C2.2 Vocabulary – Cashing in and selling out

A few notes following on from our discussion about films which cash in on the success of books and lead us to brainstorming more expressions related to money.

Typing “cash in on” into google I came across an article about Elena’s least favourite film of the year, Eat Pray Love which tells us that there’s an official film related range of jewellery products available to buy – for just $152 you can get your very own Eat Pray Love bead necklace.  It’s kind of the best definition of cashing in on I could have hoped to find.  You can check the article out here.

The article includes another money expression:

‘”Has Liz Gilbert (author of the book) sold out?”  asked various book blogs last week…’

The question the bloggers were asking was not whether all the copies of the books had been sold but relating the ideas in the book to the marketing campaign surrounding the film.

Here are some more examples of sell out.  Try to guess the meaning from these headlines to news stories if you don’t know it already.  The examples include sell out as a verb and as a noun.

Google accused of selling out as it submits to Chinese censorship  (The Independent, Jan 2006)

Bob Dylan sell out – Fans condem his deal with Starbucks (BBC, June 2005)

(Musical Group) Faithless deny selling out by collaborating with Fiat for ‘promercial’ (New Musical Express, Aug 2010)

Clegg sold out to get power say voters – 4 in 10 supporters say they wouldn’t have voted for him if they’d known about coalition (The Independent, Sept 2010)

FBI spy who sold out to Russia ‘did megaton damage’ (The Telegraph, Feb 2001)

Did President Obama sell out out the American people to BP for an oil spill media blackout and money?  (examiner.com June 2010)

Gibraltar in uproar at UK ‘sell-out’ – The people of Gibraltar last night took to the streets in noisy protest, accusing Jack Straw of betrayal after he revealed that the UK and Spain had come to an agreement over the joint sovereignty of the British colony (news.scotsman.com, July 2002)

The Strike in Spain – “…A spirit of indignant victory has accompanied late afternoon marches through the country’s major cities, with the crowd shouting vicious insults directed against the ruling Government and, above all, Socialist president Rodriguez Zapatero.  The strikers are chanting demands for his immediate resignation while calling him “Judas” and accusing him of having “sold out.””  (http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2010/09/29/espana/1285763230.html, Sept 2010)

Spain:  Striking Metro workers face military intervention and union betrayal – “…at mass meetings, workers have been regaled with bombastic speeches from trade union bureaucrats demanding “unity” at the same time as they are organising a sellout along the lines of that imposed on Madrid garbage workers a couple of weeks ago.  After workers protested a May 26 announcement that Madrid authorities would slash their conditions—including cutting 200 jobs, an unspecified wage cut and modifying work patterns—the UGT and CC.OO called for an indefinite strike starting on June 21. The unions then negotiated a last-minute sellout to avert the strike, which included a wage freeze and postponing the job losses for two years.”  (http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jul2010/madr-j01.shtml – World Socialist Website, July 2010)

You can check your theory with the Urban Dictionary:  http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=selling%20out

During my search for examples of sell out I realised that a large proportion of examples came from texts about the passionate subjects of music and politics.  The word is often used to express strong feelings, often in an accusatory way.  It’s often the same with cash in on – people accuse others of making money on things that for some reason they feel should not be overly commercialised.

Definitions and similar words:  The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary lists to sell sby out as informal.  It means to not do what you have promised to do or what you should do because there are more advantages for yourself if you take a different action.  When Trade Unions sell out their members to companies or governments it might be because they are put under immense pressure to do so.  In this case they are often said to cave in to pressure – they have collapsed under pressure – think of a cave collapsing.  If you go back on your principles and disagree with something you were previously against because of threats you can also be said to have floundered under pressure or to have given way to pressure.

Cash in on something is to get money or an advantage from an event or situation.  This is often done in an unfair way.  Here are some examples of cash in – you could try ranking the situations in order of unfairness/greed/cynicism…

Spanish balcony owners attempt to cash in on Pope Benedict XVI’s visit – Many residents of the two cities which Pope Benedict XVI will visit this weekend are trying to cash in on his trip by renting balconies with views of the sites of services for hundreds of euros.  (The Telegraph, Nov 2010)

Jermaine Jackson:  ‘I’m not trying to cash in on Michael’s death’  – Jermaine Jackson has blasted claims that he is trying to cash in on his brother Michael’s death by planning a series of tribute concerts.  (Showbizspy.com, Oct 2009)

Princess Diana’s death car for sale – The limo company that owns the wrecked Mercedes involved in the carsh that killed Princess Diana wants to cash in on its history.  Owners have put the car up for sale hoping to get £1 million for it.  (current.com, Sept 2008)

Twitter allows advertising to cash in on its success – Twitter has unveiled an  advertising service called ‘Promoted Tweets,’ that will allow businesses and organisations to highlight their messages to a wider group of users — and thereby help Twitter cash in on its expanding popularity.  (France24.com, Apr 2010)

I’ll leave you with some ideas to think about and respond to if you want…

Moral dilema – you are the leader of a political party.  The election is one week away.  The result is still in the balance.  The leader of the other party has made some allegations in interviews that the values you say your party stands for are not visible in your private life.  He has accused you of using your position to prioritise the interests of certain companies in exchange for money.  Your rival is basing his campaign on the importance of the family and is always accompanied by his wife and children.  Your election campaign manager has discovered that your rival had a secret affair 10 years ago and has a son he has never seen.  What do you do?  Would it be playing dirty to leak this information to the media?  Are you willing to cash in on this information?  It might make the difference between power and opposition.

Musical sell outs – have you ever felt disappointed because a group or artist you liked allowed one of their songs to be used to advertise something?  Does doing this lessen the band’s artistic integrity?


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