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Have I seen you somewhere before?

I watched a compilation of cartoon shorts just recently, the kind with introductions composed of behind-the-scenes commentary. One of them was a Christmas-y short featuring a character who looked rather like one of the commentators ('Gosh, me? That couldn't be me').

Not sure if I've mentioned how much I enjoy behind-the-scenes featurettes, but in each and every one, there's been at least one mention of someone who is or was an inspiration to that actor-writer-artist-director. Interviews of different artists from all different mediums, from lowly ink and paper to multimillion-dollar digital media, from the written word to the big screen, reveal this common theme.

It brought to mind the disclaimer that goes something along the lines of 'any similarity to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental' (you know, the one that translates into 'uhh, no, of course it isn't you, don't sue us').

I started to think of how many stories end up in mass media that are clearly reflections of people in the world at large, and I don't mean the obvious satire of politicians (that's not only expected, that's cathartic). Muse food runs the gamut from a world-famous cranky chef that ended up inspiring the character of the culprit in a modern Big Apple crime drama, to a teacher who inspired the character of the greatest detective in history. I wonder how many people, big and small, saw the characters they inspired in fiction created during their own lives, and decided to let it go whether they made a dime off the association or not?

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