Lessons for the Wine Industry By Way of Bad Filmmakers
If you are reading this and you work in the wine industry, then you understand what I mean when I say that we know how lucky we are. If you are reading this and don’t work in the wine industry, I hope you know what I mean when I say it’s great to work in an industry that gives you an opportunity to be involved in intriguing others.
The winemakers and their cellar crews get to raise up wine that will be sniffed, swirled, sipped and drunk, then discussed in earnest. They want that wine to be intriguing and interesting and satisfying.
The vineyardists and their crew get to prune, sucker, de-leaf, till, watch and harvest to the point of turning a grape into a source of something altogether different and they too want their fruit to be interesting and intriguing and meaningful.
The Marketer has the chance to tell a real story and to think about the customer and devise ways to introduce buyers and drinkers to something truly joyful when used properly and they want their plans and efforts to be effective and intriguing and captivating.
The retailer has a chance to fulfill desire by putting something with a real backend story into the hands of people looking to be floored and satisfied and justified and compelled.
The wine writer takes the time to carefully craft an explanation of meaning and place and history and efforts and wrap it all up in a package that joy seekers and drinkers looking for intrigue can bite into.
The point is that all of us in the wine industry should understand that we are in a pretty unique position to satiate those seeing to be intrigued and fascinated and satisfied and we really should have a central commandment: don’t waste that opportunity by disrespecting the chance you have to make a difference to someone.
This is what I was thinking after watching 12 Years a Slave a new film concerning the issue of mid 19th century American slavery. The filmmaker is also working in an industry where the object is to intrigue and soothe and uplift and compel their audience. They, like those of us in the wine industry, have an opportunity so many others don’t.
So I couldn’t help but wonder why 12 Years a Slave’s filmmaker, Steve McQueen, chose to ignore this opportunity and create one of the most purely sadistic-minded pieces of shit I’ve ever been subjected to. This film was closer to a snuff film than a dramatization. Creating two hours depicting nonstop beatings, whippings, the carving up of human flesh, humiliations, degradations and deprivations and trying to call it drama, let alone art, was Steve McQueen’s complete and total disregard for the unique opportunity people like him posses.
This wasn’t a case of a filmmaker mis-telling a story or just slightly missing the mark. It was a cruelty; a poisoning of the audience.
Try to imagine a winemaker who decided consumers needed to be exposed to winemaking that featured arsenic. Think through the idea of a wine writer who decided there was real value in penning wine reviews using primarily nasty and evocative racial slurs. That was 12 Years a Slave.
When you have a chance to intrigue and entertain an audience that wants to be intrigued and entertained, it’s a happy situation. So here’s my tip of the day for people working in the wine (and film) industry: It’s not OK to poison your customers for their own sake.