Montana Jones

Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.

Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


When I laid eyes on the headline "Jack Valenti Dead" the very first thought to flicker through my mind was "Good Riddance". Funny how the brain works. I immediately arrested that thought and replaced it with "do not speak ill of the dead". But it is telling how the moment showed my true opinion.

Jack Valenti was the head of the Motion Picture Association of America for a long time. Jack is the man responsible for movie ratings. G, PG, PG-13, R and so forth. To his credit it replaced the previous version known as the Hays code which was basically movie censorship. Even though the new system is still not perfect it is an improvement that gave filmmakers more opportunity to make provocative films.

So Jack Valenti has had an impact on American culture and touched most of our lives. Arguably in a positive way. What has truly raised my ire about the man is his reaction and fight against the 21st century. When home video recording technology was introduced Jack feared the demise of the motion picture industry. He is famous for testifying to congress "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." Pretty strong stuff, arrogant, demeaning to women and as completely wrong as could possibly be.

Jack continued to fight against new technology for the rest of his life. He was a champion of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, advocate of anti-copying technology, and fighting against the power of the internet. When you start up a DVD movie that you legally purchased, yet you cannot skip past the FBI warning, an anti-copying warning and an advertisement accusing you of being a thief. Jack Valenti is responsible for that. Arrogant, demeaning, and completely wrong.

That is why I hated the man. Because he hated me. He battled against the new internet technologies that I was making my living with. He hated the idea that I wanted to share and participate in my own culture. He misunderstood the value of digital data and called people thieves even after taking their money. He foolishly fought to stop the tides of change.

So my first reaction to his passing was "good riddance". It may be wrong to speak ill of the dead, it may be that he did good works in his day, but our future is brighter without him in it.

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