Piracy and self-delusion

Categories Scratched, wide-release

The problem is immense and it’s killing our culture: We take pride in being the highest, per capita, pirates of television in the world; we cringe away from the idea of having to pay for any kind of entertainment; we allow a select few to dictate what we can legally enjoy for free; and we spend almost nothing in finances or effort to improve the quality of the entertainment product we’re producing.

When I say “we” I’m talking, of course, about Australians as a whole.

We are disgusting creatures cheating ourselves out of an identity because we can’t bear the idea of encouraging fellow Australians to do their best—unless it has to do with sport, in which case we better bloody win or we can forget about coming home.

What a bunch of hypocritical fuckwits we are. We’re more willing to shout something down and dismiss it out of hand than encourage it.

We are, in many respects, still a lucky country. Our arts talent quotient is as out of proportion with our population as our sports talent. Film-making and acting are two of our most recognised exports. We look at local talent who have done well overseas and we claim their accolades as our own. But what did we do? All we did to earn that award was create an arts environment in which it was almost impossible to make a living.

Instead of feeling the shame that accompanies having other people point out the value in the treasure we let slip from our hands, we pretend to still own it. That’s just basic fucktardery (look it up).

The problem was created by decades of self-neglect and low self-esteem and it seems insurmountable, but it’s not. It’s just going to take a lot of work and self-awareness.

As long as Australian commercial TV shows are produced to sedate and Australian films are created to tick boxes built by bureaucrats and Australian commercial radio is designed to silence independent thought, we will not be able to rely on those forms to pull us out of this rut.

Those “traditional” media channels are choking on their own monopolies and will quite happily have our culture suffocate beneath their corpses. They don’t care about us.

It was ridiculous to think that we could force them to give us what we needed through piracy. Piracy is a selfish act and we lied to ourselves, saying we were freeing the content and thinking we were getting one up on the media hogs. But we just became arseholes.

Money talks. We always knew it was true. So here’s what I’m going to do with mine: Every week that the Powerball jackpot is high enough that it makes me seriously consider buying a ticket (which is usually $10M or over) I’ll spend that money, instead, on supporting an Australian crowd-funding project or donating it to a local podcast producer or buying tickets for me and a friend to see some independent theatre, or buying locally produced comics. The potential dividends are tiny by comparison but the likelihood of any positive dividend is so much greater.

This is the start. I’m sick of giving rich idiots my money and I’m sick of looking overseas for validation. We have the amazing talent here and we need to support it. We need to be passionate about it. We need to give it valid criticism so that it can improve and we need to give it the resources it needs to try again.

Those resources are things we have: time, money and attention. We just have to change the way we’ve been spending them.