Asking.

If it’s been a few months without hearing about Amanda Palmer, you can be pretty sure that you will be hearing about her again in short order.

She’s had a larger-than-usual presence on the internet lately thanks in no small part to her recent TED talk (below):

I’m not going to get into what I think of Amanda Palmer here, other than to say that I’m not a fan.

What bothers me about the controversy surrounding her and the idea of “crowdsourcing” is what I’ve witnessed coming from a disturbingly large percentage of her detractors.  Almost every article about Amanda, her “We Are The Media” philosophy, and the apparently groundbreaking concept of ASKING for support is invariably accompanied by comments throwing considerable shade.  That’s to be expected, of course; I’ve said it here before:  the comments section is where common sense goes to die.  But there has been a theme rearing its head in these comments, and it goes a little something like this:

Amanda Palmer is married to a very successful writer who has a net worth in the millions.  Ergo, Amanda Palmer shouldn’t be asking her fans to fund her projects because her husband is rich.  She should just bat her eyes at him or do whatever it is she needs to do to get him to open his wallet.  Or something.

Some choice comments I’ve encountered:

My issue is with people who have the means to pay for this themselves asking for money on here (she could, her husband is a multi millionaire, why not ASK him?).

She isn’t wealthy? She’s married to a millionaire author.

I guess her multimillionaire husband couldn’t finance the endeavor…

Can’t she leech some of that Coraline money off Neil Gaiman?

Adorable, right? Trust me when I say I didn’t have to dig real deep to find these. Questioning ethics here is one thing; genuinely believing that Amanda Palmer – an established artist in her own right long before Neil Gaiman came into the picture – should “just ask her husband for the money” is another.

It’s not exactly a stretch here to call this sexist. I am trying to imagine that if the reverse situation was on the table we’d be seeing the same kind of comments, but I’m coming up short.

4 thoughts on “Asking.

  1. Agreed. You’re dealing with a culture of obssessive teflon responsibility, where being asked for something is viewed as “pressure” – even when saying no is an option. Ooo, be polite! Don’t ask me for anything! I am under stress! Ask someone who HAS to say yes because they have more than I do. Because they like what you do and I don’t. How dare you “make” me say no and look like the bad guy! I do think there’s an element of sexism at play, but more than that is self-righteous classism. How dare an artist have so many open ports to resources? *I* don’t “get” that many chances! How dare she ask people to participate when she is not “needy”?

    Artists are an “unworthy” social class. Once an artist’s baseline needs are met, let them “create” the rest of it and stop being such a drain on people who do real work. People of worth. Leave the acquisition of wealth to worthy folk, like investors! Veritable gods of human greatness. Or, more acurately, people who don’t need much talent to succeed. People who, by virtue of their innate mediocrity, we can all relate to.

    I’m no fan of Amanda Palmer. But I am a firm believer in asking for what you want. I believe asking for help is an invitation to community. And I think there is a prevailing attitude that a creative artist, and especially one who is a confident and outspoken woman who’s already “scored big” in the husband derby (sorry for the Chris Farley quotation mark bonanza) is unworthy of so many chances, so many potential streams of income, so many supporters. Enough is enough, after all.

    It’s called rationing. Goes hand-in-hand with death panels.

  2. I have no problem with crowdfunding. At all. If I thought I had something worth funding, I’d do likewise. As it stands, I’m waist-deep in a lot of words that don’t seem to be congealing into anything linear or interesting. That’s neither here nor there. In the midst of all this kerfuffle it has never occurred to me to say, “Amanda Palmer is too ‘rich’ to ask her fans to fund her endeavors.” I’m still not entirely comfortable with what went down after she reached/surpassed her goal, with the “beer-n-hugs” debacle, as I feel that these were very conflicting rallying cries (“Artists deserve compensation!” versus – in essence – “Play for the love of playing!”), but as for the actual Kickstarter effort…no harm, no foul.

    The other point that people miss, in the throes of yelling about Rich Amanda & Her Rich Husband, is the “value of excess in transaction.” I’ve worked in nonprofit arts for 20 years; I know a thing or two about the importance of making a donor feel like an investor. I’ve helped plan and implement capital and endowment campaigns. In those situations, seven-figure grants only come about when there is enough of a show of donor interest/loyalty in the form of small contributions.

    Now, could Amanda have funded this on her own? Possibly. Don’t know. Don’t care. But the message that has been sent here is that thousands of people saw the “value” of the project, and acted accordingly.

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