Girl Fight!

Girl FightA friend told me that she was going to punish her girls for fighting by having them write a song about sisterhood. Yes, she is a cruel woman. This caused me to do a Google video search on the phrase “sisterhood song.” It turned up this. (Don’t click on it!) I wasn’t ten seconds into it before I had to stop it. It was that bad.

I was just trying to help and just look what happens. I offered up some potential lyrics the girls might use. I thought she might be looking for something along these lines: “See my sister / See her shot! / See you sit / And stink and rot!” Surprisingly (or not) she indicated that this was exactly what she was looking for.

Marvin Gaye

In order to detox from listening to ten seconds of “Sisterhood Song,” I turned to a master.

The video below is an amazing live version of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On from the DVD Marvin Gaye: The Real Thing – In Performance 1964-1981. As I was watching it, I noted that the video had been voted, “26,970 likes, 304 dislikes.” I thought, “What the hell?! How could 304 people dislike this?” I’m sure that the people who clicked “dislike” were not really discerning listeners. Instead, I suspect they were people who like a different kind of music. What’s more, I’m sure they are people who only like one different kind of music.

I was encouraged to note that the top rated comment by W1nky13 was, “302 dislikes, WTF, There sure are some losers out there, this is the best fuckin video on youtube.”

Remix

Lawrence Lessig - RemixI’ve been working on an internet video series called The Post, Post Modern Comedy Hour. It’s kind of a kids’ show for adults. And part of it involves a group of people watching TV commercials. It is one of the best parts of the shows. And thus, it has been bugging me because I don’t know if we can get away with doing this without getting the rights to the commercials. On the one side, I would think the companies who made the commercials would like the extra viewings. After all, people don’t pay to watch commercials; watching commercials is how people pay for otherwise free content. But on the other side, these companies are evil.

Last night, despite myself, I read another Lawrence Lessig book. This time it was Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. It opens with the story of Stephanie Lenz, who posted a 29 second video of her son dancing to Price’s Let’s Go Crazy playing on the radio in the background. This was unacceptable to Universal Music Group, which had the video removed from YouTube and threatened a $150,000 fine.

So much for my thinking that I could show short pieces of commercials on a TV in a room. Never mind that the TV screen would likely never take up more than a quarter of the screen. Never mind that both the picture and sound quality would be awful. As Lessig documents over and over in his book, they will do it because they can. They will do it (unconvincingly claiming that it is) for the sake of principal. It is an outrage. As I’ve written many times before, copyright is out of control.

Lessig proposes a plan forward—a way to fix the current system. Unfortunately, I am far more cynical than he is. We are already at a point where artists are worse off than they were in the time of Cervantes and Mozart. I may have to find a patron just to produce a silly, fun, totally inoffensive romp that I want to give away to the world.

Minimum date when Yesterday is in the public domain: 23 Feb 2083!

Apology Accepted

Pete Hoekstra's Debbie Spend it NOWI’ve been waiting for this. After Pete Hoekstra’s “Debbie Spend it NOW” Super Bowl ad that aired in Michigan, I just knew that the actor who played the semi-fluent Chinese woman would come forward. When any job is offered to a young actor, it has to be exciting. It would be easy not to think it through very well. Afterward, however, it must have been really embarrassing.

It turns out, the actor is right in my backyard. This in itself kind of bugs me. Why can’t Michigan produce its own political commercials? They have actors and directors and grips. It makes me think that even local politics has lost all its links to the community.

The actor’s name is Lisa Chan. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley as well as the 2012 Miss Napa Valley in the Miss California USA Pageant. And she founded The Strive, an NPO that helps at-risk kids. On her Facebook page, she wrote an apology. Note that it’s a real apology rather than, “I am sorry if my clearly unoffensive comments offended people who have no sense of humor or perspective.”

I am deeply sorry for any pain that the character I portrayed brought to my communities. As a recent college grad who has spent time working to improve communities and empower those without a voice, this role is not in any way representative of who I am. It was absolutely a mistake on my part and one that, over time, I hope can be forgiven. I feel horrible about my participation and I am determined to resolve my actions.

I’ll admit that I empathized with her before the apology. But in this place and time, a straight mea culpa is really touching. It made me cry. (Not that this is unusual for this time of the morning.)