Consuming movies, television and music has changed a great deal since I was a teenager. We were late adopters, and I don’t think we had a VCR until I was eighteen. If you wanted to listen to the Top 40 songs, of course, you could pop down to the local Brash’s and buy a record or, as time went by, a cassette. And if you wanted something slightly obscure, like the Beatles, I kid you not, then you went and looked in a paper catalogue with very fine print until you found the name of the album, you filled in an order form, and then you waited for months. You couldn’t see the album cover. You couldn’t see a track listing. From what I remember, it was just the name of the album, the artist, and the catalogue number. And if you wanted something that was genuinely off the beaten track, then you had to catch the train into the city and then order from Central Station or Gaslight records.
And listening to music was quite a production, especially in the day and age of actual records. Children were born with the innate knowledge that a record stylus with a delicate and expensive object. So you were super-careful putting on a record, and you sat still while it was playing, lest you scratch this precious object.
And while these things were true pretty much across the western world, Australia was very much a cultural backwater. Songs that had been hits overseas were rerecorded by local artists, presumably to make them more palatable. Albums, movies, and TV shows were all released here months, if not years after their release in America and Europe. And I’d like to tell you that this form of parochialism is from the distant past, when people listen to 8-track players while riding their dinosaurs. But the last vestiges of this are still in place, although they are being eroded by things like iTunes and the Google Play store.
All of which is to say that I understand that people get frustrated by living in a cultural backwater. And I understand why some people have taken to downloading programs, frustrated that they have to wait so long. But I call bullshit on the notion that we have suffered greatly, and that we need to inflict financial vengeance on our lackadaisical media providers. Sure, they waited until the price dropped before they bought things and showed them here. Yes, the prints of movies that we saw had been shown in every cinema from California to Indiana before they got here. And this was annoying. And it is much more convenient now that we have services like Netflix, Google play, and iTunes and can entertain ourselves in what feels like a timely manner. But to hear some people complaining, you’d swear that we were the victims of some large-scale human rights violation, rather than a bunch of people who are impatient to see a TV show. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, or think that I’m exaggerating, check out the comments below any story in a newspaper about Netflix.
And having said that, I’m off to illegally download the new episodes of Game of Thrones. I just can’t wait to see what Tyrion does next.