Why Hollywood Is So Dumb About Piracy

advice, Hollywood

Fireman Trying to Turn Off Broken Hydrant Under the Hollywood Sign, LA, 2006 © by exposo

Hollywood is always behind the times – whether being the last to know “oh no you didn’t” is not funny or the loudest objectors to new technologies (which they always say is going to decrease their profit, even though it always increases it) .

Most hilarious, though, is the way Hollywood is always first to pat themselves on the back for being cool, forward-looking, innovative, young (that just means they’re quick to hire young sociopath-douchebags with no track record then throw up their hands when they have no idea why the stuff they produce is such shit) –

But the fact remains, Hollywood is one of the oldest, whitest, crankiest-old-man businesses around.

The huge studios (which are all owned by enormous multinational corporations) are up in arms about piracy because they see themselves as the “authors” of their films and TV shows and think that anyone “stealing” their films and TV shows by downloading them illegally represents a dangerous threat to their bottom line. Or at least to the capitalist law and order system that has allowed their parent companies to rape and pillage our economies and natural resources for hundreds of years.

The biggest flaw in this logic is the idea that *money* is the greatest resource an audience can trade to the author of a film in exchange for the privilege of seeing that film. (That a corporation can be the “author” of a film is a debate for another day.)

Attention is a far more valuable commodity – one that Hollywood sometimes spends more money to acquire than they reap in money in return.

Which would you rather have:

– A movie that cost you $5 million to make and grossed $10 million, but that no one heard of, no one talked about, no one cared about, or –

– A movie that cost you $5 million to make and grossed $5 million, but that everyone heard of, everyone’s talking about, everyone cares about?

I would rather the second. Because in the former case, you have a commodity with a limited afterlife. In the latter case, you have a commodity with a far greater afterlife, both financially and culturally. Benefits accrue to the studio and the creative professionals involved in the film that are not measured in money but rather in terms of how much impact a project has – how many people saw it?

During awards season, important people (people who might be voting in the big awards) receive free screeners of anything that stands a chance of getting an award. Studios want to make sure the important people – the tastemakers – have seen their stuff. Considering it costs nothing to allow important people to download video for free – why not let the important people’s families also have access? They probably have a lot of important friends who vote too. And they probably spend a lot of time talking about this stuff at boring holiday parties. And if we’re expanding the circle of who is important, why not make it certain zip codes, because I think we can all agree that most taste is made in a few central taste zones in Brooklyn and Los Feliz.

My point is this: everyone is important. Everyone is a tastemaker. Do I want some kid in a village in India to be able to watch my movie for free because he downloaded it illegally? Fuck yeah. Because that kid is important. And getting my movie in the hands of that kid is more important than the pennies I/we could make off him. Pennies we no doubt would never make because he would have never made it to the theatre.

A huge part of a movie or TV show’s budget – sometimes WAY more than the costs of production – is marketing and advertising. Imagine there was a system where the youngest, most independent-minded, most hooked-in online could access and see movies and TV (sometimes before they’re even released) and spread word early whether something needs to be seen to be part of the conversation or not. We have that system in place and that’s piracy – and it’s the fairness at its heart – the fact that Hollywood can’t just throw a ton of plastic Happy Meal toys in our landfills to make us see their stupid movies – that they hate. It means quality stands on its own, and that getting firehosed in the face with marketing campaigns won’t blind us to the shitstorm you just made.

The bottom line is this: Hollywood spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on marketing to get people to see their stuff, trying to get them to talk about it – when the best marketing is and always has been – make something great and put it where people can see it.

Right now there is tension in the market between the way consumers want to consume their movies and T.V. – in my living room, with my twitter friends – and the way Hollywood wants us to consume it – in theaters, on the day and time they specify, on approved devices. However, it doesn’t serve them to continue resisting their own customers’ preferences. Just as the music industry no longer found piracy to be a major problem once digital downloads were widely available at the right price, so will Hollywood find this “problem” will go away once they get their heads out of their asses and wake up to the world we now live in.

Hypocrisy in Hollywood
Created by: Paralegal

10 thoughts on “Why Hollywood Is So Dumb About Piracy

  1. I couldnt agree more. The big spin on downloading is one of the most over hyped bullshit ever told. I download often, Ive never seen it as a crime, given the fact that i have a physical disability, ADHD and a mental illness and of course add in the fact that i am on the lower end of the poverty scale, the cinema scene is not one that I can adapt to anymore, people say i am an idiot for putting my life before that of my beloved girl, my malamute Wahjin, ergo, how i ended up with a serious back and neck injury.

    If it wasnt for torrents I wouldnt be the proud owner of TV series such as GOT, SOA, Grimm, True Blood and the like, it was actually 2-3 years into the series before I had even entertained the idea of watching them, having them readily available I “previewed” the series after one episode was hooked so I merrily got every episode available, watched them, loved them, problem, availability in stores, in Australia things are a bit slow over here so the US may be 3 or more seasons ahead and we are still watching season 1, the same is with movies.

    Last year saw the loss of many family members for me and a downward spiral on my mental health, I lost my baby niece, my brother and his beautiful wife, the closest people to saints, lost their new born Emma, I have always been my brothers keeper, our childhood was something that is portrayed in horror films only we lived it, I had my landlord up my arse who knew I am bipolar, stealing every cent she could from me on the guise I was behind in rent, i wasnt, infact I was 3 months ahead after she sucked me dry, I was and still am relying on government handouts to live and support my children and subsequently spiraled into a deep bipolar depression of which I am still in, and also a nervous breakdown thanks to the kind folks of AFACT and the Queensland police service.

    In late 2013 I was in a financial mess, I was not myself, we were broke had no food on the table and so I resold some bootleg dvds i bought, $60 worth to be exact, apparently that warranted a search warrant being executed at my home where the police found almost zero “commercial for sale” movies, however they had access to all the things I had downloaded, now I dont have the money to go out and buy every dvd at $29.99 on release, if I dont like it I cant take it back, so I would review before I purchased, and the kids, oh my sweet little ones, my autistic daughter who slaughtered every disk in the house, I couldnt allow her to get her hands on originals…….So back to the big raid of 2013

    After having all of my civil liberties stripped away, being treated like public enemy number #1 I have my entire personal collection confiscated and used against me, old crappy stuff, scratched up disks, back ups, blank disks even original console games on spindles because a certain little someone lost or trashed the cases, I am now facing 29 charges pertaining to commercial, yes they twisted everything and most charges pertain to my personal collection scattered around the house in the tv cabinet or in boxes for disposal after watching that much needed simpsons or family guy episodes, lets not forget the fact that my paid for in store collection ranges in the 2000 disk mark not to mention the hundreds I have lost through my kids scratching, breaking or losing them.

    The prosecution wants me to do 5 years in jail, its not a joke, not a make believe fairy tale, its true. I dont expect sympathy, yes I made a mistake re-selling those 6 dvds but at the time given my bipolar and ADHD I had a million thoughts racing through my head on how to put food on the table not the consequences, that didnt even come into play but how something so trivial could turn into something so big is beyond anything I can comprehend, so I done what any insane depressed broken down mother would do, I moved inter state I done a runner with my kids, the court case is still going, tomorrow I am going into the care of mental health to help me get myself straight and my baby girl, oh my lord, I had no idea she was suicidal and had lost all faith in the justice system, which is why she did not disclose the fact that 2 & 4 years ago she was sexually abused.

    I would just like to know when human life became devalued and revenue became more important, how can the suits that can afford a $200 latte from an upper scale coffee shop justify any of this.

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