The Soapbox is a new column by the wildly opinionated (and frequently pushy) Scott Weinberg, film critic and columnist for FEARnet, Twitch, Geek Nation and others. Hit Scott up on Twitter: @moviesdotcom & @scottEweinberg.
Not everyone can get to San Diego for the big comic convention to buy the limited edition Firefly replica they desperately covet, and there are always a few disappointed customers after Mondo unleashes a new wave of (very) limited-edition movie posters. Is it "fair" that only a lucky few get to acquire these awesome goodies? Is it "fair" for the first guy in line to buy two posters so he can list them on eBay within the next 15 minutes? And does "fair" even matter?
Obviously I'm likely to side with the passionate movie geeks who simply want to snag a cool poster without getting ripped off. I know that the Mondo team have tried all sorts of methods to keep their sales fair for everyone, but let's be frank here: it's not a store's job to worry about what its customers do with its product. It's hard enough to make a product people want without also having to police how they use it. Let's break it down by examples...
Scenario #1: You stand in line or (wait online) to get your SDCC Serenity replica or your Mondo Alien poster. You get one and one for a friend. (Two item limit!) Everyone's happy.
Scenario #2: You get two items and sell one on eBay because, like most people, you need money to live.
Scenario #3: You got your item and you've loved it dearly for five years. But your rent just went up and that damn poster is somehow worth $600 now. So you sell it.
Scenario #4: You don't give a wet slap about Serenity or movie posters. You're just an opportunist who lives to acquire rare items and "flip" them over to eBay as quickly as possible.
Obviously none of these scenarios are illegal, but are any immoral? No. What a stupid question. But let's look at scenario #4, which is the one we generally have the most problems with. Yes, that jerk is directly responsible for a guy/gal at the end of the line (or online line) not getting the geeky item they so powerfully covet.
It all boils down to capitalism, of course. Most of the hard-core "geeks" I know and love stand in lines to get items that they can KEEP. Because they love, say, Phantasm, and need that silver spike-ball replica to stick on their shelf. I'm not a memorabilia collector, but obviously I respect these hard-core movie lunatics.
But what if you're not a passionate movie buff? What if you simply realized that by (legally) working the system you were able to turn a tidy profit with very little effort? Put aside the tackiness of it, take the emotion out of it, there's nothing wrong with "flipping" geek-friendly items. What if there's some guy in Boston who couldn't afford a trip to San Diego Comic-Con but is more than happy to pay $150 for a brand-new Serenity replica. To that guy, the person doing the "flipping" is a hero!
Soapbox #1 question: is "flipping" exclusive movie goodies... evil? Respond in the comments section below or via Twitter: @moviesdotcom -or- @scottEweinberg.
We're also taking suggestions for future Soapbox topics. Not that Weinberg needs much help getting riled up.