Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Wallace and Gromit and Propaganda

We used the doldrums between school holidays and the ebbing of winter to pay Scienceworks Museum a visit this weekend. Specifically, we wanted to visit its current Wallace and Gromit exhibition during a relatively calm time when we don't have to elbow masses of people to earn a peak. We came, we saw, but most of what we saw had nothing to do with the funny British stop motion characters we know and love.
The exhibition entrance is in the shape of a house not unlike my English parents in law's. Once in, one is exposed to numerous Wallace and Gromit activities and several sets. However, one is even more exposed to a tirade of propaganda decorating all walls and more. To set the scene, this was the first exhibition item I actually read:

It quickly became clear that the Wallace and Gromit expo is sponsored by Australia IP, a government body; the thing that surprised me is how this government body was using the exhibition to promote the agenda of the copyright industry. From record labels to developers of agricultural products (read: GM food), the whole exhibition is one big campaign of the copyright industry or its brother, the IP industry. Funded by the Aussie tax payer, of course. If the twisting of an entertainment exhibition into a one sided propaganda campaign isn't bad enough, especially when taking into account the setting - a science museum - and the admission price of $19 that we paid as museum members, the worst realization dawned on me as we moved along: the whole thing is set specifically in order to have an effect on children.
No, even on the day Samsung was ordered to pay Apple a billion dollars for daring to compete, there was nothing discussing the illnesses of the IP/copyright industries. There was nothing about the way IP legislation curbs innovation (nothing like this); everything was one sided, and everything was aiming squarely at younger audiences. Check this out, for example -

If this childish and one sided explanation of music piracy wasn't enough, check out the cuddly ducks of the record labels as they spread their dollars - all of them - to the artists:

By far the greatest abomination was a video displayed on a large TV panel and featuring kids discussing how bad it is to copy. Silly me, as a parent seeing how his child is growing I thought that all kids do is copy – how else would they learn to speak, or better yet take active part in society?

According to sources in the copyright industry, 40% of Australians actively participate in online piracy (see here). If we accept this as fact, and let's face it - circumstances are probably "worse" - then the implication is that most Australians are either directly pirating copyright content or directly related to a pirate. If that is the case then what the Wallace and Gromit exhibition does, in effect, is come between child and parent.
The shame continues online. You can check out the propaganda posing as educational resources made available by the museum. If you ever wanted to teach children about the unblemished record of the copyright industry and the divine principles driving it, look no further than the publicly owned Scienceworks museum.
This one sided and totally biased presentation totally defies the culture of investigation and scrutiny that a science museum should stand for. Further, twisting the exhibition into a propaganda campaign aimed at easily biased children is unforgivable. Scienceworks seems to be taking a leaf out of the pages of the notorious Creation Museum. What a shame!

29/8/12 update: Comments along the lines of the above, provided to Scienceworks' Wallace and Gromit page (here) have thus far been moderated out. I was harsh but did not use obscenities or offensive language; it therefore appears Museum Victoria's moderation policy includes leaving unflattering material out.

4/9/12 update: My comment has been published at Scienceworks' page (see here).  I also received an email from the manager of Scienceworks, which I intend to discuss and reply to. My reply will be posted on this blog.

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