Amazon bestows free Prime memberships on townspeople who need them not at all

Free is free and it’s probable that even the well-to-do of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass., would rather have a free year’s worth of Amazon Prime – retail: $99 per year – than not have a free year’s worth of Amazon Prime.

But it would be difficult to find a less needy population for such a gift.

Nevertheless, Amazon announced today that it is bestowing the free year – plus some free popcorn – upon the town to mark the streaming release on Prime of the Oscar-winning movie, yes, you guessed it, “Manchester-by-the-Sea.”

From a press release:

“Oscar winning ‘Manchester by the Sea’ is coming to Prime Video on May 5, and we wanted customers in the town to enjoy popcorn and a movie on us,” said Greg Hart, Vice President of Amazon Video, worldwide. “Manchester by the Sea is a masterpiece representing the best of cinematic storytelling. In other words, it is wicked awesome.”

Pro tip: That “wicked awesome” stuff grates on people from around here like most cinematic Boston accents.

Couple of points not made in the press release:

Manchester-by-the-Sea is a small community with only 5,136 residents slipped comfortably into 2,147 households, which means Amazon will be spending at most $212,553 – plus the cost of popcorn and postage – on this publicity stunt provided every household takes them up on the offer, which won’t happen.

Why won’t that happen? Because for many in Manchester-by-the-Sea claiming the gift – they have to redeem a code they’ll receive by mail -- will seem like coupon-clipping, not worth the bother at best, unseemly at worst.

You see, Manchester-by-the-Sea, with a median family income of $145,000, is the eighth wealthiest community in Massachusetts, which is the fifth wealthiest state in the nation. While this certainly doesn’t apply to all 5,136 town residents, it certainly applies to most: If you live in Manchester-by-the-Sea, you are not concerned in the least about the cost of Amazon Prime.

But, hey, it’s the thought that counts, no matter how contrived or commercial.

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