Poppy is a YouTube persona specializing in adorably offbeat yet creepy ASMR-esque vignettes, like a prototype robot overloaded with coy marketing psychology. The increasingly ironic videos ("I am not in a cult") turned out, a la iamamiwhoami, to be a PR campaign for successfully-launched music act. Think Gary Numan via Ladyhawke and Alison Goldfrapp, but pretty much anything anyone might get nostalgic about is in there somewhere.
Mars Argo (AKA Brittany Sheets) is a singer-songwriter and onetime YouTuber. She claimed earlier this year that Poppy was a knockoff of her act. In a lawsuit filed against Poppy's creator, Corey Mixter (AKA Titanic Sinclair), she alleged she and Mixter were in a relationship, that he was abusive during and after it ended, and that Poppy actress Moriah Pereira is effectively cloning the act she developed while with him.
Mixter had a simple reponse: that he "invented Mars Argo" too. For her part, Pereira, also sued by Sheets, said that "Ms. Sheets' claims of stalking, harassment, and abuse directed at Mr. Mixter are preposterous projections of her own actions."
This week a judge dismissed Argo/Sheets' lawsuit following a settlement agreement between the parties. The Verge's Megan Farokhmanesh writes that it's one of the stranger IP cases of late, heightened by serious accusations of violence and stalking.
The case was complicated: it touched on topics of copyright infringement of an internet persona as well as serious abuse charges. In the original lawsuit filed in April, Sheets alleged to have endured "severe emotional and psychological abuse and manipulation from Mr. Mixter," also known online as Titanic Sinclair. The lawsuit also pointed to Poppy actress Moriah Pereira as "a knowing accomplice to Mr. Mixter's unlawful actions." It claims that Poppy was created as a Mars Argo "knockoff," one that "copied Mars Argo's identity, likeness, expression of ideas, sound, style."
The thought of a pop svengali being haunted by an earlier iteration of his media creation is mesmerizing. Humans don't just inhabit these constructs: they inspire them and become them. And there are consequences, emotional and legal, for the real people involved.
The quick settlement suggests a more mundane reality: Sheets was significantly involved in the creation of the original act and its material, if not specific qualities of the Poppy persona, and now she will be paid something for her trouble. But settlements are rarely made public, so that, too, will probably remain a mystery.
The following video, from 2014, shows Argo/Sheets and Sinclair/Mixter telling everyone to delete their facebook.
Here's the "Poppy Copy," as Sheets puts it: