Nothing So Strange
January 3, 2002 6:38 PM   Subscribe

Nothing So Strange is a mockumentary about the assasination of Bill Gates. This Gates doppleganger plays the Chairman, while Microsoft isn't happy.
posted by owillis (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This seems strange and sort of, well, rude. I saw an interview/review with a woman about this flick today, and when she was asked why a real, living person and not a fictional character in what is, afterall, a fiction movie, she just said it would be 'too coy'; she said the same thing to several similiar questions. It struck me as off the wall, and I am still wondering what in the hell she meant.
posted by Mack Twain at 7:11 PM on January 3, 2002

""But when you're a public figure who also happens to be the richest person in the world, you need to get used to people playing around with your image," Pike [who stars in the movie] said."

If you are an independent film producer making low budget cheap flicks making fun of death of the richest person in the world, you need to get used to this person suing you ass.
posted by cqny at 7:25 PM on January 3, 2002

I think she meant, "That wouldn't get any press."
posted by whatnotever at 7:25 PM on January 3, 2002

cqny: It's far from clear as to whether Microsoft could sue for any reason at all, without being charged with filing a frivolous suit. I'm sure the lawyers could think of something, but whether the company would have a snowball's chance in hell of winning is doubtable. It also sounds like satire here, in which case the filmmakers are certainly protected. You can't win a suit over aesthetics or taste.
posted by raysmj at 8:09 PM on January 3, 2002

Ray, Microsoft doesn't have standing. Gates, on the other hand, could probably make a damned good case for libel.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:31 PM on January 3, 2002

Legal question: on what grounds could a clearly satirical mockumentary be considered libel?
posted by Vetinari at 8:35 PM on January 3, 2002

I don't know about the US, but if that was the case in the UK then the wonderful Spitting Image wouldn't have lasted very long.

Indeed: "How Spitting Image went on for as long as it did God only knows"

Some of the sketches were so cutting it made you cringe...
posted by robzster1977 at 8:51 PM on January 3, 2002

This film used to be known as MacArthur Park. There are a few related web sites; the creepiest is probably Bill Gates Is Dead.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:13 PM on January 3, 2002

Doesn't there some sort of laws preventing a commercial (or film, whatever) uses of your name and reference to you if you don't want it? I mean, such as defamatory.
posted by cqny at 10:43 PM on January 3, 2002

The last link, about Microsoft not being happy, has recently been updated to the following day's story. Instead, here's the link to the relevant article (now archived.) (I thought Webmasters figured this out years ago.)
posted by Fofer at 12:25 AM on January 4, 2002

cqny: Defamation? Absolutely not. If the image of a celebrity is used for commercial purposes in a spoofy way, though, the law seems to be a bit trickier. A movie, however, differs substantially from a nightclub, even if both may be (or may want to be, rather) profit-making enterprises.
posted by raysmj at 12:56 AM on January 4, 2002

All of this sounds fine. But what if your last name is the SAME AS HIS??? What rights do I have?!!

I've been asked if I'm related to HIM so often I've put his photo on my business card. Gets a laugh and moves the conversation on.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 5:50 AM on January 4, 2002

Hey, folks ... long time MeFi-er here, if only an occassional poster. I also happen to be Executive Producer of "Nothing So Strange", so kind of a tickling affair to make my morning trip to MeFi and see this thread. Wanted to pop in a couple of notes on your discussion.

Mack Twain started the discussion on Laurie Pike's use of the phrase "too coy" and wondered what she (we?) meant. I thought I could describe that for you in a bit more detail. If there was any film in cinematic history that we drew creative inspiration from, it was Haskell Wexler's "Medium Cool". We frequently use "real life textures" in the fictional setting (like filming at Rampart police commission hearings, protest marches at the DNC, etc.) Since the starting point of the "what if?" is "what if the richest man in the world were murdered in most scandal-ridden police department in America?" creating a character like "Gill Bates" would have been ... well, coy. By the same logic, we could have set the movie in "the biggest city in the Western state of the most powerful nation on earth" ... but why, when it's much easier for an audience to accept that it is happening in Los Angeles?

And, of course, MeFi's discussion of the legalities ... something that, as you can imagine, we have a lot of discussions about here as production company. Essentially, our stance is the same that many artists take -- that some people become "so famous" that they enter the public sphere, and that in those situations the First Amendment rights of artists bear equal weight to the "right of publicity" of that person.

Absolutely it's a thin murky line, but it is one that (as artists) we're trying to approach in a meaningful way, not as as a "low budget cheap flicks making fun of death of the richest person in the world." The assassination of Bill Gates' isn't the point of the movie, it's the catalyst for a far more interesting story about the public's need for closure, the distrust in law enforcement officals, and the issues of class conflict in America.
posted by bclark at 6:23 AM on January 4, 2002

Yeah, but is the movie any good?
posted by Fofer at 8:14 AM on January 4, 2002

Hmn, it seems to me that in looking for an event that would touch on the issues that they want to touch on, they would be hard pressed to find a different person or situation that would work. I mean, I guess they could have used a political figure, but for good or ill Gates is one of the major icons of the turn of the century. Because of that, different groups in society are going to see Gates the Icon as a being infused with different types of meaning.
posted by eckeric at 9:32 AM on January 4, 2002

looking at those clips left me unable to really discern the tone of the film - one of them was seemingly a serious history of corruption in the LA police dept.; another one seemed kind of silly, the man playing with his little model of the park - but that was the most spoofy one actually. Maybe the term "mockumentary" isn't quite right for this one? Usually fake documentaries are funny, but perhaps they're trying a new angle...
posted by mdn at 4:33 PM on January 4, 2002

gates isn't dead. he's in missouri.
posted by quonsar at 9:04 PM on January 4, 2002

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