(AUTHOR’S NOTE: In reading, remember: I’m trying to raise $5K. Ok, carry on.)
First there was Veronica Mars, and now there’s Zach Braff. Both are appealing and downright adorable — yet they are now hated by legions of fans simply because they have asked for your money, and gotten it. It’s not their recent success on Kickstarter that is drawing the anger of the masses, though; it’s the fact they had even walked through that crowdfunding door in the first place. (More like kicked it down and burst inside, but who’s quibbling?)
The mentality against these two (and others to come) is understandable. It feels like it is unfair, that these projects could have been made elsewhere and they didn’t ‘need’ Kickstarter. It feels like they are invading a space that is perceived to be for ‘true’ indie artists.
To that, the Marshmallow roasters and anti-Braffs have a point. But not really. Because if you’re of that ilk, ask yourself this:
If you had a project that you felt could legitimately raise $10K on Kickstarter, would you pursue it?
Of course you would. And the same would still hold true if you were trying to raise $100K, or even $2M like Braff. And if you asked this question:
If you had a project that could raise $2M on Kickstarter, but you had the option to instead find investors and give away half your profits, which option would you choose?
You would still choose Kickstarter. Because why would you give away something that you don’t have to? Why would anyone else? I mean, really. Duh.
So really, the only issue here is that Veronica and Braff are abusing the purpose of Kickstarter, since they are famous and don’t need it. (I know Veronica Mars is fictional. I don’t care. She’s cute.) Also, they’re certainly not the first ‘non-needy’ people to go this route, as other notables have preceded them including, to name a few, the likes of Paul Schrader, Ralph Bakshi, Colin Hanks, Alex Cox, and Alice Cooper (Cooper’s project, btw, was actually unsuccessful). And note — all of these people were putting their own money into their projects as well, but no one seems to pay any attention to that.
Besides, films are not the only category to ‘suffer’ from celebrity endorsement: the popular company Double Fine leveraged their fan base and made their early and permanent mega-million mark on the gaming side of things, and the makers of the Ouya console more than doubled that success. Clearly these companies didn’t ‘need’ Kickstarter, but did people really mind? Eh… maybe. But if they are offering a product or service, and there is enough demand for it, where’s the problem? I mean, that’s capitalism, right? Yay America!
There is another question to pose regarding this dilemma as well: What’s the difference between paying for a movie after it is produced, rather than before? Given that donating to such campaigns allows a glimpse into the creative process and engages the audience in ways that otherwise would not be possible actually should boost the case for Braff et al. — but being traditional slaves to the studio system as we are, it’s a hard mental switch for many to make.
Ultimately, the real anger here does not lie in the idea that these adorable assholes are abusing Kickstarter. Because quite simply, there is no abuse of the system at all; they are using the site for exactly the purpose for which it was designed. Instead, the real anger comes from the disruption of a dream. The dream that many of us starving artists (self included!) have a place in this world, and that place should be free of the needs of money and undue influence. It is the same dream that believes that the Sundance Film Festival should only celebrate movies with no-name talent, or the dream that believes everyone working on a film should feel happy and amazed to do so, even if that means working for 16-hour days and cold pizza.
Like all dreams, they are illusory, moody, and they do not exist. What does exist is a new system that can be used to make movies (or other projects), regardless of fame, stature, influence, or birthright. The key word here is ‘regardless.’ Though Braff may be famous or have extra influence, he has every right to use Kickstarter, as does everyone. To deny him that right, or bemoan him and others for using it, would be hypocritical. If you feel that way, then remember: They’re not the asshole here. You are.
(Yeah. That’s right. I just called my lovely readers assholes. But don’t worry — I’m an asshole, too. I’m pissed off just like you are. It really doesn’t feel fair. But we have to get over it. After all, there is no Santa Claus… which, come to think of it, I’ve never really had a problem with because I’m Jewish… Which means — damn. Maybe I’m just an asshole.)
Anyway, asshole or not, bitter or not, we must all come to terms with the fact that our dreams of grandness on Kickstarter are actually not affected by this. If anything, Braff’s great success brings more validity, acceptance and attention to the platform, which would likely benefit everyone. So rather than stew in our envy for the success that we don’t yet have, we should accept the reality that we are not alone in this universe.
There is life on Mars, they are the corporate and Hollywood elite, and they are crashing our party. Whether we like it or not.
Oh — and btw: Now that Braff has made his $2M+… can you help me to reach $5K?? Lend a starving artist a hand??? THANKS!