Fahrenheit 9/11: on P2P Everywhere

By Jon Newton 6/22/04

OT but not really, right now, when you go to your favourite p2p network for a look around, what do you see?

The Chronicles of Riddick? Sure. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban? But of course. The Stepford Wives and The Day After Tomorrow? Yes. And et cetera.

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But what's there that you wouldn't normally expect to see? Full-length (including screeners) and shrunk down versions of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, or 911 as it is on the nets.

The movie opens in the US 'officially' on Friday. We say 'officially' because it opened in the US and the rest of the world online quite a while back and no doubt, some of the reviews that are out there already were based on p2p downloads rather than cinematic experiences.

Why all the fuss?

Well, it's a documentary and documentaries don't usually show up in any strength. Fahrenheit 9/11 has attracted so much attention because it shines a blinding, high-energy light directly on US president George W. Bush - just when he doesn't need it.

The Super Size Me McDonald's documentary was another unexpected box-office hit, as was Canada's The Corporation which went from zip to fame in a matter of days. And there are lot more documentary movies like these which are also doing well

They're based on fact, not fiction, and they show things as they really are rather than as the Korporate Kommunity wants you to think they are.

The public has always wanted to know what's really going on - the truth - but until now, the various 'establishments' around the world have been able to use the media for their own purposes. But not any more, which isn't to say the mainstream print and electronic outlets have suddenly decided fact is better than fiction.

Significant numbers of the major media outlets are owned by, or have direct and indirect links to, the entertainment industry which spends billions on advertising. They do not, however, own the Net, as much as they'd like to and as strenuous as their efforts are in that direction.

Nor do their adverting dollars have any effect online where every person with a computer and who can log on is a publisher, with all that implies.

But what's really interesting (and frightening for corporate interests of all kinds) is what's in the wings.

The Net is in the process of turning the entertainment industry onto to its, well, gluteous maximus. That's because for the first time in history, 'consumers' can, and do, completely bypass the corporate bullshit to make up their own minds about whether or not they want a product, service, you name it.

Mp3 - compressed music files - started the rot (from Big Music's point of view ; ). All of a sudden, people didn't have to fork out ridiculous amounts of money for cookie-cutter 'product' from the Big Five record labels. They could quickly find out whether or not tunes were good or bad from fellow music lovers, not from hacks paid by the music industry to pump releases up. On top of that, there are millions of tunes by independent artists from cultures around the world available on p2p networks for absolutely nothing.

Coming up right behind mp3s are highly compressed movies. And hand-held movie players - devices which'll store films on hard-drives or on cards. So it won't be long before people will be sharing music movies via WiFi handsets, with all that implies for the Korporate Kommunity.

You'll see more and more issues highlighted in documentaries made by amateurs and pros. And their makers won't have to worry about whether or not Walt Disney, and the like, will screen or promote them and subject matter will be constrained only by film-makers' imaginations.

p2pnet and Down Hill Battle are currently running a movie contest because we know that in the 21st century, movies are the way messages get across. Thanks to the entertainment industry, it's a visual world and if a picture is worth a thousand words, what's a movie worth - especially if it's put together by Jane and John Doe rather than by Warner Bros, or one of the other major studios?

In the same way that musician, anywhere, regardless of age or sex, can now go online and reach an international audience, any amateur (or pro, come to that) film-maker can do the same.

Sooner or later the entertainment industry will have to come to terms with p2p because the times, they are a changin'. And fast.

Jon Newton is the editor of p2pnet.net and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.

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