Which brings up the larger issue of Kickstarter as a whole. Most of these campaigns aren't people who need the money, they're people who just want it. The same could be said for lots of actual charities, sure — if you boil the word "need" down enough, nothing but food, water, and air is left. But here in the bourgie, comfy confines of wealthy Western society, we're talking about people like the indie musician Amanda Palmer, who raised $1.2 million on Kickstarter to make and distribute a folk album. That's all. Amanda Palmer, who is married to successful author Neil Gaiman and has been a prominent musician for a decade or so. Handed $1.2 million because she asked for it. People are free to spend their money however they want, but there's something so unseemly about the asking, isn't there? Maybe that reaction is owed to some overly reserved New England quality in me that I should fight against, but I can't help but feel that Kickstarter campaigns for stuff like this, that is stuff people are having no trouble selling elsewhere, are a bit gauche. Plus it's too easy.
Sure there might be some campaigning to be done on, I dunno, Twitter or whatever, but mostly Kickstarter is a passive thing. You set up the page, set certain reward levels, and then sit back and watch the dough roll in. Well, that's if you're prominent enough, I guess. Anyone can start a Kickstarter for just about any reason. I guess my ire is really directed at the famous and semi-famous people who, rather than hustle around town drumming up the money from proper backers and investors and then hoping money from their fans will roll in, just make some cutesy video instead and figure their work done. There's an arrogance to it that I find extremely unbecoming. You need look no further for evidence of that arrogance (in the guise of doing a Super Cool thing) than the reward for a $400 donation to the Veronica Mars movie: "If you kick in $400 to the cause, we will love you so much that Kristen (@IMKristenBell) and Rob (@RobThomas) will follow you on Twitter for an entire year." I mean ugh, right?? This is the kind of thing that Kickstarter facilitates. It's the height of tacky.
Another part of my revulsion is, yes, likely to do with the simple fact that art-related Kickstarter campaigns strip away the pretense that art and commerce aren't inextricably linked. Money has always been part of the commercial art game, but the budgeting and haggling is usually done out of view, by a few select professionals. Kickstarter, though, puts the economic reality right out in the light for all to see. Someone like Amanda Palmer is essentially telling us that she doesn't want to work on spec, so if we want to hear something new, we have to pay in advance. At a moment when we're discussing the complexities of for-pay creativity, Kickstarter openly democratizes the compensatory system. I intellectually know that's probably a good thing, but my gut still finds all the upfront money talk to be a bit unrefined, let's say. Art should exist for art's sake! Crassly bringing money into the conversation sullies everything.