Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Chairman Rupert, piracy, and the joys of watching the adventures of Jim and Bob

(Above: the adventures of Jim and Bob, more fun than when I was terrified by the tales of Dick and Jane. Note the crude working clothes look of Jim and his desaturated lighting, and the warm glow surrounding Bob in his hip nineteen nineties yuppie look. And as for the split screen, yay, go seventies).

I'm always slow, but last night while cruising through Twentieth Century Fox's biopic Notorious, it was a close call as to whether Notorious B.I.G. or the anti-piracy trailer at the start of the show provided the most entertainment.

For you see the anti-piracy ad was a poignant story, told in a crisp "gone in sixty seconds" minute.

And what a story it was, all about Bob who bought his dvd in a store, so that it would sound and look perfect, while Jim bought his dvd in the streets, with the result that it looks and sounds shocking. Why they even provided "simulated footage" just to show how shocking it could look.

See Jim foolishly trying to play his illegal street DVD, possibly purchased from a drug addicted man with herpes and AIDS:

And worse Jim's dvd didn't make any sense. How it hurt their ears. What do you do when your ears are hurt?

Yes, you flinch.

Unlike Bob's DVD, which is legal, and which features an inane Bruce Willis in a semi-trailer being shot at by a jet fighter, which naturally makes perfect sense. Just like Die Hard 4.0 made perfect sense to ten year olds. (And so did The Day After Tomorrow).

See how happy Bob and his friends are. See the warm glow of Bob's pirate free home. How Bob's friends laugh with joy:

See what a happy family Bob's friends make. They look as charming as a Christmas tree:

So happy and neat and tidy, unlike evil pirates. And so pleased with their movie. Especially when Bruce flies a car through the air to crash into a chopper (yes folks you know the movie, and wow, it made such Wittgenstein sense, I felt like a PhD in philosophy right after seeing it).

Now see how Bob's friend loves to engage with Bob. Who knows what might happen after Bob's shown his certified Hollywood approved movie? No children, let's stick to the story. Just look at the pictures:

See how eager she looks. But why's the man's eyes closed? Sssh children, sheesh extras.

Now look closely. Jim's wretched dvd has subtitles on it and seems vaguely foreign in origin. Perhaps it's the cheese eating perfidious Icelanders at work again, smearing ugly fish entrails all over genuine American product.

Why it's a simulated image. And so clever.

But perhaps the most tragic moment occurs when Bob's dvd really helps his social life - it brings all his friends closer - while Jim's dvd turns his life into a social nightmare, a bit like Larry David trying to win back Cheryl. Because it makes all his friends disappear.

See Jim's unhappy friends in Jim's cold, clammy room. How they hate having to get their clothes from Sears:

See what a lame loser Jim is, with bonus graphic:

Are you a loser, or are you Chairman Rupert approved?

What's most startling about this truly moronic trailer - a gift from Chairman Rupert to lighten your mood - is that it looks like one of those "Reefer Madness" shows they used to produce in the nineteen fifties. Complete with animated green thumbs up and red thumbs down, just to make sure mid-western folk work out which way the message is supposed to be going.

Of course one look at an avi file downloaded from the internet and you know the ad is gibberish. One look at a full rip of a dual layer disc transferred complete and whole to another dual layer disc, and you know the ad is not just gibberish, it's insanely silly.

It's a bit like adults warning kids about the dangers of alcohol while pausing for a hit of scotch in the middle of the lecture. It's almost an invitation to try out the forbidden fruit. If Bob is that lame, and Jim that inept, why even a ten year old could do better.

How does the industry think this kind of inane trailer will do anything to combat piracy? It makes it a matter for comedy and laughter, and anyone who's vaguely hip or nerdish will immediately feel like going out and stealing a movie, just as payback.

Sadly I have only a few barely feasible explanations:

(a) Stephen Conroy has been employed by News Corp as a deep cover expert in anti-piracy techniques, after developing his expertise with internet filters. He wrote, scripted and produced the ad while undercover, and now will return to his day job, warning everyone about the dangers of the intertubes.

(b) Instead of Conroy, they hired Krusty the Clown from the Simpsons. And he put his heart and soul into his work.

(c) Instead of Krusty, they hired an Australian maker of sponsored drama documentaries, trained at Film Australia in the nineteen seventies.


I hope at some point you get to see it, because it's so much more fun that the other trailer that's been run ad nauseam about comparing intellectual property theft with bag snatching.

Sadly, it seems that the film industry is poised and ready - to replicate the music industry's dumb stupidity when it came to dealing with its customers on the matter of IP theft.

Yet what do I read on that portal of portals, That revenue from digital music sales is on track to equal that of physical sales of CDs as early as 2010 in the United States and by 2016 world wide (here).

What a pity it took the music industry a decade to work out they'd be better off in the business of selling and engaging with customers, than being run by a pack of vindictive, vengeful, profoundly dumb lawyers.

Okay, note to Fox, which forms part of the same food chain as when it comes to the grand vision of Chairman Rupert and News Corp.

Don't make dorky comedies about how your social life will improve if you put on a legit dvd. Sure people will laugh, but they'll be laughing at you, not with you.

Try pricing, quality of product, ease of use and access, and alternative delivery methods, and do your level best to forget about the absolute disaster which was Blu-ray in terms of a launch, by making the format cheap rather than a way of returning Sony some return on capital - a reward for virtually ruining the disc industry with its civil war on Toshiba.

Get onside with consumers instead of hectoring them with dumb ads. You have a good product, work out ways to beat the pirates by quality and price of product. It's actually the convenience - with quality - that are the key selling points, not lame attempts to pretend that you'll end up with a social disaster. Nerds don't have friends anyway.

Second thoughts, since I'm too out and unhip to worry about any of this, thanks for the trailer. It made our screening, everybody demanded repeat viewings, people left in a good mood - just like Bob's friends - and we all felt great catching up with the latest in movie marketing trends and feel good commercials.

We immediately settled down to watch an episode of Mad Men. So sixties, so hip and blowing so much smoke ...

(Below: oh and finally and at last, a message from our sponsors. Unreal dude, surreal).

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