William Shatner defends using AI for hideous new album cover

William Shatner went on the defensive after social media followers disagreed with him using AI on an upcoming album.

Last Updated on April 25, 2024


At 93, William Shatner has seen more change in the industry than pretty much anyone else alive. As such, he has been forced to adapt alongside it. But in his latest attempt to do so, he has triggered outcry from those defending real artists. Yes, it has to do with a new album; no, it has nothing to do with Shatner’s vocal talents. For the cover art for his children’s album Where Will the Animals Sleep? Songs for Kids & Other Living Things, Shatner evidently used artificial intelligence to generate the (rather creepy) image, something that has drawn ire from some fans, who say he should have hired an actual human artist to do the work.

After being hit with a barrage of comments from his social media followers, William Shatner was forced to defend the use of artificial intelligence for the cover art (with points pretty much all over the map), before ultimately telling everybody to just move on. “I don’t remember riots in the streets when @thebeatles released the white album, Metallica released their black album or the Soundtrack album for This is Spinal Tap were released.  People these days are affronted over whatever their twisted minds think can get them attention & popularity. It’s sad.” (For what it’s worth, each cover Shatner mentioned does have a credited designer, although Metallica’s self-titled album does lift from the Gadsden flag.) He would also write in another post, “It’s clearly meant to be an AI in its simplest form because it’s a children’s album not something to hang in a museum.”

One user questioned William Shatner’s insistence on using AI in the aftermath of the SAG-AFTRA strike, which had artificial intelligence as one of its biggest talking points (and for good reason). This launched Shatner’s biggest tirade, writing, “Well sweetheart, the only image is of me and I approved it. That means your craycray hysteria argument is null.  The actor’s union issue was that studios could take moving images of previous acting jobs and repurpose the moving images and put them into an AI program for use in another production without permission. Next time if you are going to argue something, please make sure you understand the issue.”

The issue at hand – using artificial intelligence instead of hiring a human to complete the job – remains a hot issue in the entertainment industry and with fans who, by and large, are not about to let studios or filmmakers get away with it. One recent example was found in horror film Late Night with the Devil, in which the filmmakers “experimented” with AI for three still images, immediately being targeted for promoting a technology that can both rob someone of a job and steal from pre-existing works. But no matter how loud the outcry, artificial intelligence is here to stay, with examples of how it is being misused only growing.

Does it matter that William Shatner used AI for his new album cover? What do you make of his points? Share your thoughts below.

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Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with JoBlo.com periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.