Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Doin' stuff fer free...

First things first - Love & Pop has my review of Hentai Kamen - it's a Japanese live-action superhero parody (based on a 90's manga) about a high school student who transforms into a "pervert superhero" when he wears used panties on his head. Aside from the obvious, a lot of the humour derives from poking fun at the tropes of "superpowered highschoolers" manga/anime. From that description you can probably already tell if it's your jam or not, but if it is you'll probably enjoy it.

Now read on...

Gawker's Hamilton Nolan (somewhat contemptuously) reports that Lena Dunham's promotional tour in support of her book Not That Kind Of Girl will feature unpaid opening acts, who have applied through her website for the privilege of performing. I am reminded of the related furore when Amanda Palmer tried to do a similar thing - crowdsourcing unpaid musicians to back her up on tour.

Now, as then, I am having kind of a hard time figuring out what the fuss is actually about.

The primary argument put forward in both cases is that these women have heaps of money, and could therefore afford to pay people - the inference being that they're somehow ripping people off, or depriving other (more professional) acts of work. I sort of get that - I play in a covers band and I certainly get cross when people do pub gigs for free, thus devaluing all the other musicians in the area.

But playing to drunken punters in a pub is in no way the same thing as being part of a charity event (which I'd cheerfully do for free) or to being included in an event put on by someone you admire, which is what's happening here (and in the Amanda Palmer example). In both cases, these women sought applications from people who'd be interested in being part of their events, and made it clear from the outset that there wasn't going to be any money involved.

There's an argument that Dunham and Palmer are somehow "abusing" their fame and social status to get stuff for free, but that seems disingenuous to me. The people who applied weren't under any particular pressure to do so, as neither Palmer nor Dunham had any particular power over them that would make the situation abusive.

I guess the thing I'm getting at is that rich and famous people get free goods and services from people who admire them all the time. It seems suspicious to me that the internet chooses to make a fuss about this when it's women with a history of making people (particularly men, particularly white heterosexual men of a particular sociopolitical bent) uncomfortable, asking for things up front from their fans.

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