If you've ever heard of Kickstarter, then you already know it's a pretty cool platform for crowd-sourcing projects. The platform allows people to create "pitches" for their projects and tell the world why they think their project will be great. It often includes samples of their work, an explanation of what the final project might look like, and things called "backer tiers" — basically, incentives for those who are backing the project.
The creators only get the money for the project if they reach their allotted goal. Some projects are better than others, of course, but it's an especially great tool for independent artists to turn their projects from concepts into reality.
But celebrities are taking over and it's making me really, really cranky. Zach Braff, James Franco, Spike Lee, Zosia Mamet (Shoshanna from HBO's "Girls"), Eisley... they've all started Kickstarters (or, worse, IndieGoGo projects, which gives the creators the money regardless of whether they hit their goal — so say goodbye to that $100 you pledged, even if the project never pans out). It's not that I feel celebrities shouldn't be allowed to use Kickstarter, or that they don't have a right to try to fund their projects this way. Just that I don't like it. Here are a few reasons why celebrity Kickstarters are the worst.
1. Celebrities already have money.
Isn't it kind of obnoxious that Zach Braff, who has an estimated net worth of $22 million and who reportedly made $350,000 per "Scrubs" episode in the later seasons, is asking us to support his $2 million project? It's not that I think Zach Braff should just pony up the cash to support his own project. I don't even know what having $22 million as a "net worth" really means, so he may not even have anywhere near the liquid cash he'd need to get a movie created. But I think it's bold of celebrities that are already richer than any of us will ever be to ask us for money.
2. Celebrities already have connections.
It's not just about money. At the end of the day, if celebrities launch Kickstarters and those Kickstarters get funded, then the demand was obviously there. And I think you should spend your money however you want!
But I feel it's a little out of line for celebrities who already have industry connections to reach out to the masses. If I want to get a movie made (hint: I do not), I can't just waltz up to previous directors, studios, executives, or producers I've worked with and pitch it. That's because I've never actually worked with anyone with "insider connections" because I am a peon. Us normal people have to use the connections that we have in order to make things happen; why shouldn't celebrities also have to exhaust all of their options before turning to their fans and saying, "Hey, I need money for this thing"?
3. Sometimes their reason for launching a Kickstarter is stupid.
One band, Eisley, launched a Kickstarter asking for $100,000. They said they needed this money to take care of their babies. For real. Their Kickstarter read, "[W]e not only have to support ourselves on these tours, but we have four beautiful new mouths to feed, safely transport, and care for." Weird, I feel like normal people who make normal salaries have babies and they don't launch Kickstarters to pay for child care. But maybe they should? (Eisley only raised $60,000 of the goal, so they did not ultimately get the money.)
4. "Creative control" goes from one set of people with money to another.
The success of the "Veronica Mars" Kickstarter led to many contemplating what the future might hold in terms of creating projects, shows, and movies that people are actually interested in (rather than, say, a 100th season of "Two and a Half Men"). Instead, it seems to have opened up the floodgates for most celebrities out there to launch their own Kickstarters because they want more creative control and/or to have less "hands" in their projects. To me, that's just handing decisions from one group of rich people (executives) to another (celebrities).
5. Even other celebrities find this obnoxious (and embarrassing).
Kevin Smith, one half of Jay and Silent Bob, has said, "We nearly Kickstarted the budget [for another "Clerks" film] back in November. But now I'm feeling like that's not fair to real indie filmmakers who need the help. Unlike back when I made CLERKS in '91, I've GOT access to money now — so I should use that money and not suck any loot out of the crowd-funding marketplace that might otherwise go to some first-timer who can really use it."
6. We didn't need another reason to be annoyed by Zach Braff and James Franco.
Sorry, but it's true.
What do you think about celebrity Kickstarters?