Entertainment And The Sense of Entitlement

Above: The 'Suicide Squad' trailer was officially released earlier this week following a Comic-Con leak
Above: The 'Suicide Squad' trailer was officially released earlier this week following a Comic-Con leak

Last month, new Bell Media president Mary Ann Turcke called using a virtual private network (VPN) to access the American version of Netlfix here in Canada stealing, telling the story of how her 15-year-old daughter was doing what thousands of other people across this country – and probably a bunch of you reading this article – do on a daily basis without flinching.

If any part of it were to make you flinch, it’d likely be qualifying using a VPN to access the American version of Netflix stealing, since, you know, who’s actually getting hurt?

Coming out of Comic-Con, the Internet is filled with bootlegged version of various trailers that were delivered as exclusives to the annual San Diego celebration of everything nerdy and cool in the world of entertainment. Despite the fact that the majority of these preview looks come after those in attendance are asked by the artists they’ve paid top dollar to see and support to put their phones away and not share the Comic-Con exclusives, there is always someone on the room that thinks, “What’s the big deal? I’m going to do it anyway” which is why you could watch a shaky iPhone video of the Deadpool trailer over the weekend.

Monday, Jordan Crucchiola of Wired dropped a gem that summed up his thoughts on the practice correctly titled “Dear Idiots, Stop Leaking Comic-Con Trailers.”

Basically, Crucchiola wants to remind people that those trailers and the people that make them are going to stop appearing at Comic-Con if those in attendance don’t stop being jackasses that can’t take instruction and put their damn phones away. One of the perks of attending Comic-Con is getting to see a bunch of exclusive stuff before the rest of the suckers that couldn’t go, but that will end PDQ if people keep bootlegging the crap out of everything.

Saturday night – and pretty much any time the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has a pay-per-view event – social media lights up with “Watch UFC PPV here” links and knuckleheads asking where they can find a pirated stream, usually @’ing or hashtagging the UFC because they’re smart like that. Please note: if you ask me where you can watch the fights, I’m either going to tell you (a) on television because I’m a smart ass or (b) direct you to UFC Fight Pass because informing you where you can watch pirated UFC content isn’t a good look for a guy that makes his living writing about the UFC.

They tend to frown on that kind of behaviour, but more importantly, I’m not a big fan of pirating content of any kind, so I’m not going to give you tips on how to circumvent the system. If you can’t figure it out on your own, you don’t deserve access to whatever it is you’re trying to access.

And if you are smart enough, answer me this: why exactly do you think it’s okay to not pay for your entertainment selections?

I wasn’t always anti-piracy.

Like pretty well everyone else, I had a LimeWire set-up with thousands of songs and thought nothing of it. If the only song I want to listen to is “Far Behind,” why exactly would I go out and buy a Candlebox CD? And who would expect me to pay $12.99 for a copy of Pootie Tang when I can get my mate Tony to burn me a copy for the low, low price of absolutely nothing?

Then I became a writer and my mindset shifted. I’m back to buying CDs and DVDs. I go to the movies all the time. I watch whatever is available on the Canadian version of Netflix and enjoy some new selections from the US version whenever I’m in the States.

Seeing people co-opt my work and making a profit without sending traffic in my direction changed my outlook. There something about putting hours into a story only to have somebody grab large chunks of your material in exchange for a hyperlink that no one clicks that makes you re-evaluate downloading a movie off a torrent site or watching an illegal stream of a pay-per-view.

And that’s where the “It’s not stealing” argument for things like US Netflix and the “What’s the big deal?” question regarding downloading music and movies without giving back to the artists that created them fall flat for me.

If accessing the US Netflix library isn’t stealing, why do you have to trick a computer into thinking you’re in the United States? Would it be a big deal if I came to your work, took whatever you manufactured or used your services and gave you nothing in return?

While no one would deign to steal from a local farmer, it becomes acceptable when the people that aren’t being paid for their work or services are corporate entities with deep pockets or entertainers that “don’t need the money.”

The problem is that it’s this mindset that makes people think it’s alright to use the hard work of others to populate their websites or to copy the creations of someone else and sell them for a profit, never returning a single penny to the artist whose work has subsequently been forged.

There is a sense of entitlement when it comes to entertainment that doesn’t make sense to me.

Just because you want something doesn’t mean you should have access to it regardless of the barriers in place. If you can’t afford to buy a CD or a single on iTunes, why should you be allowed to download it for free? If it’s not so much a “can’t afford” problem as it is a “don’t want to pay for it” situation, why should your employer pay you the wage you’ve agreed to? And what value comes out of taking someone’s hard work that they asked you not to share with the masses and putting it on the Internet? If someone you paid money to go and see request that you respect their wishes, why don’t you respect their wishes?

I don’t get it. If anyone can explain it to me, I’m willing to listen.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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