If there’s one opinion I share with Whitney Houston, it’s that I believe that children are the future. However, I tend to split from Whitney here because I also believe that the future is going to be a decimated wasteland where, following a nuclear holocaust caused by the current wave of children, the only things that will thrive are cockroaches, the colour gray and the postal service.
When I speak of the postal service thriving, I do mean in context to how it currently operates. Or currently doesn’t operate. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been avoiding online purchases recently, wary that the delivery times might extend past the usual ‘whenever we bloody well feel like it’ that Royal Mail seems to operate by, and venture into ‘we’ll probably deliver it at some point, maybe, probably, perhaps’.
I might be saving a fortune, but the novelty of not buying any old rubbish at the click of a button will soon wear thin. It’s getting to the point where I’m starting to genuinely consider downloading films (legally, of course) as an alternative to buying hard copies.
My interest was pointed in the direction of downloads last week by an article on this site. The article suggested that the increasing market for downloading games meant that independent game developers had an easier way of getting their products seen. I can’t see the same happening for films, but more importantly, if it did, I can’t see how it would affect me personally, so I’ll ignore it.
If this week’s column is going to be about the pros and cons of downloading films, it’s specifically about how they’re going to affect me, me, bloody me.
My long-suffering girlfriend sometimes likes to go out to nice places. I always tell her I can’t afford to take her to them, which is true. What seems to annoy her, though, is that the reason I can’t afford to take her to these nice places that she feels she has some right to be in is that I’ve bought a load of DVDs that no one could possibly ever want to watch.
She’ll stand there and look sad, reading out the titles to herself, “The Wizard Of Gore?…weep…Vampire Killer Barbys?..sob,” whilst I get my nicest, cleanest t-shirt on, ready for a romantic meal for two at Subway. It’s a problem that we could side step, though, if I were spending my money on the same awful rubbish but in a way that she couldn’t see.
A further benefit would be that people couldn’t judge me on my film collection when casually visiting. Because, yeah, I do have Lizzie McGuire: The Movie and I don’t always want people to know. (While we’re on the subject, Hannah Montana Ray Cyrus can go fuck herself). I wouldn’t mind, but the ones quickest to judge are always fans of the TV programme 2 Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps. Intolerable bastards, in other words.
I also suspect that if I only download films the chances of me impulse buying utter bullshit are likely to significantly decrease. Last week the despair of supermarket shopping almost drove me to buy Scooby Doo: The Mystery Begins. That’s the new, direct-to-video prequel to the live action films which looks like it may be the most poorly made film since Uwe Boll last picked up a camera, whenever that was.
It’s exactly the sort of film I buy because I’m bored, stick to one side and then watch a few months later out of a sense of duty because I’ve bought it. But if I only buy films as I actually want to watch them, I’d, theoretically, stop buying so much awful nonsense.
Of course, that would mean that my only point of refuge in the whole supermarket would be the cheese counter, but I’m willing to make that sacrifice.
It’ll put a stop to me having to lie to people when they ask to borrow DVDs, too. The truth is, if it looks like you’re not going to hold the disc around the edges or you’re going to be putting films on whilst you’ve got jam, peanut butter or human faeces (your own or someone else’s, doesn’t matter) on your hands then you can’t borrow my discs. It’s people like you who have made renting DVDs from Blockbuster so futile.
But if it’s a file I’ve downloaded? Well, I can’t be caught file sharing. What would Lily Allen or Doctor Who tribute band Muse have to say about it? I bet they’d be furious.
Now to the potential problems. The first, and probably most important, perhaps you actually really like your postman. Mine, to be fare, does actually put some effort in, making sure all of my packages are wet, even when it isn’t raining, and smashed into a thousand tiny pieces. Not every postman would be willing to do that, and certainly not for every single package, no matter how big or small. I can’t help but wonder what he would fill his days with if he didn’t have my online orders to abuse.
A further concern for me is that I’d have to stop lying to myself. I went through something similar when I got started on iTunes and noticed the play count function. I don’t want to be faced with the same kind of stark truth about my viewing habits. The fact is I have watched Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist more times than I have watched Zombie Flesh Eaters, but I like to pretend that I haven’t.
I feel like my DVD player is in on the ruse, too, because it never reminds me or thrusts irrefutable numeric data about it in my face. The last thing I need is a cold-hearted computer program passively mocking me by accurately reporting what I’m watching.
Of course, it’ll never really take off. How can my nan download me a film for Christmas? She can’t. She could get me download credits or a voucher or something, but nans don’t generally like to. Plus, I might spend them on … well, what I tend to download online. Which I think would be against the spirit of Christmas. That’s not what Jesus had in mind when he invented Christmas by being born.
That’s probably the most damning thing I can say about downloads: they’d turn my well meaning nan’s gift to me into an affront to religion, which is something I simply won’t stand for.
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