Sunday, July 04, 2004

Feeling threatened?

There's been a lot of talk about piracy, DRM, copyright, the Induce Act, and the criminal masses lately. I even posted a rant on the subject myself. But this has inspired even more thoughts on the insanity of Big Media's approach to their audience.

Consider what is attractive about movie theaters: they offer something truly unique with giant screens and sound quality that is often beyond the reach of most of us. Add the peripheral joys of a little popcorn, a nice cold soda and the shared collective response of an interested crowd exposed to something hilarious or horrifying and you have something difficult to recreate at home. This experience offers something that we cannot replicate on our own. Millions of movie-goers have shown for decades that this experience is something we value. But that experience is going downhill because of the attitudes like the one we see in the above story.

Night vision goggles? That kind of gear isn't cheap and is of questionable benefit to the audience the theater and the studios? The money used for such "loss prevention" could likely pay for more employees. It could be used to keep the bathrooms clean. It could be used for an usher or two that can help everyone find a seat at a crowded first showing. It could be used to augment the meager pay of existing employees in the form of a bonus. You could post someone in a theater and eject those talking on cell phones or evict someone who let their children run through the aisles during a show. I've been to showings with both; it's intervention I would have appreciated.

Instead, the priority is to prevent the vastly inferior transcription of a major blockbuster and prevent its illegal distribution either online or in foreign markets. Even though this is most likely digital, such duplicates carry with them the stigma that accompanies anything that is a copy of a copy. The generational loss in this case is significant. Viewers will see the film through the shaky lense of a handheld camera. There is no surround sound. Most of the joys of the movie experience are removed. This is what Hollywood is afraid of? This is what they are willing to destroy the theater experience to prevent? All retail enterprises are equipped to deal with a certain amount of shrinkage—factor this in and move on. Work on improving the benefits that give you an advantage in the marketplace!

The movie theater experience is a prime example of how hostile companies are to their own customer base. Here we see the very bare minimum of service working in concert with wildly increasing prices. This would be expected and accepted if the high cost of seeing a movie was met with a premium experience. Instead we are held captive by wildly priced concessions, subjected to a half hour or more of thinly disguised commercials, treated like criminals and forced to endure the inerruptions of the experience (like that damnable idiot having a conversation on his cell phone) with no other recourse than a forceful "shut the fuck up"—another equally abhorrent distraction.

We, as customers, are not a resource to be exploited. We are a constituency to be served. Anything to the contrary is just bad manners.


At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice rant, I never thought of it that way.



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