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Can you write a fictional book about real celebrities?

 
 
Reply Sat 25 Mar, 2006 12:38 pm
Like say I wanted to write a book about A wild gay love triangle between George Bush, Dick Cheney, and "Miss Beazley" the Bush's pet Scottish terrier. Could I do that? What could happen to me if I did that?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 983 • Replies: 11
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Mar, 2006 12:44 pm
I think if it's satire, it's OK.

(OK, I started to type something that said the opposite -- about libel, and using real names, and such, but then as I looked at it it didn't seem right -- I don't actually know, interesting question.)
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Mar, 2006 12:46 pm
It would be best if you only use the terrier as a background character, not as a participant.
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Noddy24
 
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Reply Sat 25 Mar, 2006 01:01 pm
Quote:
Roman à Clef
Roman à clef (pronounced roh-máhn a clay) is French for "novel with a key." It's a novel in which actual events are given a superficial fictional mask; but, with the "key," can be read as a more or less faithful account of true events. They're often used to report scandals while avoiding charges of libel or sedition.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From the Guide to Literary Terms by Jack Lynch.


http://www.english.upenn.edu/~jlynch/Terms/Temp/clef.html

Standards must be preserved.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Mar, 2006 01:09 pm
How come the Onion hasn't been sued into oblivion, though?

I think there's some special provisions for satire, but I'm not sure.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Mar, 2006 01:11 pm
Found this:

Quote:
Satire as free speech

But major media groups including the Association of American Publishers, the Motion Picture Association of America, and the Cartoon Network have filed a brief supporting the newspaper's case.

"An adverse decision at the Texas Supreme Court would have a chilling effect on the use of satire in the media," says James Hemphill, lead attorney for the Observer. "Even the specter of having to go to trial and incur the expense of defending political speech is enough to chill that speech."

When the Observer first ran its piece, Isaacks and Whitten were deluged by angry letters and even calls for their resignation. The two officials sued the paper for libel.

Both the trial court and the Texas Court of Appeals agreed with Isaacks' and Whitten's view that satire is in the eye of the beholder. "Satire is not protected under the First Amendment if it fails to make clear to its readers that it is not conveying actual facts," the appeals court wrote.


http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1201/p11s02-usju.html

Not sure what happened with this case (I'm sure I could look it up, just zooming through at the moment).
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2PacksAday
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Mar, 2006 01:12 pm
"Primary Colors"
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Mar, 2006 01:13 pm
Quote:


http://www.rcfp.org/news/mag/28-4/lib-avoiding.html
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Sturgis
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Mar, 2006 04:29 pm
Re: Can you write a fictional book about real celebrities?
kickycan wrote:
Like say I wanted to write a book about A wild gay love triangle between George Bush, Dick Cheney, and "Miss Beazley" the Bush's pet Scottish terrier. Could I do that? What could happen to me if I did that?



Have you already forgotten The Cheney shooting of Harry Whittington? Sorry to tell you this; but, Dickie wants top billing here...without it you become his next accident.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Mar, 2006 04:40 pm
It helps if they are dead, too.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Mar, 2006 04:56 pm
MacBird was about LBJ, but I haven't read that play, so don't know how close it came to making the characters "real."
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xguymontagx
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jun, 2006 02:56 am
disclaimers
Have you ever seen South Park on T.V.? At the beggining they have a disclaimer that states all voices are impersonated poorly and are not the a reflection of the real person at all. Also there is a disclaimer saying something about how crude the show is and how it really should not be watched by anyone.

That would be the best example I could think to give you on how to do satire. And by well I don't nessesarily funny, but well in the sense of staying out of trouble.

The best is to use you judgement and the judgement of those around you to figure out if a reasonable person would really think the story was true.

Also you could simply neglect to put your name on it if you publsh it. Then they wouldn't know who to sue Idea
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