In the last 24 hours, my indifference to SOPA and PIPA was essentially overridden by the torrent (pun intended) of anti-SOPA content streaming (also pun intended) through each and every communication medium.
Even the the sanctity of my email inbox was violated when one of my two email-subscribed blogs delivered a passionate plea for a free and open Internet. I’d done my best to ignore the issue.
What finally provided me with the necessary motivation to dig into the issue, however, was a tweet by Hollywood DP, Rodney Charters.
This was the first semblance of a pro-SOPA comment from anyone I respected. It was enough to get me to attempt reading the bill (utter failure) and eventually do the minimal amount of research required to draw a hasty and ill-informed conclusion.
And here it is.
The end of SOPA means the end of Hollywood.
1. SOPA appears to be dead (at least for now) and its demise illustrates that the people of the USA will not accept government regulation of Internet thievery if it could, in any way, effect their personal access online information. I think ultimately we just don’t trust our government or the public parties to justly administer Internet sanctions.
2.Digital media is expected to be cheap or free. Internet users aren’t willing to pay very much, if anything at all, for TV and movies online. The result is often piracy which, as Charters and others point out, is killing Hollywood.
3. Hollywood as we know it is in a downward spiral. The “cinema” experience isn’t selling. People won’t pay cinema prices for digital copies. The content is available for free if you don’t have moral qualms about pirating. This is all very bad news for this obscenely expensive art form. The cost of making quality TV and movies has gone up while profit margins have plummeted. SOPA and other bills like it are the industry’s last-ditch effort to save their hemorrhaging bottom line.
Everyone has an opinion on SOPA, and all of them seem to be either based on what the bill intended to accomplish or what it could have allowed. Who knows what actually would have happened, but I doubt it would have been what either side predicted.
To me, the SOPA saga is a just epitaph for an industry unwilling or unable to make the changes necessary to stay viable. Ten years from now, will anyone be able to produce a film with the imagination of Inception or the epic scale of The Lord of the Rings? Or will Hollywood just become an unrecognizable celebrity factory where reality TV stars replace actors?
I know that SOPA and PIPA had a slim-to-none chance of bringing back real profitability to the old Hollywood model, but I’m sad to see the closing credits of our most collaborative and incomprehensibly extravagant art form.