The latest Vanity Fair features an extensive investigation into an eeeevil corporation called Monsanto. You may have heard of Monsanto; they make genetically-modified seeds. Long a target of the Frankenfood fearmongers and self-righteous polisci majors, Monsanto makes fancy seeds that are immune to the destructive forces of the weed-killer Roundup, which Monsanto also makes, and because Monsanto's seeds are patented, farmers are not supposed to re-plant the new seeds they get from the crops they grow. But some do anyway, which is why Monsanto has to employ a vast network of spies to keep constant watch over farms throughout the world, following them with hidden cameras, rifling through their seedage, testing their farms for Monsanto's technology and filing hundreds of lawsuits against rogue farmers and seed dealers. (Oooooh, poor farmers! Let them keep their ethanol subsidies!) This fascinating probe into the dark heart of capitalism comes to you courtesy the magazine's "Green issue," which features on its cover the centimillionaire entertainer Madonna, who knows a thing or two about zealously guarding intellectual property.
Perhaps you remember way back when the music industry was suing college students; Madonna put a bunch of fake Madonna tracks on various file-sharing services cheekily inquiring "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"
Okayyyy, Graydon... leaving aside for one sec the "heartstrings gap" between worthless college students versus farmers ...can we address the fact that private investigators use pretty much the same exact tactics to defend the "intellectual property" of every stupid brand advertised in your magazine?
How exactly did we get to the point where we can accept that ruthlessly protecting the patents of laboratory-developed seeds is a grave offense to All America Stands For, but the horrible Oriental derelicts who dare to stamp offending Ls, Vs and Cs onto shoddy bags must be stopped? (Even as, as your sister publication once pointed out, piracy is considered integral to the success of most luxury brands.) How did we get to the point where the New York Times is willing to associate Chinese entrepreneurs knocking off silly French symbols with terrorism, and meanwhile, a company that actually does something — that arguably, despite its creepy malevolence, offers some benefit to society by spending money on the research and development necessary to make the food supply more efficient — can be cast as an irredeemable villain? How did the luxury goods industry — whose titans, like LVMH, have achieved revenue and profit margins that vastly exceed Monsanto's — snag themselves such a free pass? Did they buy it?