Frankly, I spent lots of time toying with, and simultaneously dismissing, the possibility of going “black” on Wednesday as part of the anti-SOPA / PIPA online demonstration. My initial reaction when I heard of the mass action was “why?” I saw it as a fruitless and ineffectual thing to do because no one is getting hurt except the blog readers and the blog owners. Media conglomerates are definitely not getting hurt. Capitol Records has no idea what or why An Unmarried Man is! This was the first circle of the hell I endured when deciding whether to blackout or not. And as is customary for me, I decided to do it at the very last minute on Tuesday night.
I suppose I should have anticipated the borderline skepticism over such protests that would arise across the blogosphere in the days after. However, I didn’t foresee that those who decided not to blackout would feel the need to justify refraining, or that those who did would need to defend joining. In my mind, it was a neutral “anti-occupation” which was fine for those who decided to protest openly, and fine for those who didn’t. I suppose there may have been some bloggers or site owners who exuded a “holier than thou” smug attitude for blacking out toward those who didn’t, but I was not one of those. And there were those who seemed a tad defensive in explaining why they didn’t. None of it mattered to me. The fact is, I decided to join when I adjusted my perspective of what the SOPA blackout really meant to me.
First of all, it was not intended to “hurt” anyone. God, I’m not that presumptuous. It was a visual, “SIM” demonstration only. It was a symbolic rebuke. I didn’t expect to change any minds singularly through blacking this blog out. I may occasionally descend into demented arrogance but it is always tempered by cold self-appraisal. By blacking AUM out, I was merely demonstrating my kinship with those who believe SOPA and PIPA are shots across the bow in the eventual governmental conquest of the last bastion of independence from the societal matrix which has been erected for us to involuntary join if we wish to lead halfway normal lives. The internet was the last frontier for independent-minded, counter-cultural miscreants to live and call home.
The SOPA blackout was essentially an ineffectual mass gesture if you were to consider it strictly as a concerted effort to affect underlying beliefs, actions, and motives as they exist today. Of course it did not accomplish this nor was it intended as such. In fact, on the 19th, the day after the blackout, the FBI closed down MegaUpload.com and arrested four of its operators. The day after. Tell me this was not politically and thuggishly ordained? It’s like the Feds were telling us: Oh yeah, think you’re tough with all your stupid computer scripts and protests? We’ll show you who is boss and who runs this show!” Now this may seem sacrilegious, especially since SOPA and PIPA were in fact tabled on Thursday, as well. This however does not mean the fight is anywhere near over. It only means that this “scouting mission” on the part of the Feds and the MPAA and RIAA unearthed some startling hard facts they will now reconsider before their next putsch. As the New York Times wrote in the article:
But the startlingly speedy collapse of the antipiracy campaign by some of Washington’s savviest players — not just the motion picture association, but also the United States Chamber of Commerce and the Recording Industry Association of America — signaled deep changes in antipiracy lobbying in the future. By Mr. Dodd’s account, no Washington player can safely assume that a well-wired, heavily financed legislative program is safe from a sudden burst of Web-driven populism.
This is not over. They are reconnoitering. This battle has just begun and it will outlive us all. And it has predated us all, as well.
It’s a battle of the Royals versus the Commoners. I SOPA’d because I’m a commoner and I believe that only through concerted and continuous protests, however pointless on the surface they may seem, can we directly extend our reach into the future where our present gestures coalesce into concerted resistance. The SOPA blackout was an ant in the colony of countless microscopic gestures, protests, dramatics, that must one day congregate to shape a resistance, or at least, serve as the platform and backbone for future mutinies which are what will be required if the royals are to be trounced and lynched. A groundswell.
A groundswell is sculpted when we pool our historic unhappiness, however trite or insignificant it may seem to us at the moment of their birth. A culmination of dissatisfaction is what revolution is built upon.
As a lucid species, we are very short-sighted. Especially in this era of instant gratification. Technology has abbreviated our patience span. We have been groomed into little goobers who expect A to instantly result in Z. Instantly. In our lifetime, in the business week if possible. Or at least a couple of days with expedited express. We expect results now for we don’t care what happens tomorrow or after we perish. We are not sage creatures. We are not evolved culturally or socially, to withstand the B through Y portion of the process because it takes too long for us. We are shortsighted and we expect actions now to have instant, concomitant results. But it cannot always be thus. In fact, in the realm of societal upheaval, it frequently takes generations of dissent and antagonism to expel the innards of dissatisfaction in a dramatic and explosive eruption of subversion. Blacking out a blog today will do nothing. Blacking out Reddit or Wikipedia is simply a very public display of the tenuous hold we have upon our precious cybermedium. Awareness is key. Awareness will build the groundswell which will hopefully lead to the downfall of the royals. Not all actions are obligated to have an effect now. It’s not necessary for this to be. It’s an investment that is so diffused by time and cosmetic insignificance that it appears to be useless…like voting. But it is a building block. We must be selfless for our future generations. Are we capable of this now?
And my truest reason for SOPAing?
It wasn’t about “piracy” or artist’s rights. Screw that. Record labels and Hollywood studios are notorious for their adversarial relationships with most talent. We only hear about the big names in the news. The A+++ celebrities who are so enormous in their own right that they call the shots. Most artists are not quite so blessed. The corporations that oversee the marketing of their below the line careers are ruthless in their treatment of these lesser names. The music and movie industry are liars, for they do not care about artists. They care about their own corporate profit (since they are all owned by some international robot-generating firm). SOPA is about corporate profit, not about Joe Blow, the up-an-coming rapper or shoegazer. SOPA is a tendril, it is the symptom of an underlying malfeasance on the part of the federal government. Don’t pay attention to piracy as an issue in SOPA. Don’t take your eye off the ball. The Feds want us to do that. Like cheap magicians, they point that way while they do something else when you aren’t looking. This is why they dress up their motives behind the facade of anti-piracy for today. The Feds hate the internet for what it offers without taking. They will stop at nothing to reclaim its structure. Problem for them is that such an overt machination would be unpopular and no kiss-ass sycophant politician wants that stain on his pearly white hands. Whereas Al Gore was proud of inventing the internet, no politician in his right mind wants to be the One who repo’d the internet from our driveway on behalf of the Federal government. The internet is THE moneymaker. It is our elemental bank. It is the key conduit for all future communications and dealings. The Federal government cannot let this happen. As their last drop of blood trickles, they are in flee or fight mode; they will begin to usurp the aims of private industry in order to accomplish their goals. We are currently experiencing a hybridization of the Federal government and the corporacracy which will serve both interests while the commoners will once again get the short end of the bargain. It’s like that Goddamned Avian flu virus pairing up with the Swine virus and mutating into a humanly transmissible virus. A perfect storm of shit. A win-win for the government and media conglomerates. They are creating a Federocracy, a union of interests which prop up each other behind a shield of whatever trite cause they pretend to care about (online piracy in this case). Picture this, my friends: the American government finds a way to infiltrate the mechanics of cyberspace and the media corporations retain their stranglehold on the shit they sell and both these motives reinforce the other while pulling the wool over our eyes under the pretense of “moral duty” to the artist (or whoever the beneficiary of today’s cause is). It’s BS. Media conglomerates and the American Federal government has no idea what MORAL is insofar as it’s justification to immorally sap the commoners of hope while still deluding them into believing there is any left.
The masters feed us illusion and we gobble it up like ravenous idiots. Our consumerism and pop idolatry is the fuel for the burgeoning Federocracy.