Digital Revolution: Discussing the Greedy and the Ungoverned, And Entertainment as prelude to War!

I feel a rant a’ coming.

You new to the blog may want to skip this one. You old timers… jump in… the water is like you like it, deep and treacherous. :) .

Or be mollified by the following disclaimer:

This is an imaginary story. The following is all fiction except for the parts that are true… I leave you to determine the one from the other…


There are a lot of great things about the digital revolution, not the least of which is the ubiquitousness of content. Which makes this sense of foreboding I have about the coming bad, a bit troubling.

I think you have… to have been around before cable, before on demand, before 500 channels, before DVD or CD, before Internet household presence, before even the home computer to truly appreciate just how amazing are the strides made in many areas, not least of which is the creation and dissemination… of entertainment and information.

If you are a movie fan you can, without leaving your house, have at your viewing pleasure just about every film made in the last 100+ years of cinema. More, you can have films from multiple nations, multiple languages easily subtitled into your language.

As a film fan who was around during the age of VHS, I remember that just locating a cult or foreign film was a HUGE production. You had to find those resellers/stores often in the back of magazines, send away for the catalog, then order the film.

And with the Internet it made that search a bit easier. Allowing you to stumble across someone’s site who had a VHS movie you were looking everywhere for. And you would get the VHS tape, and it would be a third generation, copy of a copy, really not good quality, but at the time— you were just elated to have it, and be able to see this film that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

It was that way with everything: Books, records, cassettes, lps, and then Laserdiscs DVDs and CDs. The Internet being a huge way for resellers to connect with buyers. And fly by night companies came and went.

But a few questionable startups, Ebay and Amazon among them, grew legs and found themselves not just a fad, but soon a fixture of this Internet phenomenon. And all these shaky startups, these microsofts and apples …these cowboys that proliferated in a time before software patents and lawsuits to stifle competition, began to thrive.

Suddenly content in digitized formats, and the explosion of storage capacity created an age of ready access, on demand availability, of almost everything.

Great. Wonderful. Beautiful. I mean this has allowed for the rise of podcasts, one of the greatest audio revivals since the dawn of radio. And if you’re an Itunes or Hulu or patron, it’s just opened up the history of entertainment to anyone with an Internet connection and the desire to explore. That’s the great part, That’s the wonderful part of the digital revolution.

Here’s the bad part. The digital revolution is not being driven by quality concerns or for love of the medium, it is being embraced by decision makers because of two reasons 1/cost savings and 2/control.

I understand both those things in moderation, but moderation is a word that business doesn’t really practice. Cost savings has come to mean some suspect things, two of the most disturbing is the replacement of physical media, and part and parcel of that… is the elimination of the reseller.. the middleman.

I like resellers, I like mom and pop shops, I like middlemen, and I think gearing an economy to do away with that whole part of the conversation, is to gear the economy to in essence do away with a middle class of any kind. It is gearing an economy toward those who own and those who work and pay— landowners and serfs with no middle ground.

And a lot of people think nothing of it, because it’s just book stores, or comic stores, or DVD stores closing. But let’s extend the same thing to McDonald’s.

What if automation tomorrow allowed McDonald’s to do away with the middleman, the franchises?

What if they could get the food to you the consumer without going through a middleman? Say click a button on your laptop, and the food teleports into your hands, whatever. Stay with me here. Because technology gives you the ability to do something, should you do that thing? Is that thing necessarily the best thing for your company, your customer, your economy?

That’s a heck of a question, and I don’t pretend to have the answers. But what I’m saying when it comes to the digital revolution with books, dvd, cds, and the thousands of stores and businesses and millions of employees we are making obsolete, I feel as though no one is even asking the obvious questions, among them… ‘Should we do it this way?’

I feel big business is not looking beyond their own pockets, to see see what is best for their customers and their country. And that’s a very nationalistic thing to expect of a company, to think in terms of their country. But considering our congress in its infinite wisdom allows companies to actually have a say in drafting the laws of a country, ie basically gives to companies greater rights than citizens, I think it’s not too much to ask from those companies the loyalty of citizens.

And those companies that cannot, for whatever reason of conflict or commerce, think in terms of what is best for America— should not have the right to lobby our Congress and make laws for America.

So I view these companies making these grandiose and sweeping changes to America, without regard for the good or ill it will bring… as a great danger for our nation. For any nation. To have someone who has no concern for your nation, making policy in your nation… leads us to the world outside our door.

From gas at $4 a gallon to Americans struggling to keep their homes.

And entertainment is part of it as well.

The elimination of physical media plays into this, creating a market where there is nothing to resell, and worse… nothing to really own. So no need for your favorite DVD reseller, because DVDs are being prepared for the pasture.

You want to view this film, you buy it digitally from the studio for the price they set, and in the absence of any ability to resell– their price is unmoderated by a free market. In other words they can charge whatever they think the market can bear.

While a lot of people embrace this idiocy that a company’s only priority is to generate more income for their stockholders, that’s flawed thinking that led to our recent market melt-down. It comes back to what I said, about a company working withing a nation, has the same inherent priorities as a citizen within that nation…and that is to do no harm to that nation.

And more and more, the actions of companies working within sovereign shores is to do nothing but harm, is to shatter economies, devastate populations, victimize neighborhoods. Actions that if done by someone not hiding behind the mask of incorporation… we would call… acts of terror.

I’m saying that the joys of itunes today, and Amazon kindle today, and digital comics today, and Warner on Demand today, extrapolated on their 25 year plans into tomorrow… points the way to an America completely shorn of any gradations between the few ultra rich oligarchies and the masses of struggling poor.

I’m saying a war of economies, without fail… drives far more literal and bloody wars.

I’m saying don’t be so quick to jump on the bandwagon of eliminating DVDs, eliminating CDs, eliminating physical books, eliminating middle men— because you’re going to find that in a society shorn of middle men to moderate the greed and abuses of those on the top to those on the bottom, the joys of immediate gratification today, will spell the horrors of rampant price gouging, inflation, and poverty tomorrow.

And in the absence of true ownership (digital, in reality of how it is disseminated, being something that is rented… not owned), suddenly you may find those 99cent prices give way to $99 dollar prices, when you have allowed them to destroy or outlaw all other ways of you getting that product.

And how long before some products, are deemed unacceptable to make viewable via streaming or priced out of being readily available for viewing.

Historically, ethnically diverse items are oft at risk for obsolescence through marginalization. The most politically active films of Ousmane Sembene (CEDDO, CAMP DE THIAROYE, and GUELWAAR) never received DVD releases in his lifetime, and to this day are still not available on DVD (THIAROYE had a spotty release before disappearing).

Rather than freeing films and filmmakers from the tyranny of commerce (which digital has the potential to do), under the auspices of the greedy and the ungoverned you’ll see more marginalization and more control over the ideas disseminated to the masses.

So the lesson? Not to allow these companies, Itunes/Apple, Sony, Disney, Microsoft, Netflix, Time Warner, etc… to be ungoverned.

And how much is our entertainment a smokescreen for our aggressions? How much is our entertainment, the last, best drug, or the last, best cheerleader, for the aggressions of our time?

And how much do our aggressions allowed, ignored, take out of America?

The reports of America’s decline are rampant. They are in every aspect of our everyday life, the skyrocketing inflation that has destroyed many a nation before America, is all throughout America.

But our eyes in America, are filled and dazzled and misdirected… by such false fire, that the obvious becomes… indistinct. Almost invisible.

But not quite. If you take the time to look, the signs are there.

In-fact once you are looking in the right direction, (‘got my mind right boss’) the signs are clear and present. America is well on the way to becoming a third world nation, it is being pushed to these ends.

I said pushed.

With your tax dollars, and the blood of your children… the rich have just spent the last few decades pacifying (ie invading and toppling) African/Middle Eastern nations and carving a new western acceptable pleasure nation for themselves, an entertainment nation, where all the studios are in a hurry to setup shop, and a middle East Disney World and Marvel World and all the 3D rides and luxury and cinematic excess you can want is being built there. It is called Abu Dhabi, this paradise, and it is being built over the bodies of the massacred.

Infact, a cynical man might even say it’s very similar to the way, in the wake of World War II, the allied forces led by the US and Britain, set up the Israel state, by pretty much massacring the millions of Jews and Arabs and Nomads, who already lived in that region.

And yeah I did say Jews. We weren’t just killing Arabs to setup Israel. The region was already home to Jews, who lived without issue, for generations next door to Arabs. Unfortunately most of them weren’t Western acceptable Jews, they weren’t European Jews… that is to say they were Black.

So these Jews, and Arabs, and Nomads woke up one day to find the rest of the world was calling their home Israel, and they weren’t invited to the house warming. And then the missiles came.

So similarly the Middle East we’re bombing into existence today, is being done so, over blood both ancient and irreplaceable. All so that the rich have a place to vacation… while America burns.

I’m such a cheery, glass half full guy aren’t I?

But seriously, it begins simply. As all our falls do.

It begins with a laugh.

With you laughing with them. With the ones who will eviscerate you.

It begins with us rolling over the simple rights of the many for the grandiose greed of the few.

So… don’t make it easy.


At every step, ask of them and ask of yourself… ‘Who profits from this and who loses?’. And by your answer to that question, will you know the nature of your nation and the nature of yourself.

And by your answer to that question… be ruled.

Here endeth the lesson.


Woah! Only here on this blog, can you go from digital disenfranchisement to the fall of nations. :) And even crazier is— the line between the two should be ridiculous, it should feel far-fetched. It should feel… ludicrous.

But it doesn’t.

It should feel like a laugh. But it doesn’t.

It I have to be perfectly honest, it feels like…

It feels like we’re running out of time.

Great, Awful and Inexplicable Comic Book Covers of the Day! and The Mouse cries out No Hiding Place!?!

    Great, Awful and Inexplicable Comic Book Covers of the Day!

Let’s start with the great which there aren’t too many of in the last 30 days. In fact there is only one:

Dynamite’s BIONIC MAN. A great Alex Ross cover. Plus while I’m no fan of DYNAMITE ($3.99 is too much to charge for a comic) I think they are getting shafted in this lawsuit. What lawsuit?

Dynamite is being sued for selling John Carter comics. Yeah, yeah I know officially it says ERB, the Burrough’s estate, is suing Dynamite, but the timing begs to differ. This has Disney’s fat fingers all over it. Those books have been out for nearly a year, odd that ERB would only get a hair up their nose once Disney’s movie was hitting theaters.

I don’t believe in coincidence. Not when greed and money are in the air. Smells like a big company leaned over to ERB and said sue em… we got your back. :)

Here’s the thing companies like Disney are trying to gut the concept of public domain. Sure Dynamite didn’t pay the Burroughs Estate to use John Carter. Here’s the thing… they shouldn’t have to. John Carter is public effing domain. The fifty years is ended (now extended to 75, utter bs) that means anyone and everyone should be able to produce John Carter of Mars books or comics or movies.

This doesn’t stop the heirs from producing their version and continuing to leech off their ancestor’s creativity. But neither should it stop Dynamite from producing their version. And may the best version get the readers. That’s free enterprise.

But nooooooo, companies like effing Disney, that owns ABC and everything else under the frigging sun just make up the laws as they go. Whatever happened to monopoly laws?… huh President? huh Congress? huh Supreme Court? Damn sell-outs!

Disney should have been put on the rack and broken into an effing million pieces years ago. But it’s never too late for a good idea. :) .God I hate that company, I’ve hated it since I was a little kid, they are everything that is wrong with this country. Greed First. Uber Alles.

(ohhhh, I remember the first time my parents took me to Disney World and I saw that damn Mouse! All the other blind simpering sheep were cooing over the fat Rat. Not me!! Seven Years old I grabbed a brick and went after him! “Run B*tch! Run!!” You should have seen that rat run—- Ahh, Good times , Good times! :).)

So these companies are using bogus trademark to undermine copyright laws. It’s utter bs, and if allowed to stand it will just rob us of any shared cultural history that we do not have to pay a corporate entity to use or even mention. It is utter garbage. I hope Marvel/Disney chokes on their greed and dies. Goddamn Disney! I’ve always hated that Mouse!… Okay, I’m calm now.


Moving on….

    Under the heading awful:

Any comic book that has AVENGERS or X-MEN on the cover. I have never burnt a book in my life, but seeing the glut of AVENGERS and X-MEN titles, I can see the appeal of a bonfire. And no doubt it’s some of my Disney hate still filtering down.

I’m working on it.

Most racist company on the friggin planet… and it makes children’s entertainment. Please, spare me. Anytime people mention Disney to me I want to hurt em.

“But didn’t you like BAMBI?” Hell no! Waste good Venison? What are you… stark raving mad?!!


Now I’m calm. :) .

    Under the heading of Inexplicable is the following:

What the heck is going on in this cover? And what ever it is, the person on the cover seems a bit young looking to be in that pose. Maybe it’s just me.

Well that’s all for this installment of GREAT, AWFUL and INEXPLICABLE. Yall come back now ya here?! Except the mouse lovers…. I still got the brick!!! :).

The Coming of a Lone Ranger! Johnny Depp Movie Pic!

Just going by this pic, I can see why they delayed this flick. It looks laughable. Johnny Depp looks moronic, and the guy playing Lone Ranger looks… silly. He looks like a kid playing dress-up rather than a bad-ass ranger, who would ride alone into hell.

Hopefully this pic is misleading, as I really would like to see a good Lone Ranger film. Though are there like no Native American actors? Because Johnny Depp playing Tonto just seems to stress the parody nature of that picture, rather than trying to play the film straight.

Yet another wait and see flick.


OLD MAN LOGAN- One of the reasons I’m just now getting around to reading this graphic novel has to do with Marvel Comic’s piss poor pricing. The individual issues of Marvel Comics I gave up reading/caring about years ago when most of them…

A/ reached $3.99 in price for less than a couple dozen pages of story and

B/filled the issues with ads that broke up the story (rather than the Independent comics way of placing ads, if any, at the back of the magazine) and

C/ did away with the letters pages/backmatter.

So generally speaking I take a wait and see approach to anything coming from this company. If the buzz/hype is positive I’ll check the book out in trade, providing even in trade format I’m not paying more than $3 per issue. The OLD MAN LOGAN hardcover at $35 retail, clocks in at nearly $4.50 per issue. I call shenanigans on that.

So I basically refused to buy the book until I could get it at a price point I was willing to pay, or rent it from the library. In this case the former scenario popped up, allowing me to purchase OLD MAN LOGAN for $14. At that price, the book is worth every penny.

Now getting beyond the politics of pricing, what did I think of the book itself? It’s AWESOME!!! I am not a Mark Millar fan, being not a fan of his previous ENEMY OF THE STATE Wolverine storyline, I find he can be a very hit and miss writer. Often sensationalism for sensationalism’s sake. but when he dials it back a bit, and stops trying to be the shock jock, and plays in a more mainstream pool, he can tell good stories.

And OLD MAN LOGAN is case in point. It is by no means anything deep, and at times goes too ludicrous, but overall he tells a big grandiose, absurd, post apocalyptic story, Superhero tale as a western of all things, and it just works. Particularly to someone like me who came up on the same stories that informs Millar’s work, his crazy quilt dystopian future hits all the right buttons to garner much ‘gosh’ and ‘oh gee’ enthusiasm. The art by Steve McNiven is rough, stocky, almost off-putting, but it serves the story.

It’s a loud boisterous unsubtle tale, that while nothing new under the sun, works because it gives us familiar characters in unfamiliar situations. Yet another variation of Star Trek’s MIRROR MIRROR or X-Men’s DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, and those variations, more often then not are enjoyable.

And OLD MAN LOGAN, flaws acknowledged is enjoyable.

And to speak on its flaws a bit, the biggest flaw with this book, is the big flaw most writers make, be it Millar or Jason Aaron, when writing Wolverine. They think character and cool translates into ever more egregious ways of showing Wolverine mutilated. All that type of ‘storytelling’ shows me is, the character of Wolverine is a piss poor soldier, that relies too much on the crutch of a healing factor.

What is cooler… a buffoon who gets shot in the face every other page, or a fast fluid killer who you can’t touch, and you don’t even know he has a healing factor, cause that’s how rarely he needs it? I’d vote for the latter. The latter seems the more formidable protagonist. A protagonist that… when on the rare occasions he does get tagged and comes back, it is a moment with real weight.

All these writers in trying to outdo each other in more, more, more, gives the character of Logan/Wolverine nowhere to go. And unfortunately Millar is as guilty of that as every writer since Claremont in trying to make the character of Wolverine into some unkillable badass, who can kill every other superhero. It’s a bit lazy, and bs.

Let’s put it in the perspective of the fictional conceit that has been setup, he’s a dude with claws, and a temper. An interesting character, a scrapper to be sure, but trying to define him as more than that, in a world of God’s and Giants doesn’t ring true (he’s a Spiderman or Daredevil level hero, not in the league of a Thor or Hulk or IronMan). When Claremont was writing him in his Miller and Paul Smith days, as a secret agent/ronin, is the Wolverine character at his best, and most relateable.

Millar’s take on the guy as someone who is by himself going to take out a room full of heroes or villains is bs. But that said, you go into the story accepting the conceit, go with the outlandish premise, just turn your higher brain functions off, and it’s an enjoyable enough romp as a standalone story.

All in all this tale of an older Wolverine in a world where the villains have won and he has hung up his claws. Is imaginative, if absurd entertainment. Grade: B+.

OLD MAN LOGAN HC— Price your copy Here!

Just Say No to WINDOWS 8!!! or Star Trek, Al Capone, Linux, Apple and Terrorism!

The snazzy logo courtesy of LinuxBird here.

“The acquisition of wealth is not our prime motivation, we seek to better ourselves.”

That paraphrasing of Patrick Stewart’s dialogue from the film STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT, is central to Gene Roddenberry’s enduring mythos, his conceit of a world… beyond greed.

I think as mission statements go, as core beliefs go… that is as good a one for the human race as I can think of.

“The acquisition of wealth is not our prime motivation, we seek to better ourselves.”

However with the move to an industrial society at the launch of the 20th century, and the gutting of the previous agrarian/barter model, the acquisition of wealth, the consolidation of wealth, became the driving theme of the 20th century.

And it’s no coincidence that the 20th century also became the bloodiest in the history of the world, though clearly the 21st century is on fast track for supplanting it. Never in the history of the world, have so many, died so quickly, from nuclear weapons, to biological weapons, to push button wars, and all of it driven by the 20th century deification of money.

Not to say money is not felt throughout other centuries, but not to the global, and near religious personification, that the pursuit of wealth became with the 20th century, it has become idol absolute of an entire world.

But the 21st century with concepts such as peer to peer, open source, social networking, was poised to create a model for the 21st century. A model that akin to Roddenberry’s dream, could very much usurp the industrial model, just as the industrial model had usurped the Agrarian model.

The age of technology, open technology, had it, and has it in its grasp, to bring us more in line with this slightly Utopian concept, of life lived for improvement and discovery, rather than accumulation and subjugation.

But the dinosaurs, The Microsofts, the RIAAs, the Sonys, the Disneys, have co-opted, and outlawed, and sued, and bullied and terrorized the new hope, all so they may maintain… the old terror.

Scared Dinosaurs, holding humanity back… from visionary new days. Companies,courts, and politicians… and their paid enforcement arms, all working so hard to hold onto the bloody old, all working so hard not to evolve.

Microsoft and their setting up of the DMCA, and their last couple of years of buying their way into the open-source movement, worming their way into ‘helping’ with the open-source movement, particularly Linux, all so they could destroy and extort the movement from within.

You see this on the mobile side, where their various mobile Window initiatives cannot compete with Apple or Android. They now are extorting money from companies that do utilize Android on the basis of ridiculous and innovation killing software patents.

(It’s largely recognized that Software Patents are a lunacy that need to be done away with)

It is the act of a gangster and a thug, and if IBM was allowed to act like this in the 80s there would have been no Microsoft and no Apple, because these actions exterminate free enterprise and innovation.

Microsoft has spent the last twenty years burning every bridge and every freedom, that they themselves utilized in order to be innovative and initially successful, and now completely outlawing those liberties, indeed those necessities, for companies other than themselves.

Microsoft’s time has passed. They are a dinosaur using terror and intimidation to extort customers they can no longer earn with quality. They are no different than a 20th century Capone, selling liquor and protection at the barrel of a gun.

And Windows 7 was an improvement over Vista, they had ‘borrowed’ enough of the concepts and look from other operating systems to make it one. But that said, Windows 7 was and is still inferior to any half decent Linux Distribution.

So just as they are committing extortion against Android on the mobile front, on the Desktop/Server front they are dealing with the brilliance and the growth of Linux, that is now ready for prime-time, ready to be the next big thing, to replace the sick, twisted, decaying, and immoral dinosaur that Microsoft has become…. they are dealing with this fresh beautiful new thing, by basically collaborating with hardware vendors to KILL the very ability to install Linux operating systems on your computer. They are so afraid of Linux they want to make it impossible for you to even install it on YOUR computer.

It is so sad and pathetic, that it is almost funny.

Again what if IBM had done that to them, Microsoft and Apple? We would, as a society, be the poorer for it. And we are going to be the poorer for it if we allow Microsoft to continue to get away with dismantling any innovative idea or company they can’t compete with.

Can you understand? For Microsoft to do this, for a tech, for a software person, for someone with a rudimentary concept of how companies like Microsoft and Apple came to be, it is a betrayal of not just everything that is the technology movement, it is an attack on innovation and free enterprise that must stand as one of the most blatant and disgusting that I have ever witnessed.

It is a crime. As great a crime, in its way, as US drone airplanes killing indiscriminatingly in darker lands, so that a white press can gloat about another bounty collected, another arab, another nigger dead.

Though they don’t dress it, this 21st century crusade, in those crude terms, any more then Microsoft dresses its actions as what it is, a bloody monopoly committed to eradicating your option to choose.

“Pay us or else!” That’s how business talks to consumers in the 21st century. And it is a form of war. Less bloody to be sure, but the repercussions of what it can mean to freedoms subtle and gross… is staggering.

And I… am not having it.

I haven’t used Windows in my personal computer in 3 to 4 years. I fix Windows machines and work on them for other people, but for myself Linux is the only OS/distribution I deal with. I love the freedom of it, the very thing Microsoft is working so hard to legalize and sue and intimidate away.

I’m not going back to Microsoft. And to those companies that they are intimidating, extorting, bullying, I can only tell you what I would tell anyone being bullied… you start letting people push you, and they are never going to stop.

You have to stand against them.

And maybe you win, and maybe you lose. But you teach them to pay for every foot of ground. You give them a bloody nose, and win, lose or draw… it will give them pause.

Microsoft is a pathetic, barren, immoral, and worst of all inferior and scared technology company, and they are standing in the way of a better life…for everyone.

They are protecting the rotting, diseased old, when what it is time for… is the new.

And if you’re a company, and have been on the Microsoft merry-go-round it’s scary to consider getting off of it, but it is infinitely scarier to stay at the mercy of an immoral monopoly.

There are viable open source alternatives to Microsoft’s over priced crap.

Explore them.

Not only for your own sake, but for something companies start out believing in, but lose along the way, for the sake… of progress.

That’s an idea that Microsoft gave up on, a long time ago.

“The acquisition of wealth is not our prime motivation, we seek to better ourselves.”

It’s the only goal, that will save us from all this blood.

If you’re a subscriber to this blog and want help ditching Microsoft and finding something that works for you, reach out to me… and we’ll find an answer that works for you.

We’ll be a new age Untouchables, facing the tyranny that is Microsoft’s Capone.

And maybe we win, and maybe we lose. But my God, we’ll give them reason to pause.

Here endeth the Lesson.

What if Disney owned the Rights to Shakespeare or Why current copyright law… fails.

I love Archive.Org.

It is just, I think, a brilliant resource for uploading, downloading, and preserving the history of mass media.

That said there are some scumbags, content trolls, that have nothing better to do than flag any movie, audio, text that gets posted. I mean, get a real job/life. The ad nauseum copyright extensions that recent law allows any corporate goon to get away with, extending copyright from the very reasonable 50 years, to now 75 years at the minimum really puts at risk things such as a cultural identity.

Some concepts, if they are strong enough, endure enough, then by virtue of time they become part of the popular lexicon, part of the gestalt, and as such become everyone’s stories, become public domain.

This is why anyone can do an Edgar Allen Poe Adaptation, or a Robin Hood or Camelot film, or Hercules, or Shakespeare, etc; because these concepts became part of the larger conversation.

And we as a society, a global society, are the better for these concepts being able to be interpreted by future generations in diverse ways through diverse mediums. And more, creators can use these properties without being priced out of the game or paying exorbitant licensing fees to greedy conglomerates, gate-keepers, that 99.9% of the time had NOTHING TO DO with the creation of the properties they have bought up and put under lock and key.

Realistically ‘Mickey Mouse’ should no longer be under copyright, ‘Super Man’ should not be under copyright, ‘Batman’ should not be under copyright, ‘Captain America’ should not be under copyright, ‘The Shadow’ should not be under copyright. Half the creations of the 20th century should not be under copyright.

Copyright was designed for 50 years to allow the creator (the creator, an individual, not a corporation) to make sole income from this creation for that period, and after that period that creation would enter the public domain.

Not saying the creator can’t still use and profit from that character, but saying that after 50 years if that character/concept is still in the language, if as nothing more than a catchphrase, as Superman is used in songs, then it has outgrown the confines of sole ownership, and has become part of the larger cultural conversation and the global language, and anyone should be able to use that concept.

Public domain contains the idea that concepts are a living, changing thing, that require liberty to continue that process of evolving and being valid to new generations.

But no, instead corporations have bent over our congress repeatedly, and now you have the idea of public domain as an inconvenience that can be sidestepped and denied by corporations by ever more egregious extensions.

I think that’s wrong. Just as wrong as allowing corporations to have more say in a nation than its citizens. As wrong as allowing corporations to lobby our congress and have laws passed as if they were the people of a nation, rather than what they, unchecked, too often are… the parasites.

My considered opinion on Copyright? After its set run, formerly 50 years, copyright should not be extended.

No extensions. Particularly not for corporations. Not for Disney. Not for Time Warner.

Again this is not saying Disney can’t continue to use Mickey Mouse, or Time Warner can’t continue to use Superman, it just says that anyone else can use that concept as well. And I would argue the world is incredibly richer for the ‘Greek’ myths not being under corporate lock and key, for ‘wild west’ myths not being under corporate lock and key, Shakespeare not being under corporate lock and key.

Let’s consider that for a moment, take that one public domain writer… Shakespeare, and remove him from public domain.

If you think about how many plays, tv shows, movies, books, songs, would just not exist if you had to a/ get approval to use the characters and b/pay exorbitant licensing fees to use the concepts… it beggars the imagination. How much poorer the last century would have been, if say Shakespeare’s plays were owned by Disney.

(And Disney is going to be my example this post. I like Pixar movies as much as the next guy, but under the guise of a family friendly company, Disney seems to be a source of multiple and pervasive isms.)

I would say there are very few dramatic films or tv shows that don’t, in some point in their run, reference or do a pastiche on Shakespeare.

Because, say it with me, it is part of our cultural language.

But if Disney owned Shakespeare you can say goodbye to Branagh being able to come up with the licensing fees to ever do Henry the Vth. Say goodbye to Shakespeare college plays, or heck Shakespeare taught in schools at all… without some major payola/licensing being required.

I mean heck, just getting a single blues song (written by a Black blues player a hundred years ago who died broke, but since owned by a mercenary corporation, that is making millions off of something they didn’t create) to use for 3 minutes in a film, can end up costing you easily tens of thousands of dollars. How much more would getting access to Hamlet or Henry the Vth cost?

Too much is the answer. It would cost us too much.

Just think a bit about how much more limited a nation, a world, we would be, with just that one writer removed from public domain. How terribly robbed we would be, if the laws back then, mirrored the laws now.

All I’m saying is be aware of what these companies are prepared to do, the lengths they are prepared to go, to make one penny more, to survive one day more. And my thing is… nothing is meant to be forever, everything dies, and everything changes, nations come and go, movements come and go, and the works of man come and go, and we are the better for that constant change.

And perhaps as a nation and a world we would be better and stronger if corporations were stopped from abusing copyright and damaging Public Domain.

Here Endeth the Lesson.

Movie Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA : THE FIRST AVENGER aka why AMC and REALD 3D should be ashamed

Just came from seeing Joe Johnston’s CAPTAIN AMERICA. Verdict In six words or less?

‘I can do this all day.’

The above being a quote from the film, and translates into me saying: “Yeah. I dug it.”

CAPTAIN AMERICA:FIRST AVENGER is an exceptionally well written encapsulation of a character I grew up with, and yet tweaked to make an easy jumping on point for those coming into the film without any prior knowledge of this character.

The script by the screen-writing team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely delivers the universals of courage and sacrifice, that are as old as the race of man; as old as our ballads of heroism and blood.

Plus I was quite impressed, with how well the movie does touch on much of Marvel Comics’s rich mythology. Offering easter eggs for those in the know, from Bucky Barnes to Stark to the Howling Commandos to Arnim Zola (his first appearance his face framed in glass, ala the comics) to a quick view of the golden age Human Torch, while not bogging down newcomers with exposition on this minutiae… it’s an impressive script.

Impressive, even touching performances, Chris Evans laying to rest any qualms about his ability to own the role, Derek Luke as the howling commando Gabe Jones (I like this character in the comics, and I like the fact of this character in the film. I like the fact the film notices, if only peripherally, the large number of people of color, some would say disproportionate number, that serve in every war, but particularly WWII). Hugo Weaving, even acting under tons of latex, delivers the gravitas, as of course does the great Tommy Lee Jones. And Stanley Tucci and Sebastian Stan of KINGS fame, are also highlights of a very strong cast.

All capably directed by Joe Johnston of the much maligned (unfairly maligned) WEREWOLF. Plus, I did like the present day framing sequence. Nicely done.

All that’s to the asset column. The minus is… while THE FIRST AVENGER is a very good movie, it never really feels great.

You don’t leave the theater going, “that was amazing!”. Like you might… having just left the theater from seeing Spiderman II or Empire Strikes Back or Tombstone or SuperMan The Movie.

So THE FIRST AVENGER is a very good movie, but even while watching it, you’re aware, acutely aware, that it is never more than very good.

And that’s fine, it doesn’t have to be great, though, I guess that’s the hope. But it hits all the points it needs to, and does it in a serviceable manner, I mean even with hindsight being 20/20 I myself can’t say how they could have made the movie any better than it was, and accomplish the inherent goals of an origin and lead-in movie.

It suffers from the needs of its duties.

As must we all.

It does have a tendency to feel long and episodic, but it is not a long movie, so there’s something pace-wise there, that is off just enough to be noticeable; But not enough to be disappointing.

And another problem with the film is you are not with any character long enough for them to be more than caricature.

In fact, I’m thinking through the movie that the film would possibly work better, pacing wise, as one of those 6 part BBC or HBO tv seasons rather than a film. Just because every character is touched on in just such a cursory manner.

And if this occurs to you while watching the movie in the theater, then you do have a pacing issue. And the final battle with Red Skull, both battles actually, come off as anti-climatic. Neither one really wows.

This is coming across as if I didn’t like the film, I did. I liked the film, and will add it to my DVD collection, when it comes out. I just think it could have been more.

I think Marvel Studios is to be applauded for in a market where quality is a crapshoot at best, creating consistently well written and over-all satisfying films, that not only stand alone but integrate into a larger cinematic tapestry. You have to go all the way back to the silent films of Fritz Lang, to get anything close to as cohesive and ambitious a cinematic mythology.

That said, the films CAPTAIN AMERICA and to some extent THOR, I do think illustrate the… lack of climax to Marvel’s individual films. They are being thought of in many ways as episodic television, episodes in a larger serial, which is great for the long term plan, but I think leaves you with a safe, but less then sensational individual movie.

It’s a hard tight rope Marvel Studios is walking, and to this point a quite successful walk. The telling moment will come with their AVENGERS movie, that all these half dozen films have been building toward, and to some extent… sacrificed toward.

Will the Avengers be that amazing, climatic movie that stands the test of time and is the worthy culmination of all this buildup?

Because failing that, failing a really great film (not an okay film, not a good film, not a B grade film, but a GREAT film)… failing that, then the studio that trained audiences to sit through credits to see teasers and trailers (a brilliant move by the way, that if you had asked me if it was possible to do in the age of Attention Deficit Disorder… I would have said no, and am glad to be wrong)… this same studio, may end up training audiences to wait for the DVD when it comes to future comic movies.

Marvel Studios needs a HUGE homerun with the AVENGERS film. Especially with chains like AMC pulling stunts to make the crappy and more expensive REALD 3D versions of the film, the only versions available most of the time.

I went to see a matinée showing of CAPTAIN AMERICA. Turns out that one was in REALD 3D (that was not advertised as being in 3D when I checked the times. It’s like theater chains are starting to hide which versions are in 3D so they can surprise you with the higher price when you get there).

So I’m already at the theater, and no other options available, so not only do I end up seeing this flick in REALD 3D, a crappy process that darkens the screen too much, and the stupid “one size fits none” glasses, sits on your nose just at the right spot to give you an annoying headache, but you have to pay MORE for this mediocre viewing experience??!!! Really???!!!

Anyhow, I spent most of the movie holding the glasses away from the bridge of my nose, and completely taking them off in night scenes so I could actually see some brightness in the picture.

AMC is on my frigging list. AMC and the stupid Sony Backed REALD 3D process.

This is why I say Marvel Studios is going to need a homerun with THE AVENGERS, cause people are not going to continue putting up with this price gouging from the theaters, and annoying viewing experiences, for simply okay films.

AVENGERS needs to be outstanding (and not offered in Reald 3D) or from now on Marvel Studios films gets relegated to the wait for DVD list.

Time will tell.

So Final Thoughts: CAPTAIN AMERICA: FIRST AVENGER is a solid B movie. But it’s low on re-watchability and the ‘wow/impressive’ factor. If you haven’t seen it in the theater, if you can get a standard 2d Matinée showing cheap, go for it. Otherwise just rent it on DVD. If you, like me, enjoy DVD commentaries, and are looking forward to cast and crew discussing the film then go ahead and purchase. Otherwise… stick to rental.