The Ensh*ttification of Everything

PLUS: Despair as an Aesthetic
February 8, 2023

Welcome to Wednesday, Futurists!

Sightline™ is exactly the type of brand marketing genius name that you’d expect from the late capitalist who invented “line-of-sight-based pricing.” That sounds like a fancy way of saying “poor people shouldn’t be able to see good.” Or, at least that’s what you’d take away from this week’s announcement by AMC theaters, who will begin charging more for seats that are off-center from the screen in select theaters around the country.

A blurry-eyed announcement considering Cory Doctorow’s recent piece in Wired, “The ‘Enshittification’ of Tiktok,” where he laid out the lifecycle of a platform that delights users, only later to abuse them. “That’s capitalism baby!” (to be read in a Midatlantic accent).

From the article: 

This is enshittification: Surpluses are first directed to users; then, once they’re locked in, surpluses go to suppliers; then once they’re locked in, the surplus is handed to shareholders and the platform becomes a useless pile of shit. From mobile app stores to Steam, from Facebook to Twitter, this is the enshittification lifecycle.

Is this because AMC is greedy? Perhaps. But it may also be that consumers (and shareholders) have wild, unrealistic, entitled expectations that are creating undue pressure on businesses. “Why shouldn’t I be able to pay more to get a better seat?” 

The real issue is that we’ve commercialized a just-in-time culture. Rather than planning ahead and buying whatever seat you want for a fair price, we are mired in angst that the “good seats” were already taken. 

On the other hand, creating a lower price point may actually lift movie theaters out of turmoil, and provide greater access in a time where the rest of the economy is only getting more expensive. The global annual “free comic book day” event helped to revive comics, and last year we saw theaters pilot a similar model, National Cinema Day, where tickets were a mere $3. It was a rousing success.

What’s happening to movie theaters is already commonplace elsewhere. From sporting events to concerts, we know that “the good seats” cost money; and those seats are only available on the secondary market. Our prediction: should Sightline™ become a mainstay at AMC, it’s a matter of time before we’re battling the bots to get a seat at Avatar 5.

Sorry, Nicole Kidman, “an astigmatism feels good in a place like this” doesn’t have quite the same ring. It’s actually pretty sh*tty.

— Phillip

P.S. If you need a respite from the sh*ittiness of the world, take heart. We didn’t crap our Shorts… our Youtube Shorts that is. Our Future Commerce channel on Youtube has been growing, and we could use your help to get to 800+ subscribers. Take the pledge! (a.k.a. subscribe to us on Youtube)

Despair as An Aesthetic. A study shows our global attitudes toward the future are all trending dark — increased interest in nihilism, rising global sales of emergency kits, and escalating mental health struggles. And yet in the darkness, we are finding comfort and embracing what is unknown in our own ways.

“Two for Nosebleed, Please.” AMC theaters will debut a new ticket pricing schematic, in which customers will pay different rates for the same movie, depending on the location of their seats. Capitalism really popped off on this one.

More Sights & Sounds. Web3 community FWB opens up their PnL for last year’s festival. Amazon seems to be getting more chaotic and — junky. Rivian, the EV startup, is now working on an e-bike. Goldman Sachs published research this week, stating that the prognosis for the housing market is looking up. Bed, Bath, & Beyond will avoid bankruptcy after securing over $1 billion in investor backing. Amazon is hiring Web3 staff. People are officially dating AI chatbots. Also, check out this META TRENDS trends report of the most reported trends. Yes, we have a trend… of trend reporting on trends. 

Photo by Chris Lynch on Unsplash

Bulk Up. Low-profile, super sleek sneaks are trending downward, and chunky — almost ugly — sneakers are having a moment. Sales for Hokas, running shoes that offer max comfort are expanding beyond runners at rapid rates and even celebrities have been seen out on the town in them.

Our Take: We went from barefoot running culture to max-cushion stack height in less than ten years. These divergent beliefs on running performance, self-care, renewed interest in long-distance running, and the proliferation of dadcore are all interrelated. Rather than being polar opposite beliefs (cushion vs. no cushion) they’re the opposing poles of a horseshoe. 

Horseshoe theory theorizes that political extremes aren’t so far way from each other on a continuum. Rather than a linear line, the far-right and far-left are actually closer in ideology; i.e. the continuum is horseshoe-shaped. The Culture at-large goes through wild swings of beliefs that are reactive in nature. Maybe these reactions of adopting and abandoning fads that are seemingly polar opposites aren’t actually so oppositing, after all. 

Metaverse Infringement. Hermès has sued an LA-based digital artist for trademark infringement after he released MetaBirkin NFTs into the metaverse.

The Same Sameness. Have you noticed that every small boutique and local coffee shop seems to be suddenly stocking the same handful of artisanal brands of olive oil, spices, and tinned fish? A new online wholesaler, Faire, is the player behind this. Traditionally, carrying brands on shelves happened over a series of months through trips to market and subsequent relationship building — but with Faire, shops can simply find brands on its online platform, put in bulk orders, and have the goods delivered relatively quickly.

Peep This. Pepsi is bringing back its limited-time Peeps flavor for Easter. It’s hard to imagine these being big sellers last year, but sure.

AI Takeover. AI continues to make us question ethics and ourselves, as a Rabbi writes a sermon using AI, and actors fight to keep their voices for themselves against pressures to sign their voices over to AI

Well, We Tried for Mental Health. Mindstrong has announced it will be winding down its services, noting that could not deliver the high-quality and low-cost care it had hoped.

Cover Photo by Felix Mooneeram on Unsplash

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