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How Gov. Schwarzenegger Contributes to Digital Piracy

14 Oct, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner

I knew that would getcha. What, you ask, could Arnold Schwarzenegger being California's governor-elect possibly have to do with digital piracy?

I think, to some extent, Hollywood brings piracy on itself and encourages scofflaws. Not just because of leaks in the studio marketing and distribution system, but because Hollywood has, for decades, built up this mystique around its darlings. The entertainment industry spends wads of cash to convince us that stars are somehow better, more attractive, more deserving of rewards than the rest of us.

As singer/songwriter Liz Phair said in a recent appearance on HBO's “Real Time with Bill Mahr,” fans see their favorites on a carefully calculated pedestal.

She's right – you never see Nicole Kidman pull up to a premiere driving a battered VW Beetle. Or driving at all, for that matter – stars have drivers for that. You never see the cast of “Sex and the City” arrive at an awards show wearing anything less than Versace. Tabloids are filled with the exploits of stars and former stars, from Michael Jackson to Ben and JLo.

And then there was the California recall, which proved that even without answering most questions, stating a position on most issues or participating in debates, a movie star could get elected governor.

So without condoning illegal conduct, I can understand why some people think downloading one song or movie won't really hurt anyone. No doubt that's why the Motion Picture Association opted to focus on the “little people” in its antipiracy ad campaign.

What the recall election here proved was that if you have a high enough profile, if you're famous enough, you can have anything you want. Including a term in office.

Maybe things will change the night we turn on the Academy Awards broadcast and see a sea of our favorite screen idols in ratty Levis and chambray trade show shirts.

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