This issue is not a matter of economics, it’s a matter of self.
DRM NOTE: I haven’t had the luxury of doing a nice, well thought-out post in a long while. I really should do more of this, it’s much better for the mind.
I read the news regarding the Japanese government issuing pleas for help to America for help with their rampant bit-swapping problems. Initially, I waved it off, knowing how Japan has always been unable to enact such laws in the past. Still, with the recent spate of otaku crackdowns and destruction of their hangouts, I waited with bated breath for the inevitable discussion, flamefests and jiggery pokery at the ANN forums.
I did not like what I read. People throwing out the same pro-fansub propoganda drivel, Zac being a pompous ass and muttering about how fansubs have become too big for their own good, people slinging lies and whatnot about BOTH SIDES of the argument, in short, it’s the sort of idiocy that happens everywhere.
However, while both sides are slowing turning into what could be termed a slightly more mature form of “my view is better than your view” circular argument, I read the whole discussion. Zac hits back at how the system is broken. He quips:
Here’s a tip: say like within 6 months or so you watch 9-10 26 or 13-episode series fansubbed and, after dedicating hours and hours of your life to watching this stuff and discussing it on the internet, always downloading more and more, you decide to spend $30 on a thinpak boxset on the one series you decided you liked enough to pay for… the system is broken.
I realized he’s extremely disillusioned with the entire community and industry as a whole. And who wouldn’t be, seeing as the whole community is slowly becoming a circlejerk with no hope for redemption, salvation or even a cure. The pro-fansub pedants keep going about how it is THEIR RIGHT to download Japanese animation just because they can’t get it fast enough/too poor/bad quality/dubs suck/whatever is the excuse of the day, the pro-industry people going on about how fansubs WILL kill the industry eventually, corporations refusing to look beyond their myopic views…
I don’t blame Zac for being disillusioned. In fact, I actually feel the same way about the whole thing too. Yes 4chan, I am empathize with the enemy here. Y’see, fansubbing wasn’t about the amount of leechers one group got, or about the friggen’ drama, or the quality of releases, or the feel-good feeling. It was about promoting a alternative lifestyle that was not just interesting, but also created a close-knit community that was just as wholesome as any group-based activity.
How did such altruism turn into the black, sticky cesspool of elitism, circlejerking, self-serving dung it is today? To be honest, I don’t know. However, I think I can venture a guess, based off human behavior and history.
History has always been rife with traitors, bad people, assassins, dirty politicians and their ilk. In the play Julius Caesar, ol’ Caesar was stabbed in the back by his second-hand man. Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot. Some of the Egyptian kings were murdered in power ploys they didn’t foresee. The Jews, failing to heed the words of Moses and the prophets, backslided into greed and power, wanting to free themselves from a rather generous Roman occupation of Israel.
In a sense, the fansubbing community was a lot like the Jews in the times of the New Testament. Originally created for a higher purpose, it slowly backslided into what we see today: Grabs for power, recognition, and heck, money. The similarities I can draw from these two events, spaced 2000+ years apart from each other, is frightening.
From all that, I realized one thing: the whole issue of fansubbing had, slowly, and unknowingly, became an issue about self. In fact, the whole filesharing debate can be summed up in one sentence: It is about self.
Let’s get our heads out of the past and into the present.
I’m quite sure the bitter memory of ODEX is still in the heads of many. I’ll use that to illustrate what I have to say.
Now, I live in Singapore, as you all know. Censorship of media is pretty rampant, it’s nearly impossible to get shows locally (and what is available, it’s of such low quality not even a loanshark would touch it, and the main company was founded on unethical standards) , and should you import, the poor sod might not even get what he ordered.
Given such circumstances, do you think I have a good reason to act like a dirty pirate and indiscriminately grab what I like? I know most of you will answer yes, I have every right to do so, but I’m sorry. The answer is, “NO.” Why? Simply because a reason is not an excuse.
Let’s see the reasons for downloading stuff off the Internet in my case, eh?
- ODEX is a shitty company
- Too pricey
- Not value-for-money
- Buying merchandise is supporting the industry
- Can’t get it here, must fly to Japan
- No money
- It is my right to do so
- The law does not explicitly say it’s illegal
I could use any of these reasons to justify my actions, and I’d still be not wholly to blame.
What kind of a fucked-up society would allow such lousy reasons and flimsy defenses to exonerate such crimes? I’ll tell you what kind of society it is. It is a society where no one will be held accountable for what they do, as long as they have a made-up excuse to back it up. It’s the same society that allows flimsy evidence like IP addresses to be used in a court of law as HARD EVIDENCE to defend CORPORATE GREED. It’s also the same society when a bigot is praised for destroying the community and the one protecting it gets called a hypocrite. Sickening isn’t it?
In order to fufill selfish desires, we have turned society into the cesspool of dung it is today, where organizations and companies like the RIAA and ODEX to fuck with the innocent while the real perpatrators get away scot-free and do the same crime until someone kills them.
This is the problem we have today: people care more about themselves than others. This is the truth. You see it everyday on the streets, in the news, on the Internet. Why is there war? It’s because someone wants to fulfill their selfish ideal. The whole filesharing/internet piracy fiasco? IT’S BECAUSE WE ARE SELFISH PRICKS. Unlike DarkMirage and his supposed “attempts” to “help the community”, this is the real truth, and I’ll stick to it no matter what.
The truth is, no one cares about anybody anymore. Companies exploit the proles for short-term profit shared between a few people. Information gets shared because people don’t want to pay a single cent for it. People want all the benefits, without all the responsibilities. I think Gregory Koukl said it right when he said this:
If I would identify a single trend with regard to the issue of justice and moral health in our society, the one that I would put my finger on is a form of moral relativism: people are no longer responsible for their actions. Someone else is always responsible. Your parents are responsible. Society is responsible. Your upbringing is responsible. Your genes are responsible. Your chemistry is responsible. It’s the chocolate you ate this morning or the pizza you had last night or the difficult circumstances that you grew up with. All of these things, these inanimate things that can’t be punished themselves are all to blame. And people, moral creatures who make moral choices, are not the ones to blame. Therefore, it’s inappropriate to punish them.
It’s about time someone realizes that we must give to Caesar what belongs to him. Zac, the system is indeed broken, but it’s not about the system, it’s about the people. They are the broken ones. They broke the system. The system is broken because people are broken and the community would like it to stay broken so that it hides their misdeeds.
Gah, I can’t write anymore. I think I rambled on for quite a bit somewhere in the middle.
Related reading material:
An interesting writeup on the early days of fansubbing.
An interesting writeup on the state of society today.