The Problem with Leaks [And the People Who Want Them]

So I missed my window with last month’s Comic-Con, but there’s always something going on and thankfully the D23 Expo, a biennial Disney convention, this past weekend has given me a chance to take another stab at this topic. I’m too lazy put any effort into coming up with a pun involving plumbers, but today I’m going to be discussing leaks.

Here’s an image to kick things off:

To provide a little context, the screenshot up top is a tweet from Marvel Entertainment that was posted shortly after the trailer to Avengers: Age of Ultron leaked last October. Hours to minutes later they released the official trailer themselves, days earlier than originally intended.

The second screenshot is the text that accompanied the full trailer to Warner Bros.’ Suicide Squad that was posted to the film’s Facebook page. It was penned by Sue Kroll, the President of Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution for the company. Similar to Marvel Entertainment this was done after another leak, though in this case the source was an unknown individual who had illegally recorded a trailer screened at Comic-Con.

As you might be able to tell by the way the image was put together, the internet populace in general thinks much more highly of one reaction than the others. While the context surrounding each leak is important I’m going to be discussing why at the end of they day it’s all the same, and how I think the entire attitude surrounding this sort of thing is weak and selfish and I don’t respect it.To begin with, releasing official trailer for both was an inevitability. Kroll hit the nail on the head when she said that they “[could not] continue to allow the film to be represented by the poor quality [of the leaked footage].” No studio wants to see a subpar version of the product they worked so hard on distributed and nitpicked. It was never really an issue of whether or not it was going to happen after the initial leak.

Now would be the time to bring in the recent D23 Expo, as it aligns pretty closely with what took place at Comic-Con. During that event a lot of exclusive material was screened, with clips from next year’s Captain America: Civil War in particular creating a thirst in the internet that has yet to be slaked. Due to what happened to Warner Bros., however, security was extremely tight and as far as we can tell nothing has gotten out. This has garnered responses like the following:

youreamoron

“‘We want absolutely NO MARKETING of our product!’ Morons.”

Which, and I’m going to be generous here, is the best possible way to look at this if you’re on the side of those clamouring, nay, demanding to get their eyes on exclusive footage. After all, if you truly love a company and its products then their success is of particular importance to you. As a customer you should be marketed to, that only makes sense. Thankfully there was a voice of reason in that same thread who gave the very reasonable response of:

“They do it so that people going to cons like this can feel like VIPs for getting early access. It’s not like they’re going to refuse to market it, just a question of early access.”

Which is fantastic, because now I don’t have to break down the hows and whys of con-exclusive teasers and trailers. They own the products, they’ll release it how and when they believe it to be most effective. Now that that’s been taken care of I can get into how selfish and willfully ignorant of the harm they cause the people with less legitimate defences really are.

Let me start by asking you a question: What are your rights? If you answered the right to a fair trial, protection against enslavement, prohibition of genocide, free speech, or a right to education then you are correct, and probably read the same section of Wikipedia that I did. You know what doesn’t make it on that list? The right to view or access exclusive footage.

There’s this deeply-rooted sense of entitlement that saturates so many of the internet circles I find myself in and honestly I find it sickening. The sheer number of cries I see from people saying that they “deserve” something that isn’t oxygen or the opportunity to work for a living is truly staggering. I think the word “selfish” wraps it up neatly because ultimately these people are only concerned with themselves, which helps me to segue seamlessly into my next point-

It’s these same people who don’t give any thought as to how these leaks affect others. As far as the larger conventions are concerned the actual damage is a bit more nebulous as we have to take into consideration the security put in place, when and where the studios were planning on actually releasing the trailers, etc. In the case of the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, however, it’s very easy to pinpoint the harm done.

While it was leaked on October 22nd, 2014, the trailer was originally intended to be released during the next week’s episode of Agents of SHIELD on the 28th. This is especially important when you take into account that with television ratings are everything. The more eyes you can get on your program on any given day counts towards its survival. Yes, Marvel responded in a good-natured and humorous fashion, but were they glad that they had to show their hand before they wanted to? Was anyone thrilled that the ratings boost they were looking forward to was negated by someone out there who felt like giving the internet what they “deserved”?

Even something as seemingly innocuous as passing around scans of Marvel’s previews for their All-New All-Different previews can have an effect that the more self-concerned never consider. While they were all released in a free magazine format the loss of any potential revenue for the company was never the real issue. Restricting access to these previews to local comic book stores results in bodies in shops and, presumably, some small amount of sales as a result. That money could have gone to DC or Image or any of Marvel’s other competitors, but the end goal would have been support of the brick and mortar stores, many of which struggle to stay afloat.

It’s totally fine to be a fan of something and to want to see it, I would personally love to check out the Civil War footage from this past weekend. That being said we should all be able to separate wanting to see something with deserving to see it. On top of that we should consider that companies have reasons for everything they do, and given that most of our livelihoods aren’t directly tied into their successes maybe we should let them make the decisions.

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3 responses to “The Problem with Leaks [And the People Who Want Them]

  1. Your thoughts are articulated well in this article and definitely provide a proper, logical perspective.

    With that being said, I would have to say that movie trailers being leaked early is certainly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the culture that has formed from the global gathering place called the “internet”. It’s transformed in a matter of 15 years, from a unique and exciting landscape, into a elementary school playground full of bullies with no supervision. We have a place for those who wish to do wrong, to do so with little to no consequence; it brings out the worst in people, and empowers that mindset, with no harm to come.

    • I can’t believe I didn’t mention it anywhere in the post above, but a strong sense of entitlement is also what leads to a lot of internet piracy, which is another thing I find indefensible.

      In general you hit it on the head when you said that the internet and the anonymity it offers really does bring out the worst in us. Thankfully it brings out some positives as well, but there’s a lot of bad with the good.

  2. Pingback: We Can’t Get No Satisfaction: Yet Another Millennial Throws His Peers Under the Bus | Culture War Reporters

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