There’s nothing better than being able to do the right thing and the politically savvy thing while simultaneously paying back a long-time abuser in spades.
And that’s just what the Republicans in Congress did to Hollywood when it abandoned the rush to pass SOPA and regulate the Internet for the benefit of Tinseltown. Astonishingly, considering its usual inability to perform competently at even the most basic level, the GOP not only managed to embrace good policy but drove a wedge into the Democratic coalition that may well have dramatic consequences down the road. And, best of all, it provided a bit of long overdue payback to the smug oligarchs of LA’s West Side who have spent the last couple decades treating Republicans like something you’d hasten to flush.
Hey, suckers, how do ya like us now?
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is only the latest attempt by Hollywood to breathe some life back into its dying business model. Enraged that online “pirates” are passing around bootleg copies of movies, shows, books, music, and all other manner of intellectual property, the industry did what it has done for years: ran to Congress for ever more burdensome and onerous laws designed to hold back the inevitable consequences of progress.
But this time, it went too far. Perhaps it was Hollywood’s arrogance. Perhaps it was the provisions allowing Hollywood to use the United States government to shut down any website it pleased on the mere accusation of “piracy” without any due process, a power lefty-fascist bureaucrats would be only too eager to accept.
Not surprisingly, the people who make their living on the web were less than thrilled about giving Uncle Sam and the media conglomerates an off-switch.
Initially, the Republicans once again fell into Hollywood’s trap. When Hollywood needs something from Congress, it dons the mask of “business” and enlists the GOP ideologically. After all, the Republicans are supposed to love “business.” Until now, they have been blind to the fact that many of the “businesses” that plead for special breaks before them are about as capitalist as your typical Occupy Wall Street mutant – the only difference is nicer suits and better drugs.
They aren’t capitalists; they’re cronyists, either relying on government handouts directly or basking in the protection of special favors. And that’s precisely the opposite of what we conservatives are about.
Businesses compete; “businesses” like the entertainment industry use the government to enact rules and regulations that make it so they don’t have to compete.
So, like Pavlov’s dogs hearing the dinner bell, the GOP started drooling when Hollywood started playing the business card. In fact, Republican Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) of Texas was only too eager to carry water for it – as were several other normally solid Republicans who should have known better.
Of course, Hollywood laughed. It laughed because it holds Republicans in contempt. For decades, Hollywood has endeavored to depict conservative Americans are weirdos, losers, petty tyrants, religious nuts, baby killing fanatics, and idiots. And, once again, the GOP was falling into its trap and dancing to its tune. “What a bunch of suckers!” snickered the Hollywood big shots.
Oh, and the Democrats? Not an issue. Not only are Hollywood and the liberals in ideological lockstep, but Hollywood represents buckets of money and bushels of glamor. The Dems are always on board for whatever Hollywood wants. They know where their locally-sourced, whole wheat artisan bread in non-dairy buttered.
But something funny happened on the way to the fascism.
There was a backlash. The peasants revolted! Tech savvy Americans, both right and left, saw that the Internet that they had grown up with and embraced was in grave danger of being bound by regulations for the sole purpose of ensuring that the dying Hollywood business model would last a bit longer – at the price of stifling everyone else.
The rebellion came as a shock to the GOP congresscreatures, who in reality probably had not given much thought to the contents of SOPA – that is, until all hell broke loose. Suddenly, they became VERY interested in intellectual property and telecommunications law.
The Republicans, pushed by a groundswell of opposition from conservative new media types, bailed. SOPA was a non-starter, and now everyone will be looking the next time Hollywood tries to play them. Hey, Hollywood, there’s a new paradigm in Tinseltown.
And the Democrats who supported SOPA – and who could not back out no matter how outraged the nutroots got – ended up looking both foolish and like tools of the corporate power structure. And that’s just what they are.
But it gets better.
It gets better because this was a great object lesson all around. To those in Republicans in Congress, it brought attention to a subject that had been sadly ignored but is vital to a huge number of influential voters. It gave them an issue – Internet freedom – that is truly congruent with conservative values, unlike the past political payoffs to connected Hollywood cronies. We conservatives can run on this.
It was also a lesson to young, tech-savvy people who see themselves as culturally liberal and just kind of voted that way, mostly out of habit. The group that really shares their values – creativity, enterprise, freedom – is the conservativees. The liberals they counted themselves among wanted to shut down websites, not the conservatives. SOPA opened a lot of eyes.
Everything they thought they knew was a lie. Here was Kevin Bacon, and he was telling John Lithgow not to dance.
Can you say “Wedge issue?”
Internet freedom, besides being the right thing to do, is a powerful banner to carry aloft into the battle for the next generation’s hearts and minds. The young, affluent, educated voters the Democrat Party is counting on for the future have to choose between the stolid, limited, controlled world of the Democrat’s corporate owners or the free market of the conservatives where their only limits are those they impose upon themselves.
The Democrats can’t flex on this – they are bound to Hollywood for money and what’s left of its fading aura. But the GOP? It won’t miss what it never had.
In fact, Hollywood’s history of trashing conservatives only make it sweeter when its emissaries come to us for help and we laugh in their botoxed faces.
With its crappy product, promotion of (mostly) non-stellar “stars” and sneering contempt for the majority of its customers, Hollywood seems desperately committed to failure. That’s why when is asks us for a life preserver, we should be only too happy to hand it an anvil.