Overanalysing Film: Part 2
January 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
The second part of my over-analysis of a singular aspect of Beauty and the Beast, this time in a far more serious* and intelligent manner, which is really quite dull.
*Not true, just the last part.
Welcome to the second part of me proving that I have too much time on my hands. Here is where someone intelligent would link you to my previous work, but due to the stupidly inefficient way that Facebook handles internal movement, you could end up anywhere (like Norway), so if you are reading this and haven’t left in disgust yet and also haven’t read the previous part, I encourage you to read it, it’s somewhere on my profile, or something.
In the last part I came to the conclusion that the Disney movie “Beauty and the Beast” was set sometime around the early 17th century, with this in mind, I shall be discussing the validity of the bookshop.
Let’s start with some fundamentals of marketing, when you are trying to sell something, you will typically market yourself towards two types of people. These are the loyal customers, or really, anyone that is already using your service (the aim being to increase brand loyalty and the fanboy response), and to people who have no objection to it, but thus far have not been convinced of the merits. You will hardly ever try to sell yourself to people who are, for lack of a better word, “haters”. As an example, the Greens do not target the strongly right wing with their advertisements, they are instead designed to convince the fence sitters who are disillusioned with both major parties that there is a real alternative. Although, if we’re going to be honest, the Greens ads don’t really seem to target anyone, but that’s another matter.
Now, what does the bookshop in Beauty and the Beast do? Uhh, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to answer this question, I should really reword it, that’s the beauty of the Internet, but… Yeah. The bookshop is set up in a “small provincial town” where the average Joe looks down upon reading. Certainly, since this is France the situation is far less dire than if it were England in the same period, but while not openly hostile to books, the people of the town have no use for them, and no desire to use them. This leaves the bookshop with a mighty two consistent users, that being Belle and Maurice, her father.
Now if we look at the second part of marketing, once you have generated interest in your product (which this bookshop has failed at), you need to actually provide the service (for a bookshop, I imagine that would be selling books). This is something the bookshop doesn’t do. Belle borrows books from it (with no obvious cost, although, she may be paying some kind of persistent charge to have access to all of this), and then when she expresses her delight at a particular one, the owner simply gives it to her. This is a terrible business model, similar in magnitude to the failure that is me not knowing where I can buy Old Spice.
So, to those who have scrolled thus far, but not actually read anything (or maybe you’re tired, or thick, I don’t know), where does this leave us? A bookshop that has no real market, few customers, and a terrible business model. To further exacerbate the problem, not only is there no local market, but there’s not really any market whatsoever. Judging from what I’m reading on Wikipedia, France would have had a population of around 20 million, with only a few thousand considered members of the “reading public”. That’s not to say that others couldn’t read, but simply that they did not do so for pleasure, or did so very rarely.
But wait, I hear you say (no, actually, that was just me again, disagreeing with myself as usual (frickin’ idiot (no I’m not (yes you are (shut up (no you shut up (no your face shut up)))))) *cough*) wouldn’t this lack of knowledge in the general populace act as a wonderful business opportunity for the bookshop? Yes. I imagine it would, and from here, we go into the world of wild speculation, a place where 9/11 was caused by pregnant hamsters, and the war in Iraq was because the Jackalope said so (don’t question me). Back then the world was a big place (well, I imagine it was pretty much the same size it is now, but you know what I mean), the far off town of “just-over-that-hill” seemed like a long way away, and the hour long ride on your horse to go anywhere made travelling a chore. However, you may want to communicate with people who are some way away, it’s doubtful that they’d be family, as you’d most likely been living in the same spot for generations, however there may be a trademan that you needed the assistance of, or a piece of tail you’re chasing from when you visited the big city (population 1,300). For this you’d need a scribe, and who better to provide that role than the man in town who spends all his days with books. You could visit him, get whatever it was you needed written down, and then have it sent along to the fine boys at the Royal Postal Service: serving the community since 1477.
So even without any real customers, the owner of the bookshop would have been able to earn some money, and then we can add the fact that expenses would probably have been quite low. By lending out books, he’d hardly ever need to restock, and it’s unlikely that he’d have to pay rent for his shop, as it had probably been built by his family. Add to that that he’s really an old man, and had probably taken up the job as something to do in his retirement, living off the spoils of his youth, and it really kind of makes sense what he does. Really, he is most likely simply doing it for the love, of books, and he is kind of glad that he never sells anything, as then he’d just have to get more books. With this in mind, and the logic of the bookshop and its owner explained in a way that probably only I understood, I leave you with this bit from Black Books.
Bernard: What do they want from me? Why can’t they leave me alone? I mean, what do they want from me?
Manny: They want to buy books.
Bernard: Yeah but why me? Why do they come to me?
Manny: Well, because you sell books.
Bernard: Yeah, I know… but…
And then I’m back, to summarise that this entire piece is pointless, as what it says is “ooh, this doesn’t make sense but yes it does”.
Wikipedia pages I looked at briefly to try and pretend I didn’t simply make up all of this: