Posts Tagged ‘pop culture’

Don’t Blame Mom That You’re Not A Millionaire

October 13, 2011

A recent story in USA Today dealt with how people are turning to collectibles and antiques as investment vehicles. Since the stock market tanked in 2008 and has yet to fully recover, many people taking their money and buying old comic books, movie posters and similar items in the hope that they will get a better ROI* than their 401K**.

Of course, what sets a collectible apart is that it is an actual thing that people can hold in their hand or hang on their wall and admire. After all, when was the last time you looked at your quarterly statements and thought “What a thing of beauty all those numbers are.” Yet, the trouble with articles like the one in USA Today is that it encourages people to go out and buy lots of stuff in the hopes it will be “worth lots of money someday.” Yes, there are items for sale at thrift stores, flea markets and on eBay that are being sold for a faction of their true value. Conversely, there are items that are only worth what someone paid for them in 1998 and it’s not even close enough to make a person quit his or her job and live a life of ease. With all this stuff floating around, how can a person tell what’s valuable and what’s not.

Educating yourself before buying anything helps. No one wants to learn the hard way that the original that they paid $$$$ for is a fake worth $. Read books. Go online and find out the going price for the item in question. is a website where a person can learn how much an item sells for on eBay. If the item a person wants to buy is more expensive than a Beanie Baby or Power Ranger action figure, it helps to buy from an established auction house. The appraisers at the auction house did their due diligence, so a person can rest easy knowing that the item he or she wants to buy is the real thing.

It also helps to realize that if something is too good to be true, it probably is. The Internet makes it very easy for fly by night types to fly by and take your money. So, it is a good idea for a person not to suspend his or her skepticism just because a good deal comes along. Of course, despite what experts will say, my advice remains to purchase a movie poster or other item of pop culture for enjoyment purposes, not for investment purposes. In addition to all the fakes being sold as the real thing, there’s the problem of no one knowing which item from 2011 will be worth lots of money and which item won’t be worth much.

As for all the comic books your Mom threw out that turned out to be worth lots of money, don’t get mad at her. If you had taken better care of them and not left them lying around on the floor in your room, she would not have thrown them out. In time, you could have sold them for a pretty penny (and dollar too) and ended up living a life of ease. Okay not really, I was just exaggerating. Still, if you take care of your comic books or other doo-dads, you will get more enjoyment out of them and that’s something even a recession can’t take away.

Note: The mention of was done for informational purposes. It was not an endorsement of the service.

*ROI—Return on investment. For example if you buy a stock at $10 a share and you later sell it for $15 a share, your ROI was $5 a share.

**401K—This is a defined contribution plan set up by companies in the U.S. in place of a pension where an employee can have a portion of his or her pay set aside for retirement before taxes are taken out. Sometimes companies can match the employee’s contribution dollar for dollar. What makes the 401K attractive is that if an employee goes to another company, he or she can bring the 401K to the new company and he or she loses nothing. Pensions don’t have that portability. (/


Hunter, Lisa. “Author Q & A Internet has Broadened the Art and Collectibles Market for the Better” Heritage Magazine, Spring 2008, pg 68-69


The Ethnic in Cinema

January 13, 2011

The good thing about writing this blog are the many ideas I can explore when it comes to pop culture as it relates to movies and collecting. In researching this week’s entry, I came across a notice for an exhibit in suburban Washington D.C. about African-American movie posters from 1915-1975. (To learn more about this exhibit, go to

That got me thinking (uh-oh you must be saying) about how the ethnic is portrayed in film. What do I mean by ethnic? For this blog entry, I mean any non-WASP person that lives in the United States. Yes, that covers a lot of territory. So, what are some of the ways that ethnics have been portrayed?  Well there’s:

Almost every phrase that comes out of the ethnic’s mouth is preceded by a “Yes, sir/Yes, ma’am” and the ethnic knows that it is futile to rock the class boat, so he or she doesn’t. The most famous example of this is Gone with the Wind. Granted GWTW is not history, it is a love story that takes place  during the years before, during and after the American Civil War, still its sanitized view of slavery and life in the American South irritates me.

Old World Ways/New World Opportunity
The paradox that every immigrant to the U.S. faces, how to reconcile the traditional with the modern, what parts of the old must tossed aside and what parts of the new can be integrated with the old. Some, like Charlie Chan in all those Charlie Chan movies seamslessly blend the two and uses them both for his benefit and the benefit of others. (FYI: The character of Charlie Chan was based on a real life Chinese-American police detective from Honolulu by the name of Chang Apana.) Others, like Toula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding finds her true self in the mix of old and new and uses this knowledge to create a life she can be proud of. Either way, the ethnic does what one can and the ethnic lives happily ever after.

Bright-Eyed Innocent
To steal a line from Russian-American comedian Yakov Smirnoff, “What a country!” Where else can children dress up as monsters and beg candy off of strangers. That’s not the only great thing about the U.S. Some, like the characters in the independent film Amreeka are attracted to the U.S. as a sanctuary against oppression. Others, like the title character in Borat, seek to find out what the U.S. is really like—with comedic results.

Gets the Pie by Hook and Crook (Especially the Crook Part)
No doubt, it is hard to integrate into a new country. Some people when faced with difficulties, work harder to achieve a good life for themselves and their family. Others, when faced with difficulties, turn to criminal activity to achieve a good life for themselves and their family. Films such as Godfather movies, Little Caesar and Scarface (both the 1932 and 1983 versions) show both the rise and fall of these individuals. As the saying goes, “You live by the sword…”

So, there you have it folks, different views of the ethnic. What other views of the ethnic will there be? It all depends on the point the either the movie’s director or screenwriter or actor or actress wants to make.