Friday, January 23, 2004


The boycott of Newbury Comics over “Bumfights” has had results about as mixed as they come.

Employees at the Harvard Square location today agreed that the DVDs were “inarguably exploitative” but admitted they had become less sympathetic to the boycotters’ cause because they were tired of abuse from critics -- there had been many -- who thought the clerks had anything to do with stocking the store.

“I don’t think anyone can defend what’s on the DVDs,” a worker said. But the stuff sells.

In fact, the workers said, the titles would certainly have disappeared from the shelves of Newbury Comics if the boycott hadn’t drawn attention to them. As some patrons stay away from the stores, angry over “Bumfights,” others come to the store specifically to buy it. The same principle is at work when the religious right attempts to ban an item, so this makes good Hegelian sense.

But Newbury Comics clerks who say they lack decision-making power are either lying, naive or too honest for their own good. They have all the power, and could have decided this from the beginning with no fuss.

Newbury Comics stores are very light on inventory; all that would have been required is for one sympathetic clerk at each store to keep “Bumfights” off the shelves. When time for restocking comes, no new copies would have been ordered, since none would have been needed. Eventually, headquarters would stop asking, and, seeing no demand and therefore no profit, stop buying new copies.

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