Florida Joker Threatens Rockstar Games With Lawyers After GTA 6 Parody
Rockstar Games and the GTA franchise are no strangers to controversy, from events and mechanics seen in its games shocking some people to some resulting in lawsuits such as Lindsay Lohan suing the studio following the release of GTA 5.
Continuing this tradition, Rockstar Games is once again under fire for parodying the ‘Florida Joker’ in its latest GTA 6 trailer, with him now threatening to sue the studio and its parent company Take-Two Interactive for not licensing his likeness.
Lawrence Sullivan, better known as the Florida Joker online, went viral in 2017 following his arrest in Miami-Dade County, with his mugshot quickly being shared on social media. His appearance shocked the world due to his excessive facial tattoos and appearance based on DC Comics’ character The Joker from the Batman series.
In the GTA 6 trailer, a man with colored hair and facial tattoos can be seen in a courthouse video, which resembles the moment that Florida Joker first became known to the world. Since the release of the trailer, Florida Joker has demanded $2 million from Rockstar Games for damages, and now he has increased his demands in his latest social media post.
In a video posted to social media, Florida Joker called out Rockstar Games and demanded more money for using his likeness in the GTA 6 trailer. You can read a transcript of the video below.
“GTA, I’m giving you the biggest free marketing you got [in the] entire history of running this GTA game. For that, I want an extra million dollars. Y’all taking forever to respond back to me. You see that? Find the other character, find the other person in Florida that portrayed that character. I’ll wait, I will wait. GTA, we got to talk, you think I’m playing? You got three days, three days, before my lawyers go crazy on this case. This is not like the Lindsay Lohan case. I got hard evidence.”
American actress Lindsay Lohan famously sued Rockstar Games over claims that the character Lacey Jones used her likeness including clothing based on her own clothing line. However, Judge Eugene Fahey didn’t agree with Lohan, saying in his ruling,
“[The] artistic renderings are indistinct, satirical representations of the style, look and persona of a modern, beach-going young woman… that is not recognizable as plaintiff.”
With Lindsay Lohan being unsuccessful in her case, it is extremely unlikely that anything will come from this latest controversy as it should fall under fair use and parody. It is more clear that the character seen in the trailer is based on the ‘Florida Joker’ Lawrence Sullivan, but parody is protected and Rockstar Games will have ensured it followed the law when creating its characters in the game.
GTA 6 was finally revealed after years of anticipation on December 4, one day before its original scheduled reveal date following the trailer being leaked on social media. Since its reveal, the GTA 6 trailer already has over 144 million views, making it the most viewed video on the Rockstar Games YouTube channel and it also became the most viewed non-music YouTube video in the first 24 hours of release with 90,421,491 views. GTA 6 is scheduled to launch in 2025 on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S with a PC port due at a later date.