US Gov't And Hollywood Have Turned Kim Dotcom Into A Beloved Cult Hero

from the incredible dept

Kim Dotcom is not a sympathetic individual. Anyone who’s followed his career over the years (even from well before Megaupload) has known that. He’s loud, obnoxious, ostentatious and seems to have little shame about his past efforts to be on the wrong side of the law. If there’s anyone out there who could easily be framed as “Dr. Evil,” it is Dotcom. So, it’s really quite stunning to realize that the US government and Hollywood have taken perhaps the easiest person to demonize around… and turned him into a lovable “cult hero.” Over the past six months, it appears that the US’s massive overreaction to Megaupload, at the urging of a typically clueless Hollywood, has done the exact opposite of what they hoped. Whereas they figured the prosecution of Megaupload and Dotcom was a slam dunk, and that it would act as a clear “education campaign” for others, the truth seems to be the exact opposite. People are realizing that the government and Hollywood overreacted, and it’s almost entirely rehabilitated Dotcom’s image.

Gavin Ellis, a senior political studies lecturer at the University of Auckland, said that over time the public had become less supportive of the police operation.

“Initially there was a sort of a ‘gee, whiz’ reaction. ‘Wow, look what the police have done, they’ve got this alleged master criminal,”’ Mr. Ellis said. “But then, as the media perception of him and the media portrayal of him changed, looking backward those things started to look heavy-handed.”

While Mr. Dotcom’s lawyers were making steady progress in court, Mr. Dotcom was gaining the public’s favor. A headline on the news Web site in May read, “Dotcom’s straight talk wins over Kiwis.”

“There’s been a clear shift in the characterization of him, from this assumed criminality or alleged criminality, to a cult hero,” Mr. Ellis said.

The amazing thing to me, is that Hollywood and the US government should have known this was going to happen. They more or less did the same thing with the Pirate Bay years ago. Having the US government completely overreact and bring the power of the government down on almost anyone can make them look sympathetic. But even I doubted it would happen when it came to Dotcom, who was so over-the-top that he’s very, very easy to dislike. He must have seemed like a perfect target to US and Hollywood officials. To think that within just a few months he’s become this “cult hero” is pretty stunning and shows just how clueless both Hollywood and the feds are about the public’s reaction to their campaign.

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Comments on “US Gov't And Hollywood Have Turned Kim Dotcom Into A Beloved Cult Hero”

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Nom du Clavier (profile) says:

This can only mean one thing

Next year, a blockbuster summer hit about DotCom the antihero. Followed by a score of action figures, some of which I figure legal action. Then games for all the usual platforms as well as Linux (because, you know Pirates! & Freetards!).

I’m tempted to break out the popcorn, but I doubt it’ll last that long.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: This can only mean one thing

Not only would it not last long, but copyright maximilists would stupidly claim that popcorn sellers are profiting off a criminal, stealing the money that is so obviously owed to the ‘artists’ that DotCom ‘stole’ from.

Does that mean that the MPAA would then order the DOJ to (illegally) raid and shut down all the movie theatres and confiscate all the projection equipment?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: This can only mean one thing

“Not only would it not last long, but copyright maximilists would stupidly claim that popcorn sellers are profiting off a criminal, stealing the money that is so obviously owed to the ‘artists’ that DotCom ‘stole’ from.”

And then demand the popcorn business shutdown

gorehound (profile) says:

Re: This can only mean one thing

I for one am glad Kim is fighting back and in a big way.I have hated Big Studios for years now and I have hated my US Government for even longer.I am in my later 50’s and I was there as a teenager Protesting Pollution, Vietnam, and the cheap slave labor-like products just to name a few.I went to my first punk rock show in 1976 and I was a member of the “No Business As Usual” Group and I also was a Y.I.P.P.I.E.
Keep up the good fight for us all Kim Dotcom !!! You are not a Saint that is for sure but then again you are a lot more Saintly than any of these Rich Corrupt Polticians, MPAA,RIAA, and my Government.

Nom du Clavier (profile) says:

Re: The board game is even worse

Don’t forget the board game, loosely modeled on The Game of Life.

“This fun game will teach your children all they need to know about illegal raids on foreign mansions, missing videotapes, embarrassed government officials and oafish entertainment lawyers.

Everyone will start the game with an objective. Some will get to play ‘the bad man’, others will raid – and wouldn’t you rather let them do this outside of WoW? It’s fun for the whole family!

Before you know it you’ll hear them bandy about such terms as search and seizure, writ of habeas corpus? corpulent you mean!, mens rea? isn’t that what you use those towels for, mom?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

At this point, I don’t think anything short of Dotcom killing his own children in a Satanic ritual and filming it to show on Youtube would make people root for the American government.

(And for all I know, there might actually be MPAA execs out conducting Satanic rituals in order to curry favor with their master prior to the extradition hearing.)

Hephaestus (profile) says:

They did not learn from history, which shows, corporate education campaigns only work in the short term, and future campaigns along the same lines are ridiculed. After 20 years you would think …

What is really a wonderful thing is you can not pay for this sort of publicity or cult status. It gives Kim Dotcom a huge amount of publicity for MegaBox. It also validates the concept of MegBox, Since people suspect the entrenched content players are trying to prevent MegaBox from happening.

I love the word Schadenfreude …. The next year or two are going to be fun to watch.

Loki says:

To think that within just a few months he’s become this “cult hero” is pretty stunning and shows just how clueless both Hollywood and the feds are about the public’s reaction to their campaign.

I don’t think this issue has turned him into a cult hero, as much as it has put into perspective just how reviled Hollywood, the RIAA, and the MPAA are. I actually heard someone last week say, “sure Dotcom is a piece of scum and a dirtbag, but at least he’s not Chris Dodd.”

And in the end, they really don’t care about Dotcom’s image one way or another. All they care about is that they delayed his efforts to bring to market a potentially viable competing service by at least two years (and scared off a lot of other potential competitors who might have considered following suit). If it keeps their businesses afloat for another couple years longer, they wouldn’t care if people thought Dotcom was the second coming of Jesus.

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Just remember, the moment anything that remotely looks like a flash bang comes through the windows do the following:

Close both eyes immediately
Put either shoulder to the corresponding ear to cover it (if possible, cover the other ear with a free hand)

Do both those things and the general effects of a flash bang will be greatly reduced. (I’m not saying they’ll be completely removed, just that the overall effects won’t be as harsh as usual, which basically is the point of them. To disorient in as quickly and extreme a manner as possible, thus preventing any possible response from the person they are being used on.)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m sure there’s a couple of thugs… I mean government sanctioned law enforcement officers about to repel through my windows for having given out that useful information.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Although that info might be useful to prevent us from having the ringing in the ears, blindness, and other effects of the flashbang, it still wouldn’t prevent us from staring down the barrel of an assualt rifle 10 seconds afterwards.

It would be priceless to hear an officer say “Damn, they avoided the flashbang, guess it’s over. Let’s pack up and head home.”

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Yeah, true. I forgot to mention it would be useful for ONLY the flash bangs part. Not the actual rifle in the face bit.

As for that last thing, man that would be hilarious.

Reminds me of this one time, I was at a relative’s house and we hear loud noises outside. We’re in a backroom, so we go to the front of the house and I open the front door and peak out and think “wtf”. I duck my head back in and I say, “Dude (to my cousin), your house is being raided!” And I open the door again and the lead cop screams from outside the huge gate, “Hey, come out here!” And I, not thinking, say, “No, you come in here.” And this is the part where I literally laughed out loud, the cop responds in perhaps the most hilarious “mom just said I can’t go out and play” voice ever, “I can’t. The gate’s locked.” At which point, after laughing, we start walking out and the other cops are further down the property trying to jump this insanely tall fence and the cop I said what I did to ask if so and so lives at this property and I say, “Uh no. That’s the person at the house next door.” At which point the cop cusses and starts yelling into his walkie, “We’re at the wrong house! Repeat, wrong house!” At which point, the guys half over the fence kind of grunt in a “fuck!” kind of way and then hop back over the other way and they all start running around the property to get to the house next door.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, since the US was the bull. MU did business with US companies (Carpathia) meaning tax revenue. That’s taxes the US government no longer gets. As well as the lost tax revenue from all the cyberlockers restricting themselves, thus losing custom.
Was there an appreciable gain in the sale of DVDs that could be directly linked to all this? Not to my knowledge.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

And the American people get to foot the bill for the flights to New Zealand for the FBI and lawyers, plus all the legal fees. I’m just hoping the US judge finally realizes that Ira Rothken is right in that we have no jurisdiction on a foreign corporation and at least cuts some of the costs down.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

… consider what it looks like to an NZ citizen then.

Dotcom’s doing everything right, basically, but when an unpopular government makes a big public deal about using excessive force at the behest of an ALSO unpopular Foreign government, people taking the victim’s side is pretty much a gimme. when they do so with NO CASE and then BREAK THE LAW in the process, well…

let’s just say his PR skills are just taking a free cake and icing complicated artwork upon it in unbelievable detail.

Anonymous Coward says:

never having met the man, i have no idea whether Dotcom is the type of person you say or not. to me that’s irrelevant. even if he is, it doesn’t give the US government or Hollywood the right to go after him in the way they did, using the methods they did, surely? if all it takes is for someone of power to say ‘i dont like him, go get him’ to any law enforcement agency anywhere in the world and manufacture ‘evidence’ that destroys that person, on a whim, what the hell chance does some ordinary person have that has nowhere near the resources he has to help in the fight to clear the accusations? sorry, but i think the whole Mega debacle shows that there are some people that have too much power for their own good (let alone anyone elses) and that they cant handle that power but certainly know how to abuse it!

Violated (profile) says:

I think they should have realised that when UMG and others falsely took down the Mega Song video. People examined the facts then and soon realised UMG was in the wrong which is why YouTube soon jumped on the case and restored the video.

Then of course when Mega got raided Anonymous soon fired back in the most successful DDoS attack in their history. These people had well used MegaUpload and was very aware of the countless file/links that had been removed under DMCA. So this was clearly a step-up in the War on piracy and Anonymous was very angry as they shot back.

Well what do we have here but one chubby multi-millionaire with a shady history. To his credit though he has kept his nose clean for many years and past convictions have expired and were removed from his record. So for the most part he has been a clean living businessman who has now settled down with a wife and children.

I think the best thing I have heard Kim Dotcom say to date is that once this is over he intends to become a major funder of the EFF. Anyone who has read the news long enough well knows the countless battles the EFF have been involved with and all the good they do. Also the EFF do not have the resources to handle all worthy cases so Kim Dotcom wanting to fund them by millions would be a great thing indeed that would go on to help many thousands more people.

I do see one other aspect to this when the Internet is very good at organizing protests even to the point of Government overthrows in the Arab Spring. The problem in this though is that no natural leader emerges afterwards to take control and to bring about their goals. Kim Dotcom is a colourful and outspoken character in a leadership position and it seems to me he could easily pass into the shady world of politics. So it is true to say the file sharing world do need representatives like Kim Dotcom and maybe why his enemies saw him as such a threat.

Well the future is unknown and currently we all fight side-by-side in this War of Intellectual Activism.

Metoo says:

I don’t know that he is an asshole. Usually we’d see the people who he had assholed coming forward in the gossip rags to give him some come uppance. Everyone in the local community who has interacted with him seems to have a positive view of him.

He appears to be a good friend, a good family man, and a bit of a goof. He’s certainly done some things to not be proud of, but he appears to have rehabilitated. He’s probably an ok guy all things considered.

Mike D, yo (profile) says:

Americans love relative evil.

The “good guy” is always the one who happens to be less evil of the two. It’s pretty much the entire basis of modern American politics: all you have to do is be less of a douche than the other guy.

People (myself included) will only hear the first part of “so-and-so is unsympathetic defendant, but the US govt has overreached again” so many times. After awhile, they only hear the latter. Line up some sympathetic third parties who have been negatively affected by the hamfisted action and pretty soon you can have Darth Vader in there pushing crack to nuns and he’ll have fans.

And, yes, Masnick is right. The govt and **AA guys should have known this would happen. In fact, they probably did. The confusion is whether or not they care. I don’t think they do care.

Their mission is already accomplished. MegaUpload is toast. Anything bad that comes now is just a number on the receipt to be signed off after the last glass of wine is paid for.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Americans love relative evil.

‘cept this came out of New Zealand.

our first public introduction to the guy was actually the scandal surrounding the fact that the current government basically let him buy his way past the immigration process. and even then no one had a problem with HIM over it, but with the government system that allowed it. (unpopular government, remember).

this came up because the government was flipflopping and being useless about letting him buy the (big and expensive) house he was renting, or some such. which lead to the media immediately talking to his neighbours to try to figure out why and getting Glowing responses about him.

THEN the whole Megaupload thing hit. and there was an attempt to spin him as this criminal whatever…

except, you know, we already knew about him with a contrary take on ‘who this guy is’. we already didn’t like the current government. then the US government, which, you know, most sane Kiwis are wary of, at best (we’ve watched our governments both successfully stand up to the USG on big issues AND dance like well worked puppets at the USG’s behest to screw over citizens who have done nothing wrong at all, often sacrificing significant gains for the nation as a whole to do so, just to start with.) is attacking this guy and our government is going along with it and Every Step of the Way more and more is coming to light about how corrupt the whole thing is (NZ citizens are generally NOT AT ALL tolerant of corruption, and to most the entire lobbying process in the US rates. being on the wrong end of the release window process there’s no real sympathy for hollywood about, well, Anything, either.)

so… yeah, it’s less ‘americans love relative evil’ and more ‘kiwis love an underdog, all the better if he’s ‘one of ours” and while people were a bit dubious about that when the immigration scandal came up, at this point most are probably more willing to claim Dotcom than our current government.

it helps a lot, of course, that he’s in the right.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Americans love relative evil.

so… yeah, it’s less ‘americans love relative evil’ and more ‘kiwis love an underdog, all the better if he’s ‘one of ours”

I’m not sure anyone who isn’t either a Kiwi or an Aussie can understand this, though it’s one of our countries cultural idiosyncrasies that is unique and allows us to be apathetic and easygoing on one hand, but stand up to idiotic authority bullshit and not give a stuff about what the rest of the world wants (or thinks) on the other.

Androgynous Cowherd says:

Amazing? Amazing??

The amazing thing to me, is that Hollywood and the US government should have known this was going to happen. They more or less did the same thing with the Pirate Bay years ago.

They’ve done the same thing to bootleggers and actual pirates in past centuries.

Robin Hood might be the prototypical example. Be a rebel or an outlaw but not a bully or a liar, and go up against someone who is both a bully and a liar, and you’ll generally win in the court of public opinion. Outlaws whose only crimes are victimless ones easily become David vs. Goliath folk heroes if the government goes after them.

Just one more reason why it’s foolish to enact, and even more foolish to attempt to enforce, laws against victimless activities.

But the most foolish thing of all is to use dishonorable tactics against an opponent who, even if his moral compass isn’t aligned with yours, does evidence some kind of code of honor of their own.

Anonymous Coward says:

Megaupload is to the MPAA what Napters was to the RIAA.

I find it incredible that after people got to the distributed system suddenly they turned around and started using a centralized option again, only to have their expectations trashed again by the same people who did it the first time around.

One can almost see what it is going to happen, people will just find other ways to do it, legislation will be proposed again but this time will be harder to get it since it is already going into crazy land.

Meanwhile Hollywood will keep fast and furious movies about thieves running from the law doing what they want and evil alien invasions as if anybody who comes from outside only wants to hurt everybody on the inside.

WTF Hollywood?

Are these people not supposed to be the smart people who can visualize and come up with all the scenarios that other people miss?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think the impact is worse that what most people already know. The Karate Kid remake had the Jaden Smith’s character download Beethoven music (which some modern-day orchestra must undoubtedly have the rights to) and burn it to a CD to give to a girl he likes. The sheer audacity and sales lost! Won’t somebody think of the children?

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Dotcom also serves as a canary in the coal mine.
The lengths the US Government is willing to bend and flat out distort the law to get even for their corporate sponsors is shocking.
Everyone knows congresscritters are on the take, you can not ignore how many of them join congress rich and end up leaving even richer headed to jobs that pay really well for some “consulting”.
People are starting to understand that even if Dotcom isn’t the nicest guy in the world, supporting justice being subverted to “get him what he deserves” lowers the bar for them using “justice” to get any one for any imagined crimes.

Justice shouldn’t be about being photogenic, or likeable. It is supposed to be about the facts and the law, not what you allege with no supporting facts and how you decide what the law should say rather than what it does say.

Detractors want to focus on he’s fat, he did this bad stuff that one time, so he must be guilty. They don’t feel he has been punished enough to suit them, but a court already settled these matters and the only reason to bring them up is to create the illusion that his past actions must be his actions currently.
So using this logic here is a premise.
If you ever “snuck” a cookie when mom had said no or wasn’t looking we should judge you for the rest of your life as a thief? Because that is exactly what so many people are doing to Dotcom now. So maybe its time to let go of his past and focus on what currently is happening, and get very angry at how the law is being perverted to appease the cartels.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Lets see: using and selling stolen calling card numbers; computer fraud; insider trading and embezzlement are equivalent to sneaking a cookie behind Mom’s back?

It wasn’t a one-time thing, He has a significant portfolio of serious charges and convictions over an extended period of time. Hard to ignore the past of someone who’d probably be classified as a career criminal in a number of jurisdictions.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Irrelevant to why he is now portrayed as a ‘folkhero’ by New Zealand and others.

probably be classified as a career criminal in a number of jurisdictions

And right there is the major difference between what the world thinks of as justice, people having ‘served there time’, restitution for past stupidity and how America treats it’s criminals which is all based on ‘plea bargaining’ bullshit, absolute punishment with no ability (or minimal) for rehabilitation into society.

Anonymous Coward says:

Kim Dotcom is really just another loud mouth who loves to thumb his nose at the law and take whatever he wants. He has a fairly well documented criminal past, and is a convicted shyster.

His status as a cult hero is only because the sheeple like to be sheared – they just don’t realize they are next.

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