Seeing how our society has become so completely rooted in unreal, media-driven fantasy (including our TV news programming), one begins to notice the weird insistence of our culture to reimagine everyone as a special effects-enhanced, wish-fulfilling superhero… often completely nonsensically. Our police and military (Die Hard, G.I. Joe), our monsters (Twilight, Blade, Underworld), even Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny (Rise of the Guardians), are now hard-fighting action heroes. And Milla Jovovich, every time. Seriously: WTF?
But while we dreamily invent imaginary superheroes to save us, the gray rigors of real life continue to press in. Now our entertainment media, long a staple of the US economy, is beginning to feel the squeeze. The current hue and cry over the sad plight of our digital SFX industry, coupled with a recent redefinition of Constitutionally-guaranteed copyrights in the publishing industry, are symptoms that our entertainment industry— like every other American industry— is brazenly being off-shored.
Remember: the interests of authors and inventors are directly protected by the Constitution, which instructs Congress “to promote the progress of Science and the useful Arts by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Because a thriving and diverse literary and scientific culture is essential to the advancement of civilization in any democracy.
Last month our Supreme Court voted to reinterpret that clause: henceforth, cheap illegal foreign reprints of American books can be imported into the country in bulk by such defenders of American liberty as Walmart and its ilk. Why aren’t legions of armchair Constitutionalists up in arms over this blatant cannibalization of our domestic economy by the captains of our industry? Aren’t we the nation of Hollywood, of Broadway, of the Great American Novel? We’ve already lost our manufacturing— should we lose our lock on the production of our own entertainment media to cheaper foreign substitutes, we would be giving away one of the last things we’re really good at.
Why? Here’s a clue: recently, the all-powerful Disney Corporation got caught allegedly misappropriating copyrighted art off the Internet, uncaringly plastering it across their merch. Meanwhile, fans of the TV show Firefly are being persecuted by Fox for knitting and selling a certain style of hat resembling one worn by a character on that show, because Fox now wants to market the same product. I myself ran afoul of Lucas Arts a few years back when I— and hundreds of other t-shirt designers on Zazzle and CafePress— created “Han Shot First” t-shirts, back when that scathing sentiment was in vogue among Star Wars fans. UNTIL! Lucas Arts realized there was money to be made, George Lucas snapped his billionaire fingers, Zazzle and Cafe Press kowtowed to delete everybody else’s shirt designs, and Lucas Arts began selling their OWN version, effectively monetizing the dissatisfaction of their own fandom. That’s corporate hubris of the first water— misappropriating a slogan your company didn’t invent to adorn shirts BASHING YOUR OWN PRODUCT, then selling them back to your own angry fans.
Basically, corporations don’t care. They aren’t people— they are moneymaking machines in business to do one thing: make more money. If an image or item can be monetized, they want it. They only really care about copyright infringement and intellectual property law if it is “actionable,” i.e. if it might be proven against them in a court of law. If not, expect them to go right ahead without a moments hesitation.
If they can, they will. That’s corporate mentality 101. And corporate morality is an oxymoron.