Why Dan Turned Down a Free DVD
As many of you are aware, in past life I used to be a parent blogger. In fact at one point I held the dubious honour of being classified as the UK’s number 1 parent blogger according to the Tots 100 list. Oh yes, I used to be a contender people.
Due to this past life I get quite a few emails from PR companies trying to pimp their stuff. There was a time when I refused all of these, wishing to maintain the purity of my blog.
However, that turned out to be a battle I couldn’t win. These days my daddy blog’s integrity has gone out of the window and I’ve become more mercenary than Deadpool.
There is a point to this I promise.
Earlier this week I got an email from a PR person offering me a review copy of Alvin and the Chipmonks 3: Chipwrecked to take a look at. They even sent me the “hook” of a report of some event on Blackpool beach in order to sweeten the deal. See:
The interesting thing is that at no point was I even remotely tempted to accept the free DVD.
And that’s not because of some kind of high minded “I’m not having that rubbish in my house” type sentiment.
Yes, the film is probably utter pants, and I’d never choose to watch it independently. But my kids loved the first two movies (Alvin and the Chipmonks and it’s “squeakquel”) and would no doubt enjoy the third one too.
No, the reason I didn’t want it is because quite honestly I don’t really want to own any DVDs.
There was a time that I was an avid movie collector. I used to take pride in my shelving units full of videos, books, and graphic novels, and to some extent defined myself by them. I fell into that “I am what I own” mentality that plagues so many of us pop culture geeks fall into.
But slowly over the years I’ve gradually sold/lost/given away most of my stuff. As it stands we currently have about two meters worth of DVDs/Blurays (both kid’s stuff and grown up’s), another half a meter or so of Xbox and Wii games, and a couple of shelves worth of books – which are mostly reference or non fiction (plus a ton of kids books upstairs admittedly).
For a while I felt guilty about this. I bought into the fallacy that the amount of books you owned somehow reflected your intelligence. That you could not be considered a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan unless you had all the boxed sets. That there was some virtue in owning DVD’s of classic movies that you had already seen and were unlikely to ever take the shrink wrap off.
I believed that buying crap actually satisfied some unseen need in me.
But you know what – that’s bullshit.
The thing is, we are living in a time where you don’t actually need to buy your media any more. Even if you rule out illegal methods of obtaining music, TV shows, an movies (which I presently do incidentally), there is still enough streaming stuff on Netflix, Lovefilm, Spotify, iPlayer, and the like to keep a geek like happy for years. Sure, there are some things that aren’t available – but that’s what my Lovefilm postal account is for.
Netflix costs me about £6 a month, Lovefiilm another £5 and Spotify £5. That’s about the price of a new movie release on DVD. Considering how much our family use them, that’s incredibly good value. Despite these services’ limitations I now have access to far more stuff than I could have ever afforded in a million years previously.
I know many people say they like to “own the box”. And I understand that, I really do. But, speaking for myself, that need to own the object was generated from an insecure desire to define myself by external things rather than any actual intrinsic value of the DVD box sitting on my shelf.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have those insecure desires to define myself. There isn’t a person alive on the earth that doesn’t. But as I’ve gotten older my sense of self has become more complex and diverse. Also, perhaps more interestingly, the online world has allowed me to pin my flag to various masts virtually instead of physically (i.e. gomiso.com and the midmoclub podcast).
Is this a good thing? I think so. Although some would argue that the sense of self I’ve developed using my internet persona is just as shallow as one developed by the act of owning my old Star Wars VHS videos..
But good thing or not, I’m pretty sure that there are a hell of a lot of people who are undergoing the same metamorphosis as myself. And it’s certainly something that the entertainment industry is going to have to adapt to as the sales of physical media continues to dry up. The times they are a’changing.
So what do you think? Are you moving away from needing to own stuff, or will the claw your Dr Who Special edition DVD boxed sets from your cold dead hands? Let us know in the comments.