Sunday, July 27, 2003

A day at the beach …
I love the summertime. And there is nothing like a nice, hot day at the beach. Unfortunately, the Atlantic Ocean is freezing right now. However, I did get to finish "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How we got to be so hated," by Gore Vidal, a pamphlet of 160 pages, in one sitting. The book analyzes how American foreign policy, to feed the Military Industrial Complex beast, has created the terror and drug wars. Most of the material is republished from long Vanity Fair pieces which I already read. But Vidal does touch upon his relationship with Timothy McVeigh and lack of FBI investigation into other people involved in that terrorist attack, which makes it worth purchasing. The book is a quick read and really nails a lot of things right on the head.

Hollywood losing jobs? Join the club
"With your support, we’ll all keep on working …"
If you have watched any of the news channels lately, you probably didn’t miss the new advertising campaign by the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. [MPAA] claiming copyright infringement is keeping people from paying their student loans and feeding their families. Check out its site at [""]. This kind of campaign is not unusual; we have seen it from all kinds of special interests looking to influence policy makers and the general public on an issue [or more specifically, members of the public who actually watch the news and tend to be more aware of what is going on in the world]. But the problem with this type of advertising is it generalizes about an issue to get to the viewer to the point where the sponsors wants the viewer to be. This point is often far from the truth of the matter.
Let’s take the jobs issue. Sure, some jobs will be lost as technology modernizes and the ability to get a copy of a DVD or CD without paying the full price – or any price – becomes easier. However, the other side of this is the fact that the entertainment market has not adapted to the new technology or changes in the marketplace. Take any opportunity to copy a product and you can see where the companies have not taken actions on their own part to stem the tide of copyright infringement.
I have some examples listed on the music industry side in my latest column in The Winchester Star: ["Music file-sharers are now criminals"]. But there are others. First, the price of movies is too high. There are too many bad movies that are released competing for the buying public. And the movie industry has destroyed the independent movie theater. How come they weren’t worrying about all those jobs? As far as DVDs – not unlike videos – if people are going to buy them, they will buy them. DVD machines that copy DVDs are extremely expensive – about $800 the last time I looked. Which means a copier would need $1,600 just to start to dub DVDs for a friend. I would think that copies of movies are made for people who are never going to spend $20 for a DVD in the first place. So, the industry isn't losing anything. Similarly to videotape, the industry has never cried about people making copies before. Why now? Business is good in Hollywood. Shut up already. Also, DVD prices are too high. How do I know this? Well, there are a whole slew of DVDs for sale at less than $10 so why aren't the big movies put on sale at lower price? As well, blank DVDs are extremely cheap, about $2 and probably even cheaper for the mass producers. So why are DVDs priced $20 again? More people will buy the product if the product is cheaper. This is simple economics.
Lastly, I like the example given by a columnist on television saying the culture created by Hollywood – one of crime, lack of morals, stealing, etc. – is coming back to haunt the town. Young people have been subliminally taught to think that there are no consequences to their actions, that they are invincible. We all felt that way at 18. Crime is also often glorified in the films and in music. Some of it is lame; some very influential.
Personally, I am not a moralist. But I find these comments were made hilariously on target. You reap what you sow, as the saying goes.
Two last points on this issue: One, as noted in my column, the MPAA [and to a lesser extent the RIAA] should be lobbying Congress to go after imports from the country of China, which is single handedly running the pirate market instead of trying to get at the purchasers of such products. Second, where was Hollywood when factories were getting sent overseas and millions of Americans – many of them buyers of Hollywood products – were losing their jobs? Hollywood was nowhere to be found. In fact, Hollywood was a big backer of the Clinton/Gore administration who basically decimated the working class. Again, you reap what you sow.

No comments: