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Ads that make me mad

The last few movies I've gone to have had ads running before them that talk to gaffers, set designers, and stuntmen for movies and have them outline for you the evils of pirating movies.
These are poorly made, playing on your sympathies for a billion dollar industry that counts on explosions and chicks with plenty of tit-bounce to get you into the theatres. They aren't talking about indie films. They aren't talking about protecting jobs for people who make thoughtful, well made, interesting movies. They're talking about protecting jobs for people who work on summer blockbusters, epic action movies starring Vin Diesel, and movies about what a hard life upper middle class white kids have.

Now I realize that they're not talking about the directors of the film production company or any of the million dollar a project actors, but instead are focused on the "little people" behind the movies. As long as movies are made these people will have jobs. The people who lose money on film pirating are not the gaffer, the set designer or the stuntman.

I've found these ads patronizing, pathetic, and honestly insulting. When did the movie industry decide that going the way of RIAA was a good move?

Last night Karl and I saw an ad that just took the fucking cake. Staring Sean Astin and Ben Affleck as well as George "can we merchandise it?" Lucas (and in the article I found it talks about Johnny Depp being in the ads as well), behind the scenes workers and so on, they talked to the camera as if they were actually talking about something *important*. These two guys who will be rolling in the millions for years actually looked into the camera and had no problem crying foul about the horrors of movie pirating.

To Quote

"The MPAA, which represents Hollywood's major studios, estimates that 400,000 to 600,000 digital movies are downloaded every day from the Internet. Reuters reports the trade group put aside $150,000 earlier this month to reward informers whose tips lead to successful police raids on illegal DVD factories in Asia.

According to the MPAA, the old-fashioned method of piracy--moviegoers using handheld video cameras to shoot a video version of a film or making of bootleg copies of promotional DVDs, costs the industry $3 billion a year."

Now, I don't know about you, but I've never seen a high quality bootleg of a movie. NEVER. And I've never known anyone to wholeheartedly prefer their bootlegs over actually seeing a movie in a theatre as the quality is just terrible most of the time. The fact is, that if you really enjoy a film, chances are you'll see it in a theatre even if you've already seen a bootleg of it. Chances are even better that if you really enjoy a film you will buy the official release of the DVD as they tend to be rendered with a much higher quality than can be easily copied, include extras that a bootleg most often cannot reproduce, and present *value* for their cost, unlike music CDs, which can be digitally reproduced without a degrade in quality and which present no extra value in their purchase.

In this article, the chairman of Fox Filmed entertainment claims that they really just want to teach this generation that stealing is wrong no matter what form it takes.

Corporate executives and actors teaching us all about the importance of moral values? It sure as HELL isn't by example.

Hollywood's All-Star Assault on Piracy


Ben Affleck, Johnny Depp, "Titanic" director James Cameron and "Lord of the Rings" actor Sean Astin are among those who have joined forces for an all-star attack on one of Hollywood's most frightening enemies: digital piracy.
To take up the fight, they are appearing in a 72-second public service announcement produced by 20th Century Fox, says the Hollywood Reporter.

Jim Gianopulos, chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, unveiled the ad before industry insiders Wednesday and said the spot is being made available to theater owners across the country.

Digital piracy allows counterfeit DVDs of the latest hit movies -- such as "Lord of the Rings" and "Chicago" -- to be produced cheaply and quickly (usually in Asia), and robs Hollywood of millions of dollars annually.

The latest movie titles are typically available, sometimes even before their theatrical releases, on the streets of New York's financial district, among other high-population areas, at $10 a pop. (Quality of the pirate DVDs is often questionable -- though in some cases, thanks to digital technology, the knockoffs are technically superb.)

"A big part of what we believe is important to deal with this challenge ... is education," Gianopulos told the trade paper. "We need to teach this generation that stealing is stealing, in whatever form."

He added, "People must be taught that the so-called victimless crime of downloading movies has the power to cost real people real jobs -- not just executives like me or others in this room, but hundreds of thousands of people who are involved in this process (of making and distributing movies)."


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 6th, 2004 09:38 am (UTC)
i much prefer the information tack that the mpaa is taking rather than the 'fuck your customers til they'd rather steal, then sue them' riaa bitches.

besides, in some regards, piracy is a potentially HUGE problem for the studios as bandwidth gets cheaper and more stuff is shot on digital. there was a huge broohaha last summer cause someone at the produciton house released hulk BEFORE it even opened on the internet and it was a good copy, since it came 'from the inside'

now, i think the movie industry is totally learning from the music industries incredibly stupid mistakes. they are working at educating the consumer BEFORE it's a big problem, they give great incentives to actually BUY the dvds, they arn't fixing the prices of dvds artificially high, and they are activiely looking for ways to distribute content legally online before anything gets really entrenched.

however, those commercials are SO dorky.
Feb. 6th, 2004 10:38 am (UTC)
I really think it's the insulting my intelligence that I can't stand. And being talked down to by Ben Affleck. I'd prefer if they just came out and said that it makes studios loose money and therefore makes it a little more difficult for them to fund movies. And I'd prefer it came from someone who *isn't* making millions a film. I can't empathize with them.

I fully agree that DVDs have *value* and they don't price fix. DVDs are *cheap* compared to cds.

And I can agree that an education "it does impact people" campaign is a hell of a lot better than suing people. And while the MPAA is running an informant program for the manufacture of bootleg dvds (on a large scale), it isn't suing individual downloaders.

In a lot of ways, I think RIAA got what it asked for through its terrible business practices.

Feb. 8th, 2004 06:26 pm (UTC)
Re: stealing
Of course they're talking down to people. Their target audience is thieves, people who think it's okay to steal from someone so long as they're rich, and people who can't make the cause-and-effect relationship between a)costing the movie and record industry billions of dollars every year and b)paying high prices at the box office and in the stores. Every time you buy a cd or a movie ticket you're paying to subsidize the people who burned it or file-shared it. Just like health care. You have to pay $2000 for a hospital visit when you actually need it because of the uninsured morons who went in to the ER to get antibiotics when they had a COLD.

TANSTAAFL. We all end up paying. It's usually the honest people who end up paying the most. I don't have any sympathy for people who steal.
Feb. 9th, 2004 05:29 am (UTC)
Re: stealing

Maybe *maybe* with Movies I can see a little of the price hike of tickets having to do with pirating. But I don't believe their figures for a second that hand held video camera recordings of movies cost the industry 3 billion dollars. That's utter bullshit. More sophisticated releases (and those that come out before or right at movie release) I *may* believe have cost the industry money, but using the inverse of the trickle down economics theory to try to shame people into paying almost $20 for a movie ticket will only encourage peole to feel increasingly hard hearted to the idea that a multi billion dollar industry could be hurt by a poorly pirated copy of a movie.

And if they keep up with this campaign of stupidity, they will only being showing their ass, just like RIAA did.

As for ANYTHING having to do with CDs, RIAA, file sharing, and how much that supposedly costs them as an industry, I might have an ounce of sympathy had they not been price fixing and price gouging for the last 20 years, or if that loss had any real impact on the artists themselves, most of whom (for major lables) are getting pennies per cd as it is.

And, check this out... as annoyed, disheartened, and insulted as I feel by both of these industries, I still go to the movies, I still buy dvds, and I still buy cds... some even at full price. The thing is, MOST people do. And trying to *shame* people into anything is never ever the intelligent course of action.
Feb. 9th, 2004 06:10 am (UTC)
Re: stealing
TANSTAAFL: "There aint no such thing as a free lunch."

Okay, this is going to look and read like a rant, which I suppose it is, but I want to make it clear I'm not trying to jump on you personally, and I'm not foaming at the mouth or anything. That said...

1) The "most of the money doesn't go to the people I think deserve it" argument: Yes, most artists get only a few 'points' per cd sold, which is just another reason that when tens of thousands of copies of their songs or entire albums are not bought because people downloaded them instead, the artist gets even *less* money.

2) The "It costs too much to pay for" argument. Think it costs too much? Fine. Don't buy it. You don't have a 'right' to own the latest Britney single. Pay the fair market value for your music, or, well, learn to play piano.

3) and 4) two at a time now: "they're rich, they'll never miss it" and "It doesn't really cost them as much as they say." The math is the math, believe it or not as you like. x number of illegal copies shared times y dollars per ticket or dvd bought. It's fairly simple. I think you underestimate the volume of the piracy. And filesharing isn't the only problem. Unliscensed copies of movies, cds, software and the like (anything that can be copied with data technology) have a HUGE market overseas. China alone costs US companies tens of billions of dollars a year because many overseas markets are flooded with cds, books, movies, software for which the owners of the intellectual property rights get $0. And it's not just overseas either. I bought a copy of Sims: Superstars from Amazon (!!! not zshops or used, either, a *new* copy, direct from Amazon.) that turned out to be a pirated copy.

But frankly, all of that is just the window dressing. It comes down to morality.

Taking something that doesn't belong to you without paying for it is stealing. Stealing is wrong. It never ceases to amaze me that people actually have the nerve to argue the point. I personally think shame is a great motivator. The problem is these people *have none*. They don't realize or care that they're stealing. They go out of their way to call it anything else. They think they're *entitled* to cheap or even free entertainment. News flash: entertainment is a business. All the anarcho-socialist crap people spout about "the music should be out there, maaaan, it's for the peeeeople." just makes me want to kick some over-entitled pot-smoking world-bank-protesting a**. Musicians are highly trained professionals who spend their lives learning their craft and trying to create something wonderful and new, and when they manage to create something that brings pleasure and joy to many people, they deserve to get rewarded as the market will allow. When the record company starts losing money to piracy, they have two places they can make up the loss. The consumer and the artist. They charge you more and give us less. You just get the bill, *we* get the shaft.

So to sum up: Stealing is wrong, even if you're stealing from EnormoHugeCo. The artist *does* suffer. It costs you money too.
Feb. 9th, 2004 09:42 am (UTC)
Agree to disagree?
Honestly, my mindset when it comes to 'intellectual property' and copyrights in general I have a very unfavorable view, *especially* concerning artistic endeavors. Which right from the word go, I am sure we strongly disagree on.

I understand that you are a musician and therefore you see this from a standpoint of what money you receive from a record company and how it impacts you personally. I am not a musician and don't have the personal aspect to what is my general ideals concerning the recording industry, how they handle property rights, and how they treat their artists.

I was (and still am) annoyed by this tact that the MPAA has decided to take. It certainly isn't as bad as the *horrendous* behavior of RIAA (no 12 year olds sued yet), and they seem so far to be attacking the major manufacturers of bootleg DVDs, and pushing an information campaign instead of resorting to the sort of rabid litigious bullshit RIAA has been pushing for the past 5 years.

All that said, " It never ceases to amaze me that people actually have the nerve to argue the point. I personally think shame is a great motivator. The problem is these people *have none*. "

I have shame. I've watched pirated movies (they are usually of such an incredibly poor quality that they are *pointless* to watch), I've downloaded music that I did not own the CD for, I've used copious amounts of illegally 'cracked' software and in fact, I'm pretty sure that the majority of what is being run on this machine right now was not legally purchased.

Being finger wagged at by Sean Astin or Lars Ulrich is not the way to make me change my mind about something I see as a larger problem with copyrights, corporate business practices, and the way that creative processes are treated as commodity instead of art.

I actually believe we're speaking at cross purposes here. I don't think stealing is 'right', but I don't think anything is as black and white as that. Morality is subjective. VERY subjective. Anyone claiming otherwise I don't think is looking at the full picture.

I think that you've taken what I've said to be the end all be all of my argument and simplified my statements to the point of making them *simple* and not just clearer and I'm pretty sure that you aren't replying to what I've said, but to what you've seen others say.

Now I'm going to go smoke some weed, protest NAFTA, and read some Noam Chomsky just to better fit the stereotype.

(for an idea of where I'm coming from on the copyright front and the music industry, < href="http://negativland.com/riaa/post.html" target="_blank">here's a washington post article from '98</a>. Things haven't changed... well they haven't changed for the *better*)
Feb. 9th, 2004 10:52 am (UTC)
Re: Agree to disagree?
Something can't be art *and* a commodity? You've never been to a gallery auction, I gather ;-)

"I'm pretty sure that you aren't replying to what I've said, but to what you've seen others say." In many respects, absolutely right. I'm not accusing you of being the type of person I'm talking about. I thought I had made that clear with my opening disclaimer. I think you've bought the rationalizations a lot of those people make, though :-)

But *that* said, it's clear that we're operating from mutually exclusive axioms here, as you point out. I could *never* agree to the statement that "morality is subjective". I think there is one single, inalterable moral on which all 'morality' is based and that is, "don't harm another person". You have a right to do anything that doesn't harm anyone else, and so do I. I apply that to every issue and it *always* works. As such I think it really is black and white. And stealing harms the person or person that's being stolen from.

Just as an example, the people that developed the cracked software you're running got paid less because of what you're doing. Not that I'm wagging a finger at you or anything.

Feb. 9th, 2004 02:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Agree to disagree?
I didn't think this argument would offend me, but well, it has.

So I'll just repeat my subject. Agree to disagree.

Feb. 6th, 2004 02:02 pm (UTC)
The DVD collection belonging to a friend of mine is comprised mostly of bootlegs. Until I moved here I had never seen them anywhere but in Mexico.... and some of his are good quality images, too.

I still would buy the real DVD if I really appreciated a movie.

Hell, I paid $14 (full price!) for a CD just to have it be known that this band does have fans.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


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