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The Customer is Always Right

“The Customer is Always Right” is one of the most misunderstood adages, mostly because people forget or are conveniently unaware of the second half:  “When it comes to matters of taste”.

Practically, what this means, or what it’s supposed to mean, is that if there is a widget that is shiny, chrome with black highlights, and is beautiful and refined, and I want it neon orange with purple polka-dots, your job is not to criticize me for my choices.  Your job (assuming you offer customizations, of course) is to say “very good, sir, and would you like expedited shipping?”

What this has come to mean, unfortunately, is that whatever the customer demands, even if unreasonable, must be granted, cheerfully and with a smile.

This is one of the origins of the famous “Karen”.

I don’t want to talk about karens, though.  Plenty has been said about them.  I want to go the other direction, and talk about people who have forgotten that the adage “The Customer is Always Right, when it Comes to Matters of Taste” is there for a good reason.

Recently there has been a spate of media companies coming up with shit.  Let’s not beat around the bush, it’s shit.  And the reason for that, is that companies stopped believing that the customer is always right, and started believing that it’s their job to tell the customers what they want.  This has culminated in the recent “GamerGate 2” fiasco, where a company called “Sweet Baby, Inc” has been caught telling a whole bunch of companies how to modify their product to be more “inclusive”, and, well, frankly, woke.

The problem is, the customers (well, most of them, anyway) didn’t ask for any of this.  They just want what they want.  And the job of a movie studio or game developer is to find out what they do ask for, and provide it to them.  Then they watch the money roll in.  If, at that point, they want to give all that money to woke causes, well, they can do that if they want.  But their job is not to lecture customers about how what they want is wrong, and then to provide a product they don’t want, and then guilt them into buying it by calling them racist or whatever the “ist” of the day is.

This is, in a nutshell, why the movie and game studios are failing.  They’re not giving the customers what they want.  They’re giving the customers what they think the customers should want, the customers aren’t buying it, then they’re going bankrupt and all the game journalists are writing about how awful the customer are.

This is why the adage exists.

Your job is not to judge the customer.  Your job is to give them what they want and then get rich off them.

But…  they hate capitalism anyway, so that’s not a big surprise.

The thing about Japanese media, for all its faults – they don’t do this.  They’ll provide anything the customer wants.  Want a franchise with lots of cute virtual idols that sing vapid but catchy songs?  There it is.  Want hentai anime where schoolgirls are “having fun” with tentacles?  There it is.  (I don’t consume those but hell if they don’t exist, some really amazingly awful stuff comes out of Japan.  “Gushing over Magical Girls”, anyone?).  Anything that the Japanese, or more frequently, western audiences want, the Japanese moguls are more than happy to provide.  Because they still believe the customer is always right.  Yes, Japanese media can be woke too, but they don’t lecture.  They just put media out there with the values they want, and people will buy it if they want to buy it.  I’ve seen woke Japanese media, but I’ve never seen a Japanese person lecture someone for not buying it.

This is why media is collapsing right now.  Somehow they got it in their head that their job isn’t to respond to customer tastes, but that their job is to define customer tastes.  And as more and more companies go bankrupt or become shells of their former selves, eventually that lesson will get through.


The media landscape will look very different in ten years.  And the customer will win.  The customer always wins.

I won’t say the future is Japanese.  But it’s far more Japanese than we have now, because western producers are only making shit and trying to force-feed it to us with a spoon.

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