Category: The Mass Media

Alamo Bay

Posted by andrew on January 17th, 2010

Playing on Encore this month is Louis Malle's 1985 film Alamo Bay, about which Roger Ebert wrote:

What am I asking for in "Alamo Bay"? I don't think I require one side to be clearly heroic and the other side clearly evil. The situation doesn't permit that. I do wish, though, that the filmmakers had steered wide of clichés like the Ku Klux Klan and the final shoot-out, and stayed closer to the real strength of their film, which is its authentic portrait of everyday lives.

Sorry, Mr. Ebert, but if you had done your research, you would have known that the KKK's violent harassment of Vietnamese American shrimpers along the Gulf Coast wasn't just a movie cliche.

"Flat Net" Notions Live On

Posted by andrew on June 20th, 2009

Jammie Thomas-RassetThis is enough to warrant coming out of hibernation. Months after suspending its litigation campaign against individual file-sharers, a jury Friday awarded the RIAA $1.92 million against a 32-year-old Minnesota woman, Jammie Thomas-Rasset, for sharing 24 songs on Kazaa. Toward the end of the Associated Press story on the verdict, Tom Sydnor, director of the Progress and Freedom Foundation's Center for the Study of Digital Property, was heard to say:

Legally acquiring a license to give copies of a song to potentially millions of Kazaa users might well have cost $80,000 per song.

If you still believe that the Internet's worldwide reach implies that every Jane Q. Public has effective access to millions of users, I have some dotcom business plans from 1998 to sell you.

=> Read more!

Rich Fantasy, Poor Culture

Posted by andrew on August 18th, 2006

I've always been a little uneasy about fanfic -- not out of solicitude for the intellectual property rights of the producers of Star Trek and The X-Files (for a fair use analysis, see Rebecca Tushnet) -- but because the mainstream media already has an unfair structural advantage in the marketplace of ideas.  Why should so much writing talent and creative energy redound to the fame of already famous characters, settings, and situations?  As cultural common denominators, Spock and Scully might help obscure writers find a ready-made audience, but at a high price for our society in the skewing of our cultural production.  Just as superficial friends can be found endlessly rehashing episodes of South Park and Family Guy in what today passes for conversation, the rise of fanfic bespeaks a decline in community life and a loss of shared, meaningful experiences in the postmodern age.

Fantasy sports leagues are no less problematic.  Professional athletes already have a massive influence on American culture, with tragic consequences for some of its most faithful consumers (Stephon Marbury excluded).  Competing over their statistical performances, remixed into a season-long narrative of all-star games, validates and reifies their cultural power.

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An examination of the legal and technological structures that keep almost all of us voiceless, by Prof. Andrew Chin (who?) at the University of North Carolina School of Law and Prof. Jay Kesan at the University of Illinois College of Law

voiceless is a new blog. If you like what you've seen so far, please consider making voiceless a little less voiceless by adding a link to it from your blogroll!

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