Sunday, October 09, 2005
Pay Money Orso Cannot Get Ah? Niamah!
Photo of Adam. "You lookin' at me?"
I get very upset when I pay good money for goods and services and I don’t get my money’s worth. Don’t you? It’s just natural. Case in point. A few weeks ago I went to watch a movie in one of the cineplexes in a shopping mall in KL. The film was the then local hit movie and the hall was packed. The big budget film was advertised as a milestone in Malaysian film history. The film boasted Dolby Digital Surround Sound. And being always interested in good sound in films I bought my ticket and went in with great anticipation. Imagine my disappointment when the film played with one channel of the sound distorted and with a loud irritating hum coming from the screen. Not only was there no surround sound effect the film was also shown through what must have been a projector whose light source was a nearly dead 60 watt incandescent lamp. I found out later from a reasonably reliable source that it was common practise for cineplex operators to run projectors at less than optimum light intensity to save costs. It was not a good movie experience. Certainly not worth the RM10.00 ticket and the RM6.00 parking fee. I could have bought a pirated DVD version of the same film and had a much better viewing in the comfort of my home. And still have change left for a packet of kua chee and a beer. Later when I complained to the management of the cineplex the response was some plastic smiles and tired nods and I was told, “It’s like that one lah. Local film what.” WHAT???!!! So much for the Malaysia Boleh spirit and being proud of our achievements.
So where is this leading to? A few days later at a Hari Raya open house I met the marketing manager of the film’s distribution company and related to her my less than satisfying experience at the screening of one of her company’s films. She was politely apologetic and then offered me a reason which totally had me in hysterics. She said that bad quality sound and picture quality in Malaysian cinema halls were the results of movie piracy. Her reason was that because of piracy the exhibitors could not make enough money to maintain their equipment and had to resort to cost cutting measures. She then proceeded to urge me to join the fight against pirated movies and also to encourage everyone I knew not to buy pirated movies. If there was no piracy we would then get the quality expected when we visit the cinemas. Wait a minute. Isn’t there something wrong with that equation? Maybe I’m old fashioned but I always thought that the equation worked the other way around. It is the producer’s duty to the consumer to provide the best quality product and the consumer’s decision on whether to buy. Has the rule changed? So now we give you our money first to buy your inferior quality products, then you use our money to develop the product that we should have had in the first place issit?
When I finished laughing and left the company of the by then pissed off marketing manager, I thought further about what had just been said. Then I got really scared. I think I’m the one who’s out of touch with reality. That’s the way things have been done around here for quite a long time now. Look around. I’m sure you will see many examples of this pay first, receive later formula at work.
You interview someone for a position in your company. The first thing the applicant asks is how much money you’re going to pay and what benefits you have for him. Not what he can do for you. I remember a time when job applicants would try to impress you with their abilities and potential contributions to the organisation first before YOU decide what they’re worth. Sure, if at the end of it they don’t think your offer is up to their expectations they have the option to tell you to **** off.
Our poor showing in sports is a fine example of this screwed-up system too. It’s no longer about passion and achievement before rewards. It’s what do I get now and IF I should achieve something.
Malaysian theatre seems to have adopted this mentality as well. We hear or read all the time about practitioners bellyaching about how their efforts are hampered because they can’t sell enough tickets and therefore make enough money to do what they want to do. They are asking for support so that they can achieve what they promise us will be quite worthwhile. Again, give me the money first, then I will show you lah. You make something first that we want to buy. We will buy. Then you will get money to do something else. Then you see if we buy that or not and so on. No ah?
A friend told me the other day that all this is the result of the growing of the current “Y” generation. Another friend called it the MTV generation. A whole generation of people who’ve been brought up expecting to be given everything NOW. Forget effort, forget passion, forget achievements. We want everything NOW. Faster lah. A generation with a kind of thinking that perpetuates a culture of mediocrity.
And all the deaths on Malaysian roads. Isn’t that another scary example? To me, it’s like someone sitting up waiting to see how many people will die before he decides to improve the quality of the roads or the highway system. Or the killer mudslides, landslides etc. “Errrr…wait ah….how many people have been killed ah? Oh that’s all ah? Okay we’ll approve a few more housing projects on hill slopes then.”
Scary isn’t it? Okay, I’m going out to my pirate DVD dealer. See you at the movies.
This article first appeared in The Edge's Options 2 in January 2005. I think.