Surfing legend Kelly Slater has sparked a confused online debate about whether his strange tribute to actor Gene Wilder is in poor taste.

The 11-time surfing world champion appears to have got his attempted tribute very wrong after a throng of followers confessed to be creeped-out over Slater's Photoshop monstrosity.

Wilder passed away at the age of 83 on Tuesday, the the family of the beloved actor confirmed the news in a statement.

Tributes flowed in for the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory star, with Slater joining the likes of Mel Brooks, Ricky Gervais and Russell Crowe to say thankyou to Wilder.
Unfortunately, Slater's form of tribute was not received as glowingly as the praise offered throughout tinsel town.


Alongside a superimposed photo of Slater's face on the image of Wilder dressed in the Willy Wonka threads he made famous, Slater wrote a caption saying his connection with Wilder goes right back to his childhood.

Slater said he saw the image posted on Instagram by a fan and captured a screenshot of it to share with his 1.7 million followers.

"There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination," Slater wrote, quoting the lyrics sung by Wilder in the children's movie.

"So long, #GeneWilder/#WillyWonka. And thank you for broadening our imaginations as kids. #IveGotAGoldenTicket. And my mom did call me Willy my whole childhood."

It was not received as he intended.

On top of creeping fans out, Slater has been slammed for being "narcissistic".

Many of his followers on Instagram even accused Slater of failing to wait an appropriate number of days following Wilder's death before posting his image.

The image had more than 35,000 likes on Wednesday afternoon (AEST) and more than 400 comments.

"Why Kelly? Why!?," Instagram user wetbraintubman wrote.

"Unethical mate just stick to surfing," user joellebrique wrote.
"Creepy as. RIP Gene," user surfsuckers wrote.

"I'm legit freaked out by this picture @kellyslater," user erikbadapple wrote.

"Uhhh how is making someone else's death about you honoring him. Weak," user joecoomes wrote.

"He's only just died mate very poor taste," user simplyjapanesebonsai wrote.

"Where is the humor in self glorification of you on his death? Do you not have enough attention? We do things for shock value and we do things out of respect. I see Gene's friends from all walks of life and their post and hmmm none of them out of humor have placed their image on Genes most famous role to pay respects with humor! There is no humor in this just self service. Not like you even need the attention," user hoobrah_js wrote.

"I think this is in poor taste, regardless of whether he liked him or not," user paulyweave wrote.

Slater also clarified his post, by declaring he did not mean to offend anybody.

"Someone else did and I just screenshotted it," Slater commented on his own Instagram post. "Zero disrespect intended.

"Simply remembering with humor. I loved this guy. No disrespect. But if you don't offend someone it's not funny."