Scott Ellington's Blog

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Spinning Wheel

Jamie King (Steal This Movie) said that conversations about intellectual property commonly focus on fan appropriation of the holdings of corporations rather than the view that transnational conglomerates have colonized global information markets and preserve colonial rule through copyright law and other information management tools.

“We talk about intellectual property as if it was about the rights of small creators, whereas it’s far more, far more often the extension of colonial might across the whole world enforced through legal means…through these legal compacts.  And that’s something that’s never really recognized in these discussions, is that if you buy the idea that intellectual property is just about supporting your rights, in fact,  you’re buying into a system which is specifically and precisely a system of domination.  And quite a terrifying one.”

He cites the rumor that he’s especially famous in Brazil because Monsanto’s program to cultivate genetically modified soil terrifies some Brazilians who have limited access to information to gain global traction in any popular movement to oppose that program…except through those means advocated and authorized by Steal This Movie.

I think the now-familiar binary (that polarizes media-audiences and media-producers into pirates and moguls) simplifies this current period of transition excessively.  As the technological means to focus attention grow less exclusive and costly, signals of dissent will get out.  The challenge seems to be where else to look, how else to listen.

I think I need to know a LOT more about India’s liberation from colonial domination.  That seems like a more appropriate model of this period in the evolution of information than the usual vision of fans dressed up as Klingons versus cigar-chomping emperors of entertainment fiefdoms.,order:FEATURED/1,4002796

In case the link is useless, it’s meant to lead you to Bablegum; to a 32 minute Q&A in which MDot Strange, Timo Vuorensola, Jamie King, Lance Weiler and Arin Crumley answer questions from the audience at the (June 2009) Edinburgh International Film Festival conference panel moderated by Liz Rosenthal for Power to the Pixel.  Last week’s London BFI conference should soon be added to the Babelgum library.  Or there’s this alternative route:

I guess I’m trying to say that the labels affixed to factions in this arena are profoundly misleading.  Producers, fans and critics, academics, masses and stakeholders aren’t as discrete and dissimilar as they used to be — the architects of transmedia entertainments are usually voracious fans of media whose work can be recognized as critical of what-they-love(d).  The hundred-days-strikers said we’re all in this together.  I think that wasn’t just a slogan, it’s becoming increasingly necessary as a means to enrich, enliven and liberate global culture from those who disagree.

The writers also said They get paid, We get paid.  I don’t think they were talking about attention, but an explosive expansion of the lexicon of attention (as the most legitimate medium of exchange) seems to be what’s called for first.

Kindly check this out:

18 Oct 09 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

That Minbari Woman

Maybe it’s just a mirage of parallels, but I do see subtle similarities in the shape and scope and a couple of details that align That Hamilton Woman with the first four seasons of Babylon 5.

I inserted the film in my NetFlix queue to round-out the flow of disks in the mail and also to provide an overdue peek at Leigh and Olivier working together, apart from Fire Over England,  so I’d no expectation of Lord Nelson’s arrival at Naples as master of the Agamemnon, coincidentally, the name of John Sheridan’s command when he won The Battle of the Line at the end of the Earth-Minbari War.

According to the film, Nelson’s military career came to resemble that of a diplomat as the admiral’s predictions regarding Napoleon’s intent (global domination) were eventually recognized by the admiralty and Parliament as prescient.  The commentarian describes That Hamilton Woman as an overlooked jewel of an underfunded film largely because it was rushed into production to help draw America onto the side of the British in the run-up to World War II, so Nelson resembles Churchill in Korda’s film…and to my mind Sheridan resembles both of them as relatively ordinary military men coping with extra-ordinary diplomatic circumstances.  And Delenn and Lady Hamilton share divided loyalties, rising (or falling) from their comparatively straight and narrow paths to merge in the popular imagination with fascinating places in history.  And both of them were metamorphic changelings.

I don’t know that Joe Straczyinski would validate any of these allusions as his influences, but That Hamilton Woman is a remarkably interesting “propaganda” film in which instances of surprisingly astute visual imagery (shot in a rush on a shoestring — that really doesn’t show) bring history to life in the form of an allegory that remixes elements of mythstory brilliantly to serve contemporary audiences, and it probably always will — so long as we keep making dictators and people to oppose them.

The final episode of Season 4 is 90% pipe-laying and 50% bewilderment, but despite the confounding limitations of budget and seasonal continuity, Straczynski’s The Deconstruction of Falling Stars is a good deal more than a thrilling segment, it ties up more of the loosest ends of a 4year series than I imagined possible, while dropping the second shoe on the pedal and accelerating into a fifth season like an 11th hour stay of execution that requires the condemned to be exhumed.

Needless to say I’m looking forward to the arrival of the fifth season and to the several feature-length television films that round out the saga of this universe in which Nelson, Churchill, Hitler, Napoleon and Agamemnon all make interesting cameo appearances.  Maybe they’re all just a mirage of parallels, and then-again maybe there’s something constant in the human condition that makes Norman Corwin’s question intermittently answerable.

“What have we learned?”

I wonder if somewhere in America there’s a Truman’s Column in Hiroshima Square.  I hope it’s a rhetorical question.

04 Oct 09 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 3 Comments