Booth Babes for a Monthly Fee
A confluence of events over the past few days has had me re-evaluating what I spend my entertainment dollars on when it comes to monthly subscriptions. Up until a couple of days ago, I was subscribed to Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Google Play All-Access, Crunchyroll, and Gamefly. The announcement of the new WWE Network launching next month as well as the expiration of my SiriusXM trial have increased the demand on the limited dollars I care to spend on monthly subscription services. Time to see what can stay and what can go.

Amazon Prime has provided far more value than the $79 a year it costs between free two-day shipping, a decent streaming catalog, and free Kindle stuff, so that stays. Netflix is basically a requirement for any civilized member of the internet age at this point, so it stays too. Despite the ever-shrinking catalog as more and more studios decide that they want to start their own streaming services, it's still the best place to find back catalogs of a lot of popular TV series. Pretty much everything worth watching with the exception of maybe Game of Thrones can still be found on Netflix. Also, it's available on just about everything with an ethernet port or wi-fi adapter these days.

Hulu Plus was something I kept around for two reasons. The first was WWE programming, like NXT, that wasn't available elsewhere. The second was their anime collection. In the case of the WWE stuff, the new network will replace that. As for anime... I'm sort of becoming more and more uninterested in that form of entertainment. The entire industry is in a state of deja vu, where just about everything has been seen before. I'm dropping Crunchyroll for the same reason, though seems to have a similar library in case something really catches my eye. On top of all of that, it should be a criminal offense that even after paying eight bucks a month, Hulu has the nerve to bombard me with ads. LOTS of ads. No thank you.

Lastly on the list, there's Google Play All-Access, which is my music streaming service of choice, despite the stupid name. Since I can plug my smartphone into my car stereo easily, I thought I'd have no need for satellite radio. Well, the vehicle I bought a few months ago happened to come with SiriusXM installed, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The various stations seem to do a much better job of grouping together the kinds of music I enjoy than the online streaming services do, and I've used their selections as a jumping-off point to do some further exploration through the Google Play catalog. In short, both services together work quite well for filling my ears with music on long drives and longer work days. There's also the notable benefit that SiriusXM works in areas where cell reception is lackluster, which is fairly common when driving anywhere outside of the major metropolitan areas of the western United States--and living about 110 miles east of Los Angeles counts as the middle of nowhere as far as cell service is concerned. I think we just got the area's first Verizon LTE towers last week. The only downside is the cost. The monthly fees for SiriusXM turned out to be a lot higher than I thought, particularly for the good channels. I'd be looking at $19 a month, and that's a bit high for a forget-about-it purchase. Then again, I spent that much without blinking during my World of Warcraft and TERA days so....

Well, enough about my personal finance decisions, time to move on to another topic which was inspired by an article I came across this morning on The Verge. As an additional benefit, I now get to use a very link-baity title for this blog post that's not at all misleading. The article was about booth babes at this year's CES, and the controversy over whether or not they should exist. The author does his best to paint a picture of poor, helpless women being used as sex objects to pander to the dregs of male society. There are a few token mentions of "booth bros" to add some semblance of balance, but that's all tossed out the window by the heavy stereotyping of male tech-show attendees.

If you've been paying attention to the tech industry at all beyond "When does the new iPhone come out?" then you're likely familiar with all the negative backlash over booth babes at tech and gaming expos. Usual stuff about the objectification of women and all that, you know. I have two issues with the usual arguments on this subject. The first is that I can't cry foul about objectification when the women (and in rare cases men) who are participating are doing so willingly. It's their choice, they're getting paid for it, and if they think it's demeaning, they can walk away. Secondly, no one ever asks the booth babes themselves if they think their job should or should not exist. The white knights seem to be making that decision for them, and somehow that's not inappropriate or sexist. Go figure.

Besides, I bet all those internet warriors who wish to be the heroic voices of the fairer sex all watch porn from time to time. You wanna talk about turning women into sex objects? Uh-huh.

Hey, women can do just about anything they set their minds to these days. And if they set their minds to providing us guys with a little bit of T&A, who am I to stand in their way? That sounds like real sexism to me.
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Ah, Sekani. You've done your best in poo-pooing those who cry foul of booth babes, but like a poor marksman you keep missing the target! Forget white-knighting - here's the sound, practical, business reason why booth babes are an anachronism and simply don't work: Booth babes don’t convert prospects into sales.

1. Booth babes are intimidating. Instead of drawing people in, booth babes actually give guys who attend tech conferences some anxiety and pause for engaging in conversation. Even booth babes themselves have said this ( Frankly, most guys tend to be a little nervous around hot girls.

2. Booth babes are lazy. These are the same girls that get hired to do restaurant shows, car shows, boat shows, or events at "the local hot spot". They are used to not doing much except showing up to make their fee for the day. At most shows it’s quite a bit different where the audience is looking to learn and educate themselves on new offerings. With something like CES, you don't need eye candy - you need reps who are happy to engage in genuine small talk outside the booth and establish rapport before introducing them to one of the "real" reps who know the product inside-and-out.

3. Business and product execs don’t talk to booth babes, period. If you’re a legit executive at a trade show, you already have an agenda to get some shit done. After all, that’s why they spend the money that they do to exhibit at these events…everyone that they would love to talk to is there. If you’re an exec, you’re looking for your peer at the booth and are not bothering with the booth babes.

I may bring this up on The Rival Cast - it's not video-game related per se, but I think Varyar and I might disagree on this topic, which would make for a good conversation.
Whether or not booth babes actually increase or hinder sales is another discussion entirely, in my opinion. The perspective of those most opposed tend to use social justice arguments as opposed to financial ones. I'm addressing the social justice.