18 2 / 2012
So, I noticed a funny thing while on the Tour de Nerdfighting. Not only was the biggest cheer of the night for the part where I stuck “Benedict Cumberbatch” into Book 8, but pretty much everyone had seen season two of Sherlock.
Don’t get me wrong, I had also seen season two (or should I says “series two”) of Sherlock. John, however, had not. This is either because John actually doesn’t believe in piracy, or because he can’t be bothered the extra trouble of piracy.
See, there is no legal way to acquire season two of Sherlock in America, so every one of those people wearing “I believe in sherlock” shirts were theives, at least in the eyes of the law. Also, y’know, in the eyes of rational people who understand intellectual property.
John got into a kinda big fight with one girl at one of the events. She kept insisting that she’d watched it legally. John was like “Oh, were you in the UK?” Eventually, she was like “I streamed it, it’s totally legal.” AGH! What?! Streaming is just downloading without the saving.
To be clear, unless you flew to the United Kingdom or ordered a Region Two DVD from Amazon.co.uk (and a Region 2 DVD player along with it) you have not legally watched Sherlock in America.
So, yes, I and all of the rest of the American Sherlock fans stole the series. I’m willing to bet that a healthy number of us have done this with other UK series…QI, Dr. Who, Downton Abbey, etc.
The question is, why do we do it? There are plenty of television shows in the good ol’ USA. But apparently our appetites cannot be satiated by such droll pastimes.
I have a theory about this, and please correct me if I’m wrong.
We want to work for it. If it’s being dumped into our houses on that fat coaxial pipe, it seems like a bore. “Anybody can watch those shows…that can’t possibly be cool!” we think. We’re not those people…we know about better programming…something that normal Americans can’t access because they aren’t part of our culture and don’t have our knowhow.
Acquiring Sherlock could potentially be a days-long affair (especially now with Megaupload gone.) Networks of people sharing links and flash drives and burned DVDs, convincing each other that it’s worth it, and then enjoying the fruits of their labor when it’s done.
Buying something? Meh…again, boring. There’s a twinge of adventure in going after content that hasn’t been sanctioned for viewing by you. A bit of a “shove it up your bum” kinda feeling. Like we’re rubbing their old broken system in their face just a bit more. And that, maybe more than the content, is what really makes us love it.
I’m not saying the show isn’t fantastic…it totally is. But I think a big part of the interest of our little corner of the internet is beyond entertainment, it’s cultural, almost a rite, something to go through. And if you don’t have the right mindset or the right abilities then you miss out and the whisper of that sub-culture takes over…maybe you’re not one of us.
Nerdfighteria is like that as well…you have to work to be part of it. You couldn’t fit all of the inside jokes into a 200 page book. And there are other internet cultures with the same barriers to entry. Homestuck is a great example. At this point, if you don’t have a good 40 hours of time to spare, you’re never gonna get Homestuck.
It’s part of the new way cultures are being defined, and it’s pretty pervasive among internet-enabled young people. I would prefer that theft not be a part of that, but I actually don’t seem to care that much.
And that’s a little worrying.
TL;DR: We download / steal unavailable content not because it is the best content, but because we have to work for it and only a small number of people will do that work. For that reason, we can use that as a test with which to define our sub-culture. But I don’t know what it means that that sub-cultural entrance involves not only work…but theft.
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