If the TPP is Enacted, Hollywood Takes a Giant Leap Towards Throwing You in Prison for File Sharing, Even for Noncommercial Uses

MPAA Prez Chris Dodd. Still terrible.

MPAA Prez Chris Dodd. Still terrible.

by Legendary Lew

Leave it to MPAA head Chris Dodd to back a multi-national trade agreement, The Trans-Pacific Partnership, that will, according to its critics, trash the very legislation that bears his name.

But, hey, if you want to be a Hollywood whore, you do what your pimps want–and with the TPP, the Hollywood studio Macks demand two things: Dodd puts on the ho heels and anyone file sharing goes to jail.

The current language of the TPP, as leaked by Wikileaks (who would, btw, be in some major legal trouble through the same agreement) is so loose and ambiguous, you’d have to think twice about sampling music, creating award-nominated re-edits (recognized by Hollywood!) or even posting that cute video of your grandma dancing to “All About That Bass:”

She is pretty good.

Anyway, the language in the TPP portion released by Wikileaks allows for governments in the trade agreement to impose:

penalties that include sentences of imprisonment as well as monetary fines sufficiently high to provide a deterrent to future acts of infringement, consistently with the level of penalties applied for crimes of a corresponding gravity

So what’ya say we throw you in jail for 10 years and fine you $1 million? Not enough of “a deterrent?” How about a trillion?

The draconian language of this provision is, of course, its virtual guarantee that the enforcement is going to be virtually impossible without imprisoning a shitload of people, so I have a proposal of my own.

Hollywood, if you want this deal, I want to back you up by arresting and imprisoning every single exec and producer who’s stolen ideas. Let’s start clearing them out.

Michael Bay, we’ve got a jail cell for you. Kevin Tsujihara, head of Warner Brothers, one of your execs said piracy was not a big deal. You’re a collaborator, we can send you to prison also. Adam Sandler, there’s a wing in a penitentiary going to be named after you.

It’s time to give up the fantasy that Hollywood offers any clear and personal connection to you. I love movies, but I detest the current corporate system that creates blockbusters as “deals” and then involves itself in international politics that trample on individual rights.

It’s just one more reason why my movie choices are becoming more independent and local.

If you oppose the TPP, you should contact your representative and senator right now.  A vote in Congress is imminent.

 

 

 

The US/Hollywood War Against Kim Dotcom was an Embarrassing Failure That Almost Toppled the NZ Government

Kim Dotcom

Kim Dotcom

by Legendary Lew

This week Hollywood is very happy to have you turn your attentions to The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars, instead of what happened to a guy they consider their public enemy number one.  That’s because a New Zealand court just threw millions of dollars back at Kim Dotcom, former head of Megaupload and now CEO of Mega,  for legal and living expenses due to the very well-publicized raid on his NZ mansion back in 2012.

That NZ raid, carried out due to allegations of criminal copyright infringement,   went viral on video worldwide with the flashiness of a major drug bust. His mansion, art, luxury cars (including a pink Cadillac), yachts were all on display for a hungry press.

The press was also starved to hear from Dotcom after his arrest. Kim Dotcom, in no way shy of publicity, came forward with his own allegations against the Hollywood studios, claiming among other things that the raid was payment in kind for supporting President Obama’s election bid and that Dotcom was ready to create an IPO with Megaupload.

Those accusations would be embarrassment enough for the US if proven true.

Kim Dotcom posing before one of his yachts. (Courtesy: thedrum.com)

Kim Dotcom posing before one of his yachts. (Courtesy: thedrum.com)

However, two other damning ones certainly stuck: the illegality of the seizure and Dotcom’s claim of a planned, pre-raid espionage set up by the US and assisted by NZ Prime Minister John Key. Subsequent court rulings regarding both had the effect of making a multi-convicted criminal a folk hero in New Zealand and putting the reigning NZ government in jeopardy.

In June 2012, six months after Dotcom’s arrest, the High Court of New Zealand ruled that the estate raid was illegal because the warrants presented for the siege were too broad, thus allowing the police to grab any unrelated items they could get their hands on.  The US case began unraveling like a loose knit sweater caught in a washing machine agitator.

The US authorities were slapped in the face by the court ruling. But the next allegation would–for Prime Minister John Key–become the equivalent of a 24 hour marathon of Ow, My Balls!

Dotcom claimed Key cooperated with spying on the Megaupload mogul and planned on having him come to NZ , allowing the US to swoop in and extradite him back to the States. On New Zealand media, Key answered a question about this claim brought to him by reporter Glenn Greenwald (now most famous for assisting Edward Snowden):

The video above shows Key being an ass for fatshaming Dotcom and making racist comments about his name. The subsequent knowledge that he was lying through his teeth during the entire segment catapults it into the realm of breathtaking shamelessness.

You see, unlike the United States, New Zealanders don’t take kindly to being spied upon, even if it’s on someone like Kim Dotcom. In fact, it’s illegal. The result of having his nose grow about three feet during the interview was that on September 2012, Key publicly apologized to Kim Dotcom for spying on him. The country went ballistic against Key with one commentary comparing the spy affair to Watergate and another claiming the United States has a 51st state called New Zealand.

Keep in mind, this amazing groin bruiser to the NZ Prime Minister came after

Former Auckland City Mayor John Banks

Former Auckland City Mayor John Banks

another NZ politician, Mayor of Auckland City John Banks,  was convicted on corruption charges for failing to disclose a donation to his campaign from Kim Dotcom.  His conviction was since overturned with a possibility of a retrial. But the damage was done, as Dotcom rated higher in popularity than Banks and the former mayor had to wrangle in the courts for three years before the latest ruling. The lesson here, of course, is that if you are a politician in NZ, Kim Dotcom should probably not be in your vocabulary.

Now Dotcom has been awarded millions back to him. It might seem like he’s come full circle, but Dotcom is still fighting extradition, a divorce, legal fees and the inability to sell shares on the recently formed Mega–all of which are financial drains. However, he’s able to undertake his financial and legal battles from a stance that he was wronged by two countries and an industry hellbent on protecting copyright laws the film industry itself breaks.

You may want to think about that next time you get excited about seeing Hollywood’s next blockbusters.

Trailer for sleep paralysis doc The Nightmare visits the scariest place in the world

theundergroundmultiplex:

I’m one of those who suffers from this occasionally. Luckily, I don’t get the shadowy figures and voices that occur with these unfortunate folks. Instead, I just find it to be a pain in the ass having to wait out the paralysis. –Legendary Lew

Originally posted on Rhino's Horror:

Room 237 director Rodney Ascher’s new documentary, The Nightmare, is one of the more intriguing horror films releasing this year with its focus on the terrifying true stories of people who suffer from sleep paralysis. After a long and successful festival run, we finally have a trailer for the film and it’s one you won’t soon forget.

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Mediatrocities #19: Authors Michael Smith and Adam Selzer on “Flickering Empire” Plus Smith Discusses His New Feature “Cool Apocalypse”

flickeringby Legendary Lew

The new book “Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry” is a must read for any fan of film. It’s an important piece to the puzzle of how the U.S. went from having a ragtag group of nickelodeon novelty creators to establishing the beginnings of a fully functioning business set for longevity.  Authors Michael Smith and Adam Selzer sat down with me to discuss their book, the wild personalities known and unknown behind the film industry and what we can learn from what they accomplished.

The final ten minutes covers Michael Smith’s new feature film Cool Apocalypse debuting at the Illinois International Film Festival tomorrow in Aurora.  Head out there and support indie cinema!

Smith has a blog called White City Cinema and Selzer has his own website.

Give a listen:

Here is the trailer for Cool Apocalypse:

 

Mediatrocities #18: Interview with Brian & Heidi Anne Chankin of Deadly Prey Gallery

DeadlyPreyby Legendary Lew

This episode of Mediatrocities finds me chatting with the bro/sis duo of Brian & Heidi Anne Chankin as they prepare for the grand opening of their new art gallery space, Deadly Prey Gallery. The Ghanaian posters you see on this site represent some of the craziness you’ll find within their walls.

Give a listen to the interview:

Brian Chankin was on a previous episode of Mediatrocities. You can listen to that

Deadly Prey Gallery Owners Brian & Heidi Anne Chankin (Courtesy: DNAInfo)

Deadly Prey Gallery Owners Brian & Heidi Anne Chankin (Courtesy: DNAInfo)

episode here.

Also, Brian’s other business, Odd Obsession Movies, is moving and they need their lost films returned and fines paid up. If you’ve held on to his films like they were your furniture, please return them and pay your fines. Odd Obsession serves a great purpose in Chicago, exposing viewers to rare cinema you can’t find anywhere else, including online. So please help them out and share the news.

 

 

Jake Myer’s “White Cop” Walks the Cult Movie Beat Starting Friday

WhiteCopPosterby Legendary Lew

The new indie Chicago comedy White Cop debuts at The Music Box Theatre this Friday. If nothing else, there is one definite assurance about this movie: it’s the world’s first film funded from the proceeds of a volleyball coaching stipend.

Diverting just under $10K to this endeavor, director Jake Myers presents a timely satire that involves a young, inexperienced and rather daft Officer Kip White (Ben Kobold) and his questionable promotion to take on a European drug cartel.

Influenced by other cult favs like Samurai Cop and Miami Connection, White Cop examines the decades-old Hollywood tradition of making rogue cops heroes (aren’t rogue cops, in reality, a problem?) and the homoeroticism of cop buddy movies (always an interest for me).

Nick Moore (Channel 2020) and Katie Rife (Future Schlock) are co-producers of the film. Katie has graced The Underground Multiplex twice before with an interview and her presentation of the cult movie, Please Don’t Touch Me for Night School at Facets Multimedia.

White Cop plays Friday and Saturday at midnight at The Music Box Theatre in Chicago before playing at Alamo Drafthouse in Austin in May.

Here’s the trailer:

 

RIP Stan Freberg, the Godfather of Modern Media Satire

Stan Freberg

Stan Freberg

by  Legendary Lew

At the risk of having TUGM seem morbid by reporting the third celebrity death in as many days, this is one that just can’t be ignored.

Stan Freberg, who died at age 88, was a comic force whose influence is immeasurable.  Decades before Saturday Night Live and SCTV, Freberg took aim at pop cultural institutions like radio, television, rock & roll and advertising.  His penchant for great comic writing, along with legendary voice actors helping out like Daws Butler and June Foray, lead to some of the most memorable comedy discs ever recorded. One such classic is “John and Marsha,” a soap opera with John and Marsha speaking only each other’s names with varying emotions:

The record that change comedy recordings forever was “St. George and the Dragonet,” a Number One smash in 1953.  Not only was it a narrative comic record–as opposed to a musical one–but it satirized a popular TV show, “Dragnet.”  Daws Butler voiced the knave, June Foray voiced the maiden and future TV director Hy Averback (“F Troop”) was the announcer. Here’s the classic 45 given an animated treatment:

Despite a string of great comedy records, Freberg will probably be most known for his incredible work on commercials. Using the same satirical bent, Freberg went after old TV shows and Hollywood musicals at a time when commercials seemed too stuffy and serious. In the case of Sunsweet pitted prunes, he even poked fun at one of the product’s supposed drawbacks with his friend, the legendary Ray Bradbury showing up on a large screen. Only Freberg could have thought of this:

Here are two other masterful commercials from the great mind of Freberg. Ann Miller for Heinz Great American Soups and Jeno’s Pizza Rolls.

There’ll never be another like him.