There has been a lot of talk about Artificial Intelligence in recent months. And, unfortunately, that speech didn’t bring renewed appreciation for the 2001 feature film AI artificial intelligence. Instead, there has been renewed talk about using AI in major film and television productions, often instead of using writers or other crew members below the line. Attention on this topic has only grown thanks to the recent strike of the Writer’s Guild of America. Among the many understandable complaints of these writers is the reluctance on the part of studios to refrain from using AI when it comes to writing screenplays. A seemingly simple and vital request was rejected by major studios, with this rejection being one of the main impetuses behind the strike in the first place. Companies are making it clear that writers are expendable while technology like AI should take precedence.
Corporations can gasp about AI as “the way of the future” to shareholders, and countless Twitter users have also adopted AI as a symbol of life in a futuristic utopia. In reality, though, the very concept of AI-generated movies and TV shows is antithetical to the very concept of art. Going this route with creating pop culture properties would certainly save some coins for already outrageous executives. However, AI can never function as a true substitute for true artists.
AI is (unfortunately) already here
If you’re curious about what a future pop culture landscape dominated by machine-shaped artwork would look like, check out some recent videos that have gone viral online. These short films were made with AI technology and are intended to demonstrate the artistic capabilities of this technology. In reality, the results were often gruesome and desperately lacked a human touch. What are conceptually understood as tech demos that unknowingly draw people to the art of AI without realizing that they will inevitably inspire a sense of “something is wrong” even in those unaware that what they are looking at was created by the AI
The best example of this phenomenon is a recent “Star Wars but directed by Wes AndersonAI-generated video This short film functions as a microcosm of the internet’s fascination with bringing together two different pop culture properties and then selling the resulting mash-up. That obsession reaches a new low with this AI-generated video, which is just astonishingly cheesy. The images on screen don’t register at all as evocative of Wes Anderson’s cinematography. There is such an unspeakable irony in looking at the innately cold and detached nature of AI technology that it fails to emulate the warmth of a Wes Anderson film. Its features often feel so lovingly handcrafted, with textures you want to reach out and touch. This AI video, by contrast, is just repulsive and sterile.
Compare this video to Saturday Night Live’s hysterical parody of Wes Anderson films, The midnight gang of sinister intruders. For starters, mixing a home invasion horror film with an Anderson film is already a much more creative way of juxtaposing the director’s style with an unexpected strain of genre cinema. On the other hand, the whole video reeks of commitment and dedication down to the smallest detail, including by Edward Norton highly entertaining Owen Wilson impression. This is something handmade by people who loved both home invasion horror movies and the works of an auteur master. This is what happens when you let real people make art. How miserable Star Wars/Wes Anderson’s video, on the other hand, heralds a future in which all art is only calculated by an algorithm devoid of any soul.
Imperfections make art extraordinary
In her painting tutorials, Bob Ross he often referred to minor blemishes or other flaws in a painting as simply “happy little accidents”. It was a great way to point out to people that something considered a “flaw” in a work of art is not innately a bad thing. It can often emphasize the personality of the artist who brought this piece of creativity out into the world or unintentionally enhance the themes of a story. Those little bumps and hiccups that can seem so upsetting when crafting a work of art can actually be the qualities that end up cementing its distinctive voice.
AI Art, unfortunately, is built from the ground up to drown out such accidental imperfections. Not all art created by AI is perfect (heaven knows), but the art it creates is based on pre-ordered instructions and executed in a strict mechanical sense. Any deficiencies are based on the instructions given to the AI or the program itself rather than spontaneity during the act of artistic exploration. For over a century, movies have been marked by unexpected imperfections. The greatest directors, from Steven Spielberg TO Agnese Varda and all in between, have seen their craft positively affected by unexpected flaws. Likewise, the greatest chunks of television have been defined by such issues. Leaning on AI to create film and television would eliminate opportunities for such genuine bits of imperfection, which reflect the humanity behind the art you are experiencing.
Nobody really wants AI content
Studio execs really like the concept of AI-generated movies and TV for a variety of reasons. But there really isn’t a demand for it from the public, let alone the artists who work tirelessly to bring pop culture’s most important pieces to life. There are no ordinary people in the pop culture landscape on their knees begging for AI systems to create works of art. Movies and TV shows are important, or at least they can be. They can offer images ranging from dazzling panoramas stripped of any semblance of reality to stills that vividly capture the subtler nuances of everyday life, sometimes simultaneously. Movies and television can offer so many different kinds of narratives, all capable of plumbing the depths of our souls. The medium has even delivered works such as M3gan which suggest the horrors of letting technology supplant human emotions and connections.
These achievements come from the fact that these are projects that a huge collection of human beings are working on, each pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into something bigger than just one person. Leaving such stories and creative processes to artificial intelligence systems would deprive artists of the possibilities for expression and the public of opportunities to experience truly fascinating works of art. There’s a reason the Writer’s Guild of America has put its foot down so firmly against the use of artificial intelligence for artistic purposes. No matter what the weirdos say on social media, these modern tools can never replace human creativity.
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