There’s a lot of people ragging on Seth MacFarlane today after hosting the 2013 Oscars, so I felt the need to write about my personal opinion. I don’t have a lot of time, so I’ll keep this short, include bullet points, won’t be linking to sources and may have typos.
First off, I’m not a huge Family Guy fan because I find the violence against women jokes deplorable. That said, I think MacFarlane and the team behind last night’s Oscars did a magnificent job of not only hosting the show and staying classy, but also updating it for the next generation. The production included small touches that constantly uplifted the industry, while playing to the audience as film fans.
Some of my favorite touches:
- Trading in hot models handing out the awards for international film students was a brilliant way to honor the next generation of filmmakers;
- The comedic addition of the Jaws theme to “play them off” was a killer move, and I loved it;
- The not-so-subtle reminders of blockbuster film stars that didn’t get nominated was absolutely hilarious and honest. Blockbusters are a huge part of the economy and need to be recognized;
- The Von Trapp Family Singers bit tickled my entire being. I’m insulted by anyone criticizing that sketch today;
- A dance number with Seth MacFarlane, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe? I giggled like an adorable little Japanese schoolgirl.
In all honesty, there were only two parts of the show I wasn’t really impressed with; the Bond tribute, and the ode to Musicals. My reasoning:
- Bond music tribute: I was surprised how they wasted time with the intro montage, which was way too heavy on VFX and managed not to credit any of the composers. At first I thought they weren’t crediting anyone because it was mostly John Barry (RIP), but then they played “Live and Let Die” by Paul and Linda McCartney with no mention of their names either. I also thought that Shirley Bassey was amazing, but felt like they could have done a lot more with her and the idea that this is a tribute to 50 years of Bond music. What were Nancy Sinatra, Tom Jones, and Duran Duran doing last night? Wouldn’t it have been great if they did a montage of the greatest themes, with the montage video playing in the background and ended the tribute with a grand finale of Adele’s Skyfall performance? Not a great use of time.
- Musical tribute: This was an even worse use of time than the Bond tribute. They felt the need to show loooong intros of every film and then FINALLY went into a performance from that film. I felt this could have been easily condensed with MUCH shorter intros and shorter versions of the songs, or even a creative weaving of the songs from the different musicals leading up to Les Misérables. Again, it just needed to be tighter.
All in all I think they did a fantastic job making an entertaining award show that got away from the stagnant old self-gratifying white guy Oscars of the past. This is exactly what the industry needed and MacFarlane did a wonderful job. It pleased me as a film buff and it touched me as someone working in the industry.
The bill goes too far.
My mother is very by-the-book. For years my father called her “Moral Marian” because she wouldn’t cross the road without a walk signal even if there was no traffic in site. Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree… Even though I’m constantly disappointed when Netflix and iTunes don’t have all the titles I want to watch, I never turn to torrent sites to access them illegally.
“A little-noticed portion of the proposed law, which CNET highlighted in an article, goes further than Protect IP and could require Internet providers to monitor customers’ traffic and block Web sites suspected of copyright infringement.”
Under SOPA, a site could literally be shut down after a single copyright claim without a trial.
This directly affects my industry: the web TV industry.
Since 2005 I have created and produced a number of web series that relied heavily on fair use. This exception to copyright allowed me and my partner Rudy Jahchan to create parodies on our sci-fi comedy show Galacticast and display comic artwork in our comic book review show A Comicbook Orange. Even though we were extremely careful to follow the guidelines of fair use law, we still lived in fear that a big studio would sue us for using their characters, music, images, or video footage. Thankfully this never happened, but if it had we did have the law on our side. If SOPA goes through, web videos that feature any sort of copyrighted material under fair use laws may not be so lucky.
Another very serious problem the web TV industry could face is copyright infringement claims from corporations. As a producer I have often licensed music, images and art directly from musicians, photographers and artists. In fact, the background for the A Comicbook Orange web site is made up of copyrighted illustrations that are used with permission from the artists directly, but (under SOPA) if a big company like Marvel or DC were to claim they infringe on their copyright our entire site could be shut down without our ability to protest and prove our innocence.
Think this doesn’t sound possible? Read this article about how Universal Media Group removed an episode of TWiT show Tech News Today from YouTube for reporting on a recent Universal copyright controversy. Hell, UMG and other music and media companies have been removing and blocking videos from YouTube for YEARS… why would we give them the keys to do this throughout the entire internet?
We all need to take action.
Call your congressperson and let them know that you do not support this bill. Feel free to add that if they do, you will not support them in the next election. Go here to find your local representative.
In addition, let the corporations and organizations behind this bill know that you expect them to retract their support or you will publicly boycott their products and services. For your reference, here is a list of companies that have come out in support of SOPA. Personally, I’m disappointed in the Screen Actors Guild, especially since they should be representing the interests of the web TV community and if they have conflicting interests between the studios and independents, they should simply retract their support and stay neutral.
Be sure to give a pat on the back to all of those who have come out to oppose the bill. Aside from all the forward-thinking internet companies, I’m truly grateful to the Writers Guild of America, West for speaking out about its’ opposition.
And lastly, be sure to vote for representatives in the future who understand current technology because… it’s no longer OK to not know how the internet works.