Wednesday, August 15, 2012

We interrupt this blog to interrupt your your collection...

I know that my next post held the promise of being all about cover art for Indy Publishers, but I wanted to take a break and discuss/rant at length about a show I caught last night on Syfy... "Collection Intervention" from the show's Syfy website:
"Collection Intervention follows Elyse Luray, former Head of the Collectibles Department at Christie's, as she helps couples, families and individuals whose pop-culture memorabilia collections – from Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica to Catwoman and Barbie – have become damaging obsessions, creating financial strife and a huge strain on their lives.  Elyse will create a strategy that helps these collectors curate and showcase their collection by assessing where the true value lies and then allow them to decide what's worth keeping and what they can sell.  These massive collections include dining rooms stuffed with 30,000 comic books, a garage filled to the rafters with Catwoman memorabilia, and an almost uninhabitable house filled with Transformers.  For each collector, parting with some of their collection may free up some much needed space in their home, provide cash windfall to get out of debt, or even just allow a  couple to become more focused on their relationship."
I tuned in last night, curious about the show... and was absolutely horrified by it.

The big problem I had with this show was how they presented the collectors. Don't get me wrong, I know that to some degree, being a collector of specific geek culture items requires a certain level of obsessiveness, but they presented both collectors last night as being downright emotionally unstable. There were two stories of 'intervention' presented last night, but the one that really galled me was the Catwoman Collector.

This guy loves Catwoman, and has been collecting Catwoman items his whole life. His wife does not understand this obsession, and just wants the crap out of her garage. She refuses to let him display any of his collection in their house, and complains for most of the episode that he needs to sell all his crap and get them out of debt. I kept thinking "how on earth did this guy marry this woman?". I understand wanting a loved one to sell some of a valued collection to help pay the bills (shortly after Cheri and I married, I sold my near mint set of original "Watchmen" comics) but this woman was basically belittling his hobby, and insisting that he not only get rid of things that he personally loved, but do it so she could be more financially secure. Again, not all that unreasonable... but the way it was presented was like the wife was sane, and the collector was nuts for wanting to hang onto any of it. It came to a head when they went to sell some stuff at a local comic shop, and the wife sold a bust of Catwoman that the collector said was one of his favorite pieces. He protested, and the wife is all "but this guy is offering us money, what's the problem?"

[begin rant]

THE PROBLEM IS HE LOVES IT, YOU BITCH! YOU WON'T EVEN LET HIM DISPLAY A THING HE LOVES IN YOUR HOME!!! And then... then... (Jesus, this made me angry) he buckles and lets her sell it. They then heap praise on him, telling him that he's "turned a corner" and how proud they are of him. WTF IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE!!!! I understand needing space in a home, but the dude just kept his stuff in the garage because his wife forced him to keep it there. I even understand selling some of a collection, but the show kept making the point that having emotional attachments to any of the things you collect is a little bit nuts! WHO THE HELL ARE THESE PEOPLE TO JUDGE!?!

The second story, about a Star Wars collector was no better. She even explained that the action figures in particular had special meaning to her, because of how they represented her father's sacrifice to get the perfect gift for Christmas morning, and a lonely geek childhood where these toys were her best friends. Then they make her sell them, insisting "it's for her own good". When in tears she finally gives up an Ewok action figure, they say "see that wasn't that bad, now let's get rid of more of this crap", COMPLETELY IGNORING THAT YOU PRACTICALLY TRIGGERED A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN IN THIS WOMAN!!! YOU GUYS ARE ASSHOLES!!!

[/end rant]

Okay, now that I've got that out of my system... the obsession to collect is one I understand, and to some degree share. I collect all sorts of things that have no real value to anyone... they are things that hold special meaning for me. If someone, (particularly a loved one) insisted that there was something wrong with me for wanting to keep and display something that I have an emotional connection to, I'd have a long talk with that person about the nature of our relationship. As far as "damaging obsessions, creating financial strife and a huge strain on their lives" goes, that's really realitive. My wife is a collector, and I know that even when our bank account is running the ragged edge of disaster, buying something like this...
it's a purse.
does something emotionally good for her. That to me is not a financial burden, it's an investment in my wife's sanity. If that makes her crazy, it means I'm crazy too. I would never ask her to sell her Muppet/Star Wars figurines, and she would never ask me to sell my starship models. Part of being in a relationship is accepting the other person's flaws, and learning to appreciate the things that make them smile.

But I guess that would make for poor television.

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