Why a ‘misleading’ DVD makes me question my own writing integrity

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I prefer the cover of a DVD or book to be explicit about what is implicit.

I am raging. I am SO angry. I can’t believe I bought a movie DVD that seemed to be the authentic article, when really it had misled me into believing it was the real deal.

I’m talking about a DVD I bought in good faith that had the title, image and look of the original movie. Except it wasn’t. The DVD wasn’t fake, as such, but I got caught out.

It wasn’t until a few minutes in to watching the DVD  that I realised I couldn’t connect with the original I’d seen at the cinema. Had we arrived late? Had we just forgotten the opening? I started to become convinced that this strange movie must be a viewing extra we’d missed by turning up to the cinema just on time, trying not to spill your popcorn in the dark, and hoping to have abbreviated the time spent feeling cross with the endless ads and trailers.

I was so angry: If I had spotted that the DVD wasn’t the genuine article before I bought it, I would have been happy with my bargain. But the fact that the DVD marketing company happily played on the distracted, hurried, trusting shopper that I am makes me boil with rage.

And I felt betrayed: One of the comments on the buying site I looked at (when I realised my mistake) was: “Hit the back button and don’t buy this rubbish.” If I remember correctly, I bought the offending DVD from a store (which I believe has now gone into administration). If I was buying the thing online, I would have at least had the chance to review what other writers had said, and take the time to click ‘no’. I wish I’d had the chance.

But ultimately I felt toxic shame: Am I doing this with my own creative work? What if I were to mislead someone in thinking what I was writing was really something else? I come across contorted titles of books, albums and even blog posts that make me think I’m going to expect a particular thing, and yet the reality lets me down.

Is this a gap between expectation and reality? Should we seek ‘obscure’ titles for our work that are understood only by the ‘clever’ inner sanctum, or should we seek to produce a ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of book/article/artwork?

Ultimately, I think my answer to this is don’t try to deceive anyone. Least of all yourself.

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