"Oscar's Hotel" And Piracy: How Fans' Loyalty To Each Other Can Do More Harm Than Good

24 September 2015, 11:20 | Updated: 17 July 2017, 12:11

We the Unicorns

By Liam Dryden

Before we start, let's get one thing straight: it's unfortunate, but totally understandable, that not everybody has a disposable $10 to drop on entertainment content. But when you combine that with the intense celebrity culture growing on YouTube, your average teenager's FOMO, and the internet's relentless freebooting and piracy problems, it creates the very awkward situation that KickThePJ is currently dealing with.

PJ's epic and surreal new webseries Oscar's Hotel debuted on Vimeo On Demand last week. In a move different from anything PJ has worked on before, the series comes with a one-time price tag of $10 (or Ł6.99) for the full six-episode series. However, this hasn't sat well with some fans, who have proceeded to download and re-upload the episodes for others to view without paying.

In a new vlog posted to his second channel last night, PJ addresses the piracy and explains exactly why the reposting of the series is damaging to its future, and insulting to those who have already paid.

"The ironic thing is if I were to make it free, everything you want from Oscar's Hotel wouldn't exist," he explains. "It would have to be sponsored by a brand like Doritos...who would want to change the creative, and then shit, it isn't Oscar's Hotel anymore; it's Oscar's Doritos".

"You're going to kill my show. You're going to kill the future of this genre of content. And then you're going to complain that all Hollywood churn out are these CGI-ridden trashy money-making schemes". 

It's likely that a lot of the reposting comes from a place of good intent: as mentioned, not all of PJ's fans have the $10 needed to watch the series, and some of those that do may be reuploading for the benefit of those people.

But this is where a good-intentioned act can actually do more harm than good: not only does pirating the series exacerbate an ongoing problem that independent creators have in the digital world, but it also feeds the increasingly problematic levels of entitlement and negligence for patience that pervade fandom culture: That just because you love something enough, you are entitled to it right away, no matter who it damages - even its creator.

The vocal majority of fans in the comments are on PJ's side, and are vowing to be vigilant throughout his fandom for any word of others pirating the series. But there are few making cries of "hypocrisy", citing that people pirate albums and movies and TV shows on a daily basis without feeling bad.

Let's be clear about this: Oscar's Hotel is not an HBO series, it's not a Michael Bay movie, and it's not a Taylor Swift album with record label-style funding. All of these things have guaranteed financial support systems the size of a continent; but PJ only has you. New Form Digital might have fronted the budget, but ultimately this is still just an independent creator who has to make a return on the amazing series he has created with a team of friends for entertainment value.

PJ has dedicated years of his budding career making content for a growing and passionate fanbase, for absolutely nothing except optional merch and the occasional Tweet of support. Even if you can't afford to give something back to him directly, would it be the absolute end of the world if you didn't support the people trying to hurt that?