Among the many questions prompted by the announcement of Google Glass, the wearable technology that replaces your regular glasses with a computer and your friends with Google Glass, was, “Who has them and how soon can I have sex with them?” But provided you are not a lingerie model, you may have had more practical considerations in mind—for example, how the motion picture industry, in its increasingly desperate war against piracy, would react to the imminent invasion of moviegoers sporting tiny cameras, all capable of discreetly recording video of everything they see. And while the Google Glass is still officially in its beta testing phase, we already have some data on what that reaction might be like. And not surprisingly, as with all responses to piracy, it was extreme enough to prompt anyone to think twice about it, before assuming that safety in numbers will protect them and just doing it anyway.
But in the meantime, a man in Columbus, Ohio also got to beta test being made a national example of, when he was pulled from an AMC movie theater screening of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit by Homeland Security agents. According to his own firsthand account on The Gadgeteer, “About an hour into the movie… a guy comes near my seat, shoves a badge that had some sort of a shield on it, yanks the Google Glass off my face and says “follow me outside immediately.” There he was greeted by “5-10 cops and mall cops,” whereupon the guy with the badge identified himself as part of the “federal service,” and said that the man had been “caught illegally taping the movie”—presumably for the enjoyment of his fellow Tom Clancy fans, who had not already recorded it with their own Google Glasses.
From there this man was forced to abandon Jack Ryan’s tense, paranoid debates over government power for one that was slightly less exciting and definitely less attractively staffed. He claims he was detained for over three hours, during which time agents grilled him about the glasses (which he’d had fitted with prescription lenses—because why would anyone ever want to take them off?). Those agents repeatedly insisted that he “give up the guy up the chain,” at the top of this vast conspiracy to create the world’s shittiest bootlegs.
All the while, he insisted that agents just connect the device to a computer and look at its contents, which he said contained only photos of his wife and dog. Obviously not wanting to get suckered into that, they refused, but were forced to relent after he still refused to “come clean.” And after about five minutes of looking at his dog photos—and questioning whether this is the life they imagined, back when they’d signed up to defend America, in those heady days just after 9/11—they agreed they had nothing on him.
The man says he was then greeted by a representative of the MPAA who said his name was “Bob Hope,” as every living dystopian satire needs an extra element of outlandish surreality. And for his troubles, he says Bob Hope gave him “four free passes” so he could “see the movie again,” provided he hadn’t already had enough of self-important government men arguing in circles. Understandably, he was less than enthusiastic about his consolation gift. (“Thanks a fucking lot, Bob Hope!” he regrettably didn’t say, even given this rare opportunity.)
After the story made the blogger rounds today, the Department of Homeland Security issued its own terse statement on the matter, acknowledging that the man had been detained and “briefly interviewed,” and concluded that “no further action was taken.” Meanwhile, AMC reminded everyone that “wearing a device that has the capability to record video is not appropriate at the movie theatre.” Everywhere else, though, you should totally do that. You look great.