Entropic Media

I’m a big fan of the ongoing writers’ strike. First off, it’s entertaining to see Elaine in the picket line, wearing a crappy pair of sweats and a sucking on a bottle of water. I also love the notion of Jay Leno delivering donuts to the strikers on his big, stupid Harley, like some kind of Hell’s Angel delivery boy.

But aside from the entertainment aspect, the strike represents a group of artists, standing up as one, proclaiming “We’re mad as hell, and we’re not gonna take it anymore!”

For those of you who aren’t pop culture zombies, the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) called for a writers strike after the production companies refused to renegotiate the writers’ wages. Of particular contention in the negotiation were the residuals of DVD and internet sales. Writers receive no compensation for material sold over the internet, and they only receive four cents from each DVD sold. The production studios claim these two forms of media are nothing more than promotional tools; meanwhile, the studios air fewer and fewer reruns, and rake in the cash on DVD and iTunes sales.

I’m a big fan of this strike, mainly because I’m a big fan of standing up to crappy organizations. And if this sounds vaguely communist, well, deal with it. Marx and Engels had some interesting stuff to say. Politically, I like to think of myself as a Repubocratitarian anyway.

I’d be tempted to call myself an independent, but those people are fucking nuts.

No, I support this strike simply because it’s another incident in a long line of incidents where a media company has lost control of its media. I find entropy entertaining, which, funnily enough, is the same reason I support file-sharing. The RIAA and the MPAA are suing the pants off of anyone they catch file-sharing not because they are losing money, or because file-sharers represent a true danger to their bottom lines, but more because file-sharers are usurping power away from the RIAA and MPAA. The current paradigm is breaking down, and no longer are the MPAA and RIAA the principal power-holders of their respective media.

And don’t give me that shit about stealing from artists. If you think that by downloading a CD from a torrent site you’re stealing a massive amount from an artist then think again. Most musicians get less than a dollar for each CD sale, and many of them get mere pennies. If you buy used CDs then they get nothing at all. No, if you want to support your favorite artist then go see them in concert, or buy some of their merchandise, because that’s where they really make their money. If you’re really serious about supporting the artist then use the money you saved not buying their grossly over-priced CD to buy a T-shirt at their concert.

Just as the writers now refuse to work, many musicians are beginning to get angry about this disproportionate profiteering on the part of the record labels and the RIAA. Trent Reznor will release the next NIN album sans production company and completely free on the internet. If you want, you’ll be able to buy a very high quality version of the album (higher quality than a CD) off of his website. Reznor also recently partnered with Saul Williams, and they released the album “The Inevitable Rise and Fall of Niggy Tardust” in the same manner (it’s an interesting album, and yes, I paid for it, just as I will the new NIN album). Radiohead just offered their new album for free, and many other artists have started realizing that they can bypass production companies altogether and sell their music at a much greater profit directly to the fans.

I’m glad the writers, and artists in general, are standing up and demanding that they receive adequate and fair prices for their art. Without the artists producing commercially viable products, the production companies wouldn’t exist in the first place. DVD sales have kept many studios in the black, and to hoard all that money away from the writers is reprehensible.

But as much as I enjoy watching the whole debacle, I hope they reach a resolution quickly. If new episodes of “The Daily Show” don’t start airing pretty soon, I’m gonna have to hire a psychiatrist to help me deal with all the bullshit in the world.

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