Friday, April 10, 2009

"No, my brother—you've got to buy your own."

I noticed the other day that the Gmail "chat" status update for Scott Malchus, a writer at Popdose (and a current employee of Cartoon Network, where I used to work), was a reference to a line of dialogue from a commercial that was popular in the '80s: "No, my brother—you've got to buy your own."

At least I assume the ad for the Hey Love soul-ballad compilation ("the classic sounds of sexy soul") was popular. I don't remember seeing it until the summer of '91, when I first saw House Party (1990), which featured the commercial in a scene where some of the adult characters are watching TV. Even then I wasn't sure if it was a real commercial or something concocted by writer-director Reginald Hudlin for a quick laugh.

Scott, it turns out, was cribbing the "No, my brother" line from Cameron Crowe's Say Anything ... (1989), and had no idea it originated in a commercial in the first place.

Speaking of origins (I'm the king of smooth segues), I recently walked past a 7-11 with a cardboard cutout of Hugh Jackman promoting X-Men Origins: Wolverine, "only in theaters" May 1. That made me laugh, seeing as how a work print of the film was leaked online March 31.

That's unfortunate for 20th Century Fox, which hasn't had a huge blockbuster in a while (Marley & Me helped a bit last Christmas), but the bad karma seems to have spread to Fox News, another division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation: Two days after the Wolverine work print was leaked,'s entertainment columnist, Roger Friedman, downloaded a copy and reviewed it for the website. Four days after that, he was fired.

Friedman wrote that Wolverine, even in its unfinished state, "exceeds expectations at every turn," and he appeared to give a thumbs-up to online piracy by saying that watching the movie on his computer a month before it hits theaters is "so much easier than going out in the rain."

But he did like the movie, so cut him some slack, Rupert. Friedman's the only one trying to turn this ship around!

On the Los Angeles Times's website, entertainment writer Geoff Boucher wrote, "The review was an audacious thing to do (or maybe just stupid) considering that 20th Century Fox, a corporate relative, had gone to the FBI to fight back against the theft and mass piracy."

Oh yeah.

And now that I think about it, what were you thinking when you reviewed a pirated copy of your sister company's tentpole summer blockbuster, Friedman? There has to be a better way to earn Brownie points around that place.

But according to, "Michael Wolff, author of the controversial Rupert Murdoch biography The Man Who Owns the News, has suggested that ... Friedman was fired not because he reviewed a pirated workprint of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but because he exposed how easy it was to watch it. On his blog, Wolff suggests that Friedman's case exposes how oblivious top media executives are to common behavior by young people using the Internet. 'They think of [watching pirated movies] as exceptional behavior, while everybody else knows it's trivial stuff. Actually Murdoch tends to think that almost everything that happens on the Internet involves dubious, if not outrageous, behavior,' Wolff wrote.

"On the Los Angeles Times blog, columnist Patrick Goldstein chimed in: 'Friedman took the fall for his own starry-eyed approach to piracy, but if media tycoons like Murdoch believe they can hang on to their old business model forever, they will soon be taking a much bigger fall than Friedman did.'"

I've never watched a pirated movie online, mostly because I don't like watching anything on my computer—even music videos from the '80s on YouTube—if it'd be better viewed on a bigger screen, but especially not an unfinished movie or one that's been recorded with a video camera (and a shaky hand) in a theater.

I doubt I'll end up seeing Wolverine in the theater, but even if I did have a pirated copy right now, I wouldn't share it. Instead I'd answer all requests with "No, my brother—you've got to buy your own ticket on May 1." (I'm also the king of callbacks.)

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