Movie Trope: Secretly Buying All the Things

There’s a movie trope that’s been around for a while, but it just recently occurred to me while watching Always Be My Maybe. (SPOILER WARNING)

In the movie, there’s a pretty big income disparity between Ali Wong’s character and Randall Park’s character. But things start to look up for Park after he takes over the responsibility of selling merchandise for his local band, as the t-shirts and tennis balls start to sell out as soon as he adds them to the inventory.

Near the end of the film, however, he visits Wong’s office and finds it stuffed with the merchandise. It’s she who has been buying everything (somehow he didn’t notice that he was shipping hundreds of orders to the same address).

We’re supposed to perceive this as a romantic gesture of care and support. And sure, on some level, that’s true. But at the same time, is Wong really helping Park by buying a bunch of stuff that wouldn’t otherwise sell, blindly encouraging him to make more of that stuff? It’s a vicious cycle.

I think there are many ways to show someone you love and support them. In my opinion, though, I wonder if this can have the opposite effect. You’re simulating success instead of stimulating success.

I know this has happened in other movies, but for the life of me I can’t think of any other examples, so help me out. What other movies use this trope, and how do you feel about it?

3 thoughts on “Movie Trope: Secretly Buying All the Things”

  1. What an excellent point. I haven’t seen the movie and probably won’t (it’s not my type of movie). But I totally agree with your point. This type of kindness can only take someone so far. My feelings would be different if someone is in deep despair or financially struggling, and possibly as a last resort. It’s tempting to think you’re helping them keep their dignity. But what would they feel if/when they find out? Ideally best to let the person know they are receiving help, so they know where they stand. Having said all that, I still like the idea of making small contributions in terms of buying from small businesses or new designers. But back to your point, it’s best to keep things realistic and sustainable.

  2. Uptown Girls comes to mind, but it’s a bit different.
    The love interest buys all the family guitars she puts up for auction. In this case it’s cute, no harm done to any business.

  3. John Travolta, in Phenomenon, has been buying all of Kyra Sedgwicks chairs. It works well in this instance, because Ms Sedgwick is limited by the amount she can make, as opposed to mass produced T-shirts or Tennis balls, and because they are all hand made, there is a lot more meaning to each chair.

    Also, it’s a much smaller part of this movie, as the film is not about Ms Sedgwick’s chair business. It works well as a sign of unrequited, or unspoken love.


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