Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ways In Which I Will Thank You Not To Talk About s92a

This week, John Barnett, seasoned NZ producer and shaper of the current NZ film and tv industries, added the support of his company to the passage of Section 92a. "The legislation", stated Barnett, "requires Internet Providers to take some responsibility for what appears on their sites, just as print publishers, T.V and radio stations are responsible for material they disseminate".

The flaw in the analogy is apparent. I get my Internet from Orcon, but Orcon's website hasn't even the slightest hint of where I might go to download episodes of Battlestar Galactica in time to find out what happens on the show before some chump on Digg spoils it for me. In Mr Barnett's analogy, Orcon (or Paradise, or Xtra, or Actrix, or what have you) is not filling the role of newspaper-publisher so much as that of the boy on the corner to whom I give tuppence in exchange for the day's Post. Should I find my own material reprinted without permission within the pages of the publication, I know that the deployment of a clout about the churl's ear will in no way see my work credited appropriately, nor aid me in finding recompense for the wrong.

However, while it may be fun to take potshots at the faulty reasoning of people whose area of expertise is not Internet policy, there's plenty of unhelpful talk going on on both sides of the debate.

"I don't care whether a few nerds lose their precious Internet" is not only a risky line of reasoning for the obvious reason (that is, making the speaker sound selfish and possibly hypocritical). It also betrays a lack of concern for the issues at stake: the question isn't, "will WoW access become threatened by users' prosecution for downloading episodes of Heroes long after reasonable people have moved on?", so much as, "is the notion of 'innocent until proven guilty' one we'd like to hold onto, or would it be better to just assume the defendant's guilt if the plaintiff is a huge multinational media conglomerate?"

The flipside of this is the notion that "this doesn't bother me because I'm clever enough to get past any potential restrictions". Employed by folk with only just enough nous to hacksaw the Internets (which isn't, as they say, rocket science), this logic dictates that as long as a law can be broken by the cognoscenti, there's really nothing to worry about. Every time someone publicly uses this reasoning, a little child somewhere out there has their suspicions confirmed that this is an argument about piracy. To assert that "modern creatives shouldn't have to rub shoulders with no-goodniks and ne'er-do-wells in order to operate in a c21st climate" is not the same thing as saying, "I didn't want to pay money for Chinese Democracy but the last couple tracks are pretty bitchin'". I mean, those two statements don't even have the same amount of syllables.

Another line of discussion that solves nothing is blaming the whole thing on the party one doesn't like, though it is an awfully efficient way of making onesself look like a dick. To shrug and say that a country who voted unwisely gets what it deserves is just teen-grade apathy for advanced players. It is a matter of public record that this legislation was brought in by a Labour Govrenment, just as it is an established fact that it was voted for and preserved by National MPs. Equally, it is well-recognized that the same Labour Government was generally quite good to the creative sector, and also an unavoidable fact that it was a National Government that heeded public outcry and made the decision to postpone the Act's passage.

I've seen a lot of discussion as to whether this whole thing smacks of typical Leftist big-government interference or of typical Right-Wing big-business kowtowing. Without exception these discussions are one step from descending into paranoid fantasy, and/or consist entirely of rote recitation of the participants' preconceived notions as to what's wrong with the folks they didn't vote for. Anyone (be it in Parliament or at grassroots level) who's getting shit done on this matter is doing so by approaching it in a nonpartisan, how-can-this-be-fixed manner; anyone without that attitude is, frankly, just getting in the way.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Can The World Stand This Much Artful Miscompression?!

Chairlift, Evident Utensil

Kanye West, Welcome to Heartbreak (unreleased)

The answer: Yes, The World Can Stand This Much Artful Miscompression. But only because the world has a very large capacity for creative variations on the concept of "amazingly fucking ugly".

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dom Post: Shadow of Terror

Top story on today's Dom Post:

Sounds pretty serious! Look at those confiscated items!

(image larger than scale)


The Dom Post is a newspaper published for the purpose of selling newspapers to readers and delivering eyeballs to advertisers, so they're free to finangle a photo of some toy guns, art supplies and hen-party accessories into a horrifying lineup of confiscated Tools of Terror any day of the week. Hell, they're still not the Press.

But let's not scoff too hard about culture-of-fear crisis-mongering overseas, shall we?

Friday, February 06, 2009

A Successful Waitangi Day

If Waitangi weekend was in Britain, Steven Poole would totally be reporting on the Unspeak appropriation of the word "successful" to describe Waitangi Day celebrations. White people don't use this word to describe concerts or festivals or even the Sevens, because white people are only terrified of the implications of an "unsuccessful" Waitangi Day.

In addition to reassuring that celebrations went off without a hitch - adequate catering, air castles not punctured, etc - a "successful" day is one in which the aims match with the results. No anomalous protesting or vocal questioning of the origins of the event here: the original ideal of Waitangi Day is one in which New Zealand is celebrated, and on a successful Waitangi, that's all that happens. To call a peaceful, controversy-free Waitangi Day "successful" neatly subliminally reaffirms the notion that nobody ought to be complaining about Treaty issues.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Corganwatch: This Week's Selling-Out Does Not Yield The Desired Coverage

There's a ridiculous logic at play in the relationship between the Smashing Pumpkins and capitalism: That Youtube-kid-quality Watchmen trailer their song was in was okay, and piggybacking off Joel Schumacher's final Batman movie was okay, and debuting a song in an Xbox game was okay, and being licensed to sell TNA Wrestling was okay, and previewing Zeitgeist by putting the first song in a Michael Bay movie was okay; but using a Pumpkins song to sell Pepsi?! Heavens no! That "crass commercialism and exploitation" would run directly counter to Billy Corgan's unique "message of honesty, artistic integrity and alternative non-mainstream culture"!

But then again, debuting a new song in an ad for Hyundai is okay. Obviously. After all, Hyundai, like Corgan, "has some unusual positioning in the market right now", according to their co-chairman; that's the kind of synergy Superbowl half-time ads are made for!

But lamentably, Hyundai have decided they don't actually have the resources in these lean economic etc etc to debut a new Smashing Pumpkins song at half-time. So now this "FOL" thing is just a pregame festivity. Keep the indie alternative freak flag flying!