And that's the bottom line

By Joel Murphy

As loyal readers should know by now, I'm not a big fan of entertainers stealing other people's material. In the past, I've talked about Dane Cook stealing Louis CK's jokes and recently I spotlighted Carlos Mencia stealing other comedians' material as well. So it was only a matter of time before I wrote about someone else becoming a victim of idea theft ... but I had no idea that the next victim would be me.

Back in high school, my friends and I used to joke about what changes we would make if we had unlimited power to rule the world (kind of like the power George W. Bush thinks he has). I came up with two revolutionary ideas: "Old People Island" and "Prisoner Death Matches."

The concept of Old People Island was simple - you take Florida, where most old people end up retiring to anyway, and separate it from the rest of the United States, making it an island. Then, turn it into a giant retirement community (a big stretch, I know). The only television shows shown on Old People Island are the "Nick at Night" type show – you know, what these people grew up with. All of the prices at the stores and restaurants are set to whatever the prices were during their youth (Old People Island would have its own currency that's worth less than our dollar). There would be no automobiles on Old People Island, only bumper cars or golf carts so accidents aren't a concern. It would give elderly people a nice place to retire to and their children wouldn't feel bad about sending them away.

Much like Old People Island, Prisoner Death Matches are self explanatory. Instead of spending millions of dollars to execute prisoners on death row, I've come up with a money-making plan. Like Roman gladiators, the prisoners are pitted against each other in fights to the death and the matches are broadcast on pay-per-view. Think along the lines of UFC or kickboxing, but with a little bit more of an edge to it. People would be shocked and outraged when the idea was first introduced, but they wouldn't be able to pass it up. Pay-per-view sales would be through the roof. And, like I said earlier, we'd make money. We should always be for making a huge profit, instead costing taxpayers millions. It's what we in the business call a "no brainer."

They may be a bit unorthodox, but I've always been pretty proud of both of these ideas. That's why, when we started our Hobo Radio podcast last June, we paid tribute to my high school "If I ruled the world" discussions and I actually mentioned both ideas on the air during our second show (which originally aired on June 13, 2006 – you can download the entire show here).

Since then, I haven't given much thought to these two ideas. That is, until I saw a trailer for the new movie starring Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vinnie Jones called The Condemned. Here's how IMDB describes that movie: "An adrenalin-charged action thriller, The Condemned tells the story of Jack Conrad (Stone Cold Steve Austin), who is awaiting the death penalty in a corrupt Central American prison. He is ‘purchased' by a wealthy television producer and taken to a desolate island where he must fight to the death against nine other condemned killers from all corners of the world, with freedom going to the sole survivor."

That's right, convicted murders on death row fighting on television. They stole my idea. The funny part is, when I was looking up information on the movie online, most people see the movie as a rip-off of Battle Royale, which Wikipedia describes as the story of "50 randomly selected classes of secondary school students who are forced to take arms against one another until only one student in each class remains. The program was created, supposedly, as a form of military research and population control, though the outcome of each battle is publicized on local television."

I had never heard of Battle Royale, but it's difficult to deny the similarities between the two concepts. And, there are a number of other films that use a similar "to the death" storyline.

But I still feel ripped off. The idea of inmates battling to the death was mine. In fairness, my original concept would have been more of a UFC-style event where the death row inmates fight in steel cages inside giant arenas, but still, inmates killing each other for entertainment and profit – that's all me.

I realize that most likely the writers of The Condemned never heard our podcast and probably came up with the idea on their own (unless one of my high school classmates was involved in the project), but it still hurts to know that my brilliant idea is being bastardized on screen. I think the real reason I'm pissed is because when I do run the world, people will think I stole the idea from Stone Cold Steve Austin. That's not cool.

But I'm willing to forgive you Hollywood, under one condition – someone must greenlight my script for Old People Island. Not only that, I demand Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vinnie Jones are cast as fry cooks forced to work on the island for minimum wage. Call it karma.

I can already picture Stone Cold delivering a stunner to Betty White when she complains that he put too much mayonnaise on her double cheeseburger. It's pure box office gold.

Random Thought of the Week:
Sometimes I wish I was a young boy living in an impoverished nation so that I too could be adopted by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Mostly Brad Pitt, but still.

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He also has some really hot friends. You can contact him at