Parting Shot: The slow, slow creep of corporate tyranny


OPINION: Now Christmas and New Year are over, we can all go back to drinking in the streets – at least in the daytime.

The liquor ban that covers downtown in the holidays has ended, but could become a permanent fixture if the town centre guardians have their way.

The Crate Day celebrations on the Village Green, proper debauched Caligula stuff to hear Downtown QT boss Steve Wilde talk, promoted calls to extend the ban year-round.

It’s already in force between 10pm and 8am every day in Queenstown, Frankton, and Arrowtown.

Hopefully it won’t be expanded.

It seems to be another small nail in the coffin of a free and chilled Queenstown, the creeping corporatisation from a laid-back backpacker culture to high-value visitors that threatens to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I quite like to see people having a beer down at the beach, even big groups of people, rather than pay through the nose in the bars.

They just need to sort the litter.

Otherwise a ban could see the resort end up like one big Reading Cinemas.

I was genuinely seething through the new Disney kids’ film Moana – that real rage anger that you can feel in your blood.

I’d arrived early, with my three-year-old daughter, to get a good seat and we had five minutes to wait in the queue before the doors opened.

Five minutes. That is an unchartable eternity to a parent with a large popcorn in one hand, a large drink in the other, and a three-year-old standing still in line only by the force of being asked to nicely.

Then, just before we’re finally about to go through, a woman comes up and says: “I’ll have to take that bag off you and put it in the cupboard, it’s a busy screening today and we can’t have anything in the way.”

Now I believe, and I think she knows, this is bullshit.

It’s not about busyness. She’s accusing me of having illegal contraband in my bag. Snacks, sweets and drinks not purchased from the cinema.

But I can’t argue the point with her for three reasons.

One. Every passing nano-second another person from the queue passes us.

Two. I’m English, mustn’t cause a scene.

Three. She’s right. In the bag is an apple, a bottle of water and, most incriminatingly, a bag of lollies from the Fernhill dairy.

So, there’s nothing else I can do. I put the popcorn and drink down on the floor, unload the bag of emergency clothes for child, emergency nappy, sheepy and jumpers, pocket all that, and hand it over.

But I sit there afterwards and seethe.

Seethe at myself for not arguing the point and demanding my child’s right to water, fresh fruit and, erm, sweets.

Where does it say ‘only food and drink bought in the cinema can be consumed’? (In big letters, right above the door for future reference.)

But I still take issue with the whole policy, especially the bag confiscations.

Where else in the world are you not allowed to take water? Why are there no fresh snacks? What if I just want to eat something else?

It’s not about money. I’ve spent thousands in Reading, including $32 for Moana

What about saying, look, we appreciate you’ve come to the cinema rather than pirate the film like everyone else in New Zealand, according to Hollywood.

You’re supporting us, so, as a gesture, we don’t mind if your child eats an apple, drinks some water and eats some sweets the proceeds of which will not come directly to Reading Cinemas Inc.

And if not that, at least tell me when I’m buying the ticket that I have to surrender my bag, rather than with some bullshit reason in a rushed moment.

Hopefully the whole of Queenstown doesn’t go the same way – just one big cash grab.