As chaos overtakes Wall Street and cities around the country, and people rail in the streets against “the machine” in all its forms (corporate, financial, governmental), we in the St. James household have tried to maintain a sense of balance. We’ve tried to look at both sides, tried to understand each side’s perspective, and I think we’ve been successful. (As a writer, I need to be able to see both sides of a story after all.) But everything changed this past weekend. The protesters’ message has hit home in a big way. The FX network, long promising to begin airing Season 4 of its hit show Sons of Anarchy via streaming video, posted a message yesterday that the show’s new episodes would not be made available to its faithful on-line viewers.
Oh, I can get the episodes on line, via amazon or iTunes, but I have to pay either a per-episode or season’s fee. This wouldn’t bother me if the show aired on a premium channel, like HBO or Showtime. It wouldn’t bother me if I didn’t already pay my cable company a monthly fee to access the network. And it might not bother me if I hadn’t already paid to watch all of Season 3 (because it wasn’t yet available on FX, and I wanted to catch up before the start of the new season, and the show airs too late for me to watch real time). But this bothers me.
Now, I’m not a “political” person. By that I mean I have my personal beliefs, and some of them are quite strong, but I usually choose to keep those views to myself, to my family and close friends. Outside of that group of people, I don’t engage in discussions (live or on-line) about a particular party or movement. It’s not that I don’t care and care deeply, I just don’t care to share. Sometimes, though, things get to a point that I’m compelled to jump into the fray. And this is one of those cases. Enough is enough.
My first reaction to the change in policy is that I just don’t get it. I understand that FX doesn’t want to give the show away for free. So slap some commercials on the suckers and post them already. What’s the problem? Are they telling us they can’t get advertisers? I doubt that. I imagine it’s more a case that they can’t get advertisers to pay enough. They have a hot commodity with this show, and they’re going to seize the opportunity. They’re going to squeeze every blasted cent from it that they can.
It reminds me of an expression my husband’s grandmother used to say. (She was a tough old German lady with a heart of gold…and don’t let anyone mess with her family!) In referring to someone of a more frugal nature, she’d say, “He’ll squeeze a nickel ‘till the buffalo (poops) in his hand and sings the Star Spangled Banner to boot!” Grandma had a way with words. But her point is well taken in this case.
I cannot think of any reason for the network’s change in policy other than greed: plain, simple greed. And apparently having squeezed every penny they can from the cable companies and from advertisers, the show’s decision-makers are now turning to their faithful viewers for more, the same viewers who helped to put them in the position of power they think they hold.
Well, I’ve got news for you, FX. I’m not paying more for your show. Yes, of course I want to learn what happens to the “boys” after they’re released from prison. I want to know whether Jax and Tara have a boy or girl, and whether they decide to raise that baby in their lifestyle. I want to know how powerful the rival gangs have become in the interim and how the new law enforcement in Charming is handling it all. But enough is enough. There are plenty of other shows I haven’t yet seen, shows that will intrigue me with their characters. Shows that show the best and worst of life, and make me laugh and cry at once. I’ve drawn my line in the sand. I’m not paying for more episodes.
And as frivolous as this whole discussion of television shows is, it makes me angry to think I have to make that choice. It makes me angry to think about greed. Whether it starts with the network, the show’s producers or creative staff (including actors), or maybe somebody’s wife or husband who wasn’t content with only three vacation homes, someone wanted more. And once it starts, greed snowballs. Greed is tough to contain, even (especially?) our own.
Maybe, just maybe, the only way to reverse greed is to squelch our own. So I won’t be buying those new episodes. I won’t be using my hard-earned cash to see what happens to Jax and Tara. I won’t be feeding the network’s greed with my own.
(Hey, anybody out there know any good shows?)