The Big Sell

OK, I understand advertising. I get it, I really do. And, no, it doesn’t necessarily have to be evil (although, mostly, it probably is). And, if I walk into a store, I know I’m volunteering for some form of the hard sell. I understand what you might call the ‘social contract’ of that one. But, maybe, I could just be sold to once? Can I just, say, pay to see the movie? Why do I need the T-shirt, mug, alarm clock, theme park experience, commemorative 25th Anniversary burger?

I don’t want the Fox Sports deodorant, the Little Big Planet GPS, the Bachelor vibrator, the Harry Potter recipe book.

Or, so help me, the Director’s Cut DVD.

Do you know what the ‘Director’s Cut’ means? It means the $10 you paid out in the movie theater was you paying to see an extended trailer. The ‘real’ version is the DVD. The Blu-Ray. The Special Edition 3D download. What you saw in the theater was just the advertisement, designed to entice you to buy the DVD, because it will be bigger, better, more.

If you pay $50 for a video game, that’s just you making a down payment on a bigger outlay down the line. Online, you’ll be paying $0.90 for a new hairstyle for your avatar, $1.19 for a new track to race on, $10 for a new set of maps you can get lost in, only to take a wrong turn and get snipered to hell by a 12-year-old in Aberdeen.

The original game, that you’re paying all that money for, turns out to be just the sandbox with a few cheap trinkets in it. The good stuff is extra, and once you’re knee-deep in the gaming experience, then they’ll hit you with the devilish option of improving everything with just a small hit to your credit card, and then another, and then just one more. And then, before you know it, you’re the one sitting in rags outside Taco Bell, with a sign that says: ‘Super Mario Maker project to support.’

I know: I’m a dinosaur. Well, I want my swampland back.

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