Ah, good ol' Manny Perry. Recognize him? A quick search of imdb.com reveals that Manny Perry appeared in an anti-piracy ad to battle internet movie pirates. Our brief discussion in class about the anti-piracy movie ads the MPAA put out sparked a memory that I had all but forgotten. I was watching a movie with several of my friends when I saw Manny's ad for the first time. Immediately afterwards, most of them joked that they were going to find out which movies Manny had been in and put them all on the internet for everyone to download.
Why did they have such a negative reaction to the ad? As (former) MPAA president and CEO Jack Valenti put it, he wanted to talk directly "...to the public about the dangers of piracy." That's part of the problem right there - talking to your consumer base instead of with them.
Look at how the ads were aired. They played before a movie we, the audience, already paid to see. If we were going to pirate the movie, then we wouldn't be sitting in the theater now would we? Perhaps the MPAA was trying to get the audience to form an armada and champion the MPAA's cause to our pirating peers who were sitting at home in a dark room, basking in the warm glow of their computer monitors, watching an illegal screen release of Spider-Man 8 before the script was even written.
The groans and jeers of moviegoers during the ads indicate that the audience, on some level, was offended. The movie industry is a business first and foremost, and there is nothing wrong with that. Yet ads like Manny's try to downplay its profit-oriented mentality and instead make a play for sympathy by using working men and women like Manny to say their jobs are in jeopardy. But are they really?
It's the stop-pulling-the-wool-over-my-eyes feeling these ads generate that turns audiences off. We all know that if George Lucas makes eleventy gabillion dollars on Star Wars 6, or prequel 3, or influx negative 1, or wherever the next Star Wars film fits in its timeline, there is no way he will show up on Manny's doorstep with a new Ferrari for Manny and college tuition plans for his children. He'd probably be on his yacht drinking another cold one with Jar Jar instead.
So if Manny isn't sharing in the profits, why would Manny lose money if the film does poorly? Is Manny's job really in jeopardy? If Lucas' next movie tanks, will he fire all his stuntmen and do the stunts himself? No, he would not. There is a fantastic post here that really breaks everything down.
The Mannys in the world are union. They have contracts that guarantee their wages. They are salaried. They don't get more money if the film does well nor do they lose money if the film does poorly. Manny the stuntman will run a car off a cliff for Will Smith's next jiggy blockbuster or Steven Segal's next horrible waste of time. Pirate both of them into oblivion - Manny will still get his check.
So then who loses? The big guys like Lucas and Ben Affleck do. Their paychecks aren't as huge if the movies don't sell well because people are pirating. But the MPAA doesn't want to put those who stand to lose the most on the frontlines of its anti-piracy campaign. I mean, could you imagine seeing Affleck's giant mug preaching to you that he won't be able to afford his seventh Bentley if you download another copy of Gigli? So the MPAA puts Manny in front instead. Trying to gun for the emotions of the moviegoer.
But all Manny manages to do is insult the paying audience. That's it. There are even parody sites out there mocking the MPAA and its use of the blue-collar workers to protect the mansions of the producers and actors. Whether Manny got a bonus for making the ad or whether he did it because the MPAA threatened to throw him off a balcony for real, we'll never know, but rest assured the Mannys in the world will be keeping their jobs.
Stealing media is bad. If everyone pirated movies, then no more movies would be made because no movie would generate a profit. That is why it is important to stop media pirates - to make sure music and movies stay profitable. The MPAA should not make a feeble attempt to guilt people into not pirating...otherwise it will keep getting the negative reaction it has already received. Just speak the truth. The MPAA needs to realize that it’s okay to say that if you want to see a certain movie, or like a particular actor, show your support by going to the theater. Watching a movie on the big screen and the entire movie theater experience does not even compare to downloading an inferior taped copy of a new release or finding a bootleg at the Alley in downtown LA. If you really liked the movie, buy the DVD later. Encourage filmmakers to make more movies like the ones you like by paying for them, just as you pay for any other entertainment you enjoy.
I don’t know why the MPAA feels that to change our current copynorms it needs to create an innocent victim, i.e. Manny. Maybe it’s the old Hollywood theory that every movie needs a good guy and a bad guy, and the MPAA doesn’t think a multimillionaire actor would make a likeable good guy to be set against media pirates. But this is real life, and there is no need to fabricate a good guy or victim that the “common man” will identify with. Keep the message short, simple and truthful: Making movies is a business, and pirates hurt that business. That’s it. Sounding the apocalypse and clamoring that Manny will lose his job is not going to help any anti-piracy campaign.
With all that said, I hope Manny the stuntman has many more successful car explosions in his future.