Unveiling the AI Intrigue: The Curious Case of AMAZON FREEVEE's *12 Angry Men*

In a time when the distinction between art and technology becomes harder and harder to eschew, it seems that Amazon Freevee is staging an experiment that is raising eyebrows among viewers. Near you, Amazon’s Freevee channel begins to show the poster for the film 12 Angry Men. It is set to play the film, a classic in the context of justice and human emotion. You proceed, but something is amiss: the poster that links to the age-old film isn’t stealing the show. Instead, it seems to be housing an assembly of attendees – 12 – but there’s something eerie about them: they are buzzing with an AI glow. They are not 12 angry men.

The AI Phenomenon on AMAZON FREEVEE

Everyone who saw an ad earlier this year for the 1957 classic 12 Angry Men on Freevee (formerly IMDb TV), Amazon’s free, ad-supported streaming service, had issues. The movie poster, charging at you with ‘SIX DAYS. ONE ROOM. 12 ANGRY MEN,’ has its protagonists literally rising out of a CGI hellscape. Their skin is melting and dripping alarmingly into an uncanny valley. Their hands are claw-shaped, like the star of some despondent sleep paralysis demon. Who greenlit this image? Why did it pass so many people? Why did the ad air so many times? And why were they unable to figure out what was going on by taking one look? The ad: manifest Everything from the typeface to the character designs is abysmal. Every day, new versions crop up on the internet.

When Artificial Intelligence Meets Classic Cinema

This eerie Hollywood remake of the 12 Angry Men poster on Amazon Freevee signals the start of an intensifying war of words over the course of artificial intelligence’s creative infiltration. The anguished jurors in Amazon’s poster with their grotesque digital faces and mutilated limbs are inadvertent avatars of this techno-invasion. Spotting the telltale signs of AI generation – a mix of artistic ambition and algorithmic aberrance – was a quick hit.

Distinctions within the AMAZON Universe

Strangely, the AI-generated poster was thrown to the wolves – or, rather, tucked safely inside the Freevee ecosystem. When you head over to Amazon Prime Video, 12 Angry Men has its classic human-designed poster. This line that they’re drawing is really stark. Amazon is serving two very different audiences on two very different platforms, and that’s why the choice is so dramatically different on Freevee. Content licensing law must have something to do with it, because that seems like it might be the only answer.

A Licensing Quandary

Hidden behind this AI extravaganza is a licensing saga. Freevee, seeking a way to expand their catalogue, got the rights to stream 12 Angry Men from someone other than the studio that originally produced it. That third-party deal didn’t include images for the film, so Freevee had to licence it themselves. And in licensing it, they had to use AI imagery instead of the official poster, because the official posters didn’t exist. (There are apparently sincere efforts to replace that image with something that looks closer to the film).

Generative AI: A Thrifty Gamble?

However, Amazon’s virtual affair with AI isn’t just about 12 Angry Men. The company has previously used the motif of AI in promo materials for its popular Fallout TV series. The pivot to generative AI for creating pictures is as much about reducing costs as it is about a new world being claimed by digital creation. But as corporations venture further into this world, straddling the twin imperatives of cost and aesthetic and ethical considerations poses a stark challenge.

Embracing the AI Era with Caution

This strands the debate well beyond Amazon Freevee’s pleasantly dark corners, as AI-generated works spread across the landscape of content creation and distribution – whether it’s film posters or any other type of promotional artwork, from album covers to movie tie-ins. These works raise fundamental questions about the possibility of genuine self-expression, about what is authentic or aesthetically valuable, and how the logic of digital aesthetics shapes the viewer’s reception and experience of a work. In an age where artificial processes can create convincing simulations of basically anything, both beautiful and bizarre, it is ever more difficult to say where the frontier lies demarcating innovation from interference.


Amazon has always been a disruptive force in technology, retail, and more, and both its large-scale ventures (like Prime Video) and smaller subsidiaries (such as the ad-supported streaming service Freevee) are reinventing the way we shop and the way we consume media. If Freevee’s streaming is a little glitchy, it’s an indication of Amazon’s adaptability and its willingness to venture into new territories, even if it involves potential AI-fuelled controversies in the creative realm. By continuing to provide diverse and entertaining content for its global audience, Amazon demonstrates a courage and a vision that continues to shape the modern digital age.

Jun 08, 2024
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