The Internet is a bad, baaaad thing. It turns otherwise normal people into criminals. And if you don't use it correctly it can get you fired. Erstwhile Fox News movie reviewer Roger Friedman found out this out the hard way when he reviewed a pirated copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine -- and found himself X'd out of a writing gig.
But before I get into the juicy details, a series of disclaimers.
- I would rather gargle with live bait than read anything on FoxNews.com. That's just how I roll.
- I am not sitting in front of my PC wearing Hugh Jackman face fuzz and Wolverine claws, eagerly consuming every morsel of news about yet another in a seemingly endless series of X-Men movies (though I do admit to occasionally dressing up like Emma Frost, just for fun).
- Until a few moments ago I had never heard of Roger Friedman. (Is he related to Roger Ebert? Or maybe Roger Ramjet?)
- I rarely use my BitTorrent powers, and then only for the good of mankind.
- And yet, this topic has a certain lingering aftertaste I can't seem to shake.
Fox isn't talking about why Friedman got the boot. But it seems pretty clear he got axed not only for reviewing a movie that was otherwise unavailable to the law-abiding non-BitTorrent-using public, but also for having the temerity to suggest that downloading and watching pirated movies won't make your face go hairy, cause stainless steel claws to sprout from your knuckles, or turn you into an Obamanista (this is Fox News, after all).
The money quote: "It took really less than seconds to start playing it all right onto my computer."
For shame, Roger Friedman, for shame. You just revealed what only 20 (or maybe 200) million non-mutants already know. Now all the kids will be doing it.
Was it poor judgement on Friedman's part? Obviously. But I have an idea why he did it. I think he was trying to keep up. He was getting his a** kicked by amateur online reviewers and wanted to at least try to keep some skin in the game. Because the Web rewards speed and reach above everything else -- accuracy, quality, even legality. And -- I can speak from firsthand knowledge here -- it's changing the journalism trade in particular, not generally for the better.