As many of you have already heard, drama club's wet dream, Glee, recently stole the arrangement of Jonathan Coulton's cover of "Baby Got Back" note for note, claimed it was their own, put it on iTunes, and then told him that he should be thankful for the free exposure they were giving him. Except they didn't actually credit him in even the most microscopic manner. So far, they have refused to comment on the ensuing Internet shitstorm that followed.
Now, I do not represent Fox or Glee in any fashion, but after evaluating the situation for several days, I'm pretty sure I finally understand where they're coming from. So to help ease the minds of those who are wondering what Fox and Glee think of all this, I'm going to pretend that I work for them and speak on their behalf. Jonathan Coulton, you owe us an apology, because ...
#5. We Gave You Free Exposure
Quite frankly, we're pretty disappointed in you, former computer programmer who wrote the end song for Portal. And Portal 2. And "Code Monkey." And ... well, we don't have to tell you who you are. Or do we? Because up until now, you seemed like a pretty smart guy, but after this whole "Baby Got Back" thing, we're starting to think you're kind of a dumbass.
See, we didn't think our plan was that hard to understand. It's not like we didn't use the most bargain basement PR device in the Fox arsenal. Here, let us lay this out for you as simply as we can. Without looking it up, can you tell us who wrote the script for the Glee episode in question? Of course you can't, because no sane person reads credits. That's a terrible place to give an artist attribution. If you really want to give someone exposure for their work, you have to start an Internet riot, and from the looks of things, we pulled that off pretty handily.
It's pretty easy to set up, when you think about it. We steal your song and make it as obvious as humanly possible. Then we verbally give you the finger by telling you that you should be thanking us for it, knowing that you'll relay that message to your fans. Predictably, they get super heated, and we respond to their outcries with cold, dead silence, igniting their anger like flipping the NOS switch in an insultingly stupid fictional street race. Except in this case, our race car is exposure. The ensuing outrage gives the illusion of sparked interest on the Net, which prompts large sites like Wired.com
, and Forbes
to report on the injustice. And just like that, you're on the lips of every entertainment blog on the Internet, baby. Just like we planned it.
Oh, don't act surprised. You've seen our news shows. You know that the way we acquire ratings is by promoting anger and outrage. This has been our business model at its very core for years, and it absolutely works.But do you thank us? No, you run to your precious lawyers. You vilify us. You make us out to be the bad guys. It's like getting a PS3 for Christmas and then suing your parents because they stole your song and didn't give you credit. Sorry, our analogy guy is on vacation. The point is, you're being an asshole, and you need to knock it off. Be the bigger man, Jonathan, and thank us for the exposure we're graciously bestowing upon you. You can send your thanks to email@example.com.
#4. We're Just Connecting With the Internet Crowd You Hold So Dear
Fact: Everyone on the Internet steals music. We should know, we're members of the RIAA
. We've been battling song thieves for years, and we're no closer to a solution now than we were when we had Lars Ulrich poking his head out of our zippers and testifying like a ventriloquist penis act. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and what better way is there to connect with the music-stealing gangs of the Internet than to become one of them?
It's like when Jesus associated himself with murderers and prostitutes and Jews. He did that because the innocent, God-fearing people of the world didn't need to be converted. Just the assholes did. So in stealing your song so blatantly and remorselessly, we, like Jesus, have associated ourselves with the worst of the Internet. We have waded into the scum-laden pond of sin, and we are baptizing the masses. Soon they will be converted into upstanding, music-buying children of Glee.
Look, we're not trying to sound holier than thou on this matter. We're just saying that we are Jesus. And we're just trying to cleanse the music-Jews of the world. Is that really so wrong? Don't be the devil in this story, Jonathan. Let us do our work in peace. The Lord's work.
Yes, we are selling our exact 100 percent ripoff of your music on iTunes
, and yes, we will profit heavily from it. And no, we will not give you credit for it under any circumstance. But isn't this industry about sacrifice and sharing? Whatever happened to the times when a large, above-the-law production could steal music from an independent artist, make millions of dollars from that song, and then tell the original musician to go fuck himself without consequence?
Don't be selfish, Mr. Coulton. You had your fun, rewriting Sir Mix-A-Lot's song about butts into a hilarious acoustic masterpiece. Don't you think it's time you let someone else have a turn copying and pasting that song into their own production and pretending that they created it? You can email your apology to firstname.lastname@example.org
.#3. To Be Fair, We Are Pretty Talentless in the Music Department
We don't think you quite understand how hard it is to write a TV show. It's really hard. And it's even harder when you have to add music to it. Yes, some of the cast members can sort of sing ... kind of. In a "one in a million shot of my theater degree paying off" sort of way. But you can't expect us to hire talented people to write fresh, original arrangements to every song, every single week. It's not only unrealistic, it's impossible.
Knowing that, it's no surprise that we were forced to fill that department with someone's cousin. And let's not mince words here -- we're not in the business of morals. We harvested your song because the law allowed us to. And as long as the unoriginal, talentless fuckhole who "writes" the arrangements didn't lift your actual tracks, we're legally allowed to completely and totally duplicate every single last note you wrote and claim that it is our original creation. Because that's exactly what we, Glee, did
Unfortunately for you, that's the law, buddy, and it cares nothing for morals. We did the same exact thing
to Greg Laswell's version
of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," and you don't hear him complaining.
Given, it's mostly because he doesn't have as big of an Internet following as you, but we like to think that it's also because he is grateful for us recognizing his work and showing him how good we think he is by duplicating it down to the millisecond.
Do you hear Nouvelle Vague complaining that we completely ripped off
their version of "Dancing With Myself
"? We're not actually sure about that one because we don't really read the news. But the point is that we've done this many times, and we've never gotten in trouble for it, so we're just going to keep on doing it until someone makes a law to prevent us from full-on stealing other people's work. It's like when you read in those old books about pilgrims and prairie settlers getting married and having kids at the age of 14. If we as a country had never made laws against it, we here at Fox would still be fucking teenagers. So you see, we're doing America a service by being completely unethical cocksuckers until we force the government to force us to change.
You're welcome, assholes. You can thank us properly at email@example.com.
#2. We Were Just Trying to Show You How Much We Love You!
Seriously, how fucking ungrateful can you be? Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? Well, duplication is the highest form of imitation. So our outright, blatant theft of your cover is the biggest compliment you could possibly get.
Why do you think we left in the line "Johnny C's in trouble" when we don't have a "Johnny C" character on the show, and Sir Mix-A-Lot's version used his own name? We did that because we love you, Jonathan Coulton, and not because we're so unbelievably fucking lazy and dense that we didn't realize that it was an addition that was added by you in your original cover. Again, just for a refresher, the cover that we, Glee on Fox, stole from you without question.
And we most certainly didn't do it because we knew that if we leaked that theft, the Internet would lose its mind and tune in to see if we actually had the balls to air it, thereby boosting our ratings by 35 percent.
No, we did it because we respect you as an artist, and we love your work. And we wanted to pay homage by showing you what it sounds like when someone else replaces your vocals. We wanted to show you how much money you could make by selling that song on iTunes if you just put your mind and the power of a large, untouchable conglomerate to it. We are just looking out for your best interests, and quite frankly, you're kind of being a little bitch about it.
But you can rectify that at any time by contacting our comments and complaints department at firstname.lastname@example.org
and coming clean. Don't live with the guilt of being wrong, buddy. We are forgiving -- all you have to do is ask for it.#1. When You Think About It, It Really Was Your Fault
Hey, if you didn't want your song stolen, you should never have written such a stealable song.
Seriously, listen to it -- it's beautifully constructed. Everything about it just screams "Steal me and profit from it!" Would you rather it had been taken by some knockoff show like Acting Out
? Or would you rather have it stolen by a show that can get you this level of buzz simply by fucking you over in such an obvious manner, completely devoid of ethics or class?
To us, the choice is obvious. If we were in your shoes, we'd rather have our own work stolen by us so we could give it the most exposure. No, we didn't come to you and request to do the song, but you knew it was inevitable that we'd use it, right? If anything, you should have come to us. It's your own fault for sitting around and just waiting for things to happen. That's not how successful people operate, Jonathan.
You don't sit around your house, smoking the reefer cigarettes and playing video games, waiting for someone to discover you. You get up off your ass and you seek out your fame. That's what we expected to happen, because we thought you were the type of guy who had initiative and drive. So when you never showed up at our offices to ask us if we could use your song, we just assumed (probably correctly) that you were slacking. You do have a beard, after all.
So as far as we're concerned, you owe us an apology. For our pain and suffering, as well as the tidal wave of angry feedback we've gotten at email@example.com
from your fans. We demand that you take down your cover of our cover of your cover
on iTunes and forward us all of the money that you're giving to charity
from those proceeds.
But please don't let any of this discourage you. We definitely want to encourage you and all independent artists to continue writing more covers, because ... well, let's face it, our show isn't so much a "show" as it is an iTunes factory
with a half-assed, slapped-together script to justify it being on TV. Take away the constant stream of hit singles and they'd cancel us in a heartbeat. The faster you independent artists give us prepackaged arrangements, the faster we can get that fucker up in online MP3 stores and show our executives what a great job we're doing.