Sometimes, movies and TV shows create stand-ins for entities that they don’t want to put in the feature. Usually it’s for artistic license. So if you want Donald Trump, you introduce a brash and arrogant millionaire named Ronald Clamp.

I consider this to be a-ok. But it seems like whenever they do this, they mention the thing that they are trying to represent as co-existing. So an episode of The Good Wife, which is quite clearly based on the movie The Social Network, goes out of its way to mention The Social Network. Thus stating that there were two movies that came out roughly at the same time that both featured internet moguls that were unfairly depicted by writers taking excessive artistic liberties while making a broader point about the effect the internet has had on interpersonal behavior.

There are times when the hat-tip is entirely appropriate. When the movie Office Space ripped off their criminal scheme from Superman III, they said “Yeah, it’s what the guy in Superman III did. And the movie went on because that wasn’t the point of the movie.

But beyond that, if we’re going to have a movie features a software company leader whose software company writes an OS that becomes omnipresent… this guy probably exists in lieu of Bill Gates, not along with him.

A part of me wonders if this isn’t legall arse-covering. As long as you mention Bill Gates, then the character you hired Tim Robbins to play can’t expressly be Bill Gates. Therefore Bill Gates can’t sue.

Another part of me wonders if this is an attempt to say “Yeah, we know the real counterpart to all of this exists. We’re not sweating it, so neither should you.” Or alternately, “in case you missed it, this guy is a lot like Bill Gates but tech-savvier!”

Whatever the case, it’s annoying.

Category: Theater

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2 Responses to Bill Gates, But Not Bill Gates

  1. Brandon Berg says:

    I’m going with plausible deniability. Not just for legal reasons, but to shield themselves from criticism of inaccuracy, as well. The average viewer is probably going to assume that it’s an accurate portrayal of Bill Gates, but when someone points out that the movie is inaccurate in a way that’s unfair to Bill Gates, the director can always dismiss it by saying that it’s not Bill Gates.

  2. Mike Hunt says:

    Hence the disclaimer:

    All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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