|Is it a good movie? Doesn't really matter, does it?|
A film, no matter how poorly plotted, is a success if it sells enough tickets. No matter how delightful it is, a film comes in for mockery if its opening weekend doesn't measure up.
Were these stories in the business section, I wouldn't raise an eyebrow.* But they're not: they run alongside features about music or sports or food.
* I cannot actually raise an eyebrow anyway.
They are the ultimate triumph of capitalist conformity. They tell us what other people are watching.
As you can tell I'm not a big fan of this style of film coverage. But I did recently get to wondering why wine isn't covered the same way.
Movie ticket-sales stories came about because big studios want them. The studios quickly report and trumpet sales results. Occasionally they take their lumps, but the idea is that a hit film will gain momentum when people realize everyone else is seeing it.
For companies striving to move truckloads, a wine sales story would seem to have exactly the same impact on exactly the same audience. Imagine this story: "Apothic Red up sharply; 200,000 bottles sold last weekend." Wouldn't a lot of people want to taste the wine that everybody else is drinking?
Don't misunderstand: I don't know that this would be good for wine culture. It would get wine in the media more often, and maybe it would increase the number of American adults currently drinking wine regularly. However, I'm not sure this is the way I want people to talk about wine.
But it sure would be a good thing for Gallo, as well as its big-boy competitors. So why hasn't it happened?
I have two theories. One is that wine sales have traditionally been hard to track over a short period. However, new cash register technology is changing that. Nobody can easily know how many bottles that small local wine shops are selling, but they're not the shops that sell most mass-market wines anyway. Supermarkets, drug stores, wine chain stores: their sales could now be measured this way.
Second is that Gallo, for decades the only big player and still the biggest, has a long tradition of disliking any media coverage and avoiding it as much as possible. That was Ernest Gallo's fixation, as explained in Blood and Wine. But Ernest is gone and while Gallo still isn't what I'd call open to the media, its dealings with the press have changed a lot, probably not coincidentally as it has moved into higher-end wines. The biggest change is philosophical. Gallo still wants to control its press coverage, much more so than other companies, but it seems to actually want to be in the paper.
I don't know that Gallo would be the one to initiate a story like this. It might be Constellation, it could be the Wagner family, or it could be any winery big enough to put out a press release that reads "Our wine sold 100,000 bottles last weekend!" That sounds like a lot, and might be enough to encourage some newspapers and other media to run it.
I'll probably complain about this when it happens, not least because writing this feels like volunteer work for Evil Corp (see Mr. Robot). Maybe this post was written by my smarter, more evil twin?