I saw two movies this week, each anti-government in its own way: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and the Simpsons. The Harry Potter movie was more sophisticated and provided a wonderful look at the nature of bureaucracy, with the Ministry of Magic, driven by the usual fear and ignorance, taking over Hogwarts and wrecking the place with rules and regulations. It was a thrill to see the kids fight back and see the bureaucrats humiliated. A similar situation occurs in the Simpsons, with government plotting egregious actions against citizens and botching it at every step.
What surprised me about my experience this weekend, however, wasn’t the movies but the growth of pro-copyright propaganda, which has gone way beyond mere assertions of rights to actually threatening people at every step. There were no less than two large posters telling these nice people than they will be handcuffed, jailed, and fined to bankruptcy if they pull out a video camera. A very strange thing to see hints of the police state in a place of entertainment. The irony can’t be lost on any young person there, who knows that the movies we are watching can easily be downloaded from any pirate site, and yet, somehow, people keep paying to go to the theaters.
At some point, somethings got to give here. The police tactics will not work. They could end up actually hurting business (treating customers like criminals can do that). Meanwhile, the themes of the two movies I watched explained precisely why and how this war on piracy cannot work. The movie industry has to find a way to end this war peacefully.