Netflix's What Jennifer Did true crime documentary

Did Netflix’s What Jennifer Did Use AI Images Or Was It More Of A Kate Middleton Photoshop Sitch?

2 min read

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Last week, the people behind Netflix’s latest true crime documentary What Jennifer Did were accused of using AI artwork in several scenes.

Artists and film enthusiasts came together to slam Netflix and Raw TV — the production company that made the documentary — for what they viewed as manipulating the truth.

Source: Netflix

A quick synopsis of the high-profile case for the uninitiated: Jennifer Pan, 37-year-old woman from Markham, Canada, was convicted of hiring attackers to target her parents in 2010. Pan’s mother was killed and her father was critically injured and was in a coma. As a retrial for Pan’s case was said to be starting soon, Netflix released What Jennifer Did to recount the horrific event.

AI art or not?

Around the 28-minute mark, What Jennifer Did included several old photos of Jennifer Pan. According to Futurism, the photos contained “hallmarks” of generative AI, including mangled hands and fingers, and undefined objects that blended into a photo’s background.

Netflix and Raw TV have not responded to media requests for comment. Several news outlets are now running with the narrative that AI-generated art was used to produce those images. The narrative has also spilled over to TikTok, where creators have made viral videos asserting that AI art was used. 

Jeremy Grimaldi, a crime reporter who wrote a book about the case, was also an executive producer for the documentary. He told the Toronto Star that the images were real photographs of Pan. In other words, they’re not AI-generated. 

“Any filmmaker will use different tools, like Photoshop, in films,” Grimaldi said. “The photos of Jennifer are real photos of her. The foreground is exactly her. The background has been anonymised to protect the source.” 

To call an image AI-generated suggests it would have to be created from scratch with a text prompt. Thus, with Jennifer Pan’s case, perhaps it was just another case of bad Photoshop (maybe with the help of an AI-powered photo scaling tool).  

Generative AI in Hollywood 

The current controversy around What Jennifer Did is reminiscent of the Kate Middleton Photoshop saga in March. Some news outlets branded the photos as manipulated with “AI”, but further fact checks clarified that AI was likely not involved at all. Rather, it was just a case of digital manipulation with good ol’ editing software. 

Reactions towards the What Jennifer Did “AI controversy” were understandable. AI-generated art, music and videos are polluting the internet. SEO articles churned out by AI are drowning out reputable sources. We have Boomers on Facebook straight up worshipping AI-generated Shrimp Jesus, for god’s sake. 

It’s no wonder people online are now hyper-aware and hyper vigilant when it comes to anything remotely indicative of AI.