One of them was most available today around 12:30 p.m.
Because I was the one who fucked up, I couldn’t try to waive off their best time because it wasn’t convenient for my do-nothing day. So I went to Fullerton to deliver the card.
The whole meeting took literally two seconds. It was ostensibly just a hand-off, and they left immediately after the product was given.
So yay. An hour’s worth of a drive for two seconds of pay-off.
On days such as these I usually try to find things to do so that my time is not wasted. When my attempts to reach out to a couple local friends all ended in failures, I resigned myself to whittling time away in the Honors Center with homework.
By working on homework, I mean working on Comm Law homework. Because that stuff takes hours — and in fact I was working on it all four hours I sat in the Center until it closed at 5:00 p.m.
Then I spent even more time on it after I got home from my ~hour & fifteen minute drive.
As much as I’m enjoying the class, the sheer amount of work is absolutely killer.
Yet, the lectures we had to look over this weekend spoke to me more than usual. Our topic was the one and only:
Now I know what you must be asking yourself. “You don’t have any intellectual property, Jason. Why did this speak to you?”
First off, rude.
Second, given the requirements for copyright (having an original work of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression), I would say I have copyrighted intellectual property in both my journalism and whatever I’ve written on this blog.
Unlike trademarks, which pertain to brands and aim to create an association with product quality so consumers can knowing what they’re buying. Because capitalism.
I don’t have a brand to protect, and trademarks only begin the moment they are put into commercial use. So I can’t claim I own that as easily as I do copyright to an extent.
Now. I’m sure some of you must be asking yourselves a different question. “Jason, why the hell are you spouting Comm Law nonsense at us? This isn’t a lecture.”
The point I’m aiming toward is that I’ve taken the opportunity to think about copyright further than just my journalistic writings. I’ve been thinking about a copyright that, at least to me, feels a bit more important in the moment.
I’m working on having a copyrighted work in the completely original intellectual property of my Senior Honors Project novel.
Though it’s obviously a pipe dream for a product I haven’t finished yet, something about learning the bundle of rights that come with a copyrighted work made me kind of giddy.
Five rights come with copyright that pertain to how one wants to divide up and license out their work:
I’m not going to say I expect my novel to hit the same heights as, say, the Harry Potter series (which we used as an example).
Anyone who follows my general social media feeds should know that I went to Downtown Disney with my Mom and sister today.
It was nice to get out of the house for a serious outing for the first time in at least a week, outside of that night where we went to dinner in Santa Monica. Not sure I’d count that as being a serious outing in the same vein as going to Disney, particularly the day after Christmas.
While I’m not exactly sure whether that proximate timing to the holidays is responsible for this portion of the experience, it was interesting to see a new metal detector/bag check station outside the entrance to Downtown Disney:
Maybe it isn’t new and I just haven’t been there in a while. But either way a bit of the magic goes away when you have to think about the necessity of this sort of thing so early into the experience.
Luckily that magic is more than made up for by the wonders of Disney-branded capitalism. Everyone’s favorite kind!
My family was over in Anaheim looking into a present for my sister’s birthday tomorrow. After watching Wreck-It Ralph 2 a second time, she decided she needed one of the Disney Princess pajama shirts — particularly Tiana’s New Orleans’ themed shirt.
Obviously the best place to look for that sort of thing was the source, the Mickey Mouse clubhouse of infinite profit.
To make an extra long story short, we didn’t wind up getting that shirt. We also didn’t get the equivalent hoodie sweatshirt version.
Instead we spent a little more time at different stores around Downtown Disney. Like the LEGO store, which I have to admit becomes less fun the older I get simply because of how much more expensivethe sets get.
Also because they had this model of the LEGO store as a display within the store and it was 2 meta 4 me.
While we were in that store I also made what I’m progressively considering to be a mistake by taking part in this ‘which LEGO mini figure are you?’ display:
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a sweet little idea. You stand in front of the board, put your hand on the scanner and it gives you a (presumably) random figure. I can only assume the display is meant for a far younger age demographic because of how low it was to the ground.
But still I thought it could be fun. Found out that I am apparently a Buckingham Palace guard LEGO man.
The only issue is, now I’m 100 percent convinced that all of my privacy is officially gone. I’ve given up my fingerprints to the mouse.
If he didn’t already have them from when my Dad worked for Disney I suppose.
Thus I figured I had nothing left to lose. So we had lunch, then went back to the painting shop that we wandered upon first arriving. Our initial time through was the progenitor of this Tweet:
Me walking into Downtown Disney: “I know your game, mouse. Don’t think I’ll fall for your hyper-capitalist gouging on my nostalgia.”
Me ten minutes later: “I need this $500 Little Mermaid painting up on my wall to feel alive again.”
My friend Juan made fun of me for still supporting the mouse in spite of the fact that I was making taunting about not supporting him…
Which is true.
I still really like this piece so I was willing. They already had my fingerprints, so why not?
Turns out my nostalgia totally can get gouged for all it’s worth.
That seems like as good a message to end this off with as any. No matter how strong you believe your spirit to be, always know that Mickey Mouse can and will find a way to pierce deep into the heart of your desires.
Welcome to the post talking about the other things I was referring to there.
Yeah I bet you weren’t expecting a conversation about Funko Pops, were you? They don’t exactly seem like the kind of thing in my area of interest.
I’ll admit that they aren’t for the most part. In fact, I don’t necessarily hate Funko Pops overall as my clickbait-y title might suggest.
If anything I’m willing to admit they’re rather cute for the most part. Plus I have been known to collect a somewhat useless series of plastic figurines in the past myself.
So really there’s no reason I should hate this fairly harmless Hot Topic-stuffing collectible mogul, right?
See I don’t necessarily hate Funko Pops as an inherit object that exists. What I absolutely abhor is the corporate design mentality surrounding Funko Pops.
As anyone who knows anything about Funko Pops must know, there are Funko Pops that exist for literally anything AND everything.
You like anime? Pick your favorite, there’s a series of Pops to go with them.
You like HBO television series like Westworld? God knows I do, and there’s a series of Pops to go with them.
You like the Marvel Cinematic Universe? You like video games? You like football? Actual real life football?
Because there are pops for all of those things and an infinite amount of other things I won’t bother to go into because look at this catalog. It’s nuts.
Especially the whole sports side of things. Side-rant I get being in love with sports and following, say, the Yankees or the Dodgers if you’re super into baseball. It’s just bizarre to have a series of collectible figurines representing actual real people that you can stick in your house.
But okay you get the point. If you’ve got an interest, Funko has a Pop to fit it.
Inherently I don’t have a problem with this business model. The fact that this company has invented a series of figurines so simple that literally any form of media can be molded into it is genius, and something the whole world probably wishes they figured out first.
As someone who has played many video games to 100 percent completion, and thrives on games like Monster Hunter where the whole idea is to collect exclusive bits and pieces of monsters to create new specialty armor, I can understand the itch many collectors have when it comes to Funko.
So yeah, if you want to go out and collect Funko Pops, more power to you. My family certainly does, and there are series I’d probably be more than willing to pay for a full collection of.
But that’s only considering the ‘first edition’ idea of these Pops. My problem comes with the alternate forms.
“Wow Jason, that’s ironic. You don’t like Funko Pops for producing alternate versions of characters when you talk endlessly about rare variants of characters in Fire Emblem Heroes like they’re the second coming. What a hypocrite.”
Yeah I hear you audience, I know.
It’s no secret that I appreciate ‘special editions’ as much as the next guy. But Fire Emblem Heroes and Funko Pops are a little different at their core.
In FEH, the special variant units are just as free-to-start as every other unit in the game. Sure there are practices under the surface that encourage players to eventually spend money, like releasing five valuable banners in a row with few orb giveaways in between, but still.
You could just as easily start the game when a holiday banner is running and be just as likely to receive that unit with free orbs as anyone else.
With Funko Pops, every single one costs money. Just as much, if not more money in fact.
Do you like Deadpool? Okay, here’s a Deadpool figurine. That’ll be a nice little thing to display to show off your interest in the character.
“Alright, alright we get it,” I hear you in the audience say.
I sure hope you do. With the simplicity of the Funko Pop formula, any single character can be given infinite minor modifications and be considered a special variant.
But unlike the model in FEH, where you could theoretically earn the special version for free, every single Funko costs real life money.
Now there are arguments to be made that these are physical objects rather than digital characters in a video, and thus there’s more value to collecting them over time in terms of things like eventual trading or simply selling collections much like with comic books and vinyl records.
There’s validity to that idea. But that isn’t really what I’m here to discuss.
What I’m here to discuss is the fact that a business model allowing for infinite cash cow-ing on the same property over and over and over again, rather than keeping to a finite cap of collectability, is inherently infuriating.
I would be more than happy to spend 60 bucks over the course of a few months to collect five Deadpool figurines based on characters from the movies if I enjoyed them that much. What I wouldn’t be happy doing is spending literally all of my money for forever to keep up with every ‘left hand raised 60 degrees’ variation that can be squeezed out.
That’s not even just for Deadpool too, as much as I keep harping on him. He just happens to be a good example of a character that lends himself to more ridiculous, outlandish variations and repeated re-releases. Any character can have a variant where they wear a different outfit or hold a new pose.
Funko Pops certainly aren’t the first to abuse this model, but they abuse it pretty hard. It’s probably rather petty to be bashing them so hard for it out of nowhere, but I’ve seen similar ideas ruin things I’ve loved in the past.
Shuffle was a spin-off game released first on the Nintendo 3DS and then on mobile devices in 2015. It was something of a continuation of the Trozei and Battle Trozei series that became a free-to-start microtransaction-laden title. And I adored it.
Seriously, for the longest time if you had asked me what game handles the microtransaction system most fairly, it would have been Pokémon Shuffle. I played this damn game on my 3DS for years, and I have distinct memories of doing so both on my high school and college campuses.
The game ran on an ‘energy’ system, where you could play five games at a time before needing to wait for everything to recharge. Unless you spent gems, the in-game currency you could buy with real life currency.
There are also a bunch of other details related to items you can either grind out or purchase, but the energy was the important thing to me. See those five hearts of energy recharged at a rate of a half hour per heart.
In other words, you could play a full set of games every two-and-a-half hours. Compared to a lot of other games with energy or stamina caps, this was insanely generous.
For a student like me, it essentially meant I could play out my games, go to whatever class I had, then get out to find a full set of energy hearts waiting to be used. Combine this with the semi-regular updates (though eventually the levels got kind of ridiculously difficult) and frequent special in-game events, and I was more than happy to play for years.
But then I stopped. You know why I stopped?
Just look at this insanity.
My screenshot here hasn’t even captured half of the special variants for Pikachu alone. There are Pikachu wearing every cap that Ash ever wore in the anime. Pikachu wearing costumes modeled after Legendary Pokémon. Hell there’s a Rayquaza costume Pikachu AND a shiny Rayquaza costume Pikachu.
Again, Pikachu isn’t the only problem, but he’s emblematic of it. Everything technically started with the ‘winking’ starter Pokémon line.
This ridiculous cash cow, the infinite special variant system, is what burned me out of Pokémon Shuffle in the end. I was more than happy to keep playing to collect all 700+ Pokémon as a mark of personal completion should they have gotten that far.
But because the game’s creators wanted a way to keep the game going forever and come up with more challenging ways of potentially forcing players to spend money on limited time only extra special dudes, I didn’t feel like it was worth keeping up anymore.
Funko Pops embody the same problem, in my opinion. If you’re going to release the same figures over and over and over again with slight variations just to squeeze out as much money as possible, then why should anyone bother trying to collect them all in the first place?
I’m sure other people will have their justifications for it, but that’s a path I can’t see myself going down. I’d much rather stick with collecting something finite in my real world collectibles. Something I can eventually look at and say ‘this is a complete set.’
That’s my rant for the day. What do you think? Is the idea of infinite variation healthy for a brand like Funko? Or is it detrimental in their long-term viability as a reasonable company, as I’m more inclined to believe.
Though obviously I’m probably in the wrong since, let’s be real, people will continue to buy those things no matter what I say. So the more they can print up the more money they’ll make.
Has anyone ever stopped to think about how strange the idea behind money is?
Probably a silly rhetorical question, as commerce is something that many people have thought long and hard about over the course of human history. But I don’t exactly mean the concept of different monetary systems or the merits of different economic theories like capitalism vs. communism.
I’m certainly nowhere near enough of an expert in any sort of financial realm to be able to begin to tackle those big ideas.
However, recently I’ve been contemplating a different bizarre aspect of money that relates more to a psychological sphere of thought. Namely the idea of ownership when it comes to money, particularly in the much more nebulous 21st century where the lines between the physical and the digital are blurred more and more.
I could point to a number of places as the genesis of my thinking on this subject, though two primarily come to mind off-hand.
First is my sister, who loves to tell the story of an old man who approached her as she worked the concession booth at a Redondo Union band event. Apparently his idea of small talk was telling a couple 16 year olds that they should be careful with the money they were handling because all U.S. bank notes supposedly have some trace of cocaine on them.
I probably have another post incoming sometime soon regarding stuff from this trip that’ll make it relevant again, but for now just know we went to the bank after all was said and done.
Both of these small, seemingly disconnected events kind of evoke the same cliché: You never know where your money has been. An unarguable idea, especially looking back at the lede to that CNN article I linked where the author talks about how frequently money is passed from person-to-person through anything from paying for goods at a store to dropping $5 on the ground by accident.
But I’m not here to examine the idea of your money having been touched by anyone and everyone at some point in the past, per say. Rather, I’m more interested in the much smaller idea of casually calling it ‘your money.’
At its core, money is the symbolic representation of a totally imaginary concept called worth.
What I’m looking at is the idea that we, as a species, have collectively decided that slips of paper have been assigned a value that essentially boils down to a more simplified form of bargaining. Instead of trading a sack of flour for two chickens, we’ve come up with a representation of how many paper slips each sack of flour or each chicken is worth, that way there’s a universally tradable object allowing someone to buy anything they want rather than being restricted to getting chickens.
Naturally there’s an infinite number of complications to that idea when it comes to things like the universality of currency if we all have different currencies worth different values. But like I said, I’m not an economist or a financial guru, so let’s just go with a more simplified world view here.
The creation of a universal representation of wealth has also crystalized an idea of what it is to be a wealthy individual. Sure back in the day you were the king if you had X number of chickens or acres of land, but there were people who could argue they didn’t need chickens or land if they had different goods.
In today’s society, money is literally the deciding factor because money can be used for almost anything.
That’s why people will go around talking about their net worth, how something like their stock options give them a billion dollar value. Because that symbolic value is worth something in that it’s usable for almost any kind of bartering one can imagine.
But in 2018, that’s where things get complicated and interesting to me. You can say you have $100 available right now, but do you really have the physical Benjamin in your pocket? Or do you have $100 in this nebulous digital concept called a bank account?
Now I know bank accounts aren’t technically completely nebulous, since there are physical places where one can deposit and take out physical bills. But here’s the thing: Even those physical bills aren’t technically completely your property, despite the fact that your inherent worth says you have that much available.
When you deposit a dollar in the bank, there’s no guarantee that when you take it back out you’ll be receiving the exact same dollar. It’s more likely that the bank just has a pile of dollars hidden away somewhere that they peel bills off of for anybody that needs it at a given time.
Also yes that probably isn’t how a physical bank works, but again. Not a banker. So any real life bankers out there please don’t get mad reading my description.
Just go with it for the sake of this hypothetical.
The idea extends beyond banks as well. Like I mentioned before, purchasing items creates an interesting dynamic. That dollar “you own,” once handed over to the cashier in exchange for whatever it may be, goes into a cash register. But if you go back to that store one day and get cash back for having too big a bill, you aren’t guaranteed to get the exact same dollar you handed over long ago.
That dollar probably disappeared as soon as the person behind you in line that day used a bill that was too big and got cash back. Now it’s suddenly a representation of that person’s wealth rather than your own.
As usual I don’t necessarily have a larger point to this discussion beyond it being an interesting train of thought into something most of us more than likely take for granted in this fly-by-night world we live in.
But next time you go to buy that new video game or receive a paycheck and toss those singles around like you’re the king of the world in a strip joint, maybe you’ll think about this post and give your psychological perceptions of money a reexamination.
Those bills you’re tossing around? They aren’t yours, as you might think. No matter how hard you worked to earn them in the first place.
They’re just a symbolic representation of the work you put in given a physical form that allows you to barter without trading away any actual goods. No matter how many times you kiss that wad of cash, happy to be worth something, just remember that the second you put it down it’ll be the property of whoever picks it up next.
But also maybe think about the fact that you’re likely kissing money that has cocaine on it. Because let’s not forget, that money could literally have been held by anybody before it was held by you.