On the moralizing of the masses through manipulative means and the innapropriate use of alliteration.

Posted by Jeremy Clarke on April 20, 2004 · General

manny perrySo I imagine that most of us already know who Manny Perry is and what he does. Similarly, I would imagine that most internet minded folk have either booed at his empassioning dialog or at least wanted to. But is that the right answer? Are Manny Perry the stuntman and his cohorts just mild annoyances we have to deal with before the movie starts? Should we have to listen to these moralizing speeches before we can get at the content we’ve paid (at least) 10$ to see?

Lately I have gotten a constant feeling of being told what is right andd wrong to do by the media around me. We are at a point where technology and society have put us in a position that allows exceedingly simple circumvention of the laws that have traditionally held both together, and, not surprisingly, the media itself has risen up to tell us to stop. In the name of values and creativity we are being told that we are criminals, that what we are doing is wrong (in fact that what we are doing must be wrong, because that’s not how it is supposed to be done) and that we are killing The Movies (The TV, The Music).

But should these organizations have any right to tell us what is right and wrong? The film and music industries have thrived since their inceptions on the manipulation and commodification of the talent they represent. They consistently abuse and take advantage of the artists of our society, the art they create, and the end user of the content. The lobby groups that represent them (RIAA, MPAA etc.) have shown again and again that progress and true creative growth mean nothing to them (trying to stop the likes of FM radio, cable television and VCR technology as illegal and in violation of copyright), and that their only true interest is in maintaining their comfortable and lucrative market share.

Progressive attempts like Apple’s iTunes music store are a step in the right direction towards solving the problem that currently makes felons of over 40 million Americans (don’t know the stats for Canada), but isn’t nearly enough. 99¢ for one song is far more than it’s worth, no matter what a thirty second spot brought to me by some recording industry association tells me, especially when the prices are actually going up to as much as 17$US for one corporate album, more than it would cost in the store!

The fact is that the monolithic interests at play in the battle for copyright freedom have little interest at all in creating feasible and user-centric options as alternatives to their old ways, nor should they, really, seeing as they can have laws passed that make criminals of everyone with an ounce of sense instead.

These are “Lumbering Giants,”(1) overweighed by their own systems of promotion and distribution and unable to move into the future for fear of toppling themselves and our entire culture with them.

For proof of this, consider the motivation RespectCopyrights.org (the public moralizing arm of the Motion Picture Association of America) gives for why “stealing” films from the internet in fact hurts you as a consumer:

Only 4 out of 10 films turn a profit. If people take the films for free and the Studios can’t recoup their investment, they may not be able to make the big summer movies we all enjoy so much; the TITANICs, the SPIDER-MANs, the JURASSIC PARKs. So, not only will the creators lose, in the end, you, the consumer, will end up with fewer choices at the multiplex.

Do you really want fewer movies to choose from?

The implication that the current state cinema in North America involves any kind of choice is itself almost patently absurd, while the statement that Titanic and Spider-Man represent this choice is downright insulting to the public. Hollywood is presenting us with shiny, bloated and wasteful trash, reeking of zealous budgets and omnipresent marketing, and asking us why, OH SWEET JESUS WHY, are we not willing to shill out twelve dollars to see it?

The recording industry plays a similar game, but somehow manages to be even more ridiculous either in their profit margin or in their “artistic investment”, as the multi-million dollar production schemes for audio talent fall short of even the semi-conscious spending of the film giants.

I think what I’m trying to get at here, more than anything, is that these organizations, which are above all else for profit, are dictating to us values masquerading as morals. They are telling us that “Movies are Worth It,” meaning that the current system of cinematic production and it’s output justify the costs to the viewer, and so we should not steal from it. But this is not morality nor is it ethics, it is the value judgement and opinion of the organization, and it is a biased opinion if there ever was one. We are asked to support a system built on waste and greed, and are led to sympathy by the use of the lowliest, and most mistreated, of it’s representatives.

I think that without meaning to, Manny Perry, in his appeal for what is “right”, struck on the essential concept at play here: (describing his job as a stuntman and an automotive stunt called–)

pipe ramps or cannons there virtually is a bomb inside of the car, at one given point, they push a button and this bomb goes off and this car is catapulted into the air. 15, 20 feet, at 60 miles an hour, you’re going for quite a ride.

A hundred years ago film was invented and almost no one had access. Fifty years ago only those with enough money could be involved in any meaningful way. Today the virtual bomb in the car has gone off, and anyone involved in creation is in for quite a ride.

I , for one, will be very upset if the car is the same when it finally comes down.

Posted by Jeremy Clarke on April 20, 2004 · General

9 Comments

  1. Ender

    That’s genius and, thus, I’m very inclined to agree with you.

    To try and counter that, though… keep in mind that aquiring artistic works, such as films, for free when the person who created the work demands money in exchange for the right to experience or aquire the work is illegal and, not only that, easily arguably immoral. The fact is that many, many people are turning to aquiring artistic works for free simply because they can. Why would one spend money when one can get (almost) the same thing for free?

    That said, a growing majority of people steal artistic works. Stealing music broke out like crazy with the release of Napster, and has further developed into the stealing of movies. If people were to stop paying to see moives all together, how would they actually get made (unless we completely turned away from the capitalist system, which I wouldn’t mind so much myself).

    The problem is that the majority of people are stealing. Therefore, is it really wrong to have someone tell us that we are stealing? There is no way to enforce a law that says that we can’t steal in this fasion, so the only recourse these artists have that are worried about their livelihoods is to say “Dude, stop stealing”. And, quite frankly, they DO go about it in a rather polite way. Certainly, the place where they present there message is ironic, but is there anywhere else that would spread the message to people?

    It’s a guilt thing. We don’t feel guilty about stealing. We don’t feel guilty about doing illegal things. All they’re doing is reminding us that we should feel guilty, and consider what we’re doing. If people still want to steal after knowing full well that we ARE stealing… well, there’s no where to go after that. But at least this way, it might stop a few people, enough to keep this black dude in a job.

    April 20th, 2004 at 11:04 pm

  2. jer

    you use steal like it’s an absolute term, but in this situation it is anything but.

    when i steal a candy bar from the store (which i don’t) i now have one and they have one less. they paid for it and now they can’t sell it because i ate it or sold it to someone else.

    when i download a movie off the internet i take nothing from the owner as such. they SOLD the dvd that was ripped, and the bandwidth was paid for by the sharing community i got the file off of.

    you say “we steal so why shouldn’t they tell us that we steal”, but there is an assumption about theft that is not necessarily true, and, really, if you WERENT going to buy it anyway, then you haven’t stolen shit all.

    the piracy laws are set in place because in the days when they were written only someone with intent to sell had the assets to print a whole book (which required massive expensive presses), there was no possibility (other than hand copied manuscripts, which i suppose would have been legal) for the kind of sharing or free copying that exists today.

    not to say that it’s all fine and dandy to take all the movies you want off the net, but rather that the way the MPAA presents the subject, as if it were an absolute and simple fact of the matter that downloads are theft, is counter-progressive at best and culturally destructive at worst.

    April 21st, 2004 at 2:28 am

  3. Ender

    You seem to be making the assumption that watching films is a right. It’s not. It’s a privilidge. And the artist decides who receives the privilidge of watching his work. Therefore, if the artist requires that one must pay for it in order to receive the privilidge, then that’s how it should be. By downloading a movie, your acting out against the artist and, by trying to say that you have the right to watch that movie by aquiring it for free, you’re saying that the artist has no right to his work.

    (Yep… I still support your side, Jer… I just like arguing)

    April 21st, 2004 at 8:12 am

  4. jer

    hey, if you want to talk about RIGHTS, then we can talk about that. How about any person’s RIGHT to make a digital copy of a DVD that they bought. And their right to keep it on their computer?

    sounds like a pretty reasonable right, right? but this is just the kind of thing that has become totally grey in a legal sense. in this digital age of our we have no rights. They have been taken from us because we have to much power.

    the PRIVILEGE that you talk about is what the media giants enjoyed until now because of their effective monopoly over what they produced (which is essentially everything.. wasn’t titanic great?)

    They DO NOT like it when this monopoly is challenged and they fight it, like when the fought real hard to have BETAMAX banned, and this is the exact same thing, except we have empowered ourselves to an even greater degree.

    i think an important right here is the right to not be sued for all the money in the world (effectively) just for thinking about it.

    April 21st, 2004 at 11:30 am

  5. The Avatar

    I think the Movie industry is entirely in the right. The movie isn’t yours. If you download it off the net you stole it.

    Yeah, you have the right to backup your DVD’s , but if you take the time to read the legal notices on those DVD’s I’m sure you’ll notice that copying and distributing them without the makers permission is illegal. That’s the bottom line.

    You can argue about the law all you want. But the laws are there for a reason. We as the consumer can argue about it back and forth all we want. But the law is there and there’s not much we can do about it.

    April 21st, 2004 at 11:58 am

  6. jer

    EFF.ORG
    LESSIG.ORG
    corante.com/copyfight/

    as consumers and creators we can keep ourselves informed and make the best of our situation.

    the answer when faced with unfair laws in not to throw our hands in the air and learn to deal with it, especially when these laws are written and funded by the private interests that make use of them to abuse us.

    April 21st, 2004 at 1:49 pm

  7. The Avatar

    But the laws aren’t unfair. People make movies specifically for the purpose of making money. The work, time, and money that goes into creating those movies makes those laws protecting them perfectly legitimate. Its what we have to deal with when living in a capitalist society. But guess what? No capitalism = no movies, music, clothes, computers, transportation, etc.

    Try living in the 3rd world for a while where people starve to death everyday. When you get back I’m sure you’ll be happy to dish out 20 or 30 bucks for a DVD.

    April 23rd, 2004 at 12:26 pm

  8. m

    ggg

    November 22nd, 2006 at 10:20 pm

  9. wordediting

    Three-to-six words for the title, opening statement in one
    paragraph, details in one paragraph, summary in one paragraph,
    getting it right before publishing, keeping the rhetoric to
    a mimimum – priceless.

    April 16th, 2007 at 1:28 pm

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