Thursday, 29 March 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #874: What Good Is The MPAA?

How can an industry be considered remotely functional when the body created to represent that industry is so bloody dysfunctional.  I'm talking about Motion Picture Association of America, from now on referred to as the MPAA.

Like the industry it is supposed to represent, the MPAA has completely forgotten how to do its most basic duties and it's becoming a bigger laughing stock every day.

Now I know I've talked about some of this before, but I will reiterate some of my points before I get to the main reason why I'm on this latest diatribe.

The MPAA has 3 primary functions.

1. To act as the chief lobbyist for the movie industry.

2. To administer the movie ratings system.

3. To combat piracy of intellectual property.

Now let's look how they're blowing it...

1.  As a lobbyist they're a complete failure. The current MPAA CEO/Chairman, former Senator, Chris Dodd can't even get politicians to attend free movie screenings.  Politicians would sell their own mother for a box of chicken McNuggets, and he can't even get them to attend a free movie with free popcorn?

One of the main reasons for this is because the US government is a two party system, and the MPAA has put everything they have into one party; The Democrats.  That means the Democrats take the members of the MPAA for granted, knowing that they will support and donate big money to the Democratic Party even if they nominated Lyndon LaRouche for President with a "ban all movies" platform.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, the Republican Party, which currently controls the House of Representatives, views the members of the MPAA as an active enemy.  A view that was only cemented when they appointed former Democratic Senator Chris Dodd to head the group.  Dodd was known as one of the most partisan members of the Senate who a lot of Republicans truly despise.

That's a lousy choice for a lobbyist, whose job is to be a friend to those in power.

Love him or hate him, Jack Valenti, who was the longest serving head of the MPAA, could play both sides of the aisle.  It wasn't his job to make enemies, and that's something the pugnaciously Manichean Dodd seems incapable of figuring out.

2. The ratings system was created to replace the outdated "Production Code" that censored movies from the 1930s to the 1960s.  
There were two main reasons the Code had to be replaced. Television had replaced the movies as the "medium for all ages" while the capricious and erratic enforcement of the code's many rules had become comical, while the rules themselves plumbed new depths of absurdity.

Now the ratings system has become as capricious, erratic and absurd as the old Production Code.  There's no logic or reason behind many of the ratings decisions, where a movie where children kill each other gets a "PG-13" rating, where a documentary that has one too many f-bombs gets an "R" rating.

It's insanity.

3.  Now this is the main reason for this rant.  Recently the MPAA headed up a move in the American congress to pass the SOPA and PIPA laws which were intended to fight piracy of intellectual property.

The laws were badly written, and would have been a nightmare that would have crippled large chunks of the internet.

When pushing for those laws, which eventually died in Congress, the MPAA put out this press release claiming that piracy cost the American economy $58 billion.  Then this chap came out and said that his calculations told him that the MPAA's source overestimated these losses by about $50 billion, and that piracy can be blamed for roughly $8 billion in losses.

This is one of the stupidest things you can do.  It's like lying in court when you're under oath, one little fib gets found out and all your other testimony, no matter how truthful, is thrown out the window.

$8 billion is still a sizable chunk of change that does real economic damage.  Pumping it up from "problem" to "financial apocalypse" is a stupid move that damages their entire argument way more than just presenting the smaller, more accurate number.  Now people will look at that and say to themselves: "Those rich movie studio fat cats fudge the numbers anyway, so it's not going to do any harm for me to download this movie, or pirate these songs."

I think the MPAA has stepped beyond being reformable, and must be dismantled and something completely new being built in its place.

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