oscar! oscar! ... oscar?
March 26, 2002
Oscars 2002: Somebody make it stop!: ... Look, I'm very glad when we finally honor our African-American artists. I just wish it happened a little more regularly, instead of in one big token Big Gulp: "See? We do too give them awards. Lots of them. See?" Let's stop treating our citizens of color like they are a separate people from us. If Sept. 11 showed us anything, it's that we're all Americans together, and our black friends are just as excellent at being overprivileged celebrity fuckwads as anybody else. Let's just bump up with this consciousness and be done with it.
----- Cintra Wilson, Salon, March 25, 2002
OK, my one and only statement about the Oscars, as such:
I think that, regardless of anything else, Halle Berry would probably have taken the Best Actress award. She did win the Screen Actors' Guild award, which is a mild indicator of what may happen with Oscar -- the SAG branch of the academy is the one that nominates, although the entire academy votes for the award once nominations are determined. (It is a moderate indicator; of the eight female SAG award winners for leading actress, six have gone on to win the Academy award.) It's also the type of role that Oscar loves to honor: difficult, meaty, playing successfully against type, and a role that showcases acting talent. I suspect that the history making aspect of it didn't really crossed anyone's mind -- I'm not sure that anyone quite realized that a black woman had never won for best actress, because everyone was focused both on the fact that it was the first time in 30 years that three blacks had been nominated, and because everyone was focused on the fact that Sidney Poitier was going to be honored and it had been 40 years since he'd won.
And had Sidney Poitier not been getting honored for his contributions to film, I'm not at all sure that Washington would have won.
Now. I am absolutely not saying that he didn't deserve to win. I am absolutely not saying that anyone else deserved to win any more than he did. What I am saying is that his role is of a type that doesn't normally take home the big prize, no matter what the race of the person playing it. For a villain to win, the role has to be complex, compelling, dominating, and mesmerizing, all of which that role was. It also typically needs to be released late in the year, generate the sort of buzz that makes Academy members feel that they must see it, and make a hefty amount of money. To be sure, at approximately $80 million after 11 weeks in general release, "Training Day" took in a fairly nifty gross. October 5 is, however, a bit early, especially since it peaked in release in October, and trailed off through November. By the time most Oscar-season movies were being released, "Training Day" was in second-run theaters or gone. Given that the movie also didn't break $100 million, it's unlikely that Academy members felt compelled to see it -- in fact, it's almost the definition of the sort of film that Academy members don't go see; a gritty urban film about evil and the corruption of innocence. Denzel Washington, notably, did not win the SAG for "Training Day", which was taken by Russell Crowe. (Interestingly, it seems to be a somewhat stronger predictor for men and Oscar, so far ... although not precisely in the same way. All eight SAG award winners have gone on to win Oscar, until this year; however, apparently the potential nominee themselves determine the proper category, rather than the studio, which means Benicio del Toro won the SAG for best actor, rather than best supporting actor for which he won the Oscar. But I digress somewhat.)
That said, enough Academy members saw the film so that Denzel Washington was nominated, and frankly, that says a hell of a lot about the Academy, and the regard in which they hold him, and how they felt about this role. The Academy does not like nominating villains. The Academy is especially uncomfortable about this type of role, with the Evil (if morally complex and periodically ambiguous) Black Man. It's pretty much the prototype of the sort of role that the Academy would run from; that they could get past all of that and still nominate his performance is stunning in and of itself. (And all that said ... the people who nominate for the acting award are, substantially but not entirely, the people who nominate for the SAG Awards.)
All that said ... you wonder, if the Academy had not been honoring Sidney Poitier this year, what would have happened with that award? If someone hadn't been saying, every so often, "Well, they're going to give Poitier an honorary Oscar this year, and it's been 40 years since a black man, Poitier himself, won for a leading role." I'm not saying that it's the only reason he won; I'm not even saying that it was or was not a factor. I am saying that ... for the older Academy members, at least, the ones who have been so resistant to the whole thing, it may well have been on their minds. (Of course, you can say that about any of the various contributing factors. Had Russell Crowe not won last year, would he have won a second in a row? [Well, Tom Hanks did, so why not?] Had Russell Crowe not been a titanic ass at the British Academy awards, would he have won? It's really impossible to say how the various confounding factors affected anything.)
It's also interesting to note that the Oscars are alone among the various industry awards in this type of situation. It's nothing unusual for a person of color to be nominated for a Tony Award for performances on Broadway, or to win. It's not even notable when one of us wins an Emmy Award for television. We're positively ubiquitous in most categories at the Grammy Awards, despite its peculiar attempts at what might be considered segregation. (Yes, R&B/soul/soul gospel are all specific types of music. Nonetheless, given the way that NARAS divides up things according to ethnic subtypes -- Latin Grammys, anyone? -- it's hard to see it as anything other than an attempt to both pander to a market and yet segregate. And as with anything that tries to do both, it's indifferently successful. There are separate awards for ethnic music, but various minorities also appear in the different nonethnic categories, as well. Lenny Kravitz, for example, pretty much owns the Male Rock Vocal Performance Grammy, with a streak stretching back four or five years. And Alicia Keyes won most of the big awards this year, and Lauren Hill took them all a few years ago. Grammy has succeeded in the peculiar achievement of highlighting ethnicity and making it a nonissue, all at the same time; that may only be possible in the type of art that music is.) Alone among the industry awards, Oscar has severe problems in seeing minorities as worthy of note.
The film industry is, of course, entirely aware of this. The efforts that they're making to raise the issue's profile, and to do something about it are literally almost painful to watch. (The Screen Actors' Guild SAG fights for diversity program is especially painful, in some ways, although it is interesting to see the history.) Everyone affiliated with the issue seems to be aware that in 2002, they really should be doing better, but nobody seems quite sure how they're supposed to get there, or what "better" in this context would be, necessarily.
Many black leaders, like Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said before Sunday's ceremonies that they were concerned that the presence of so many black nominees might convince Hollywood that its racial problems had been solved. Not until the presence of black nominees becomes unremarkable, he said, and until there are also just as many black faces behind the camera and in executive suites will the issue be put to rest.
Let's not just focus on Oscar's problem with blacks, however. To do so would be especially narrow minded, given the issue at hand. How many Hispanics have been nominated for acting Oscars? How many have won? How many Asians? The only Asian I can think of offhand is Haing S. Knor. Oscar isn't just horrible with blacks, it's horrible with pretty much all ethnic minorities, and this is also a reflection of the business behind Oscar.
It would perhaps be better to say that the issue will not be put to rest until we are to a place when we no longer notice the ethnicity of the actor being nominated. When we no longer think, "black Oscar winner Denzel Washington" or "black Oscar winner Halle Berry" because it's no longer useful or necessary to think in those terms. In some ways, it doesn't seem fair; it seems like we're asking Oscar to lead where society at large has yet to go.
And yet ... and yet, if Tony and Emmy and Grammy can do it ... why not Oscar?Posted by iain at 11:43 AM | Comments (1)
everybody loves oprah
March 19, 2002
FORTUNE - The Business of Being Oprah: She happily admits that she cannot read a balance sheet. She has no corporate role models. She's kissed Tom Cruise and more than one world leader, but she has never even met Jack Welch or Michael Dell. She's declined invitations from AT&T, Ralph Lauren, and Intel to sit on their corporate boards. "I just say, 'Guys, I don't know what I'd be doing on your board.' " And she's so wary of investing her own money in the stock market that she once hoarded $50 million in cash, calling it her personal "bag-lady fund."
Can I just say that that first item is terrifying? How on earth can you run a billion dollar empire and NOT know how? WHY would you do that? It's just asking for someone to rip you off. (Granted, they'd have to steal one hell of a lot of money before she'd even notice.) And granted that she doesn't know this stuff ... why would she advertise that lack? Seriously, it's a demonstration of an amazing trust in the world.
And how in HELL do you hoard $50 million in cash? Where do you put it? Wouldn't that many bills take up a lot of space?
Tell you what though ... six weeks of paid vacation in the first year for new employees? Wish I knew something that Oprah wanted to hire me for. It'd be worth signing one of those nondisclosure agreements for a job like that.
I hope she does quit after 2006, though. In fact, I hoped she wouldn't renew at all. She's bored with what she's doing and it shows. Her interviewing skills have gone to pot -- compare her shows now with the shows in her early years, and you can tell that she's simply stopped listening to her guests much of the time. Part of it is that after hearing these problems over and over, she simply seems to lack patience with these people, and who can blame her for that? And I suppose it doesn't make for bad television ... but it doesn't make her look good.Posted by iain at 11:26 PM
celebrity boxing a hit
March 15, 2002
Common Dominators: "Celebrity Boxing" averaged 15.5 million viewers--Fox's highest ratings since "Temptation Island" last year. Although there were two other matches, most viewers tuned in Wednesday to see Tonya Harding beat the tar out of Paula Jones. The catfight in boxing gloves even won its time period against a rerun of the critically acclaimed "The West Wing." [...] People watch shows such as "Celebrity Boxing" precisely because they are terrible, and because they are commentary on how we feel about celebrity. "No one took this seriously," Gabler said Thursday. "What was going on last night was a giant wink to one another. It was a giant tweak to high culture. This was about saying, I'm hip. I'm cool. I get it. It's about irony."
Well ... I can't say as I'm surprised. The pure trainwreck factor alone would have pulled viewers. And lets face it: there are a lot of people out there who would not be at all unhappy just to watch these "celebrities" getting hit purely because they wanted to hit these people themselves. I mean, doesn't the idea of just smacking Tonya one sound really horribly seductive? Giving Vanilla Ice (pardon -- V-Ice, these days) one upside the head?
Eh. Look at it this way: at least in our current version of bread and circuses, there aren't any lions involved. (Although you could make an argument about cruelty to dumb animals ...)Posted by iain at 11:25 AM
March 12, 2002
The truly IRRITATING thing about the new FX drama The Shield is that it's pretty much everything that FX has been saying it was in that relentless series of commercials. It is tough, it is "gritty", you would never ever EVER see this show on a broadcast network (what with the realistic cursing and the occasional nudity -- bare man's butt and a naked woman corpse in the first three minutes of the premiere) ... and it is interesting. Even though it's gripping, it's also hellaciously hard to watch sometimes.
Michael Chiklis plays Detective Vic Mackey, the man that viewers will utterly and completely loathe by the end of the season ... if not by the end of the pilot. People who remember the tough but generally nice and somewhat hefty guy that he played in The Commish will be thoroughly disoriented by Mackey. For one thing, Chiklis has lost a lot of weight since those days (60 pounds, reportedly), and maybe added some muscle as well. As for the character of Mackey ... He's crude, rude, obnoxious, sexist, a total and complete asshole. He's also a very dirty cop. He's also a very effective cop ... when he choses to be. He can be a good man, trying to get a prostitute off the street for the night to go home to see her kid, having fun at a cookout with his wife and children. He can be a bad cop and a bad man, beating down a suspect ... who, however, is a child kidnapper and molester. He can be evil personified, as with what he does at the end of the pilot. And when forced, his supervisors make use of all of these facets of his personality, knowing full well what they do. Nobody's unambiguously clean in this police department.
The supporting cast is also very good. CCH Pounder plays a detective who tries very hard to do a good job ... without knowing more than is good for her ability to get that job done. Her partner, Dutch Wagenbach (Jay Karnes), is separated from his wife, addicted to junk food, and peculiarly obsessed with the psychological foundations of homosexuality. Benito Martinez plays Capt. David Aceveda, trying to clean up the district but at the same time periodically forced to make use of Mackey and his special ... talents. From the size of the cast, the plan may be to try to shift it into a sort of ensemble mode, focusing on a different character in different episodes.
Ths show started out with its fair share of controversy, and then some. Originally called Rampart, it was supposed to be "inspired by" the notorious Rampart division scandal in the Los Angeles police department. (A scandal which seems to have no real end in sight.) The LAPD, understandably, were incensed at the very concept. Eventually, FX seemed to back down, stating that the title would be changed, that although it would be filmed in Los Angeles, it would never be said that it took place in Los Angeles. At some point, FX seems to have gone back on that declaration; at the beginning of the pilot, they make it clear that they're talking about the (nonexistant) Farmington district of the Los Angeles police department. I daresay the LAPD will not be amused.
The truly shocking thing is that The Shield is being televised on an advertiser supported cable net. In this day and age, I'm surprised that any advertiser would want to be associated with a series, no matter how good, that presents police as other than shining white knights. (Granted, there do seem to be fewer advertisements than usual. And a great many of them seem to be self-advertisements for other FX shows.)
It'll be interesting to see how the series evolves. If it actually comes back for a second season. A lead character with some moral ambiguity is one thing; a lead character that's pretty much out-and-out evil is another. Tony Soprano can get away with being what he is, and HBO can get people to watch The Sopranos, because he's a mobster; he's what we expect him to be. That there's any good in him is actually the surprise. People may be willing to accept that police are human, that they have quirks and foibles and flaws and their bad sides as well as their good ... but this man is supposed to be one of the good guys. It will be interesting to see what the public's tolerance is for a lead character so frequently unambiguously and purely evil.
FX has chosen to follow The Shield in the schedule with World's Wildest Police Videos. Apparently, FX's programmers aren't above a bit of low irony.Posted by iain at 10:08 PM | Comments (2)
only at fox
March 7, 2002
You just have to wonder what's happening inside Fox, don't you?
1. Celebrity Boxing with nominal (at best) celebrities. Tonya versus Amy or Paula or whoever the hell it is this week. Danny Partridge versus Greg Brady. Vanilla Ice versus Todd Bridges. (What? What? Who the hell came up with THAT one? Can you just imagine the brainstorming, the late nights, the truly appalling quantities of alcohol and possibly drugs that they used to come up with that?) OK. Whatever.
2. The Chamber. A game show with actual physical torture involved. OK. Whatever.
3. Fox News Deems Hollywood Pulse Legit News Site. Now, just read that article. Skim the entire Hollywood Pulse. You wonder what about the site would have misled Fox. Was it the article about Koppel becoming a movie actor? The one about Billy Joel's tux? What?
I'm guessing that the person who arranged this whole thing was on crack or something.
4. In the meanwhile, Fox has created what is, by any terms, a critically acclaimed drama series in "The Shield" for FX, based on the events at Los Angeles' Rampart district station. (In fact, it was originally called "Rampart" and was considerably more fact-based. I gather that the defendants' hot and juicy lawyers just ran a hot and juicy prospective lawsuit past Fox, who promptly and sensibly caved.) Granted, not news, but still something of quality.
I guess that's the point of being a network; they contain multitudes. (Most of whom have bad taste and no judgement.)Posted by iain at 10:46 PM
awards campaining goes web
March 6, 2002
Not only are companies running "For your consideration" ads on the web, but you typically get to them through links in the NY Times and LA Times. You wonder how effective this will be; it seems to indicate both an understanding of a division in the audience, and a lack of understanding about that audience. Advertising on the web seems to indicate that the companies understand that there may be a division in the Academy between older members, who may be more inclined to notice ads in traditional media, and younger members who may read more reviews and get more information from the web. Unfortunately, it demonstrates a lack of understanding of the web audience and their general hostility to ads in general. People may be willing to forgive ads if they're interesting -- and the Flash technique behind New Line's ads is serviceably nice -- but this is really a pretty simple ad.
It will be interesting to see how soon the net is littered with "for your consideration" ads for every award in sight.Posted by iain at 10:59 AM
don't talk about mr happy!
March 5, 2002
THE makers of "Off Centre," the new WB sitcom, have been accused of exercising questioable taste before - but never in such hilarious detail. [...] "It is essential to reduce and/or modify the significant number of uses of ‘penis,' ‘testicles,' ‘foreskin' as well as euphemisms for the same, such as ‘your thingie,' " reads the unflinching memo. References including "covered wagon," "unit," "turtleneck," "little fella," "anteater," "diddy," "cloaking device" and "my pig is still snuggly, wrapped in his doughy blanket" were also ordered tossed out or toned down.
"My pig is still snuggly, wrapped in his doughy blanket." How do you tone that down? Where do you tone it down? If you didn't know the context, you wouldn't have the foggiest idea what it was all about. Where would it go? What euphemism could you possible use that would be even less specific than this?
And since when has the WB become THAT prudish?
You know, it's a pity that Off Centre is so wretchedly bad. It would be worth it just to see what on earth this episode could possibly be about. It would be even more interesting to watch the filming, just to see if the cast could get through any of this with a straight face.
I'll bet they'd let South Park do this on Comedy Central.Posted by iain at 04:59 PM
paula in, amy out
March 4, 2002
Because Paula Jones versus Tonya Harding is so much more photogenic!
You know, you'd think that someone who got a nose job would be a shade more careful about doing things like that with it. On the other hand, I've heard that even now, she's had a miserable time finding work. Nobody wants to hire her, despite the fact that she could be said to have been somewhat vindicated. C'est la vie, I suppose. And I suppose a big payoff is worth public humiliation and nose smashing when it gets you something. And, after all, how much more humiliated can these women get?
But still. EW.Posted by iain at 11:16 PM
One wonders if this is any sort of indicator for the Oscars.
The guild movie winner has gone on to win the Academy Award for best-picture nine out of 12 times, including last year with "Gladiator.''
The list of PGA Golden Laurel Motion Picture Producer of the year award winners, kept at IMDB, is a fairly interesting list in that regard. (The Producers Guild site hasn't been updated in a while, and doesn't have its own archive of past winners available.) Of the three misses, two -- Saving Private Ryan and Apollo 13 -- were considered at least nominal favorites for Oscar at the time, and losses to Shakespeare in Love and Braveheart, respectively, were considered upsets. As for the third ... expecting The Crying Game to win an Oscar for Best Picture would have gotten the response, "Are you on CRACK or something?" That said, a win by Unforgiven was also mildly unexpected, since at the time, the general thinking was that Westerns no longer won Oscars.
In any event, the PGA has gotten the last five in a row right. Could they actually get a sixth? Could a musical actually win a best picture Oscar? The last to do so was 1968's Oliver!. Thirty-four years of history to get past. (Mind, there haven't actually been any traditional musicals around for a while.)
Eh. My money would still be on A Beautiful Mind.Posted by iain at 01:13 PM
six feet under/blacks in entertainment
March 1, 2002
... the story involving Keith and his foul-mouthed little niece, who has been abandoned by her drug-addict mother, is measurably worse. Must every black character have at least one drug addict or gangbanger in the family? Is that really what comes to mind in Hollywood when people mention "diversity"?
I daresay that it is what they mean, yes. After all, let's look at the three blacks who were nominated for Oscars this year. We have a cop/thug who is effectively a gangbanger, a woman who is at least a marginal alcoholic and a boxer. Two out of three.
That said, unless you get into some fairly rarified educational and income levels ... I suspect that for blacks in America, it's not entirely unrealistic, either. Perhaps not all in the immediate family, no, but in the extended family, or close friends and their families ... I'd be surprised if a fair number of people weren't in that situation.
In other SFU news, it turns out that Peter Krause tried out for David.
Good heavens, what a big ball of wrong that would have been. Although it would have been fascinating to watch.Posted by iain at 02:44 PM
the artists versus the academy versus the consumer
Viewers of the 44th Annual Grammy Awards, in the midst of what started out as an encomium to Grammy Lifetime Achievement Recipients, were treated to this startling fulmination by National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences President and CEO Michael Greene:
In recent years, industry consolidation combined with the unbridled advance of the Internet has created a disturbing disconnect in our relationship, and trends say it promises to get worse. No question the most insidious virus in our midst is the illegal downloading of music on the Net. It goes by many names and its apologists offer a myriad of excuses. This illegal file-sharing and ripping of music files is pervasive, out of control and oh so criminal. Many of the nominees here tonight, especially the new, less-established artists, are in immediate danger of being marginalized out of our business. Ripping is stealing their livelihood one digital file at a time, leaving their musical dreams haplessly snared in this World Wide Web of theft and indifference. [...] Songwriters, singers, musicians, labels, publishers - the entire music food chain is at serious risk. The RIAA estimates that - now listen to this - an astounding 3.6 billion songs are illegally downloaded every month. This problem won't be solved in short order. It's going to require education, leadership from Washington and true diligence to help our fans - that would be you - to embrace this life and death issue and support our artistic community by only downloading your music from legal Web sites. That will ensure that our artists reach even higher and, deservedly, get paid for their inspired work.
You'll note that the Lifetime Achievement awards and the speech are on different web pages. While this is an accurate reflection of their subject matter, it is an entirely deceptive presentation of their occurrence. Mr Greene's fulmination took place directly after the listing of honorees, so closely that it appeared to be part of the same speech -- and, in fact, he closed with a request to applaud the inductees for that year's class.
Timing aside, the speech is remarkable for all the things it doesn't say, and how it clouds the issues in what it does say.
First, it is not entirely clear that the record labels actually own the copyrights to the music they're selling. In normal business practice, the copyrights to work done under these circumstances would be owned by the artist and/or their publishing company, and not the labels; the labels would be granted a license to compile and sell the music, but it would still belong to the artist. The record companies have mostly gotten around this type of issue by forcing artists to use their publishing companies as a matter of contract. The contract terms themselves are under dispute as onerous and unconscionable.
To compete with Napster and illegal downloads, the record companies created MusicNet and PressPlay, where you could stream or download music that you paid for. However, most of those downloads are restricted to one computer, which contains key software to play them, and they won't play anywhere else. Most also cannot be burned to CD, because of the key software issue. When they do produce a downloadable format, you generally have to pay an extra fee -- in other words, you get to pay for the same material twice. This, of course, means that the record companies solution is entirely nonresponsive to the problem. Moreover, they may have caused themselves even more legal problems. You remember the contracts I mentioned in the last paragraph? Because those very contracts were generally executed under older terms, they didn't include streaming and downloadable format rights; they weren't conceived of at the time the contract boilerplate was written. This produces a two-way whipsaw effect: because the format wasn't included in the original language, the record companies feel they aren't necessarily required to pay the artists; however, they may have no legal right to place the artists' music into those formats in the first place, because of that very same lack in the contracts. Thus, the artists involved are furious because the record companies themselves are effectively stealing their music.
When Mr Greene refers to "leadership from Washington", what he means is that the recording industry is lobbying Congress to require that all computer and recording equipment include digital rights management software and hardware. Said equipment will thereby prevent illegal copying. All good, right? Except that it also prevents legal copying. Consumers, even now, have the right to make copies of their own items for backup and a few other entirely legal purposes. Videotapes, blank audio cassettes and even blank CDs have contained a small surcharge for the entertainment industry for years to allow some compensation for that. This specific requirement, to include such hardware and software by default, has finally made Intel and others say "enough". (Microsoft, as usual, is hedging their bets. They're a member of Intel's advocacy consortium, but they've also built fairly aggressive rights management into Windows XP.)
The problem is that it's difficult to have sympathy for an industry known to gouge the consumer -- it's a matter of record that the cost of producing a CD is a very small fraction of the final price -- an industry that cheats its primary producers and which wants to abridge consumers' legal rights that have nothing to do with them.
The record industry is right about some things. Mr Greene is quite correct when he talks about downloading music files from the internet as theft. In general. Leaving aside the issue of whether or not downloading encourages purchases, when you download a file you haven't paid for, and it comes from a commercially available source, you have stolen the song. What is not clear is who you have stolen it from. Unfortunately, the method by which the consumers are doing this also reduces the income to the artists themselves, which isn't really what the consumers want to do. After all, art for art's sake is nice, but these people want to make a living from their art.
The related problem is that, surprisingly enough, the record industry actually does do what it says it does, to some extent, if possibly not as much that it says. It develops and promotes talent, and subsidizes sector portions such as jazz and classical. After all, if Clive Davis and J Records hadn't had its hooks into various distribution channels, how many people would even have heard of Alicia Keys? Jazz and Classical recording only barely pays for itself. Especially for new artists and odd segments of the market, the labels do have some function. The problem is, the way they function amounts to robbing Peter to pay Paul: using money from existing artists' sales to support development and promotion. (The record industry also has some fairly odious promotion practices: the classic version is payola, of course. However, they also require artists to pay for a fair amount of their own promotion, which would seem to be in the record companies' own interests. For example, artists who make videos actually pay the costs. Since you can't get anywhere in popular music without videos these days, it essentially forces artists to pay for access to their audience.)
That said, consider this: two days before the industry's biggest night of the year, the Recording Artists Coalition held a series of benefit concerts. Who, you might wonder, were the concerts benefiting? The RAC's legal fund, which is supporting suits by Courtney Love, the Dixie Chicks and others, as well as supporting lobbying efforts in both the California legislature and Congress to force the record companies to alter their contract terms. The Industry is fighting back by saying that allowing artists to change the contract terms will hurt the state and hurt the industry by pulling money away from development. Hmm. In the meantime, the artists themselves are saying that RAC isn't directed at the labels. Hmm. (You know, what the artists and consumers need is for the RAC to somehow sponsor or purchase a record company of its very own. Contracts that work the way the artists want them to, with the clout that an actual company can have to get its product publicized. The monoliths control the current distribution chain, but if you can get enough publicity out, you can start a different type of distribution.)
The sophistry on all sides is truly astonishing. After all, if you're altering contract terms so that they're no longer so one sided, how is that NOT directed at the labels? And if the money isn't going to the artists who are actually producing, how is that NOT directly hurting those artists? Basically, the industry is saying that it operates like Social Security, and the artists are saying that it shouldn't. The consumers are saying that they're tired of paying so much for things, and the industry is saying that the money goes to the artists, who are saying, "What money?" The artists are saying that the consumers are stealing from them as well, and the consumers are saying, "It's not stealing! It's just downloading!"
An industry which is under attack by its producers and its consumers at the same time would seem to be an industry that cannot survive in its current form.
(An aside: it seems that NARAS allowed their old domains, grammys.com and naras.org, to lapse. Grammys.com now points to something called THE HIGGINS BUILDING. The Grammys themselves are now on an AOL subdomain -- which can't be good business -- and the formerly separate naras.org site has completely disappeared, being redirected to the Grammys AOL site. Speaking of protecting intellectual property ... Oops.)Posted by iain at 11:58 AM