Monthly Archives: February, 2012

Hollywood just doesn’t get it

After the failure of SOPA/PIPA in Congress (and the internet community’s general outrage), Hollywood is trying to remodel their anti-piracy message.  Although, collectively, they still do not understand where they went wrong with their anti-piracy bill, they are trying to understand why there was such a negative backlash.  This time around, Hollywood reps are sure to be more careful about what goes into the bill.  ““We can’t throw any old message out there. We need to be smart about it — where we put it, how we say it, who says it,” one entertainment industry executive told POLITICO.

What Hollywood doesn’t understand is that the general population doesn’t care HOW something is said; it’s WHAT is said.  Section 104 of SOPA also has a clause which allows large ISP’s like Comcast to block websites at will; that is, if they have a ‘reasonable’ belief that any of their products are being pirated.  SOPA, essentially, is holding websites responsible for user’s actions, even if users number in the millions.  The current policy seems fair enough: if something is ‘flagged’ as copyright infringment, Youtube investigates and has a certain time period to take the video down, which has been done thousands of times.

The most baffling part of this article, though, was the finger-pointing that some of the Hollywood reps did at internet companies.  Cary Sherman, Recording Industry Association of America chief executive, panned Wikipedia and Google’s protest against the bills on their sites as “an abuse of trust and a misuse of power.”  Really, Cary?  But when Chris Dodd threatens to cut funding to the Obama administration if they don’t support the MPAA’s stance on SOPA, that’s just fine? (video below) The blatant abuse of power by these Hollywood reps over the last few decades has been constant.  It’s clear that funding was the primary factor in passing legislation until SOPA failed.

Similar to the newspaper industry, Hollywood is failing to adapt to the times.  The successes of internet-user-friendly projects by Radiohead and Louis CK should be a wake-up call to Hollywood.  The problem doesn’t lie with the consumers.  The problem is you.


NPR-“All things considered”-February 9th

I listened to “All Things Considered” on February 9th, and a number of topics were discussed, among which were George Clooney’s acting career, a new deal for potential foreclosure victims, and the Greek austerity crisis.

Clooney talked for a while about his new movie, “The Descendents”, for which he is nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor.  But more interestingly he discussed his career and why he chooses certain roles.  “You can’t force yourself into roles that you would’ve played ten years ago,” said Clooney. “Just as you change as a person, the roles you choose have to change also.”  He also talked about how mobile recording devices are taking away from experiencing life.  “I see people recording more and experiencing less,” said Clooney.  He brings up a great point.  There is something more gratifying about seeing something actually happen than experiencing it through a lens.  “I’ll go to shake someone’s hand and they’ll be looking at me through the lens of a camera,” Clooney added.

A new $26 billion settlement is set to help homes that are under water.  Negotiations have been going on for over a year.  The settlement is between over 26 banks and hundreds of legislators.  The biggest parts of the bill require the banks to make $20 billion in loan modifications and correct foreclosures that may have been unwarranted.  Many critics have said that this only fixes about 5% of homes that are under water; for homeowners that owe more than their home is worth.  This would help to absolve the debt exceeding value of the home.  One critic stated that it essentially was a “winning lottery ticket” for a few homeowners, and did nothing for the rest.

Greek politicians agreed to meet austerity measures.  European banks made many demands of the Greeks in order for them to receive financial help: lowering the minimum wage by 20% and cutting many public sector jobs.  Many of the measures caused an uproar in Greece, with protesters throwing firebombs at police officers and setting buildings aflame.  Across internet forums, such as Reddit, many are echoing sentiments that something similar can happen in the U.S., sooner than later.  It seems as though those who caused the debt crisis aren’t really suffering as much as those who are innocent bystanders.  Lowering the minimum wage by 20% is essentially punishing those who had very little to do with the crisis and can least afford to suffer from the crisis.  I feel incredibly uneasy about the whole situation, and I see Europe as a sort-of powder keg.  If these austerity measures don’t work out and Greece does go into bankruptcy, I can see the outrage and violent protests spreading across Europe.

Church vs. Murdoch

Yesterday, Charlotte Church found herself as the only phone hacking victim who hasn’t settled with Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in court.

Church, who claims that she was advised in 1999 to sing at Murdoch’s wedding to receive favorable press coverage, refused to settle a claim for damages in which her and her parents’ phones were allegedly hacked for four years.  The News of the World wrote 33 stories about Church in that time period, of which one in particular seemed to bother Church the most: “Church in three in a bed cocaine shock.”  The story is about her father, and her mother supposedly contemplated suicide after reading it.

In the “take-the-money-and-run” environment we live in today, Church’s refusal to settle is admirable.  We often discuss the role money plays in the media and the production of quality stories, with the influence of the ‘bottom line’ often prevailing over all else. 

It is refreshing to see someone place moral obligation above financial payout.  Perhaps Church’s success as a singer may have allowed her to take such a stand, but it is still encouraging to hear nonetheless.  I hope she sets a precedent for others contemplating a settlement against News of the World: no amount of money can ever buy your privacy.



Tweeting in the Digital Age

Rupert Murdoch, head of Newscorp, let the world know his feelings about the European debt crisis and tensions in the Middle East on Sunday, hours before the Superbowl.

“If Britain had joined euro it would be in even deeper doodoo than already,” Murdoch tweeted.  “Cheap pound compared to year ago only thing keeping state going.”  Although, when read, his tweets sound like a cross between Frankenstein and Encino Man, his tweeting on news matters begs an interesting question: does Twitter pose too great a risk for high-profile business?

With the increasing digitalization of the media, Twitter presents itself as a unique platform: one can reach millions of followers instantly without any kind of PR middle man.  Twitter is incredibly accessible on most mobile devices, leaving little interference between the tweeter and his tweet; in traditional media forms, there is a host of polishing and editing that goes on before publication.

Murdoch’s tweets were far from sensational, yet, I can’t help but to wonder if the risk/reward of tweeting is worth it (“…Enough! Time to prepare for great Super Bowl…. New York seems silent today in anticipation. Go Giants!… is hardly anything New York Post-worthy.)  There already have been a number of people that have been fired or otherwise reprimanded for tweeting inappropriately.  And what is Murdoch ultimately getting out of tweeting?  Self-satisfaction?  Again, I ask, is it really worth it?