The Scott Shaw Blog Be Positive

Fighting the Powers That Be When There is No Fight Worth Fighting

Wow, that’s a long title…
Over the past years or so I’ve uploading more and more of Donald G. Jackson and my full-length feature films to YouTube. You know, we have reached a complex time in the distribution of films. Sure, there’s still theatrical presentations for the big dollar films. Kinda. And, there are the streaming services, of which I have a deal with Amazon Prime. But, those streaming services always have had a lot of restrictions. Plus, if you don’t have an established relationship with them, they don’t want your content.
Film distribution has always been this strange arena. Way back in the way back when a distribution company would give you a big chuck of change (and I mean big) just to rep your film. Then came the video age and everyone became a filmmaker. As there was so much product being pushed onto the market, the prices went down and down and down until now I don’t know any indie filmmakers who are making any real money. Sure, the distribution companies make money, but not the filmmaker. That’s why Don and I set up our own film distribution company back in the day. But, that company followed the rules of the long time ago. And, times have changed.
I used to have a great DVD deal with Amazon. They distributed any film I gave them. But, that too changed. A bit over a year ago they stopped distributing the DVDs from indie companies like mine. I get it… It was a lot of work on their end. But, it did put an end to a clear method for people to view the films of abstract filmmakers like myself.
But, the fact of the fact is, mediums like DVDs are a dead art form. It used to be dying, now it’s all but dead. Most of the people I know don’t even own DVD players anymore. It’s all about the Streaming.
Which brings me to the subject of YouTube. YouTube is a strange beast. One of the main problems I think is that you can’t really communicate with them anymore. They are this omnipresent godlike source that you may be able to pray to but will god answer? No. Can you ask god a direct question? No. Can you communicate your feelings and your position and get a direct and thoughtful response? No.
I’ve been on that platform for well over a decade and they always surprise me at some of the things they do. For example, as stated, I’ve been uploading some more of my films to them over the past year or so. The thing is, they have very specific rules about content: i.e. nudity, love making, violence, etc.  In fact, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, they took down Big Sister 2000, after like ten thousand people viewed it in a one or two day period, and I got the message that if I ever upload anything like that again I would have my account suspended. Though I don’t really like that film, as it went in a different direction than I would have liked to follow, but there is no pornography in it as they claim. It’s just an expression of a specific set of cinematic standards that have been portrayed forever. Anyway, that’s not the point…
For my films that step over YouTube’s lines, I have always removed or blurred that specific content before I upload the film to them. For the films that do pass their test, but have nudity and stuff, I have always listed them for the over eighteen crowd. Just trying to follow the rules…
Anyway, I had uploaded Armageddon Blvd. a little while back as the YouTube version. I had cut the scene where Julie Strain is shaving her private parts, (something that she just decided to do via complete and unexpected improv), and a couple of other things, though those scenes are still on the DVD. I get this notice last night from YouTube that the powers-that-be have decided that the movie is now listed as, “Age restricted,” content. Wait a minute! Didn’t I already do that?
The only way I could send back a question/statement to them was to put it via their appeal process. Of course, I almost immediately got one of their form letters of response, “Sorry. But…,” sent back my direction. I must ask here, as I did in my note to them, didn’t I already do that?
Here’s the question, what is life if you cannot communicate with the gods of our world? And, who is running the god shop? Obviously, it is just someone who is playing the game of taking an action—an action that was already taken. They are just doing to do when they have nothing better to do. But, what does that doing equal when the doing need not be done?
I mean, I think this goes to all levels of life. People have this abstract sense of control over us. They are making the choices as to what we are allowed to do. But, who are they and why are they allowed to do that? They’re just some-one who got hired to a position but if their position does not serve the actual betterment of the Whole and the All then why does that position deserve to exist?  Moreover, who is the judge and why are they allowed to judge? Did you give them that right? No. Did I? No. They just decided to do what they decide to do. And this leaves us with the quandary of life, what choice do we have in the relinquishing of our control? Do we have any? Or, simply because of the fact that we wish to play in the playground of someone else, must we be dominate by anything that they choose to choose?
I remember back to when I was a kid, maybe in fourth grade, and this other kid did something wrong, but I was blamed for it, (as he sat there smiling). Due to his action, I was banned from my grammar school’s afterschool playground activities. That was really a shot because that was my whole fun at the time. I realized then, as I have stated many times in many places, you can only play in your own playground. If you don’t, you are dominated by the rules of the someone else.
But, for us filmmaker’s what can we do with our films in this every-changing world of viewing?     
Now, I know most of you out there are not filmmakers. I also know that most of you out there don’t watch or even care about the style of cinema I create. Most of you only watch YouTube when you need to learn how to fix something or do something like that. But, this goes to the truth of the truth of all levels of our life. Who is in control? Why do we allow them to be in control? Why do we allow ourselves to be under their control? And, how can we control or compete with anything when vast powers like YouTube and their abstract godlikeness dominate us and we cannot even ask them a question?
Like god, you can pray. The bible tells you so. Some even believe they receive an answer to their prayers. But, when you live your life dominated by a force that cannot be seen, how can you know that any answer you receive is an actual answer and not just a projection of your own mind?

You’re happy when you get what you want, you’re sad when you don’t. But, when you are not the one who is in control, how can any element of your life be under your control?