Thursday, July 27, 2006

Wal-Mart and the movie, The Producers

The last full week of July is upon us. Summer is half-over. Okay, maybe not officially, but in other ways, it is. So many things start again in September. For now though, I'm in lazy summer mode and maybe the weather can be my excuse.

On the weekend, our plans changed due to rain and we saw another movie, The Producers. It's very funny, thanks mostly to Mr. Lane who is consistently hilarious. Before watching the movie, I had the opportunity to visit the local Cambridge Chapters/Indigo bookstore. Of course they didn't have the book I was thinking of purchasing, but I did buy the July issue of Harper's magazine because the cover listed this article: Breaking the Chain, The Antitrust Case Against Wal-Mart. The article is long and informative. It discusses the deleterious effects of the unchecked power of W**^***t including monopsony, my new word of the week. "Monopsony arises when a firm captures the ability to dictate price to its suppliers because the suppliers have no real choice other than to deal with that buyer." Many firms have been affected adversely after chaining themselves to the Wal-Mart star in the hope of soaring. But that is only part of the problem. And you probably wonder why I'm linking The Producers and W-place in my subject line.

Even if you don't wonder, here's why. "Every day Wal-Mart expands its share of the ... markets for magazines, recorded music, films on DVD and books (YIKES, even books). This means that every day its tastes ... weigh that much more on decisions made in Hollywood studios, in Manhattan publishing houses ... (and soon, maybe other publishers).

So, if the retail super-behemoth should decide that a film like The Producers, which features a musical number called Springtime for Hitler, and other possibly unacceptable shenanigans, shouldn't be distributed in DVD format, then it wouldn't be available to the 30 percent of American consumers who shop there. Would that be tragic? Well, no. But is this the thin edge of the Whale-Mart tells us what to view or to read wedge?

I wonder.

No comments: