Regulating Media Audiences: Illegal Downloading at the Heart of It

via Youtube
via Youtube

It’s a pretty evident fact that I have given my life over to TV shows. From Parks and Recreation to Game of Thrones to Orphan Black, my life can pretty much revolve around them as I plan my day or uni schedule to fit them accordingly.

via Tumblr
via Tumblr

Everyone has their hobby, mine just happens to be a slightly lazier version of tennis or palates. And it has had a profound impact on my life, who I associate with and the discourse in those interactions, in person and online.

Game of Thrones an an example, without a doubt, one of the largest television shows of this generation. It’s highly likely if you encounter somebody in our day to day, and whispered creepily into their ear ‘the Lannisters send their regards’ you will be met with a gleam in their eyes of understanding…or fear. What i’m saying is, this TV show generated an exclusive culture onto itself, that fosters a sense of connection to others like nationality or beverage preference. You’re House Tyrell? Oh! Well I’m House Martell! We should be allies!

Via Imgur. I wouldn't actually recommend you go around doing that because some people may actually start screaming, and if they don't know the reference probably also scream.
Via Imgur. I wouldn’t actually recommend you go around doing that because some people may actually start screaming, and if they don’t know the reference probably also scream.

And yes, I do watch them in ways I morally shouldn’t, for a multitude of reasons that can be boiled down to my lethargic, sloth like tendencies and impatience. At the heart of it however, is the desire to be included in this generated community from TV shows.

As I type, Episode 2 of Once Upon A Time Season 5 is airing in the US, and I made the mistake of checking Tumblr and was, of course, spoiled. There were already in-jokes created by the episode, gifs already reblogged and promos already leaked, as I sit here and tap my fingers waiting for the second I can finally download and catch up. By the time I do, I already missed all the fun and can only view the interactions already taken place. Because of the time lag, the spatial lag, and the restrictions in place, I am blocked from participating in the same way as the collective Once Upon A Time community.

Piracy is a part of this industry, in good ways and bad. Its actions, and the actions against it add to regulating its audiences. Without piracy, a significant portion of audiences will be stopped from even being able to participate. With piracy, the shows can thrive and benefit from the ‘cultural buzz’ the social commentary generates. Enabling access where it is needed, and still affordable (hereherehereherehere!!!!) eliminates the regulation, and maintains the buzz that helps the shows to continue. In some instances, as highlighted here in Lobato’s ‘A Sideways Look’ selling bootleg DVDs can be someone’s source of income and a regions economic function.

The shows I watch, and the micro-worlds around it that I create, generate and contribute to, are only possible through these means, for now at least. But until the laws, regulations and limitations around them evolve, I will always be limited from actually experiencing it fully, and glimpse into the world as much as I can from my bedroom in South-Eastern New South Wales, Australia.