If you’ve ever wanted a glimpse inside the Culture of Coupons, Sam Pocker’s Your Mileage May Vary is your ticket to ride. This 2007 documentary explores the religion of saving money via paper vouchers and examines the lengths individuals go to in order to save as much money as possible.
Pocker’s documentary is quite barebones in its approach, with no musical score to speak of beyond the title menu (maybe he didn’t have a coupon for music licensing) and no narration, charts, graphs, or screen text of any kind beyond the title credits and a Sandy Ennis quotation.
There are “interviews” of a series of consumers, all of whom have in common the inborn capacity to sniff out incredible bargains, clip copious coupons, and even trade these cash-saving techniques amongst their peers and fellow professional bargain hunters.
Everything about Your Mileage May Vary appears to be very positive. There are no consumer experts, no talking heads, no individuals to conceivably counteract the lifestyles of the coupon clippers with some compelling questions. It is all very straightforward.
It is interesting to live on a continent that has, by and large, become fanatical and chiefly identified with consumption. Consumerism is a creed and shopping has become a hobby. People rush stores and flatten one another on Boxing Day up here in Canada to get in on what we’re told are alarmingly awesome sales.
Indeed, consumerism seems to give many individuals in our society a great deal of happiness. It no longer becomes about purchasing what one needs or what is required. It also isn’t about supporting one’s local economy or putting money towards smaller business, neighbouring farms, markets, and so forth. The mammoth supermarket outlets mine consumers with everlasting aisles of options and most of us cheerfully shovel them into our carts.
Pocker’s exploration of the Culture of Coupons presents the same sort of people, only they are presented as savvier than the rest. They combine coupons with other coupons, mash deals together and get rebates, take advantage of store offers and couple those with coupons, and walk out of stores with crates and boxes filled with items. One woman boasts having 90 bags of M&Ms; another boasts hundreds of bottled sauces and a carport filled with groceries dubbed a “storehouse.”