What’s With the Industrial-Movie Complex Propaganda?

I saw the re-release of Alien last week, and I was a little startled at the level of propaganda the movie people felt I deserved as a result of spending $16 on tickets.

No, not the commercials. I’m resigned to that.

No, not the Foundation for a Better Life PSA where the kid who built the race car lets the kid in the wheelchair drive it because some things are more important. Even though it has a CHRISTIAN SONG ABOUT ANGELS in the background where apparently I’m the ONLY one who notices how CHRISTIAN it is. Did I mention it was religious in nature? (They’re also the people who brought you the Whoopi Goldberg billboard that explained hard work is the solution for dyslexia. Y’know, they’re just too lazy to read.)

I’m talking about the anti-piracy PSAs that are described in this New York Times editorial:

A set painter and a stuntman, respectively, they star in the first two in a series of public service announcements that seem to answer the question, “Who makes movies?” In the brief spots, the two men reflect on their unsung but unmistakable contributions to the art of moviemaking.

I was caught rather unprepared for this lecture from the proletariat, despite having a friend in LA who makes part of her living as a set painter.

My pique must have been startled right out of me about the third time the slimy alien jumped out of a wherever and chewed through someone, because I forgot to post about it as I had intended. But then the NYT piece catches my eye, and I decide to see more of what this new ad campaign is all about.

This is a powerful statement, but how persuasive will it be? For one thing, if stars and producers have less to lose, why is the Motion Picture Association, which represents Hollywood’s owning class, putting its muscle and its money behind these spots…? (And why, by the way, are the studios, in search of savings on labor costs, giving more and more work to Mr. Goldstein’s lower-paid counterparts in places like Vancouver and Prague?)

Funny how the author never gets back to the question of why the MPAA is funding anti-piracy ads that feature working people and sending their jobs away. The argument is even plainly made in one of the PSAs, quoted in the article, that when the industry suffers the rich guys won’t get hurt, it will be the construction crew that loses their jobs.

Oh yes, I forgot. Individual acts are always more of a problem than systematic economic oppression. Just like one man bouncing a check is much more damaging to society than a pervasive pattern of overcharging people of color for mortgage loans.

OK, I’m still not convinced. The people who own the companies are making these ads, so what I actually come away with is that the MPAA doesn’t want me to download movies because decreases in revenues will force the rich to fire the working-class people and keep whatever’s left for themselves.

Am I wrong?

3 thoughts on “What’s With the Industrial-Movie Complex Propaganda?

  1. JPed

    Princess, there is only one element you have missed in your otherwise stunningly complete analysis. The fact that the makers of these agit-prop ads automatically give up on the idea that stealing from rich people is wrong too indicates that these particular rich people KNOW that the “rest” of us don’t identify with them, don’t care what happens to them, and if we had the opportunity to mug them in person without getting caught we would all take it. Which is surprisingly realistic of them, considering the fact that the super-rich don’t live in the same universe as the rest of us — they just come visit so they can take more bread back to their creepily clean subdimension. Wall-to-wall soft shag, botox, super yachts — you know, creepy.

    I guess my point is that old saw that living well is the best revenge. And they do. Oh, they do. And the fact that these vampires are trying to make us feel guilty for robbing the same folk who they are robbing faster and better is just icing on the cake.

  2. Travis

    I remember but cannot locate an older piece that pointed out how the message presented in the PSA is backwards. Most of the people that make the movie are paid at production time. They are paid an hourly wage that is not tied to the success of the movie. It’s the big-fish who get a cut of royalties who are most hurt. I remember being disappointed when I first read that NYT editorial that they didn’t highlight this point.

    To call the PSAs simply disingenuous is generous.

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