25 December, 2008

This is going to be another one of those rants that nobody will care about except for me, which doesn't really matter since I am the only person I know of who actually reads these things. Or, writes them. Or, reads and writes them. Or, whatever.

Anyway, there is this podcast I like where they talk about geeky type stuff. Lots of Science Fiction and Fantasy type stuff. Movies. Comic books. Games. I haven't played the kinds of games they talk about in so long I cannot remember when. On and on. It's very entertaining.

So, I was rooting around in their podcast archive to see if I could find anything really interesting, and I stumbled across their podcast on Star Wars, Revenge of the Sith. It was hilarious. But, there was one thing said that almost had me yelling back at them. One of the group roaring away about how much he didn't like the movie said that George Lucas owed him. Now, it is true that one of the other people did say back that Lucas didn't owe him, but I don't think that part of the argument was ever settled.

The problem is that the belief that the creative type person somehow owes the consumer is just one of those really strange and incredibly selfish things that are out there. It's right up there with religion, politics and stealing software. No matter how hard you might try you will never alter that selfish, self-centered and down-right hostile belief that the consumer is owed.

The fact that the belief is wrong is totally irrelevant, and my spouting off about it here is really rather kind of pointless since I will never change a single person's damn mind.

As near as I can figure, the whole concept behind the creative type person owing the consumer is based around the idea that the consumer has previously given the creative type person lots of money for something the consumer liked. Somehow, by purchasing good things the creative type person has done, a debt has been created. It is almost as if the consumer now believes that he has loaned the creative type person money to be used toward future work.

Actually, that might not be quite right. Say, it is more like the consumer believes he has loaned the creative type person good will. Or, say, the consumer has created the expectation that the creative type person will make more things the consumer likes or suffer the wrath.

No, wait, I've got it. The consumer believes that he has made the creative type person because the consumer has given the creative type person lots and lots of money. And, since the consumer has made the creative type person rich and successful, the creative type person now owes a debt of gratitude to the consumer and owes the consumer more stuff just like the last stuff.

At least, this is as close as an understanding I can reach from the statements "He owes me!" and "I've given him so much money!"

And, now that I've built up my straw man, I will now proceed to burn it down.

My response to the statement "He owes me!" is very simply and really quite similar to what one of the other people said in the podcast.

Nobody owes you a fucking thing, you stupid selfish bastard! You're a product of the self-centered, instant gratification generation, aren't you? You probably steal software, movies and music off the internet and would Byrne steal comic books if you even knew what that meant!

See, if you call it pirating music, it sounds kind of cool. But, it is stealing. Make no mistake. And, I don't care if you're stealing from rich people. Doesn't make it okay. It's still stealing. As I jokingly said to a friend who had just been bragging about stealing movies, you want Samantha to be poor because you would rather steal one of my books than pay for it?

But, I digress.

Okay, here is the thing. When a consumer purchases a ticket or buys a book or whatever, the consumer is buying a ticket for a ride. The consumer takes the ride. If the consumer likes the ride, he may buy another ticket. If the ride is really good, the consumer may buy another ticket and another and another for that ride.

See? You're paying the creative type person for something he has already done and not for something in the future.

You're not making the creative type person. You're not building up a gratitude debt that the creative type person now owes you. You are telling the creative type person in no uncertain terms how much you enjoyed the ride that the creative type person already made for you. Not something the creative type hasn't done yet. What has already been done.


Oh, yeah? What about the fact that the next ride is a piece of shit? Huh? What have you got to say to that?

I say, be disappointed. I say, go ahead and be mad that you are disappointed in the new ride. But, remember that you are the one who had high hopes for the new ride. This isn't the creative type person's fault. You are the one who built up a gratitude debt in your own little head.

And, don't tell me that the creative type person took advantage of the fact you had expectations of future greatness in your own little head. You are still the one who had those expectations. Not the creative type who may or may not have taken advantage of them. You. You and your unexamined and unmoderated expectations for the future, stupid.

So, what to do when the next ride is a piece of shit? Only buy one ticket. Only go on one ride. Or, don't go on even one ride if enough people you trust tell you the ride is a piece of shit. And, think twice before buying a ticket for the next, next ride.

Example, Terry Pratchett's Discworld books tend to be pretty hit-or-miss, but I've still bought and read every single one because the average is still pretty good. Unfortunately, the last two I've read, Thud and Making Money, have both been such utter piles of putrid, stinking monkey shit that I'm really rather nervous about the next one.

I probably will buy and read the next one, but it may be the last if it also turns out to be shit.

This is also more or less the conclusion of the podcast about Star Wars, but I'm not sure if they resolved the "he owes me!" issue.

There will always be selfish bastards no matter how often you point this fact out to them. And, the unexamined life remains. Well, unexamined.

copyright © 2008 by keith d. jones – all rights reserved
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