Your Child’s education, brought to you by the MPAA

The MPAA took another lash at pirates several days ago by throwing more money at the problem. Normally, I wouldn’t have an issue, but the money was invested in “guest teachers” to travel around the country in order to warn middle school children of the dangers of piracy and file sharing. $100,000 were invested in a plan to bring the gestapo message to 900,000 school children, grades 5-9, over two years time. They call it education. I call it brain-washing by greedy corporate executives.

I say how dare these movie execs take valuable time from the education of our children in an attempt to prevent a loss of profit. In addition, how dare our school systems allow for such a power play by the one industry who have oft been attributed with the lack of educated people in our country. Movies and television clearly distract children from books and other forms of truly intelligence breeding activities. True that a hundred grand is a drop in the bucket for these people, but for our educators and our children, that money can be used in many other ways more benefitting to our communities.

Take California for example. The west coast has had a shortage of teachers for over a decade, but that isn’t for a lack of interest. People want to teach, but the state can’t get funding to pay their employees or purchase the equipment necessary to keep their curriculums in this century. In this case the MPAA has the opportunity to re-introduce and foster creativity by putting funds BACK into the creative art programs that have been disbanded in recent years due to lack of funding. Teaching children music, painting, acting, design, dance and so many others is far more valuable than any lost Dumb and Dumberer profits because a few people ripped the movie off the net while it was still in theatres. The very skills that contribute to the music and movies we enjoy so much begin as a child, but instead of stoking the flames of talent, the MPAA is choosing to burn our kids and scare them with a one sided view of the law surrounding piracy, file sharing and copyrights.

To make matters worse, they are offering incentives to children and teachers, like bribes, to spread the word of illegal file sharing. Students are asked to create propoganda-like essays, flyers and advertisements with incentives such as DVD players and trips to Hollywood. What kind of Nazi like tactics are these and who in the board of education was paid off to endorse it?

Dubbed “What’s the Diff?: A Guide to Digital Citizenship”, the lesson uses a strong and unwaivering point: “If you haven’t paid for it, you’ve stolen it”. Really? Excuse me, Mr. Valenti, have you ever been given a birthday present? Maybe the president of the MPAA was hated by his parents and had no friends. That doesn’t shock me much. Why am I being so easy though? How about real theft Jack? How many rights have you stolen, ideas have you ripped? The movie industry is not without it’s faults and conspiracies. Valenti was quoted as saying that the industry is in “a state of crisis”. From what? Were movie executives forced to lease their SUV’s instead of pay cash? I have a solution, one I believe the movie and music industry can truly benefit from, despite any amount of piracy acts. QUIT MAKING MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR CRAPPY MOVIES! That goes for music too.

Need an example? This summer two major blockbuster movies were released, both sporting over the top characters and riding on existing franchises. Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean has grossed over $300 million since it’s July 9th release date, despite multiple reports of piracy. The Hulk, another massive summer flic has earned a mere $130 million since it’s June 20th opening. The Hulk’s filmmakers attributed the ticket sales drop off in it’s second week to internet piracy and file sharing. What a load! The only reason your movie didn’t make as much is that it sucked! A reported $120 million went into the making of the Hulk, compared to the pittance of $83 million spent on Pirates. Once again, this proves that throwing money at something does not solve problems or make something better.

It all boils down to quality. Everyone wants to make more money, that may never change, but the means with which to make it should not be in scare tactics and misplaced incentives. If nothing else, I hope the MPAA has learned something so far in their attempts. In one of the first classes on the subject of Anti-Piracy, many students in San Francisco stood up to the guest teacher in defiance, proving an understanding and intelligence most adults fail to see. According to an article on Yahoo News, 14 year old Andrew Irgens-Moller spoke out against the unfounded virus and hacker threats against file sharing, but was quickly shot down. Despite further attempts, including role play situation, other students took on the same views. A 13 year spoke out on burning copies of CD’s for friends, contesting that he wasn’t selling the music, rather he was presenting a gift. Yet another teen, Brenda Chen, explained that she uses Kazaa at home, saying “I just want certain tracks from the CD, not the whole CD. It’s a waste of money.” Bravo Brenda.

For now, these techniques simply disgust and annoy myself and other web savvy people like me. Fortunately, the children that are being targeted are smarter than many people give them credit for. With any luck, educators will see how truly ridiculous this program is and stop it before it goes any further. I’m not sure we can rely on the movie executives to see the err in their ways and put the money in more suitable places, but maybe movie magic will one day extend beyond the screen.

Christopher Kirkman

Christopher is an old school nerd: designer, animator, code monkey, writer, gamer and Star Wars geek. As owner and Editor-In-Chief of Media Geeks, he takes playing games and watching movies very seriously. You know, in between naps.

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