I love movie swag and collectibles. My desk is studded with action figures, and my drawer is full of weird trinkets I've picked up at Comic-Con. Many of them are even useful -- Hulk glowsticks came in handy during a recent power outage, I use my Bones keyboard brush regularly, and I can never have enough pens or posters.
But I also feel pretty sick about it, particularly as it seems to be a marketing trend that grows larger and larger. Swag used to be a treat at Comic-Con, but now it's a given, and the fight to grab an insignificant bit of plastic is vicious. I made a conscious effort not to take anything last year, but it proved difficult as stuff was pushed and shoved into my hand as I walked by. I made an effort to hold onto it and dump the paper or plastic into appropriate bins, but there weren't enough bins for all my crap. ( I even brought a lot of it home just to dump into my paper bin. I'm such a hippy commie!) It was always a problem, but as Comic-Con and events like it become bigger and more unwieldy, the pile of plastic freebies grows. Where does it all go? Well, you know the answer to that.
It troubles me that more movies, particularly movies with environmental themes, don't go through the effort of making green tie-ins. Why did Wall-E come accompanied by thousands of plastic, disposable toys that would end up in a landfill? Why did Avatar market through McDonalds? Why not offer tie-in AeroGardens? Or t-shirts made out of plastic bottles? Stuff that's sustainable, and in line with your movie's message.
Think, too, how this stuff is made. I've always been conscious of that "Made in China" label, but as the push of tie-ins becomes greater (think of how many rush to Toy Fairs just to get first looks at a Marvel movie character), I can't help but wonder what awful factories these things are manufactured in. What are they doing to the environment? What are they doing to the people working in them? Think about whatever place manufactures Incredible Hulk glowsticks or The Reaping bug boxes all to be shipped to events thousands of miles away, and be chucked in the trash before the week is out. A disposable item can't be made in anything but a disposable place, can it?
On this Earth Day, I humbly suggest the movie geeks of the world stop and think twice about the swag and collectibles you covet. I know you liked How To Train Your Dragon, but do you really need a Night Fury? (Believe me, I want one on my desk, but why? What's it really for?) Do you need whatever collectible it is that comes in the Special Edition DVD? Do you need that LOST Bobble-Head that's exclusive to your event? What's going to happen to it once the thrill wears off and your memory of the show or movie fades?
You don't need a piece of the movie. The movie exists as it is, and you'll always love it. But I think (or hope) that you'll love open spaces, oceans, clean air and clean water more than you're ever going to love and appreciate that Whiplash bobble-head. And while he seems like one small thing, remember that there's a billion small things just like him clogging up our planet. Let's make an effort to keep crap out of landfills, and let's start this Earth Day.