense of screen direction. No matter how insanely complicated the action gets, you never feel lost in it.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:27 PM on July 2, 2013


his reputation as a horrible husband, boss, and human being

Cameron on The Hurt Locker: "All the good things people are saying about her are well-deserved"

(Also, he saw a rough cut, so she clearly consulted him at least during post-production.)

that movie that basically gave a lot of stupid assholes the idea that the Vietnamese were holding Americans in POW camps in the 80's

That really came from the POW/MIA movement itself -- self-aggrandizers such as Bo Gritz in particular -- and predated the pop culture recapitulation. Movies such as The Deer Hunter actually popularized the idea that Americans were held in so-called tiger cages of bamboo, but that was historically something the South Vietnamese did to Viet Cong prisoners, rather notoriously. In any case, Rambo was preceded by at least Chuck Norris and Gene Hackman.
posted by dhartung at 5:49 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is how Ellison made his Terminator money.

Indeed. And that was a travesty as well. Philip K. Dick had been using similar ideas but Ellison was only to happy to claim them as his own. Despicable.
posted by juiceCake at 5:50 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm going to call this IP trolling, the defining feature of which being that the plaintiff's primary leg to stand on its that it's quicker and easier and surer to buy him off than to pursue justice.

All artists stand on the shoulders of those who came before. Utterly shameful.
posted by anonymisc at 7:52 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


the defining feature of which being that the plaintiff's primary leg to stand on its that it's quicker and easier and surer to buy him off than to pursue justice.

Sorry, but this is how the law works. You build a sufficiently compelling argument. It gets settled outside of court. Because taking it to court is crushingly expensive. Nobody wins, but the richer you are, the more likely you are to lose less.

So, bluntly, saying it's "... quicker and easier and surer to buy him off than to pursue justice" is naive. Real justice would have been to put Mr. Dean on the payroll from the beginning.
posted by philip-random at 8:09 PM on July 2, 2013


You are quite mistaken. Ip trolling is a very real thing that causes considerable economic (and other) loss to society.
posted by anonymisc at 8:20 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Real justice would be slapping Roger Dean with a frivolous lawsuit penalty, having his threat dismissed, and having this happen within a day, at no expense, so productive people can get on with the tasks of being productive.
posted by anonymisc at 8:22 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


(And if I had my way, that would include if documents surfaced that were written by Cameron instructing his team to draw inspiration from the work of Dean)
posted by anonymisc at 8:25 PM on July 2, 2013


IP trolling is real. This isn't that. Glad you're not a judge. And if you are, I fear for my culture.
posted by philip-random at 9:29 PM on July 2, 2013


You have that backwards. Culture is enriched and enabled by artists being free to be inspired and let themselves soar. In stark contrast, culture is suppressed and held hostage by these money-grubbing threats of lawsuits that artists face whenever they manage to turn their labor into something so innovative and exciting that people want to reward them for it.

Dean is hardly a nobody. His work didn't lie undiscovered allowing someone to steal his thunder.
posted by anonymisc at 10:00 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Entertainment Weekly asked Cameron about it, and he laughed it off, saying he might have been influenced by Dean "back in my pot-smoking days."

Oops. It was an off-the-cuff remark like this that allowed Ellison to sue him over Terminator.

His lawyer needs to drill this into him: "It doesn't matter that every artist has been influenced by everything he's ever seen, whenever someone asks, the answer is always No! I came up with this entirely on my own!"
posted by eye of newt at 10:51 PM on July 2, 2013


entropicamericana: "Well, I learned about Rick Wakeman's penchant for long songs from Jello Biafra's comment "Rick Wakeman, eat your heart out" on Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death. Does that count?"

I love the Dead Kennedys, and I love Yes, and yet until your comment, it never occurred to me that he was talking about that Rick Wakeman. I just figured it was some local San Francisco politician or something.
posted by Bugbread at 11:36 PM on July 2, 2013


I've seen Laputa and various floating island paintings and a big Roger Dean art book. When I watched Avatar, I didn't think, "hey, floating islands, that popular art trope", I thought, "holy shit, Roger Dean islands!" I'm not going to say he should get money for inspiring the art direction, but I certainly think the Avatar islands are very specifically Roger Dean in style.
posted by Bugbread at 11:38 PM on July 2, 2013


Culture is enriched and enabled by artists being free to be inspired and let themselves soar.

True. But this isn't some dead poor hip hop artist in 1986 stealing a few Led Zeppelin beats and throwing down some rhymes on top (ie: someone who couldn't have achieved such a big, world class sound any other way). This is the most monied film director in the biz copping an entire world from a visual artist, basing a franchise on it, and not cutting him in for even a dime. If left unchallenged, I wouldn't be the least surprised to see cultural history forgetting who Roger Dean even was. Future generations will glance at some old Yes graphics and think, "Hmmm, Avatar rip-off."

culture is suppressed and held hostage by these money-grubbing threats of lawsuits that artists face whenever they manage to turn their labor into something so innovative and exciting that people want to reward them for it.

Again, I see the basic point, but in this case, sorry, it's not that simple. Yeah, Avatar's all kinds of innovative and exciting on on a tech-level. And the art direction etc is indeed exceptional, but I don't see it as Cameron's vision. Or as Bugbread just said ...

When I watched Avatar, I didn't think, "hey, floating islands, that popular art trope", I thought, "holy shit, Roger Dean islands!"

And it's not just the islands. It's the whole depth and feel of the world. Indeed, as a long time Roger Dean fan, I was genuinely shocked when this thing hit the news yesterday, as I'd just assumed he'd been involved (or at least compensated) in some way.

When Ridley Scott wanted an HR Giger world for Alien, he didn't just rip the guy's vision. He put him on the payroll. Why didn't Cameron do the same here?
posted by philip-random at 11:51 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's worked before - Ellison's claim on Terminator is total bullshit.

Yep, and arguably helped lead to Ellison's second career as a plaintiff. This isn't really about whether or not Cameron is an asshole (already abundantly covered), or whether or not Avatar has had a cultural impact to match its financial success, or any cultural impact at all (there were a number of people who wanted to live on Pandora, as Na'vi, after the movie came out, but I don't know if that's still a thing). Roger Dean can't claim a copyright on "the whole depth and feel of the world", and he certainly didn't come up with the idea of floating islands--try Gulliver's Travels, if not the Odyssey--and this is just a naked money grab. If Cameron is at fault here, it's for settling with Ellison way back when, because once you've paid the Danegeld...
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:25 AM on July 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


That was the studio, IIRC. Cameron was pretty pissed off about it because, well, this.
posted by Artw at 7:12 AM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


There was no authentic hype around the movie, but so much money dumped into the promotion of it.

In fact, no one actually saw the movie AT ALL! It was never even made! James Cameron just fooled everyone into thinking he'd made a movie that made $2,782,275,172 worldwide.

(Jeez, the things irrational hatred will lead people to say).
posted by yoink at 9:01 AM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yep. Avatar is the only movie my parents ever paid to see in a threater more than once. Three times.
posted by localroger at 9:14 AM on July 3, 2013



(Jeez, the things irrational hatred will lead people to say).


To be clear, I don't hate Avatar. I don't hate James Cameron (with the exception of True Lies -- I really hated that. And the end of that underwater movie was pretty silly. And what was with the shootout below decks on the Titantic, what was with all the heavy-handed melodrama shoveled into Titantic?).

Anyway, I very much enjoyed Avatar as a very cool trip, which unfortunately had an overlong, way over predictable narrative. But (as I've already perhaps over-related), I was shocked to hear that Roger Dean got no credit and/or compensation for the visioning of Avatar's world. For me, it's a simple as Googling Roger-Dean-Avatar. For others, this is obviously not the case. Do they perhaps have an irrational love for James Cameron?

If I was a judge, I know what I'd decide. I'd make sure that Roger Dean's name got attached to Avatar in some relevant way. I'd also make sure that his estate got a piece of the action, in perpetuity. Because I suspect that Avatar (and its franchise) will come to be how most of this stuff will be experienced and remembered.

Indeed, it's already sort of happening. Too bad, it's the latter day Yes, though. Siberian Khatru would be such a cool soundtrack for Avatar imagery.
posted by philip-random at 9:25 AM on July 3, 2013


I haven't seen Avatar, but I just watched this clip yt . Is this state of the art CGI? I suppose it all looks glorious, but the action just doesn't appear real to me. There's something unnaturally smooth about all the movement. It looks like a video game.
That's an extremely low quality video, full of video compression artifacts as well as only being 720p, so a lot of the detail just isn't there.

Also, there's no real world reference for what you're looking at, so there's no real way to tell if it's 'real' or not, there's nothing to compare it against.
posted by delmoi at 2:16 PM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Avatar needs to be in 3D to get the best out of it. Very few other movies I'd say that of.
posted by Artw at 2:18 PM on July 3, 2013


Sorry, but this is how the law works. You build a sufficiently compelling argument. It gets settled outside of court. Because taking it to court is crushingly expensive. Nobody wins,
There is absolutely no way you could call legalized extortion 'justice'. That may be how the system works, but it clearly wasn't the intent when setting it up.
His lawyer needs to drill this into him: "It doesn't matter that every artist has been influenced by everything he's ever seen, whenever someone asks, the answer is always No! I came up with this entirely on my own!"
Which is a perfect example of culture being 'suppressed' by the threat of frivolous lawsuits.

In fact, if this lawsuit were to win it would basically mean no more 'floating islands' style art being used by anyone else in anything they do. How is that a cultural advance?
I was shocked to hear that Roger Dean got no credit and/or compensation for the visioning of Avatar's world.
Why should he? There's no law that says you can't be inspired by someone else's artwork to do something similar.
posted by delmoi at 2:30 PM on July 3, 2013


it's just that it was so similar, I assumed he'd been involved.
posted by philip-random at 3:24 PM on July 3, 2013


Roger Dean – As chosen by those he has inspired

(Hopefully not a hit-list)
posted by Artw at 3:37 PM on July 3, 2013


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