People are upset over the recent rash of celebrities using Kickstarter, the mass-fundraising website, to crowdfund projects. Spike Lee, who bought a mansion built by the Vanderbilt family on New York's Upper East Side, raised $1,418,910 for his coming vampire film. Zach Braff, who reportedly made $350,000 an episode for his role on "Scrubs," has completed a campaign to fund his new movie that netted $3,105,473. Most recently, Marina Abramovic, who just bought a loft in SoHo for $2.65 million, raised $661,452 to fund her $19 million Marina Abramovic Institute in Hudson, New York.
Yes, it's kind of annoying that millionaires are asking for 10 dollars. Yes, it's kind of surprising that Zach Braff has fans, let alone 46,520 of them.
But you can't fault these people for trying to make money, or for succeeding. No one forced six Abramovic fans to shell out $10,000 for "a dinner night with Marina during which she will teach you and other backers at this level how to cook a series of traditional soups, which you will all enjoy together. " If you could make 60 grand making borscht for a few people, wouldn't you? It's like getting outraged over Alicia Silverstone's vegan cookbook. It might be irritating to think about, but just because someone buys it, that doesn't mean Silverstone has committed an atrocity. "Batman and Robin," that's a different story.
It's been argued that celebrity filmmakers are taking money that could go to independent filmmakers. But that assumes, for example, that all 6,421 backers of Spike Lee's film were waiting -- just waiting -- to fund a movie and were swayed by his fame.
The question isn't whether famous people should be hawking their wares on the Internet. It's who in their right mind decided that being a "featured extra" on Braff's new movie was worth $7,500.
James Tarmy reports on arts and culture for Bloomberg Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News.