Getting Lectured by the MPAA at the Movies

by William Grosso

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I went to see American Splendor tonight. Before the movie, where they normally show trailers, they also showed a spot wherein a set painter named Daniel talked about how Piracy threated his job.

Daniel spoke about how the expensive employees wouldn't be hurt. But he, the average Joe who works on movies, would be out of a job unless Piracy was stopped. He put it bluntly:
"The piracy issue ... I don't believe it will effect the producers. I mean it does affect them, but it's miniscule to the way it effects me .... we are not million dollar employees... we're lucky if we put together 12 straight months."

So let's get it straight.

The trailer is obscene. The film industry is speaking up for the little guy? Am I only one who feels the disconnect? While Daniel, and the other laborers, are lucky to have a job for 12 straight months, executive (and star) salaries in the movie industry are obscene (for example, in 1997, Michael Ovitz got 94.5 million in cash as a severance package. And in 2001, Michael Eisner, who replaced Ovitz, got an $11.5 million bonus while slashing the salaries of animators). The film industry is run by people who take enormous amounts of money off the top and leave drippings for everyone else. For them to complain that piracy hurts the little guy is the height of hypocrisy.

The trailer is dishonest. The problems facing the entertainment industry as a whole are vast and structural. Piracy isn't the problem; a legacy of 50 years of greed, unlimited copyright extensions, and a sense of entitlement that can only be described as "monumentally delusional" are.

The trailer is offensive. I paid $9.25 to see a film. I got forcefed a piece of dishonest political propaganda along the way because a group of suits somewhere decided that I needed to be "educated".

The trailers are, unfortunately, all too typical for Hollywood (a small town with an inflated sense of self-importance and an even bigger ethics problem).