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Pondering Penguins and Piracy

21 Sep, 2005 By: Holly J. Wagner

I don't really have a diatribe for you today, so here's a collection of quickies that have flashed across my mind in the last week.

The case for DVD and superreleases: With near fascist security at Disney theme parks, you would think they could manage a movie theater audience. Alas, instead at Buena Vista's screening of the restored Cinderella, my row and the rows around me were subjected to a mom giving a running commentary to her toddler throughout the entire film. When she was asked to be quiet, she got angry and persisted in chatting to her son. What a way to spoil a beautifully restored film — and what a bad example for the kid. And exhibitors wonder why ticket sales are down.

Passion of the penguins: Apparently, the Religious Right has seized upon the documentary March of the Penguins as an allegory of a Christian lifestyle because penguin daddies stay with the eggs until the penguin mommies get fed, and both nurture the egg (never mind that penguins switch mates every season). If this is proof of a divine plan, what do Dingoes (a species in which the males will eat the pups if the females don't protect them) say about that plan? But I'm not here to engage in a theological debate. Just remember what the sales were for Passion of the Christ and stock up.

The politics of piracy: I read an interesting article from an Asian newspaper last week. The author, Eric Teo Chu Chow, eloquently laid out three reasons that piracy will be extremely difficult to quell in China: 1) DVD as the great class equalizer. “It provides a sense of social redistribution, whereby the poorer classes could feel that they now have the means to consume (even though they buy cheaper pirated versions of dubious quality);” 2) “Cheap DVDs keep Asians at home watching them... protest and social discontent could be kept off the streets....Beijing's current policies of ‘allowing' the development of pirated DVDs could surely be linked to this overall ‘stability pact' which DVDs offer...” and 3) by teaching Asians about their various cultures as well as the West. “Cultural dissemination could promote better understanding among Asians, which, in turn, could provide the basis for future Asian regionalism.” Who knew that, to paraphrase Mao Tse Tung, political power flows from a keepcase?

There you go. All thoughts to ponder.

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