I just went to see a movie. All of the employees at the theater were wearing t-shirts about choice and personal liberty, all decorated with slogans about how New York is a city of freedom. Then, when I sat down in my seat to be force fed all of those nonsense commercials that play before the movie starts, it was a lot of the same deal, don’t let anyone take away your freedom, blah blah blah. Normally I’d just zone out, but in a movie theater, I’m actually kind of forced to sit and pay attention to what’s playing in front of me. And what was playing in front of me? I realized that this wasn’t just any freedom or liberty we were talking about, this was about soda.
New York made headlines a couple of months ago after the mayor introduced a measure banning really big sodas at movie theaters and restaurants. And so this must have been part of the corporate backlash. Whatever, I think Mike Bloomberg is a dick, but not because of this soda issue. There have been a lot of professional opinions about soda drinking since the Mayor passed his law, and most of them say that people will always automatically go for the default option, in soda’s case, it’s always a large.
A large isn’t even really large. It’s gigantic. And it’s what everybody gets. Have you ever tried to buy a small soda? First of all, it’s only usually around three to four cents cheaper. And you order the small soda and the cashier immediately tries to stop you, gives you that don’t-be-so-cheap look and says, “Come on, you sure you don’t want a large? It’s only three cents more!” Of course you’re going to get the large. One time I insisted on the small, the cashier had to go back to some storeroom to see if they actually kept any small cups in house. She found one, and it was still bigger than any cup I have in my house.
Can you imagine what it would be like if everyone had giant glasses in their houses? You could buy a two liter bottle of Coke and pour the whole thing right into one of those cups. It’s not fair. Only at shitty restaurants and movie theaters is it OK to hold a cup that you literally can’t carry without using both hands. That’s not normal. That’s not how normal people eat and drink in their houses.
Which is why I get so pissed off when I go to see a movie and I’m bombarded by a political campaign about soda. Yeah, it’s about freedom, that’s it. It’s about, um, choice. Right, yeah choice. Who’s financing this counter-campaign? Why is it only at the movies that I’m seeing this nonsense?
Because you go to the movies and you have to get a snack. And you can’t bring in snacks from outside the movie theater. So you wait on line where the employees are making like three dollars an hour, and if I were making three dollars an hour, I’d be working even slower than they are. And by the time you finally get to the cashier, you just want some popcorn and a Coke. There’s no prices listed. There are never any prices listed. You just know that it’s going to be ridiculously expensive.
Popcorn and a Coke? Fifteen bucks. Awesome. Thanks for the popcorn and soda. I know it cost you like fifteen cents to produce this nutritionally hollow garbage. Fifteen bucks. Whatever, at least it’s gigantic. At least it’s so big that I’m probably not going to be able to finish it. And even if I do finish it, I can always get up in the middle of the movie and waste fifteen more minutes waiting on that line again for a free refill.
And that’s really the only way that these opportunist theaters can get away with charging ridiculously high prices for large cups of sugar water and bags of popped chicken feed. Because it’s so big. The word value just automatically pops in your head. Like when you go to Costco. Big. Value.
Can you imagine what it would be like if you ordered a large soda at a movie theater, then they handed you a sixteen-ounce cup, and then still tried to charge you ten bucks? The price would have to come down. And that’s what this whole campaign is about. Coke and Pepsi and AMC theaters don’t care about choice, or freedom, or liberty. They’re pissed off that a Mayor of a large city is trying to stop them from ripping everybody off. All they care about is taking your money, selling you a product that’s basically toxic in such large quantities, and not having to be held accountable for it. And when government threatens this normalized fleecing, they get all pissed and put together a campaign, try to rally up support amongst the people they are robbing.
I don’t get it. If you’re going to sell me a giant Coke, don’t take my money and then ask for help and support overturning a governmental proposal that would limit you from taking even more of my money. You should have collection boxes on the way out, asking your customers for donations. Please, give us even more money. Would you like to donate a dollar for cancer with your popcorn purchase? Screw you. You donate a dollar, because I just gave you upwards of thirty bucks on a movie and snacks. Don’t try to guilt me into giving up even more. Absolutely shameless. Does anybody ever go to the movies, spend thirty bucks, and then say to themselves, wow, that was totally worth it. Money well spent. I can’t imagine having a family, like two or three kids. That’s like a whole day’s work, down the drain.
Freedom. Give me a break, do I look stupid? How about hiring some more employees for the snack lines so I don’t have to wait around like an idiot? How about offering some better snacks? How about selling beer or cocktails. How about cleaning the floors once in a while so it’s not so goddamn sticky every single time. How much more money do you want from me just so I can see a movie and have some snacks?