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Pirate Cinema Paperback – August 27, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Trent McCauley, 16, makes films. The problem is that his films are composed of bits and pieces of other copyrighted material. He's a thief of intellectual property and in this near-future Great Britain, the consequences for this sort of action are severe. He leaves home for London after his online piracy has caused his entire family to lose their vital Internet connection for a year. He soon meets Jem, who shows him the ropes of being homeless, and in no time they are sharing a posh flop with Trent's new mates. Back online, he makes films that are a smash hit on the underground scene where he rechristens himself "Cecil B. DeVil." He falls in love with beautiful and brilliant 26, who opens his eyes to the political ramifications of his filmmaking. Soon Cecil and his entire crew are in a political and artistic fight to dismantle legislation criminalizing their type of creativity, legislation written by film studios and passed by the studios' Parliament lackeys. This amazing book combines young love, terrific humor, great British slang, and crazy parties with astute commentary on intellectual property and emerging modes of creativity. Doctorow's characters are well-defined individuals, all with some facet, quirk, or activity to give them color. Language-arts and civics teachers could co-teach the heck out of this novel, and debaters will find a goldmine of monologues. It's funny, thought-provoking, and glorious.-Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WIα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“His most cogent, energizing call-to-arms to date.” ―Booklist, starred review
“Funny, thought-provoking, and glorious.” ―School Library Journal (starred review)
“Fun...Pirate Cinema offers ample and appetizing food for thought.” ―Seattle Times
“A wonderful, important book...I'd recommend Little Brother over pretty much any book I've read this year.” ―Neil Gaiman on Little Brother
“A rousing tale of techno-geek rebellion.” ―Scott Westerfeld on Little Brother
“A terrific read ... A neat story and a cogently written, passionately felt argument. It's a stirring call to arms.” ―The New York Times on Little Brother
“One of the year's most important books.” ―Chicago Tribune on Little Brother
“A worthy younger sibling to Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, Cory Doctorow's Little Brother is lively, precocious, and most importantly, a little scary.” ―Brian K. Vaughan, author of the graphic novel Y: The Last Man on Little Brother
“Believable and frightening...Filled with sharp dialogue and detailed descriptions of how to counteract gait-recognition cameras, arphids (radio frequency ID tags), wireless Internet tracers and other surveillance devices, this work makes its admittedly didactic point within a tautly crafted fictional framework.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Little Brother
“I'm a huge fan of Little Brother. Reading about m1k3y, Ange, and their friends helped me visualize the escalating intrusions on our freedom and privacy wrought by advances in technology. The book describes a dystopia that seems chillingly plausible-and near.” ―Alex Kozinski, Chief Justice of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Little Brother
“Freaking cool...Doctorow is terrific at finding the human aura shimmering around technology.” ―Los Angeles Times on Little Brother
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Having been in Leicester Square for the debut of the Harry Potter film The Half-Blood Prince, I can tell you that Doctorow's description of the spectacle there is good, though I don't think he's really brought home the glitzy insanity that is the studios whoring their products by enticing young teens to squeal for the cameras and the explosive decompression as a downpour dispersed them to the nearest tube station.
Once again, Doctorow has given us sexually active teens, which prevents Hollywood from developing this as a film project, due to America's, puritan prudery, which still hasn't grasped that their high moral codes can't stop young teens from experimenting. Not that Hollywood would want to produce a film that calls them to task for their efforts to manacle the creative spirit of the mash-up artists.
Just saw an article about a fellow who's faithfully remastered Star Wars into better digital definition than the copyright holders have ever offered for sale and because he wasn't authorized to make this labor of love, downloading it is illegal. This is exactly, thought not specifically, what Doctorow is writing about. Hollywood is incapable of understanding the fan universe and its desire to create content that keeps their love for their favorite stars, films, music and programs alive. In their headlong pursuit of stockholder profit increases via civil and criminal litigation, studios are shooting the messenger.
I've been enjoying the works of Cory Doctorow since "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom". I always have to remind myself that he's British--he seems to know the voice of Americans as well as his own. I have very recently read his "Rapture of the Nerds", which is wild and crazy in the way only well-rendered `mad-cap' sci-fi can be. I unreservedly encourage anyone who reads sci-fi to add his name to your shopping list.
Okay, so, I'm reading Cory Doctorow's "Pirate Cinema"--part near-future social sci-fi tale and part remonstrance against one particular bit of Corporate Inhumanity--the copyright laws that target anyone using downloads of Big Studio movies, music, and graphics to create something new, a `smash-up', if you will, which is a creative process, itself, as much or more than it is a criminal plagiarism.
I see where he's going; he makes a great (call that `iron-clad') case for his argument--but I've always been a `big picture' guy--the copyright infringement legislation that Mr. Doctorow is so bothered by is shameful, but it is also just one, single symptom in Corporate Inhumanity's attack upon the humanities, individual rights, and even our safety.
Monsanto is leading the fight to take control of the agricultural industry and trade concern with voters for concern with one corporation's bottom line. Financial institutions have carried on in the same way, unchanged since they threw the working-people-of-the-world into bankruptcies, repossessions, declining wages, less entitlements, bankrupt state and local governments, blasted education budgets and zero job opportunities--back in 2007. We are still digging ourselves out--but the big bankers and robber-barons are hard at work, trying to create the next big punch-in-the-face for the hoi-polloi. Big Pharma is using us as guinea pigs, doing their beta-tests across drug-store counters--and over-charging us for the privilege. The firearms industry is ruining our lives in their own special way--as are the rest of the military industry, insurance, advertising, publishing, automotive (and let's not forget petroleum, the king of corporate bastardy).
The multi-billion-dollar entities run full-time lobby groups--people who go to work in Washington D.C. every day with the aim of changing our federal laws to benefit their industries' profits.
We have no one going to work each morning on our behalf, because we, as individuals, haven't the means or the organization to match their efforts. We are left with protests and petitions, `occupations' and calls to our state's representatives and senators--millions of pea-shooters against heavy artillery. The legislation is being written by the fat-cats' lawyers, the elected officials are all bought and paid for, the heads of the corporations switch seats with their industry's government-regulatory body like a game of musical chairs.
In short, we have lost our government. It has been suborned by money. Money is the only government left--and its disregard for right and wrong is part of its very nature.
In summation, yes, the entertainment industry's tightening of questionable copyright protections, particularly its online, digital aspect, is shameful. But I doubt we can take the fight to the big-money-people by doing things one issue at a time--we have to go after the legislation that allows lobbying and PACs and television campaign ads. We have to return, legislatively, to a time when we thought our government to be above business concerns. We must get laws that force politicians to avoid any contact with industry beyond a regulatory oversight. We must outlaw corporate lobbies. We must reverse the law permitting PACs to claim legitimacy. We have to fight money--quixotic? Yes. Necessary? Even more so.
Having said that, Mr. Doctorow's "Pirate Cinema" is exciting, engrossing, enlightening and imaginative--a great read--what they call a `page-turner'. Go ahead and buy it--you'll like it. He also has some wonderful stuff at craphound.com.
The book follows around a 16 year old boy who illegally downloads movies, recuts them, and submits them to youtube as his own creation... and as far as the novel is concerned, he can do no wrong. Everything in the novel aligns perfectly for him. He's homeless, but stumbles across a perfect place to live with a landlord who WANTS squatters because they'll take care of it until it's ready to be gentrified. He has no money for food, but he stumbles across dumpsters loaded with gourmet food one day past its sell-by date. While having no money and no place to live he falls into the arms of a beautiful intelligent girlfriend whose parents are thrilled that she'd date this wonderful young man. So much so that they turn a casual eye to him having sex with her in their own home (No really, they tell him that they like him and if he's staying the night he shouldn't feel he has to sneak around).
The book excuses every consequence for his actions as the fault of the Copyright holders. He literally can do no wrong, even as he breaks the law and ruins the lives of the people around him: It's the law that's unfair and the people who put it in place who are to blame. While I agree copyright laws are unfair and prohibitive, casually excusing someone who breaks them BEFORE getting them changed for ruining his family's life simply makes me hate the character. He takes zero responsibility for his actions beyond feeling a little guilty about it while changing his behavior not one iota.
Honestly I found the main character an obnoxious entitled twerp who used the excuse that "The law is unfair" to justify damaging everybody around him. I found the book's CONSTANT excuses for his behavior and CONSTANT unearned rewards and praise for him annoying. He has no arc, he learns nothing because he was right to do whatever he wanted all along.
Even if you agree with Doctorow, give this one sided screed a pass.