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Entertainment Businesses' Motto: "Bugger Off"

by Neena Louise

I've long lamented the overwhelming greed of the entertainment business. Though entertainment is, indeed, a business, I'm mighty weary of listening to entertainment companies (television, radio, magazines, movies, music, etc.) constantly whining about the thievery of the public and declining revenues, yet doing nothing to rectify the problem. They just snivel like spoilt children and blame the public. But they don't listen to the entertainment-buying public, so what do they expect? They put out their junk and, when it doesn't sell well, they claim it's due to public stupidity and thievery. I'm sick of this attitude. If they want to increase their revenues, why aren't they listening to their consumers?

Cases in point:

1. I have sent e-mails, snail-mail letters and telephoned all Big Four networks for various reasons over the years (usually trying to get information not found on websites). Out of dozens of inquiries, ONE was answered. As a consequence, if I don't have the information I need to write a column, I just delete all references to the network and/or television show. So much for their free publicity.

2. Though I am a long-term Entertainment Weekly subscriber, they made a clerical error in my renewal. I sent an explanatory e-mail and informed them payment had been sent. They promptly canceled both my renewal and gift subscription without explanation. Numerous attempts to find out why were completely ignored. I will now just take the short walk to the library and read it for free if I must (though I doubt I could be bothered). If they'd just answered me, I might still be interested in subscribing to their magazine.

3. Rather than embracing the Internet as a tool to promote and sell music, record companies sued people for swapping and downloading free music. The public warned them again and again: "we're not paying $20 to buy your crappy CDs; offer something good and we will pay." Record companies refused to listen and sued children instead. In the first week after Apple iTunes' launch, it made millions by offering downloads at a reasonable price, sending all those unimaginative, naysaying executives scrambling to offer their own downloads. If they'd just listened to the public in the first place, they, too, could've made millions and wouldn't have sued anyone.

4. I buy a lot of movies on DVD - at least 50 a year. When I bought a defective DVD on an out-of-town trip, I sent it back to the distributor expecting a replacement. Though I sent a copy of the receipt and explained the problem, they sent the defective DVD back and insisted I return it to the store (like I was going to make a trip out of town just to return their defective product). I now only buy previously-viewed DVDs. If they're defective, they were so cheap, who cares? I doubt sales of used DVDs are reflected in their sales figures. If they'd simply replaced their defective DVD that I shelled out almost $30 for, I'd still be buying new.

5. There has been much ballyhoo about the current slump in movie box office revenues. Movie companies seem baffled which, in turn, baffles me. Have movie executives gone to a movie theater lately? After driving miles to the suburban mega-multiplex, finding a place to park in the giant acreage called a parking lot, you enter a surreal town-sized lobby full of fast-food joints, video machines, and a giant board with a staggering and bewildering list of movies and times. You finally manage to get your ticket, shell out a bazillion dollars for a tiny popcorn, then spend 20 minutes watching ads. The movie finally starts, and that's the cue for cell phones to go off, people to start conversing loudly and babies to cry - and not a single employee in sight to tell them to shut up or leave. If I'm going to go through all that, the movie damn well better be top-notch and not the mediocre schlock they call movies these days. I'd rather stay home and wait for the DVD or watch it on pay-per-view. Or not bother seeing it at all, for that matter. Hope that clears things up for the movie companies. But, then, they're not listening, are they?

What is wrong with the entertainment industry? Who, exactly, do they think are making them rich? Aliens? I realize I'm just one person, but am I a lone voice? I think not. Don't they understand this? Did they not take Business 101 and realize there's a "domino effect" by treating their consumers with indifference? Treat one consumer badly, s/he will tell others; they will tell others, and so on. I am in the supposedly much-coveted key demographic, but I hardly feel coveted. Completely ignored is more like it. If the millions of people that pay to be entertained are treated with as much disdain as I have been, why is the entertainment industry so puzzled by their tumbling profits?

Entertainment companies are becoming more and more like so many consumer-product companies: once they have your money, they want you to bugger off and don't bother them again. Ever. They don't want to hear from you. They don't care what you want. Your complaints are petty; your opinions irrelevant. They just want your money. I, for one, am spending much less for my entertainment than I was just a year ago. Unless things change, it will decline even further. But I'm only one consumer, so who cares?

The entertainment industry should.
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