Before I dive into the meat of this rant, I will preface it by saying it will not contain my usual heady mix of swearing, foul metaphors and other colorful language.
The main reason is that I want this one to get a lot of traction, and I don’t want any of that window dressing to get in the way. And, judging by my last rant, it seems most you think the R-rated Felix is not making much sense. I want this plea to make sense to every tortured soul and fellow creative that takes the time to read it. So, for those very few of you who came here looking for foul-mouthed frippery, I apologize.
Oh, and if you prefer my diatribes without the profanity, let me know. As much as I enjoy the process of speaking in a way that I rarely get to during my daily life, I would rather get my point across clearly, and to a larger audience.
OK. That’s out of the way. I’ll still bend and break all the usual grammar rules though. If you don’t like that, well, you get no apology. This. Is. How. I. Do. It.
So, what are we talking about? It’s called Kickstarter, and I’m sure you know it well.
I love the idea of Kickstarter; and as you know, I don’t truly love a lot of things in this world.
Someone has an idea. But, they just don't have the money to get it off the ground. So, they come up with a Kickstarter campaign, bringing the masses together to collectively get support from thousands of individuals. $50 isn’t a lot. But if 20,000 people give $50, that’s $1 million. To put that in perspective, Madison Square Garden can hold 20,000 people for a concert. And you know they all pay more than $50 to get in.
This is the power of crowd funding, and Kickstarter. A complete unknown with a great idea or project actually has a shot. They can make it happen. Doors that never open to them now have a “welcome” mat outside.
This is, for lack of a better word, tremendous.
Some recent Kickstarter projects I have personally supported include:
Pressy – The Almighty Android Button
Glyphs & Co. – The Grammar Army Knife (oh the irony)
Sidecar – Laptop to Tablet Connector
I like the fact that out of determination and hard work, people just like you or I can get the funding they need to make dreams become a reality.
Emphasis on “people like you or I.”
So, when I see the likes of Spike Lee, Zach Braff, and the team behind Veronica Mars, are invading Kickstarter for funds, it really ticks me off.
This is not a place for the wealthy.
This is not for the rich and famous.
This is not for the elite.
Kickstarter is for the little guy that needs some help. The nobody. The David trying to take down Goliath. The you. The me. The unwashed masses, so to speak.
And yet, we are hearing of celebrities rushing to Kickstarter and using their considerable fame to bag the money they want.
Not need. Want.
Spike Lee has a net worth of $40 million. Let that sink in for a second. It's not like Spielberg’s $3 billion, or the $7 billion George Lucas fortune, I’ll admit that. But it’s not exactly small change either. $40 million dollars, and he’s on Kickstarter looking for $1.25 million. To you or I, that’s a fortune. To Spike, it’s a cash withdrawal.
Zach Braff, he’s got a net worth of $22 million. And he went on Kickstarter to raise $2 million. He got over $3 million by the way.
Then there’s the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign. Screenwriter Rob Thomas has a net worth of $17 million. Kristin Bell, she’s not quite up there yet, she’s only got $8 million. They went on Kickstarter looking for $2 million, and got almost three times that amount. Why? Because unlike other Kickstarter projects, these have famous people behind them, giving them the push they need to hit the spotlight.
So to add insult to injury, they are getting massive support because they already have the fame and influence that 99% of the people on Kickstarter wish they had. With it, they wouldn’t need Kickstarter in the first place.
I don’t have anything against Spike Lee, Zach Braff or Kristin Bell as artists. They do some good work, they deserve their fame and fortune. But here’s the thing. They made it. They got to the top, and it’s a very small percentage who ever reach those giddy heights.
These people are all multimillionaires, sure. But they have something even more valuable than money. They have connections.
They have names and careers that open doors.
Even if Spike Lee doesn’t want to go to a studio, he can borrow the money from just about any financial institution or entrepreneur, and pay it back with the profits. If he doesn’t think there’ll be a profit, that’s on him. Why should he get regular people to fund his personal projects?
Spike says “I was doing Kickstarter before there was Kickstarter. I was writing letters, making phone calls, shaking hands. This is not necessarily new to me.” So…do it again now!
The idea of raising funds is not new. But this venue, this particular outlet, is new. And it was not designed to help people like you, Spike. It was designed to help the Spike Lee of 1985, who was desperately trying to raise money for “She’s Gotta Have It.”
Back then, yeah, you deserved Kickstarter, Spike.
Now, and I hate to point this out dude, but…you're rich and famous! Sorry, but you are. You know everyone in the whole messed up town of Hollywood. If you want a meeting with the head honchos at Paramount or Time Warner, you pick up the phone. And guess what…they take your call.
Think I can do that? Or a struggling filmmaker like Steve McClure? He’s a guy in Colorado who's been trying to raise $20,000 for a documentary he’s making. He went on Kickstarter, and didn't hit the goal. Not even close. He tried again with a different venue and a lower number, and finally met his goal. Many people in Colorado, and across the nation, have backed him. But he’s not a well-known guy. He doesn't have connections. He struggled, like most independent filmmakers do.
Let’s look at that goal again. $20,000. That’s the cost of 10 courtside seats at a Knicks game. And Spike, you have season tickets. You can blow that kind of cash in a weekend, and it won’t make a dent.
Seriously, what happened? Imagine if the Spike Lee of 1985 had to compete with the Spike Lee of today. He’d be shut out. You, Spike, are hogging the very opportunities that got you where you are today, and it’s nauseating.
The bottom line is this. Kickstarter should be left to those that need it. Rules should be put in place that prevent the rich and famous from using it. Perhaps even income limits, like certain affordable housing ventures stipulate, or that you need to be under to get welfare and food stamps.
This is not charity, but it is for the needy. Spike Lee, Zach Braff, you’re not needy…you’re just plain greedy. And this does not sit well at all.
Felix is a site contributor, ranter and curmudgeon for The Denver Egotist. He’s been in the ad game a long time, but he’s still young enough to know he doesn’t know everything. If he uses the f-bomb from time-to-time, forgive him. Sometimes, when you're ranting, no other word will do. In his spare time, he does not torture small animals. He's been known, on occasion, to drink alcohol by the gallon. Do as he says, not as he does.