Sunday, February 19, 2012

The China Diaries: Roll the Credits

I was asked by a friend to bring them one gift from China, if I should happen to find it; hilariously bad pirated copies of Beatles CDs. I told him that this would be impossible, as such things are hard to come across. Generally speaking, I think what's impressed me most about China has been the quality of their market for DVDs and CDs. You don't necessarily have to look hard to spot the inaccuracies that are tell-tale signs, but you do have to look. The slip covers are professionally printed and attractive. They use the real artwork from the movies, as opposed to hilarious cut'n'paste jobs. This is all, rest assured, thanks to the internet. They have definitely stepped up their collective game, whomever "they" are exactly.

You don't buy your DVDs from a man with a cart. I mean, you certainly can, but there are nice stores for this sort of thing. One of the favorite stores in Xi'an is a place where you can pick up just about any movie you want. Their selection rivals Target, and their prices certainly beat it. As China becomes more prominent in the global economy, they have been cracking down on pirates. Without copyright laws being protected, many lucrative aspects of the world economy will never come here to nest. This puts the Chinese government in a tricky position, though; the DVD market as it stands now may not be very profitable for the industries, but it's extremely profitable for the Chinese themselves, and they wouldn't make nearly what they do now as individuals from running a Fine, Upstanding Business. The store I speak of was raided shortly after I got here. A teacher walked in one day to find that most of the DVDs had quietly been removed, replaced only with the significantly more expensive, most likely genuine articles. For a short period of time, at any rate. It would seem some of compromise has been reached wherein everyone helps to Keep Up Appearances.

Back to the product itself; there have been massive improvements, certainly, but there are still errors. And some of them are funny, in a quiet sort of way. Beyond the normal typos, there are things that are just inconsistent. For example, the case for The Artist includes the Proof of Purchase for A Bug's Life), and my copy of The Descendants includes the production credits for A Night at the Museum, save for the fact that the title of the movie is still listed as The Descendants. My favorite one, without a doubt, is a little idiosyncratic addition to the cover of the first season of Six Feet Under. See if you can spot it.

Did you see it? If you didn't, look over Claire's shoulder into the mirror. You'll see that the good people of Fischer & Sons are being haunted by a ghost straight out of The Ring. If you've seen the show, you will probably think it's worth at least a chuckle. I think it's great. It's the best kind of false marketing. Another thing I noticed while writing this: The pictures on the back of the case for Season 1 are from the final two episodes of the series, and give away everything that happens if you pay attention to them. It's the little things.

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Don't look at me like that. I told you they were quietly funny. I gave you massive trash fires, that was pretty cool from a more typical viewpoint, and five people looked at it. So now you get to hear about DVD cases. You did it to yourselves.

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