The Franchise Problem: My Sequel Escalation Theory!

The Franchise Problem: Even before you read this article, you probably have a rough idea about what I’m going to say. We’re all very much aware of the fact that Hollywood, as a representative of the movie industry, has churned out some absolute monstrosities over the years. This is particularly true of movie sequels and in many cases it leads to disappointed fans, a decrease in profits, and the plummeting of a franchise into the dirt. Unfortunately, this is rarely the end as usually such a dive simply leads to a reboot, prequel, or something else entirely indicative of the money-hungry ghouls working behind the scenes to push garbage down our throats for £15 a ticket!

The Problem

Sequel

image via YouTube

So let’s not waste time! The problem is quite clear and we can see examples of it literally everywhere! What is that problem? The drive for money calling shotgun instead of creativity or storytelling. Not sure what I mean? Allow me to list some examples and see if you can spot the connection between them all:

  • Paranormal Activity
  • Mission Impossible
  • James Bond (exclusively Daniel Craig’s Bond)
  • Fast and Furious
  • The Purge
  • Alien and Predator (specifically related to Prometheus)
  • Pitch Black, Chronicles of Riddick, Riddick
  • Transformers
  • Terminator

Notice anything similar between all of these franchises? No? They all fell into one of two franchise traps: Trap 1: This is where one movie succeeds and so they make another one, then another one, and then another one. It’s sort of like making a TV series but episode by episode instead of with some overarching storyline. Trap 2: This is where a company commits to far too many movies without having a chance to see whether the audiences like them or not. Think Marvel but less successful. Marvel has the next 20 or so movies already planned out. Don’t believe me? OK…let’s take a look at some of the examples.

Before we do, let me share with you a revelation I had with TV shows. I used to love shows like The Flash, Elementary, and The Mentalist (just to name a couple of examples). What did all of these shows have in common? Despite having an overarching story they all followed the same pattern. Say an episode was 50 minutes long with 20 episodes per season. The first episode would reel you in with some compelling storyline. Episodes 2-18/19 would contain 45 minutes of almost the exact same thing every single episode. Some characters would change, there would be different lessons, and sometimes we’d learn something new about the main characters. Then in the last 5 minutes would reveal some shocking detail that added to the overall story. Sound familiar?

Paranormal Activity

Sequel

image via Ranker

By the 5th movie, the scariest thing about the Paranormal Activity movies was the fact that they were still being made. I can’t claim to have any insight into the overall plan for the franchise. Maybe they set out to make as many as they did. I’d be inclined to believe that they didn’t. The first movie was pretty freaky, it was original, and it did a good job of scaring moviegoers. Then they did the same thing again with the sequel but people were still entertained, then they did it again, and again…

What changed? Well, the characters changed but ultimately the goings on stayed almost exactly the same from one movie to the next. Yet at the end of every single movie, some “Earth-shattering” detail is revealed. “Oh my God, it’s the same family” or “Oh my God, that’s the creepy cult discussed in the previous movie” or “Oh my God, those are the sisters we saw in the first couple of movies and this dude has travelled through some wormhole…or some shit”. I sort of lost interest in the movies and I can’t really remember all the details. I just remember some magical door that led to a creepy cult house.

With each new movie they had to up the ante though something that I’ll dub “sequel escalation theory”. Each ending became more intense, the stakes became more “real”, and new details are revealed which are supposed to lure us in and make us crave another sequel. There are 6 of these movies in total…6! After the first one, nothing new is added…at all. This could be an example of a Trap 1 movie but I think it’s more likely that they just enjoyed the success of the first movie and rode it for another 5.

Mission Impossible and James Bond

Sequel

image via Screen Rant

Mission Impossible is, without a shadow of a doubt, an example of a Trap 1 movie series and finely details sequel escalation theory. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Mission Impossible franchise (or at least I did until Fallout). With Mission Impossible, the stakes were already incredibly high by the 2nd movie whereby the mission is stopping a biological weapon. The third involves stopping the mysterious “rabbits foot” from falling into the hands of a dangerous arms dealer. Number four involves nuclear bombs. Five relates to an underground terrorist organisation made up of ex-agency personnel. You get the idea.

Ultimately, these movies (similarly to Bond) largely work because there doesn’t need to be any storyline from one movie to the next. That’s the point! That’s exactly why it works. There may be the occasional nod, there may be characters the stay constant throughout the series (particularly the central characters), but that’s it! We don’t need huge intricate storylines connecting one movie to the next. This is where both these franchises fall and why I’d label them Trap 1 movies (although in a slightly different sense to the rest of my examples.

If we look at Spectre or Mission Impossible: Fallout, we see the exact same problems popping up. Villains from previous movies whose stories have already been told reappear to suggest that the new movie and a previous movie (or movies) are connected. In both cases the writers failed miserably. I was so excited to see Christoph Waltz as a villain and yet the actor was wasted on connecting the imaginary dots of a convoluted story. Similarly, Sean Harris was excellent as Solomon Lane…but he’d been defeated and we didn’t need some absolutely ridiculous and unbelievable (even by Mission Impossible standards) plot about his continued role as the villain.

Fast and Furious and Transformers

Sequel

image via YouTube

Once again, we can see examples of Trap 1 movies. Do you remember when the Fast and Furious movies were about illegal street races? I know that seems unbelievable now when you see where the movies have ended up these days. It’s only a matter of time before they are in space! Each movie had to be an escalation of the previous one. We went from street racing to bank robberies to weird revenge stories tied up in huge government conspiracies…again, I lost interest by maybe the 7th one…the one with the 7,000 mile long airport runway. You eventually reach a point where the escalation has just become too much and then the movies manage to lose everything that people once enjoyed about them while also offering nothing interesting to fill in the gap. Then they turn to either a prequel or a spin-off (Hobbs and Shaw).

Transformers works even better as an example because we can use the plot to highlight just how poorly planned the franchise is. So Transformer was pretty awesome: I loved the show as a kid and Shia LaBeouf is entertaining to watch. The story was pretty open and closed so there was no real reason for a sequel (of course we all knew one would be on its way). After all, the villain was dead, the hero got the girl, and the government learned to work with the machines.

Yet Rise of the Fallen opens with a new backstory that reveals new information. Suddenly, the machines had been on Earth long before originally suggested. They didn’t come searching for the cube (which we were led to believe had landed on Earth by chance) but rather because our sun needed to be harvested. The pyramids hide crazy sun-eating machines and Sam literally dies…what? The third movie once again rewrites history by telling us that a special ship escaped Cybertron and just so happened to land on the moon. Now the overall plan wasn’t related to the all-powerful cube or the sun-eating machines but magical cylinders that teleport planets!

I did watch the fourth one but for the life of me I cannot remember the plot. I think it had something to do with cosmic hitmen or bounty hunters? I remember dinosaurs appeared as some stage but that sums about all of my Transformers 4 knowledge. I literally just discovered there was also a 5th one that involved Transformers being on Earth during the Middle Ages whereby they give Merlin a magical staff? Fuck knows…

Suffice to say that Transformers is also an example of how thirsty the Ghouls are. There is a Bumblebee spin-off movie coming out next year (I believe) with the entire franchise being rebooted in the not so distant future. What’s the lesson here? If you lack consistency and forward-thinking then you can just scrap all the previous movies and start over. This takes us nicely to Terminator…sigh…

Terminator

Sequel

image via Hollywood Reporter

Now before you get ahead of yourself, the first three Terminator movies are perfectly fine (in terms of story consistency) in my opinion. I mean we can clearly see the gears turning as far as the plan to churn out more movies but hey ho…the point being that we then got Terminator Salvation which was absolutely dreadful. This was followed by the equally as disastrous (actually, it was definitely much, much worse) Terminator: Genisis…Genysis? Genisys. James Cameron wants to make a whole new trilogy, for some fucked up reason and it will be entirely female-led (with the exception of Arnold, of course)…because that worked really well for Ghostbusters and Ocean’s 8!

It seems that ultimately, no idea stays original for long. Undoubtedly the franchise is going to continue screwing with the timeline in order to try and make up some nonsensical story. It didn’t work with Genisys and I doubt it’s going to work for any future movies. The truth is that they’ve taken a turn in the wrong direction. AI and crazy ass robots are practically nearing Terminator levels and yet the movies barely touch on that. They could really send a message regarding the future of AI research instead of making stupid-ass upgrades to time traveling robots!

Honestly, I feel like this is another example of a franchise that is already dead. I don’t know a single person who is interested in seeing the series continue. They must have Schwarzenegger’s nuts in a vice to be convincing him time and time again to return for these shit movies!

The Purge and Riddick

Sequel

image via UpRoxx

I’m not going to spend too much time discussing these movies as I feel like if you’ve ever watched them then you’ll know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. Let’s start with The Purge. I have to admit that his franchise was original…at least the idea was. The first movie became exactly the same as any other home invasion movie that has ever been made. However, the sequel was excellent. They managed to create this deeper layer for the movie that touched on the political side of the purge itself. We got to see this idea unfold that the purge benefits the rich at the expense of the poor.

However, the third movie took this too far and became incredibly boring. We again found ourselves faced with new characters whose backstories need a prologue just to make them seem relevant, with previous characters being dragged back into the mix for no real reason. Of course they realised that going forward wasn’t going to work anymore and so The First Purge was born. They stuck to their guns with the political aspect of the movie and once again failed. Can people not be content with having one successful movie?

This takes us to Riddick. Pitch Black introduced us to the character and told a rather self-contained story that didn’t need a sequel by any means. There was a time in my life when I actually enjoyed The Chronicles of Riddick (although that time has long since passed). However, a movie I enjoyed much less was Riddick, the third movie in the series that seemingly brushes off the previous movies by literally giving us the exact same story as Pitch Black. I mean the similarities were beyond ridiculous and they STILL managed to make me hate the character. Of course what do you do when the franchise begins to decline? You do a spin-off…or in this case, a reboot!

Alien, Predator and Prometheus

Sequel

image via Inverse

This example is arguably the most frustrating as there was real potential to create some great movies. However, it also demonstrated my escalation theory (and it’s following “solution” perfectly). Alien was once a truly intriguing movie franchise: a grizzly combination of horror and sci-fi. Then you had Aliens, Alien 3, Alien Resurrection…we also had Predator and Predator 2. By the time we got to Alien vs Predator (which also had a sequel: Alien vs Predator Requiem) we had seen every possible combination of what had ultimately become a played out, repetitive and tedious franchise.

Here we can see a fine example of the escalation I was referring to earlier: They have to add more and more content that they believe to be compelling and intriguing. Alien was about an alien on a ship. That was practically it! Predator was about a Predator. These movies were simple in their idea but worked well. Now what are we doing? The aliens got bigger and apparently, according to the trailer for this year’s new ‘The Predator’ movie: they are evolving into some sort of stupid-ass ultra-predator. C’mon Ridley Scott, where is your imagination and creativity?

Eventually, in rolls Prometheus…and I am literally shaking my head as I write this! Prometheus was exciting (or could have been), it offered new ideas (or could have) and explored concepts of human creation that are deeply rooted in some of the oldest mythologies (or at least it briefly touched upon them). Instead, Prometheus turned into a fucking Alien prequel! Not only that, but it turned into a whole “why would our creators care about us?” lesson. I mean it doesn’t shock me. I love Damon Lindelof as a writer but he needs to mix things up a bit. I kept waiting on a well scene like Lost and The Leftovers.

Still…Prometheus set itself up for a sequel and it ended on an intriguing note: a woman and her robotic travel companion are heading to the home world of their creators. Wrong! What should have been Prometheus 2 ultimately became Alien: Covenant. A movie that repeats the exact same story we had literally just watched in Prometheus but with new characters. As far as I’m concerned, the franchise is dead. I already wrote about Alien: Covenant before so I won’t go into another rant about it here. Suffice to say that we see the escalation: more evolved creatures doing the exact same thing as the other creatures, and the solution to the decline: prequels.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Sequel

image via New York Sight Seeing

This is sort of a bonus section (as are the two that follow) that popped into my head a couple of days after writing this post. I realised that while I’ve discussed some pretty popular franchises here, but not the most popular. I mean Harry Potter is a franchise, right? I thought to myself: there aren’t really any flaws with the Harry Potter franchise because it’s following books and so the storyline is there to follow. From the first film, they’ve known the direction the films were headed in. Does this world put an end to my escalation theory? Actually no, quite the opposite. The Harry Potter universe is the icing on the cake.

How come? Well, while the Harry Potter movies themselves work as examples of how to make a franchise, what follows them is the undoubtedly a trap 2 mistake. We know this because there are already 5 movies planned. In my opinion, 1 movie would have been bad enough. Granted, the movie was slightly more enjoyable than I imagined but that really isn’t saying much. These movies are nothing but a soulless cash grab. Just like the Harry Potter mobile game.

I mean maybe I’m wrong…maybe they have an incredibly coherent story that needs 5 movies…but considering that it’s already been announced that the final film will take place in 1945 and end with Albus Dumbledore defeating Grindelwald in a duel, resulting in him becoming the possessor of the Elder Wand, I don’t see how they can stretch the content that far. Especially when you consider that Grindelwald will be a major player in the 2nd movie and that they are limited by Voldemort being known (in the future) as the most evil wizard to have ever lived, and one of the most powerful.

I mean, we can already see the escalation theory at work: Fantastic Beasts is a spin-off and they will, through one form or another, need to escalate the storyline from where it’s already set e.g. Harry Potter level and that of the first Fantastic Beasts movie. Just look at that crazy-ass creature that existed in the first film. What the fuck was that?

DCEU

Sequel

image via Geeks.Media

I’m not going to badmouth Marvel in this article for two reasons: 1) I’m a marvel fanboy and I think they are great movies and 2) I think Marvel is what all these other franchises look to. They see the success of this massive, decade long, 20+ movie universe and they want to get a piece of it for themselves…all unsuccessfully. DC would be a prime example.

I’m purposefully referring to the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) because the movies before that were great. Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy nailed it! I mean I don’t think anyone can criticise those movies with any objective flaw. So the DCEU starts (and potentially ends) with Superman in Man of Steel. I could write a whole article about that movie because it should have and could have been awesome, certainly the trailer made it look that way.

I’m going to list and rate each movie from the DCEU so far: Man of Steel (6.5/10), Batman V Superman (5/10), Suicide Squad (4/10), Wonder Woman (I haven’t watched) and Justice League (3/10). DC was so thirsty to copy the success of Marvel that they jeopardized the story and characters in the process. I’ve never met a single person who enjoyed either Batman V Superman or Justice League. Yet DC manages to fall into the trap 2 category as this is the line-up of their upcoming movies: Aquaman, Shazam!, Wonder Woman 1984, Cyborg, Green Lantern Corps, The Flash, Birds of Prey, The Batman, Black Adam, and a number of other movies including not one but two Joker movies (played by different actors).

This is all made dramatically worse when we learn that the recently resurrected Superman will likely be killed off as the actor, Henry Cavil, is stepping down. This is largely related to DC moving its Super-person focus to the opposite sex in the form of a Supergirl movie (although I wonder if her name will end up being changed to Superwoman). This is probably due in large A) The success of Wonder Woman (particularly in comparison to the other DCEU movies), B) The success of the Supergirl TV series, and C) The strive for more diversity within the movie industry, particularly the superhero franchise.

Star Wars

Sequel

image via StarWars

Now, I’ve discussed the various failings of Star Wars before but as far as I can recall, I’ve stayed relatively quiet on the subject since the disaster known only as The Last Jedi. I love the Star Wars universe (in the sense that it’s a cool idea and some of the characters are awesome) but the movies are somewhat “meh”. I can always watch the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy appears on more rare occasions, this current trilogy can get to fuck, and the Anthology series has been somewhat hit or miss.

Here’s what we know so far about the future of Star Wars: Of course we will get episode 9 which will have to try and clean up the mess episode 8 made, this will be followed by another Anthology movie (I’m hoping Obi-Wan but it could be Boba Fett). We are then getting a trilogy from Rian Johnson and another from the writers of the Game of Thrones TV show. So at least 9 more movies.

Yet again, we encounter a trap 2 franchise. Even before they have a story or a sense of direction, Disney (who own Star Wars now) are commissioning many movies. It is possible to nail these upcoming films. I mean if the Obi-Wan movie tied into the end of Solo, that too could link into a Boba Fett film. Will it? Probably not. The only way the other two trilogies will succeed, in my opinion, is if they are completely, 100% disconnected from the previous movies. Go back 500 years or go forward 500 years but escape all these fucking characters! Please!

Final Thoughts

Sequel

image via Deviant Art

I’ve touched on a lot of these issues in the past. I’ve mentioned Star Wars at least once or twice, I’ve talked about the Fantastic 4, I’ve talked about Avengers, Ghostbusters, Ocean’s 8, Happy Feet, The Maze Runner trilogy, Annihilation, and more…I can hold my hand up and admit that many of these posts are me basically saying that the story could have been better. However, I’m not claiming to have better ideas than the writers. These people are paid (very well) to write and direct these movies and the movies themselves make millions. So my critique is just my own opinion as I have neither the real-world experience nor the professional status to claim to know better.

However, I can’t be alone in thinking that many of these examples do show the downfall of various franchises, usually due to the Ghouls craving money and caring little about the storyline. I mean take Transformers. Michael Bay is all about his explosions and special effects. There are 5 movies and every single one of them the army try to fight Transformers despite the fact that their weapons are useless every single time. Why? Explosions…that’s why!

In this post I’ve proposed my ‘Franchise Escalation Theory’. This is the idea that movies, in an effort to continue making big bucks, will escalate each sequel to a point of ridiculous proportions and will ultimately fall into one of two traps. I went off on a few tangents (to say the least) but hopefully I still explained myself properly.


Thanks for reading! Am I being unreasonable? Do you have any other franchises that you feel went down the same route? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

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Finding Happiness in Work and Avoiding Deceit!

With the population of the planet nearing 8 billion people, it makes sense that finding a job you’re truly passionate about is going to become more and more challenging. After all, the more people who roam the world, the more competition there is for any given job. Working a job you hate can make your life feel truly miserable: what’s the point of working if you aren’t happy? One thing I’ve found recently, while meandering my way through the job jungle, is that most jobs suck because you’re required to behave in a manner that is ultimately not entirely moral. This post also gives me an opportunity to rant about my most recent job and warn people of its entirely sketchy nature!

The Psychic Company

image via Clyde Fitch Report

So I’m going to start off with the best example of what I’m referring to. This section will serve as a rant but also as a warning as I feel that those who take part in such activities should be made aware of the deceitful nature of these companies. So let me start off by explaining the job: I was hired by a company called “The 7th Circle” and yes, it’s as crazy as it sounds. My job was to connect calls between people wishing to receive psychic readings and the psychics giving said readings. The job title was often referred to as a “psychic’s assistant”.

I took this job because desperate times call for desperate measures. The premise initially sounded fair. People call up and make appointments. I wouldn’t be selling anything, simply connecting calls. If they had so much as mentioned sales I would have been straight out the door. However, I soon learned that there is a sales aspect to the job (although my 4 days of employment prior to quitting didn’t give me enough time to reach that stage). However, there were some truly grizzly details that began to tear away at my very soul.

My Stance

image via Daily Express

I don’t believe in horoscopes, psychics, astrology, or anything that can be associated with magic crystals. However, I have no problem with connecting people to psychics if that is what they want to spend their money on. I mean it isn’t really any different to religion. One thing I realised early on was that this company knew they were being sketchy. For example, when signing up new clients one question you have to ask is “Do you receive disability payments from your government?” About half of the callers’ answer “yes” which leads to the follow-up question of “Are you financially independent?” So provided that person isn’t using someone else’s money, their disability checks can go straight into the hands of this company.

As I said already, I was only there for 4 days and within those 4 days each and every call grated away more and more of my very being. I won’t go into specifics but one call was from a woman who had just given birth a couple of months earlier and wanted a psychic to tell her whether she should break up with her current partner to be with someone she’d been chatting to online. Another call, which was truly heart-breaking, was someone who had spent all their money and had been forced to borrow money from friends just to hear what a psychic had to say about their life. The desperation was apparent even over the phone.

Calls like this were incredibly common and I started trying to find roundabout ways to basically explain that they shouldn’t use this service. My calls were still being monitored by the “higher ups” but I wasn’t far from just telling every client to use the last of their money on something more substantial than nonsensical calls, particularly when there are children involved.

The Truth about the Company!

image via The Ness

So the name of the company is “The Psychic Company” but their website is something like good-psychic.com (I’ve struggled to find the exact link). Suffice to say that it’s an incredibly popular website with an equally as popular call centre. People have spent 10s and even 100s of thousands of dollars through the service and the weight that they put on these psychics is more faith than I’ve ever witnessed anyone place on anything. As I said earlier, that’s completely fine…provided it’s only their life that they are putting in jeopardy.

The thing is (and I don’t say this lightly), it’s all a scam. As in beyond so much as a shadow of a doubt, it’s a scam. I’m not saying this as someone who doesn’t believe in the practices, I’m saying this as someone who had dealt first-hand with the so-called “psychics” and their money hungry desires. Let me explain exactly what I mean.

The way that we get new clients is via the website. People sign up for a free online reading. This involves giving the website your e-mail address and via this address you receive a “reading”. However, not long after you receive an ominous e-mail along the lines of “someone in your life is jealous of you” or “the love of your life is about to slip away” or “someone in your life is in danger”. All of these e-mails end with something like “call us immediately  to speak to Jenny”.

“Jenny” doesn’t even exist. When these people phone in (many of whom have received the exact same e-mail, word for word) we tell them that Jenny isn’t available right now but that her colleagues are.

The Psychics

Psychics

image via Christian Courier

This brings me back to the purpose of this post: the deceit. As of day 3, I was thinking of quitting. On day 4 I almost walked out halfway through the day. By the end of day 4 my mind was pretty much made up. I can’t play a role in allowing people to believe that these psychics are the real deal. When I was being shown the ropes, one of the “tricks of the trade” was to ask clients whether they are interested in speaking to a psychic about love and relationships or careers and finances. Their answer does not matter! They are connected to the first available psychic who is then informed beforehand that this client wishes to focus on one topic or another.

The psychics themselves are miserable. I don’t mean “oh, they deal with a lot of negative energy that messes with the functionality of the heart chakra leading to energy blockages and a messed up feng shui energy”…no, I mean that these people know that they are lying to vulnerable people. They know as well as I do that everything that comes out of their mouth is absolute bullshit! Each call ends with the assistant telling the client “Grace would love to speak to you again; she even has a date in mind just for you”.

For people who claim to believe in karma and spirituality, it seems surprising that they are so happy taking up to $7.50 per minute from people who are claiming benefits from their government. Now, not to sound judgemental here, but none of these people are working on the cure for cancer. They aren’t reading books or trying to better the world. They don’t care about global warming, the bombings in Syria, space exploration, the abortion debate, sweat shops, tensions in North Korea…you get the idea. They are content living their lives week to week because psychics tell them that better things are coming. Hope is great…but remaining financially stable (particularly when you have children) is more important.

The Rat Race

Psychics

image via YouTube

This job (and other like it) is all about deception. It’s not about providing a service, it’s about convincing people that they need the service, even when it doesn’t better their lives in any way. It’s one of the reasons I find advertising to be such a shitty thing to exist. It rarely benefits us. It’s almost entirely about convincing us that we need something that we don’t.

Now, if these psychics genuinely believed in what they were doing and didn’t use sketchy tactics to lure people in, I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with it. Like I said earlier, people can believe what they want and spend their money on what they want.

Yet this is a pattern that emerges throughout the job industry. I recently moved to Barcelona and upon arriving I took a job as a Segway Tour salesperson. I loved the sound of it! My job was to drive around on a Segway to find people interested in paying for a tour. The tours involved a group of people riding from landmark to landmark on Segways, stopping at each to learn a little something about it. Sounds good in theory, right?

Not really. Given the size of Barcelona and all the truly remarkable sights you can visit, the tour locations are by far the least amazing areas one could think of. Not only that, those giving the tour typically didn’t speak very good English (despite there being native English speakers such as myself working there) and generally speaking they didn’t offer any great insight into the tour destinations. This job was made worse by the crazy hours in the sun (keep in mind that I’m a pale-white ginger man from Scotland: I’m used to 15 degree summers with 3 days of sun a year) and the fact that we’re only paid commission. I don’t mind selling something that is worth people’s money but selling half-assed tours to boring-ass locations…no thanks.

Hard Work and Dedication

Psychics

image via Inspired 2 Go

By this point, I’m sure some of you think I’m just recoiling at the thought of working hard. I want to take a moment to discuss the job I had prior to moving to Spain: Costco. At the time, I didn’t hugely appreciate my job there. I always felt like I was meant to do more than stock shelves…but in hindsight, I realise that the job was building up to something bigger. I worked hard in that role and I enjoyed doing so. I’d take on extra hours, I’d volunteer for training in new areas, I’d help coach the newbies, and I even went to London and Paris to help set up their stores. Had I always dreamed of working there? No…but it was honest work.

I think the problem stems from the idea that we’ve been raised to believe that jobs like that are beneath us. I know that’s how I viewed it when I worked there. I now realise that’s far from the truth. I rarely felt absolutely defeated after work (unlike with the call centre and Segway jobs) despite Costco involving heavy lifting, dragging huge weights of stock out to the floor, and dealing with customers on a near-constant basis. Leaving work I’d actually feel more accomplished than anything, even if I didn’t realise it back then. If a Costco opens up in Barcelona (which I believe it will sometime in the future) then I’d happily work there.

Whether the work itself is tiring or not isn’t actually what leaves you feeling exhausted. It’s closer related to whether you feel like you’ve A) Exploited people in order to earn a very small amount of money (I was getting less than 5€ an hour for the call centre job) and B) Do you feel like what you’re doing has benefited your life in any way? At Costco I was constantly learning new things. Would I use these things in day to day life? Probably not…but I was also being very physically active and communicating with customers face to face. If you’re doing a job that relates to point B, it will probably work perfectly fine in the short term.

Does this Apply to Freelance Work?

Psychics

image via Hub Pages

So I’m circling back around to the job that I currently do: freelance writing. You may be thinking to yourself that as a freelancer I have more scope for choosing the sort of work I do. The answer is yes and no. When starting out, I had no option but to take shitty, deceptive jobs. This would include making up reviews for Amazon products (such as violins or headphones) or copywriting the work of other people. Are these moral jobs? No, of course not…but when you start out these are the only employers who will hire you.

As I’ve improved my profile, my ratings and my presence on the site (and off it), I’ve been able to choose work that closer aligns with my core values. Currently, I’m writing the audio guide content for a app that covers cities such as Rome and Bruges. It probably works out that I’m paid less than minimum wage but I feel proud of what I’m doing and I know that people are going to benefit from my work. It also improves me portfolio as a writer.

I was about to ask if this was the choice we have to make: a job that pays well but destroys your soul or a job that offers a feel-good factor while paying your pennies? But then I realised that Costco was pretty well paid, certainly one of the higher paid jobs in the retail industry. Also, the call centre and Segway sales jobs paid nothing (which is true for both examples as I literally made no money from either venture).

Final Thoughts

Psychics

image via Deviant Art

This post doesn’t really have any major point. It doesn’t propose a ground-breaking theory or discuss a hugely relevant topic. However, I think it does offer the opportunity to consider whether this is the world we live in. Does chasing your dreams mean that you’ll struggle to pay bills each month? Do we have to abandon our preconceived notions of success and instead focus on jobs that don’t make us lose all our faith in humanity?


Thanks for reading! Are you working towards your dream job or do you believe that life involves working less than ideal jobs in order to enjoy our time outside of it? Let me know down below! 

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Peace!