Posts Tagged ‘Gran Torino’

Aught Lang Syne: The Worst of the Decade

Now, the raison d’etre for NPI’s look back at the last decade is to emphasize the cultural highs that the Aughts offered to those who lived through them. We are not here to condemn, and call the Aughts “the decade from Hell.” And so far we’ve stuck primarily to things from this decade that were truly awesome.

But, to paraphrase Shakespeare, the evil that decades do lives after them; the good is oft interred within their bones. This decade wasn’t all fun and games, and I’m not even talking about historical disasters, like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Mumbai, the tsunami, and the economic meltdown. No, this post is reserved for things that are truly detestable: bad songs, bad movies, and bad TV shows.

It seems pointless to waste words criticizing Cavemen, Gigli, and Paris Hilton’s 2006 album Paris—those horses have long since been dead and buried. Instead, this post will be about things that received inexplicable attention, unjustified praise, and undeserved popularity.

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Pabst Blue Ribbon: There is No Good Reason to Drink This Beer

PBRPabst Blue Ribbon has undergone a catastrophically successful rebranding over the last decade. What was once a heartland, working-class beer, brewed in Wisconsin and enjoyed by the Walt Kowalskis and Frank Booths of the world, has now become the beer of choice among hipster 20-somethings. In fact, the change has been so successful that the charitable organization that owns the Pabst Brewing Company is looking to sell it (since a charity cannot own a for-profit company and retain nonprofit status) for $300 million, despite the fact that the brewing company doesn’t actually brew anything. The Pabst Brewing Company mainly operates as a marketing company for the beers it sells, specifically PBR, which has significantly upped its sales figures recently.

Now, I suppose the company deserves credit for PBR’s recent success, but I’m reluctant to credit people for simply knowing how irrational American consumers are, particularly the brand of consumers commonly known as “hipsters.”

I’m reluctant to criticize hipsters because they are an ill-defined, much-maligned breed; like “racists” and “partisans,” “hipsters” are almost universally condemned, even though nobody can agree on what exactly makes one a hipster (although it probably involves skinny jeans).

With that said, we all know who drinks PBR, and it’s not people who like how it tastes. These are people who are trying to send one of the following cool, but factually incorrect signals to those seeing them drinking it (and the fact that PBR is rarely on tap means people generally will know what you are drinking): Continue reading

Symposium: Delusional Anchoring

I maintain that John’s use of anchoring is, in fact, delusional.  John saw one free comedy show (ASSCAT at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, in case you were wondering) that he really enjoyed.  The guest monologist and the cast of the show change on a weekly basis, but for the purposes of this argument I’ll assume that the show is very good on a weekly basis.

John should have a willingness to pay for comedy shows independent of the actual cost of a particular show. So, let’s say his willingness to pay for a “really good” comedy was $15 before he saw any comedy show. Then, he goes to UCB and his willingness to pay drops to zero (well, it’s actually higher than zero because of opportunity cost and cost of travel…). This does not make sense unless John is the most risk-averse person in America. The fact is reviews and friends’ suggestions are imperfect but we use them anyway because they have some use. Gran Torino, for instance, got very positive reviews but based on what the reviews were praising, it was very clear to me that I would not like the movie (I did not see the trailer). Likewise, I trust the judgment of certain friends on particular topics more than others (I generally do not trust Tim, for instance, when it comes to french fries).

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