There have been a ton of post mortems about the whole SOPA/PIPA fight, with many trying to figure out where and how the MPAA "went wrong." After all, this is a group that is very used to getting its way inside DC. And it got slaughtered. We've already discussed our thoughts on why the MPAA failed, but what stuns me is how every time someone from the MPAA opens their mouth, they seem to make the situation worse by demonstrating just how tone deaf they are to the online community and what their concerns were. Whether it's just more backroom dealing, each response just sounds like a group of people who are playing a different game, and still don't realize the rules have changed.
The Hollywood Reporter's version of the post mortem is a good read, even though it covers much the same ground as many other such recaps. Still, it's worth reading to get a good feel for Hollywood's view of the world. But the really stunning part is the quote from Michael O'Leary, the MPAA's number two guy, who makes what may be the most tone-deaf statement we've seen to date in this fight:
The MPAA's O'Leary concedes that the industry was outmanned and outgunned in cyberspace. He says the MPAA "is [undergoing] a process of education, a process of getting a much, much greater presence in the online environment. This was a fight on a platform we're not at this point comfortable with, and we were going up against an opponent that controls that platform."
Yes, even when he tries to say that they're trying to learn about the confounded internet thingy, he sounds ridiculous and dismissive. But the real point is his inadvertent admission within that statement: the MPAA (and the rest of "old" Hollywood) simply "is not comfortable with" the internet. And that's really what SOPA and PIPA were about. Rather than trying to understand this new platform, and learn from the many entertainers who do get the internet, they did what the MPAA does and simply tried to regulate that which they don't understand and fear.
Furthermore, even more ridiculous is the end of that sentence: "an opponent that controls that platform." As the article makes clear, he means Google. Which shows that he still doesn't get it. First, Google didn't lead the protests. It came late to the game, after the grassroots had already taken off with this stuff and run with it. But, more to the point, contrary to what O'Leary and the MPAA seem to believe: Google does not control the internet. No one does.
This, of course, explains why the MPAA wants to "negotiate" with Google these days. But that's not going to work. The folks on the internet don't want a backroom deal, whether it's negotiated by Google or someone else. Either way, this suggests that the MPAA is desperately in need of new leadership. They need leaders who don't try to regulate that which they admit they don't understand. They need leaders who aren't so clueless as to think that Google controls the internet (or that Google is somehow "the enemy.") And, really, most important, they need leaders who recognize and understand that the internet is their future too -- and any leadership needs to not fear the internet, but understand it and learn to embrace it. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem likely that the MPAA is going to find such leadership any time soon.