High On Life Director Defends "Space Applebee’s" Inclusion As Parody
High on Life players might've been surprised that a version of American diner Applebee's made it into the comedy shooter. But this extends to developers with one high-profile games creator also expressing their astonishment.
The first-person shooter is stuffed full with jokes, quips, and references, with mentions of video game cliches and even games media such as IGN and Kotaku, as well as real-life brands including a "Space Applebee's". Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski noted this inclusion with surprise, tweeting: "How the hell did they do this legally?!" (via VGC.)
Bleszinski then adds, with a follow-up tweet: "I didn't realize copyright law would allow the entire logo and name as long as one word is changed or added. Damn." But the Gears of War creator's comments were then followed up by Kinda Funny's Greg Miller who asked High on Life's director Justin Roiland on how he was able to get away with this inclusion legally.
"It's parody," Roiland replies. "It's parody," he repeats, to which Miller says, "oh fuck, you're going to jail." It's a 14-second clip and Roiland appears to be taken by surprise. Watch it above.
In the United States, parody is protected under the First Amendment as a right to expression since it recreates a piece of creative work, whether that's art, film, literature, music, or even a piece of branding, in an exaggerated fashion often used for comedic effect. Since High on Life uses Applebee's brand but doesn't feature it as a major component that contributes to the title's commercial success, nor will it really affect the market value of the brand, and is pretty clearly intended to be parody, Roiland should be safe on legal grounds.
In fact, the High on Life director has form with parody since his work on the popular Rick and Morty cartoon is also filled with this kind of humour as it often uses references and parody. Parody is popular in movie and TV comedies and is often used for social commentary but its use in video games remains relatively uncommon. Whether players find the game's humour funny though is another question.
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