There's a commercial parody from SNL that lives forever in my brain, waving at me from the recesses at appropriate moments. Now would be one of those.
It might be a famous one, although I've deliberately stayed away from searching. There's probably a YouTube of it, easily accessible, but you know what? Not your video guy here. I mostly write.
And it's easy to describe, if you don't recall or never saw it. Mike Myers is a spokesperson for a place called The Change Store (as I recall; close enough). He's interviewed on this commercial, talking anecdotally, with actual anecdotal customers also giving some testimonials.
The Change Store made change. That's all. You walk in, ask for 10 ones and 2 fives for your $20, walk out a satisfied customer. There were several good stories about people who found The Change Store just in the nick of time, with parking meters, buses to catch, etc.
How do they, um, make a profit? Myers has the answer, obviously having heard the question many times.
"Volume," he says, smugly. Punchline, fade to black.
I saw someone use this punchline the other day, and I immediately thought of the sketch. Who knows.
But I was thinking specifically about it a few weeks ago, when we had dinner with old friends. Theirs has always been a family of movie watchers, parents and kids. It's kind of a marvel to see, both children now well into adulthood, late 20s and early 30s, and still it's something they apparently share.
They were talking about MoviePass, which had come across my radar a few times by then. It's the new business that uses an old (by now) model; pay a monthly subscription fee (around 10 bucks currently) and see up to one movie per day in most theaters.
I'll repeat this, if somehow you're not aware. For less than the price of a prime-time movie ticket, you can see 30 films a month if you're so inclined. Like Netflix.
This is not sustainable, a reasonable person might think. Like, not sustainable past the first couple of months, pretty much. And yet they're a big player now, actually buying a film at Sundance themselves, and well funded. Following current business models, the most prominent being Amazon, they seem to be willing to forego profit for an undetermined amount of time in order to build volume. With volume, they get power, particularly with the theaters, which are hemorrhaging paying customers and who, as we all know, make most of their money through concessions, anyway.
With a bunch of films in theaters currently that I might enjoy watching, I considered this for a few days. Right up until I saw the news story about a dispute between MoviePass and certain AMC theaters. MoviePass had unilaterally discontinued business relationships with about 10 of these theaters, big ones in certain cities around the country, sort of a shot across the bow.
One of these theaters was the AMC I would most likely go to. It happens. It probably would have been a waste anyway, like a gym membership. I'll be watching, though.
One of the films I might be inclined to see is Game Night, which was just released, as it has two very watchable actors, Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams. They're both skilled comedic actors, but they have dramatic chops. And they're just fun to look at, with lots of energetic wryness.
They play a couple of game enthusiasts, who apparently meet at a trivia night bar thing and are mutually attracted. You can read about the rest of the plot somewhere if you're interested. Funny idea, sounds like it generally delivers the goods. I'd see it with a MoviePass, you betcha. I'll catch it in a few months anyway.
I think I need some credit for posting a screenshot of my search history. Just on honesty principles alone.
This is a pretty ordinary morning, actually, at least a Saturday morning. Checking email. Got a note from a newspaper reader, nice. Checked in with my church website, which I'm trying to help upgrade with mixed results. Some Instagram looks. You can see where I read a review of Game Night.
And you see what I wanted you to see. Of course.
I know gamers like the ones in this movie. I'm not sure I always knew they existed, but eventually I found them. They love board games in particular, something that baffles me, but mostly they seem to be the friendly-competition types, always ready for battle.
It's not like I have some pathetic game-less history. I played plenty of board games. Loved Yahtzee. Monopoly was fun. Never a Risk person. But I played, when camping, when traveling, when home and bored. It felt like a natural stage of development, and then something better came along.
And really, this was almost anything. I was never a game player at heart, and people who are don't quite make sense to me. They seem very nice, though.
But I'd probably play a word game, if I had nothing else to do, because I like words, which is why I looked up fetish. I've been using that word to describe some of the peculiar (to me, of course) hobbies my friends enjoy.
I first learned about fetishes the way I imagine most people my age did, which was by sneaking peeks at the copy of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex my parents had hidden in their bedroom. Hardly worth mentioning.
And sure, fetish mostly refers to sexual gratification, although there's a mystical, talisman version also.
But we're English speakers, dammit. We can make a word mean whatever we want.
So I casually think of fetishes when I see the multiple posts about certain things. Things you're almost certainly seeing, too.
Animals. My God, the animals, particularly dogs. Cats are funny; dogs seem to be on a whole 'nother pedestal when it comes to some people. Look, I love dogs. Cats. Giraffes. Basically anything in the animal family with reasonably-sized teeth. But I get overwhelmed.
Music, of course. Mostly Zappa or Garcia, although I've got several serious metal lovers in my feed.
Some people are crazy book lovers, obviously. I've got one friend who really seems to like shoes, the classic object d'fetishe, although I think she just likes to wear them for comfort and style. Not like I'm asking questions here.
At any rate, this is new, I think. I'm casually using fetish, too, of course, just one of those words that somehow got popular in what passes for my brain. It's not even a negative word, to me, just a handy one. I guess I use it the way some of us employ idolatry in theological discussions, referring not so much to craven images as material things we maybe pay too much attention to. There's an argument that certain folks are idolatrous when it comes to the Bible, for example. I've got some others.
So fetish is just sort of an obsession, or passion, in my mind. We've all got them. I surely do.
And I don't see anything unusual, or wrong, not most of the time. Loving to read is hardly a pathology, even if I suspect there are time issues for some people that can cause problems. Same thing with movies; the MoviePass people know who their targets are. Comic books, country music, county fairs, collecting postcards or stamps or anything, really. All understandable and not weird, I promise. Shoes are useful, etc.
It's the peek inside that's unusual. The secrets that sneak around family histories--the cross-dressers, the pill-poppers, the porn-stash-keepers--were always that. Secrets. Even benign ones, like stamp collecting or an affection for stemware, were private, unknown and usually unseen unless somehow brought up in conversation. Then watch out.
That's where we are, or I am. Watching out. Seeing what people like and what tickles their fancies and what they like to think about, ALL DAY LONG. I LOVE COLLIES BUT YOU POST EIGHT PICTURES A DAY OF COLLIES. AT LEAST TOSS ME A POODLE. It's all about volume.
Ah, well. It's not a big deal, really. Mostly fascinating, kind of a social anthropology seminar. If anything, it's a handy reminder to me, a governor of my own fetishness. It nudges me to shut up a little about that, and maybe write about this.
And I might be surprised at Game Night. Maybe, something reviewers are passing by, it's a clever portrait of excesses in this sort of passion. I'm sure I'll see it, if for no other reason than I have sort of a fetish, I just realized, about Rachel McAdams. I really like her, in everything I've seen, and now that I think about it, I've made a point of seeing most of her work. It's not weird.