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Oatmeal, McGuire, and Entitlement

I like The Oatmeal, and I’ve seen a lot of people pointing to this comic, often with a comment like, “This is why people pirate!”

I see two things in this comic. The first is an excellent point: people want to be able to buy and download things when they come out. More and more people watch and read things online, and it’s incredibly frustrating when that option isn’t available. In this example, I think HBO is probably making a mistake by not selling Game of Thrones to people who want to watch it.

The second thing in this comic, however, feels like pure entitlement. HBO has made a business decision to only offer the show for download to HBO subscribers. I think that’s a bad business decision, but does the fact that the show is not available RIGHT THIS SECOND mean people have the right to say, “Oh well, I tried. Time to go swipe it off a torrent site!”

My next book is going to be released as a hardcover, which means it will cost about $25. I totally understand that not everyone will want to pay $25 for a book, and I’m happy that a year later, you should be able to buy it for $8 as a paperback. But if you want a copy of that book for $8, you have to wait. You don’t get to say, “I want it now!” and just swipe it off a bookstore shelf.

DRM is annoying. Businesses that don’t make their products available to users who want to buy them is frustrating as hell. But the entitlement thing is a problem too.

Case in point: Seanan McGuire’s latest book went on sale early at Amazon … in print format. The e-book edition won’t be available until the on-sale date. As a result, readers and so-called fans have been heaping abuse on her because … well, because they might have to wait a whole two weeks to buy the e-book:

People who have to wait for their electronic books are not being denied anything; they’re doing what was supposed to happen in the first place. This has not stopped the exciting emails from rolling in. They mostly stopped after the first day, but on that first day, I was called…

…a bitch.
…a whore.
…a cunt.
…stupid.
…greedy.
…ungrateful.
…narcissistic.

Because that sense of entitlement, the idea that I WANT IT RIGHT NOW!!!, is so powerful that these people felt justified in attacking and threatening the author, then running out to pirate all of her books. The author who, incidentally, has no control over this situation!

Naturally, since Seanan is female, the abuse is even harsher and significantly sexualized. Because women, like books and TV shows, are possessions, right? And we’re entitled to say or do whatever we like to them.

What the f*** is wrong with people?

I get being frustrated when you really want to watch/read something and you can’t. It frustrates the hell out of me when publishers limit availability or cripple a file’s usability. And I know perfectly well that people will choose to pirate files when they can’t easily buy them.

But for God’s sake, get a spine and own that choice. Don’t pretend the evil publisher made you do it. Take responsibility for the fact that you couldn’t bother to wait two weeks for Seanan’s book to be available legally, or that you didn’t want to subscribe to HBO and didn’t want to wait for them to make the show available through other outlets.

I don’t really get worked up about piracy these days. I have more important (to me) things to care about. And I get that it’s a more complicated issue than a lot of people want to admit.

But the entitlement thing pisses me off, especially when that attitude leads to such vicious attacks on my friends.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

brendanpodger
Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:13 pm (UTC)
It isn't really "a few piddly weeks" since the show finished airing 3/4 of a year ago now.

Given that studios make a huge amount of money from their DVD sales I question thier late release statedgy, but guess it is probably to tie in with the premier of the new season(screening April 1).

I think one thing that broadcasters forget these days is that with the internet the "water-cooler" conversations about what happened last night involves people from right around the world. And people aren't simply going to patiently wait six months or so to join in if the networks in their region are slow in broadcasting.
feanna
Mar. 7th, 2012 06:45 pm (UTC)
IF things get broadcast in their region/country and then around here only dubbed. I guess it's possible to wait for the DVDs (which often come out later that in the US too) but that would make it completely impossible to joing all the conversations happening as it is airing, which is a pretty big part of what fandom is about...
Of course it may be entitlement, but also the reaction is: All my friends are watching it and talking about it and you're telling me I can't come???
To say nothing about the ridicness of regions on DVDs that mean that I can't (well can't easily and legally) watch DVDs that I BOUGHT IN A STORE.

Edited to add: The above could make it seem like I don't agree with the original post. On the front that author bashing and entitlement are definitely WRONG I absolutely do though.
I've seen it happen in fandom (much as I love it, it's certainly not a perfect place) to authors when they took "too long" to update a story posted as a work in progress and that's something their doing in their free time for no money and they (and other authors) certainly don't OWE their readers, they're GIVING them something. So I completely agree that sometimes people should take a step back and say to themselves: OK, I really LOVE this, that doesn't make it mine.

Edited at 2012-03-07 06:50 pm (UTC)

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