Under the Green Desk Lamp…
I still buy CD’s sometimes. I know, I know, it’s something of a strange quirk—an antiquated habit I’m not yet fully ready to see pass into memory. Like treasured photos of sun-stained childhood days outside, or discoloured and wrinkled love-letters at the bottom of a shoebox somewhere, I continue to tread this old ground hoping some new joy may be gleaned from it. Alas, as is to be expected of such concessions, my efforts are met primarily with pain and rejection.
DVD’s are a less common indulgence (or is that affliction?), but I won’t deny that I occasionally buy them as well. However, such purchases have become an increasingly embarrassing habit over the years, as the friends who will judge and ridicule me for my naivety grow ever in number.
No bother, I never did mind things like that. It is, however, the hammer of logic that really concerns me, and as it crashes down again and again on my old ways, I’ve found myself asking with increasingly routine—‘just what are you doing anyway?’
In the past, answers to that question have come readily. ‘I’m supporting my favourite band’, ‘I’m trying to be honest by paying for what I use’…you know, the sort of mealy-mouthed, moralistic arguments taken by people doing something for the right reasons, and not the smart ones. The truth is, it’s been a long while since buying physical media made any sense, and with each passing day it only gets worse.
CD’s, DVD’s, ‘Old Media’ in general have been in the process of committing a sorrowful—but very intentional—suicide, and perhaps it’s time that I remove the tourniquets of my empathy and finally let them bleed out as they so desire.
It’s a morbid analogy to be sure, but it has in turn been a vile and loathsome decent for this once proud industry. So how did it get to this point? Perhaps the better question is how did I get to this point? I used to love CD’s (and other forms of physical media) with a fiery passion. Now, they are like the old elementary school friend who you can’t yet fully ignore in passing, but loathe every second wasted in their cloying presence. Ultimately, it comes down to one simple fact, and once I came to realize this, I knew I was finally ready to cut the cord. That fact is, simply, that when you buy physical media, you are willingly choosing to pay for a product which can be obtained—and, it is crucial to point out, in a superior version—entirely for free.
It was only a few weeks ago I made this familiar mistake. Coming home with a new DVD, I prepared a meal to eat as I watched it, and happily removed the plastic wrap. Then I peeled away the little sticker which prevents the (wrapped) case from opening (I guess?). The sticker left a residue of glue on my case, which wryly threatened to contaminate the rest of my collection if left unaddressed.
So, after washing the gluey mess away, I popped the DVD into my player, and sat down with my now cooling meal to enjoy my chosen movie.
The meal was finished before the anti-piracy ads built into the disc—unskippable, immutable, and omnipresent with every repeated watch. What sick depravity is that? A warning not to steal the product you just bought? It’s been a while since I was at a car-dealership, but I certainly don’t remember being investigated for grand theft auto after signing on the dotted line!
I placed my dishes in the sink, and sat back down for another 10 minutes of unskippable trailers, ads, and other promotional rubbish. That’s about when the revelation hit me, and I finally saw the light. Promptly ejecting the DVD and hurling it from my window, I strolled over to my computer, found a torrent of the movie, and started downloading. The rest of the night went on without any significant incident.
But I was left with a rueful distaste in my mouth. I could have downloaded the movie from the start—or better yet, simply streamed it. It would have taken up zero space in my small apartment, and it would have had no built in advertisements or tacit threats. It would have been, in every conceivable way, a better product—for none of the cost.
Unless of course, we are still inclined to take the moral objection. And those few who know me will also know that such is my wont. So let’s do that, shall we?
I do object to stealing. I do object to dishonesty. Further, I am strongly opposed to the rule of idiocy by virtue of greed. When the product you can readily get for free is better and more versatile than the one you’re being asked to pay for, something very suspicious is going on. Yet this is exactly what such studios are asking of us. Like a mosquito with its proboscis stuck, drinking up all the foul blood it can get before it finally explodes and fades from memory—a disgusting mess in the footnotes of irrelevant history. Such are these discs of plastic and spite which are forced on us at any moment we let down our shields of consumer logic and moral apathy.
Now, it may be said this argument is about a decade too late, but it must be noted that this trend, while nothing new, is not old either. It continues daily in fact, malignant to its core. Everywhere you look, we see industries trying to give their customers less and less in order to ensure their profits remain steady. The serpent has gotten hold of its tail, and is not like to let go until its eaten its fill and dies bloated yet ill-content.
You can see the approach everywhere—from ‘Always Online’ DRM protocols in video games, to player restrictions on purchases from I-Tunes—companies continue to slaughter their sheep to ward off the wolves.
And so the moral issue resonates somewhat less with me these days. If the crimes of the thief are to be paid for by the honest man, there is little reason not to hoist the black flag, grab your flagon of rum, and join the party. Steal! Pirate! Avast…all that. Do what you will to these gutless cowards of companies…for they will do it to you all the quicker.
Just don’t steal books…you’ll actually go to hell for that.
-Brad OH Inc.