Let’s assume for a moment that you’re one of the many many people who have publicly criticized the producers of Veronica Mars, or Zach Braff, or James Franco, or Spike Lee, for starting a crowd-sourced fundraising campaign to generate a budget for their next work… YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT. Likely because you don’t understand what these artists are bringing to the table and/or how the Internet functions.
“They’re taking money away from artists who deserve it.”
Well there are a number of things wrong with that statement.
First of all, they aren’t taking money away from anyone. They do not control the money being donated to their campaigns. They do not control the people donating that money. They have no access to anyone’s bank account or credit card. They are not taking anything. They are being GIVEN donations by people WHO WANT TO DONATE TO THEM.
Crowd-sourcing is not about the campaigns, it’s about the people contributing to the campaigns. Contributors are the heroes of this narrative. Crowd-sourcing does not exist for indie artists; it exists for contributors. And they get to contribute to whatever the fuck they want to contribute to.
You are not a shepherd. You do not get to decide what someone else wants to contribute to. You do not get to decide what they do contribute to, nor do you get to decide what they do not contribute to.
No one goes on to Kickstarter with a monthly budget to decide who they’re going to donate to this month. “Oh look Spike Lee has a campaign, I’m going to donate to him instead of Joe Schmoe because he’s a celebrity.” That does not happen. That person does not exist.
You also do not get to decide what anyone deserves. If you think you do, you’re an irrelvent asshole. And I wish you would leave this rant immediately because you don’t deserve the knowledge I’m about to impart. Seriously. If you think you get to decide what anyone else deserves, go away right now.
I’m going to assume those irrelevant assholes are gone now. Back to the subject at hand.
I can play the “deserve” game too. Try this on – none of these artists (celebrity or otherwise) deserve anything. Why not? Because there’s a fucking village in Africa that’s dying of thirst! But apparently Joe Schmoe’s TV pilot is more deserving of crowdsourced funding than Zach Braff’s Garden State sequel. If this is how you think, here’s some advice: grow a fucking soul.
Furthermore, YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW THE INTERNET WORKS.
Web traffic is a numbers and demographics game. It always has been, it always will be (unless someone completely restructures it, which would take years and quadrillions of dollars.) Web traffic is grouped down demographical lines. If you enjoy the works of Zach Braff, there is a great likelihood that you will enjoy the works of someone who makes things that are similar in theme, tone or genre, to Zach Braff. That’s how the web directory Yahoo became a powerhouse – thematic grouping. That’s how Amazon sells more products – “People who bought that also bought this.” That’s how the Web is organized.
They are called niches. And hey America, it’s pronounced “neesh”, not “nitch”.
When Veronica Mars is given a crowd-sourcing campaign, every other campaign that is in anyway similar to VM benefits from the presense of the VM campaign. Same with Braff. Same with Franco. Same with Spike.
Here’s a brick & mortar example:
I rent a store in a mall and I sell t-shirts. The guy renting the store beside mine sells DVDs. And he’s having a huge sale this weekend. Every Batman movie is 50% off. Now what am I going to do with all my Batman t-shirts? If I’m smart, I’m going to move my Batman t-shirts to the front of my store where they will be more visible to anyone attracted by my neighbor’s Batman sale. And guaranteed I will sell way more Batman t-shirts this weekend. I’ve taken advantage of the Batman-loving niche.
Web traffic works the exact same way.
Spike Lee is asking for $1.5M for his campaign. He’s bringing his target demographic to Kickstarter and that target demographic is, in all likelihood, worth well over $1.5M.
If I had a movie, TV pilot, graphic novel or web series that targeted the same demographic that Spike already has, I would get a crowd-sourcing campaign for it up on Kickstarter IMMEDIATELY. It’s the exact same function as moving my Batman t-shirts to the front of my store when my neighbor has a Batman sale.
As a result of the Braff and Veronica Mars campaigns, more than $400,000 was contributed to other campaigns that would not have been contributed had it not been for Braff and Mars. This didn’t surprise me because I know that’s how the Internet works. And that $400+K blows the other side of this particular argument out of the fucking water.
“They’re rich! Why don’t they pay for their own movie!?”
If this is your argument, all you’re doing is showing your ignorance about how movies get made and the risk involved in making them. You’re also showing your ignorance about how someone else’s personal finances are organized. Which – it should be noted – is NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.
If every artist we perceive as “rich” relied on their personal wealth to fund their art, art would only be made by the exceptionally wealthy. And THAT would stifle many a visionary. (With the exception of Kevin Smith who would still be making feature-length home videos for his friends, i.e. Clerks 3 through 18.)
Spike Lee is a great example. TheSmokingGun published this article criticizing Lee’s campaign in light of the fact that he’s got a mansion and estate in Martha’s Vineyard. Ah yes the entitlement of “the little people.” How easy it must be just to judge the entire structure of someone’s personal finances based solely off the number on the bottom line. Never mind that he’s a proven artist who has made great films that are socially relevant; never mind that he has opened doors for other filmmakers; never mind that with 52 director credits, he still has to fight tooth and nail to get anything made within the mainstream Hollywood system. He’s just a number, right?
In the mid-1970s, Francis Ford Coppola put his $6M home up as collateral so he could make Apocalypse Now. Do you know why he did that? Because there wasn’t any fucking Kickstarter! If you think he would do that same thing today rather than go with crowd-sourced funding, you are an idiot, wrapped inside a moron, dipped in stupidity, and baked at 350F in a confusion oven.
HOW RELEVANCY WORKS
Now, let me explain something to you about how web algorithms function. It’s real simple. Here’s the thing – the programming code that makes up every web algorithm does not know the difference between good context and bad context. Computers are not able to detect the subtlety of context. They are not sentient.
When you post a link to some article with the context that some asshole celebrity is stealing money from the little people, the only thing a web algorithm sees is that you are posting a link to a webpage. Again, algorithms do not know the difference between you saying “Do not contribute to this” and you saying “Yes go contribute to this”.
Google’s search algorithms count the number of links to a given page, they do not gauge the context in which you are putting those links. Every time you share a link, you are increasing the page rank of the page to which you are linking.
So if you really really really really really really don’t want anyone to contribute to celebrity crowd-sourcing campaigns, your ONLY recourse for ensuring that less people contribute to that campaign is this: SHUT. THE FUCK. UP.
That’s all you have to do – NOTHING. Don’t post a link about it. Don’t comment on it. Don’t criticize it. Don’t upvote it or downvote it. Don’t talk about it. Don’t even fucking think about it. Don’t do a goddamn thing.
The Internet is binary. There is either action (1) or no action (0). If you take ANY action – ANY FUCKING ACTION AT ALL – then you are contributing to their campaigns. If you take no action whatsoever, if you just keep your mouth shut and move the fuck along (preferably to something you do authentically care about), then you are not contributing to their campaigns.
That’s how the Internet works. Those are your choices. Decide well, or look like a fucking idiot to someone who knows better than you do how these things work.
Happy Saturday, everybody. 🙂