Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Porky, Interrupted...

Except for the colorization, the film could be any number of Porky Pig's Looney Tunes shorts of its era: the Warner Bros. company card and then Porky reclining comfortably on top of a wooden fence in overalls; directly beneath him lies the announcement that this particular short is another entry in the popular Looney Tunes series, pretty much promising to the viewer that much riotous antics are about to ensue. The title of the film, though, is hidden in the film itself, on a sandwich board set in front of a grand theatre, where we also read the names of the director Charles A. (Chuck) Jones and a couple of his other compatriots in comedic devilment. Suddenly, we are backstage inside the theatre, where Porky Pig hits a series of switches to prepare the theatre for another showing, all the while singing You Oughta Be In Pictures (which may also be a reference to his classic short from 1938 of the same title) and coordinating his busywork movements to the music, thus inspiring him to dance along happily.

And then, before Porky can take another step -- the film is interrupted by a test screen color bar pattern, a smattering of off-the-air television snow -- and the bad acting begins. As the cartoon, Porky's Midnight Matinee from 1941, had been downloaded by me as a podcast from www.Vintage ToonCast.com (though I actually snagged it off iTunes), I realize that I am pretty much at the mercy of the owners of that podcast site. They can edit, warp, redo and transform any part of the material that they wish. In the case of this particular cartoon, political agenda and knee-jerk, worry-warting has led them to cut the cartoon off 46 seconds into the action, or really, before the action has even begun, and if you don't count the titles, you only actually get 17 seconds of cartoon before the abrupt switch to the Vintage ToonCast plea to stop a House Bill that could possibly lead to the networking of the Internet.

After a strained scenario where the owner of Vintage ToonCast plays both himself and the shady government operative (are there any other kind?) who has been monitoring his self-described (in more ways than one) dual existence, the screen goes to black and then the description of the podcast's true purpose comes onto the screen via several succeeding title cards:

"On June 9, 2006, the House voted to make it legal for Internet Service Providers to strip us of our right to free speech online. If this bill passes the Senate, corporations will build a high speed toll internet and charge content providers for the right to use it. Your DSL or cable modem company could decide to block Vintage ToonCast or others who don't pay to be on "their" internet. Call your senators today and let them know you support a bill for network neutrality, not COPE."

Of course, this makes me angry in a couple of ways. First, I didn't get to see the cartoon that I had set out to review. I should have known from the relatively small size of the file (14.9 mb instead of the usual 40 mb or so) that something was up, but I didn't check it until this morning, when I sat down with my tea and toast and began to watch the thing. I can, of course, go to archive.org, the site from which all of the VTC footage is delivered, and download the full film, and without the annoying black and bottom side bars with the names of both Vintage ToonCast and archive.org splattered on them in a font that looks crappy no matter what size you make your window. (I did indeed go and download the film properly, and will review it tomorrow.) Instead, with my morning viewing time eaten up by a guerrilla political campaign, I had to switch my writing tactics for the day.

The second thing that makes me really angry about this development is that I am admittedly confused by the whole issue, and I am bothered with myself for not caring more about it. It seems like something I should be involved in, much like my constant signing up for all of the democratic sites but never responding to their pleas for "ACTION" and "MOVING ON", mostly out of my own ennui with the world. It's especially hard to do when the people who speak online for the Democrats are clearly cut from a stronger cloth than the actual politicians who preside in positions of power for the party. Online, something might seem like it is getting done, but in the House and Senate, where it counts, with a couple of notable exceptions to the sad rule, they are lackluster and whimpering pansies, afraid of rocking the precious fucking boat.

So, what can I do about it? Well, not much beyond posting the words that Vintage ToonCast tricked me into viewing up on their site and then declaring my confusion about such a cause. I will add that the Net Neutrality Amendment predictably got shot down today. In an article on saveaccess.org, the story has a quote from a major communications corporation that says, "Phone and cable companies have lobbied for a free hand in setting fees for preferred delivery, saying it will cost billions to beef up their Internet wires and, unless they can charge the content companies, consumers will foot the bill." This is bullshit. Whether content companies are charged or not, the consumer gets it in the ass anyway. I'm already paying exorbitant bills to Adelphia.net for their shitty service that seems to get interrupted about six times a day, so that I have to sit on an open blog for a couple of hours until I can finally save it.

There are points on both sides of the issue with which I can agree, and reading the various points of the bill and the proposed amendments only leave me even more divided internally. As I said before, much of it is knee-jerk anti-corporate bluster, even if I am just as guilty with all of my rantings about Big Oil or Big Banking and so on. Overall though, I am clearly in over my head on this issue, not out of a lack of understanding it, but really just my general disdain for the world at large. No matter what is decided, it is not going to be the final blow for "Free Speech" in this country, and besides, there are worse things to worry about in the world. People are still dying for stupid reasons in wars started by idiots, and millions (even in America) are starving to death each day, Paris Hilton is allowed to run amok, American Idol and Family Guy are inexplicably popular, and... well, everything sucks.

And my cartoon this morning got interrupted for something that I most likely agree with but I really wanted to watch that cartoon and write about it.

Net Neutrality? Call me Switzerland. I don't give a crap.

(Psst...! You should really, really check into this. It's kind of important...)

No comments: