Recently, I was given a £20 Amazon voucher; a generous present from close friends, congratulating me on my graduation. Instinctively, I immediately ordered several films with the voucher – excited to purchase and own some new films. I have previously written about my personal film collection and its importance to me. Buying new films is exciting and indulgent in a year where I am saving rigorously for my move to Edinburgh. It was a treat for me to buy films for my collection, guilt free. A huge thank you, once again, goes out to those kind friends who gave me the voucher. This got me thinking – buying films is a luxury to me and something that I sacrifice during my student years of financial hardship. In recent news, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke has been talking about their decision to retract all of their music from Spotify, the company that allows access to an unlimited amount of music for a set monthly fee. Now I don’t want to venture into the Spotify debate right now but it is a company that highlights and exemplifies the greed and high demands of our modern culture.
In a society where we feel we have a right to anything and everything – for a minimal price – our arts and their industries are ultimately suffering. So why is it that so many cinema and music lovers are so content with exploiting the industry through piracy and illegal downloading? I am fully aware of the separate issue of purchasing from Amazon. A global company that is crushing independent stores and causing even the corporate stores such as HMV to suffer due to their competitive prices, Amazon has most certainly played a part in the demolishment of film renting and high street shopping but, nevertheless, Amazon is still encouraging buyers to pay a fair and legal price for the films they purchase, contributing to the industry as well as to Mr. Amazon’s back pocket. In many different areas of my life I have been repeatedly surprised at my friends’, and peers’, lax mind set and conscience when it comes to pirating cinema. If I can not afford to go to the cinema to see the latest release then I simply have to miss out on that experience, waiting for it to come out on DVD or limiting myself to one cinema trip a week in order to use my Orange Wednesday code. It is frustrating but fair. I simply can not fathom why it is that people refuse to accept that cinema is as much of a luxury as nice clothes or electronic equipment. I view cinema as a material object that it would be criminal to steal.
I am aware that this is a concern that many have previously addressed but until the problem is non-existent we much continue to discuss this and highlight the fact that some people’s use of cinema is simply immoral. There are always limp reasons and excuses to stream films illegally, I myself am very aware of the excuses people make. I myself have felt tempted on many occasions. Not only do my finances limit my access to cinema but I also feel pressure to take in as much cinema as possible. As I prepare to study at MSc level, I feel a need to have seen particular films and certain classics that, as an aspiring film critic and journalist, I feel I must have experienced and familiarised with. However, I am more content waiting in the hope that I will soon have enough spare cash to spend on purchasing Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, than I would be if I watched it illegally, turning up on the first day of my new course with a head full of knowledge, having contributed nothing to the film industry in exchange.
After being constantly baffled by many people’s hypocritical views on this subject, I have come to the rough conclusion that it comes down to conscience, naivety and bad manners. We need to respect the luxury of cinema, and honour it. Despite companies such as Netflix telling us otherwise, we need to believe that cinema should be invested in. It is not about getting your money’s worth, or making excuses, but about realising how precious cinema is and what an honour it is to be involved and engrossed within it. By principle, we should be investing in an industry that is crumbling due to our selfishness, hypocritical attitudes and greed. On a final note, I have sat in many a cinema screen, in full knowledge that myself and those around me have paid roughly £7-£10 for the screening, and witnessed members of the audience fully ignoring the film that they’ve paid for whilst they chat, eat, text, call and play musical chairs. If some of you are so willing to pay good money to not watch a film then why refuse to pay for cinema in the comfort of our lounges and bedrooms? Is it just me or has the whole world, with its warped insight into cinema, gone mad? I’ve a serious feeling we’re not in Kansas any more.
Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.