MPAA: A Medieval Guild, Committed to Fight Progress at Any Cost

You probably didn’t know that the VCR (video cassette recorder) was a machine dangerous to the economy. You didn’t realize that is VCRs were allowed to be sold to private individuals, this would destroy the film industry, and millions of people would be left without jobs. There would be no creativity, and actors and directors wouldn’t make new movies. The advent of the VCR would destroy the main thing America is known for: Hollywood.

Darn. I wish it was true. But it didn’t work.

And yet, it turns out that thirty years ago, in 1982, the Motion Picture Association of America lobbied legislators in Washington DC to ban the unrestricted sale of VCRs under the pretext that the machine will destroy creativity in America and will lose hundreds of millions of dollars to the economy.

We know how that worked out.

Today, we see the same MPAA arguing that the Internet will destroy that same industry and therefore it must be controlled and restricted by the Federal government. Same pretext. Newer technology. (And the same lies: MPAA said that 4 million people work in the film industry. The numbers of the Labor Department show only 396,000.)

Change, apparently, is a huge threat to the MPAA and its members. Especially technological change. The more technological gadgets we have, and the higher our living standard is, the poorer the film makers are. Obviously, this whole technology thing is designed to make the film makers poorer. That’s why after the proliferation of VCRs we see starving actors and directors begging for food on street crossings. (“Will act for food”?)

MPAA is like a medieval guild. The function of the medieval guilds was to keep newcomers and enterprising troublemakers out of the market. After all, the old guild members had much money invested in the old technologies. The guild members couldn’t afford . . . scratch that, the public couldn’t afford to let someone who would make life easier and the goods cheaper for the customers by some new technological device. So the guild members were the watchdogs of the society against those pesky inventors that were out there to destroy the “investments” of the old members and to corrupt the buying public with cheaper and better quality goods. Things needed to remain as they always were. Nothing new should be happening.

Well, it’s time for MPAA to learn to survive in this harsh new world of better technologies. I know, it is tough for these people with medieval thinking about the market. But they will have to. Just like the industry eventually adapted to the existence of VCRs and made even more money than before, they will certainly be able to adapt to the reality of the Internet and even make a few millions here and there. I doubt very much that without SOPA and PIPA we would see starving actors and directors.

But if we do see them starving, it’s going to be part of the entertainment. After all, the ultra-leftist Matt Damon said recently he wasn’t in it for the money. Well, then, we won’t lose him when the industry collapses. If it indeed does.

But I think it would do pretty well. Even without destroying our liberty to use the Internet. MPAA needs to change its calendar. The year is 2012, not 1512.