MPAA: Those Evil Movie Pirates

Watch this, and feel your blood boil.  Watch as 60 Minutes, a supposed beacon of broadcast journalistic integrity, is spoon-fed propaganda from the MPAA, and eats it right up.

Let me make one thing clear: I don’t support movie piracy. At the same time, I can’t sit here and let the MPAA spread misinformation and scare tactics, painting everyone with a broad brush of evil.

I love how Leslie Stahl eats up all of the information – my favorite part is the look of disgust at 2:50 when she repeats “In the diaper bag” – without offering any kind of challenge or exploration in the truth of their claims.  Instead, she just lets them go on and equate people who film movies in theaters to drug cartels, human traffickers and child prostitution.

I understand that there is a valid point in damage being done the counterfeit DVD circles, but 60 MInutes let the MPAA completely blur the line between them and the kids who download bit-torrented movies on the Internet.  Furthermore, Stahl allows the MPAA to tarnish the US citizens with their broad brush, yet conveniently forgetting about the rampant piracy that is going on in Asia – specifically China – where they’re making money hand-over-fist from piracy.  It makes sense that DVD counterfeits may cost them money, but where’s the direct linkage with bit-torrent? Still, the MPAA goes for their low-hanging fruit – the “gee-whiz computer technology”.

In the piece the MPAA allege that their industry is robbed of $6 billion annually by piracy – yet they base this on the false pretense that everyone that downloaded their movie had the original intention of seeing it in the theater, or purchasing the $25 DVD.  That’s simply not true. According to the MPAA, the people downloading these movies must be doing it because they’re evil jerks who want to rob the “little people” of the movie industry blind.  There can’t possibly be another side to this: the fact that people want to consume this media in different ways – that some people actually don’t want to go sit in a crowded theater with the talking and crying babies and $5 soda.  In the piece they showed people being wanded and searched, as well as forced to turn in their cell phones, just so they can see a movie.  Wow, when you treat your customers like criminals and give them cavity searches, who wouldn’t want to go to a theater?  No way in hell am I going to give you my money, just so I can be treated like that.

It’s one thing if you’re providing a good alternative – like a same day digital release that I can watch in the comfort of my home theater with a cold beer in my hand – but the fact is that you’re blatantly ignoring the changing market conditions and instead just whine about the Internet.  Where was Mark Cuban to talk about his same-day release and digital distribution ideas?  60 Minutes had no interest in providing any other views in this complex issue.  Apparently movie downloading equates to drowning puppies: no one can have a differing view.

I love how they parade out Steven Soderbergh to say that he wishes the Internet was never invented.  I’m sure you do Steven, because now people can warn other movie-goers about some of the crap that people call “movies” and expect people to shell out $8-12 to go see.  Surely the fact studios green-light these sure-fire bombs (soon-to-be Avatar, anyone?) can’t be the reason no one sees these movies. no it’s all based on piracy.

Soderbergh says they’re losing money at an alarming rates, yet I think someone forgot to tell him that 2007 was a record-breaking year when it came to movie theater revenue.  If I’m not mistaken, 2008 was an even better year for them.  Apparently he still thinks they’re not being paid.  Someone should tell him that the revenue you bring in, over the cost/budget for the picture (which I believe includes the salaries for “the little guys”) = profit for the studios.

Again, I’m not advocating piracy or making excuses for those who download movies – however is it too much to ask 60 Minutes to at least do some research before they parrot the MPAA’s talking points?