Worlds on Fire and Sarah Cares
September 27, 2004 5:32 AM   Subscribe

This video costs $150,000
What’s wrong with this video?
Well, it only cost $15
$150,000 could make a difference to over 1,000,000 people


In this age of media companies and the RIAA suing everyone and their computer illiterate grandmothers, it’s nice to see an musician take a critical look at what it is that they do, if it’s really necessary, and ask if there was a better way to spend their money. And, quite frankly, it doesn’t surprise me in the least that it was Sarah McLachlan. (QT video)
posted by NotMyselfRightNow (97 comments total)

 
Information on the recepients of the $148,270 can be found here. They include Carolina for Kibera ($30,000), Comic Relief ($16,950), CARE USA ($21,480), DORCAS ($20,000), Engineers Without Borders-Canada ($17,000), Help the Aged ($15,000), Film Aid ($9,500), War Child ($5,000), Heifer International ($2,680), ITDG ($5,000), and Action Aid ($5,160).
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:41 AM on September 27, 2004


that is beautiful in so many ways
posted by slhack3r at 6:07 AM on September 27, 2004


Great song, great message.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 6:11 AM on September 27, 2004


I heart Sarah McLachlan. I got very teary eyed watching this video. And after seeing those shots of the street children, I feel like a real SOB for getting mad at my toddler this morning when he wouldn't eat his breakfast.
posted by smcniven at 6:16 AM on September 27, 2004


I love it when she said not to worry, that they're not asking for money, because really, that's such the easiest thing to do.
posted by paladin at 6:17 AM on September 27, 2004


Excellent. McLachlan is a smart, graceful, beautiful lady. I saw her live a few years back and she had a spontaneous witty answer for every comment from the audience. It really made the show.
posted by Shane at 6:19 AM on September 27, 2004


So now that this little prostitute has enough money for herself, she wants to take livings away from the production assistants, make-up people, camera people, caterers, maintenance people, directors, lighting people, electricians, set dressers and their families, whose living depends on the creation of music videos and their like. She wants to kill economic activity in the business that has given her a good living, and give the money to her designated poor -- creating a whole new class of poor people in the process. It would be one thing if she said, "I'm giving up my car, my house, my expensive clothes and career to give all my personal money above mere survival expenses to the poor." But noo-o-o. She's saying, "I think all music stars should make $15 videos, and sacrifice YOUR job to give money to the poor." What a drip.
posted by Faze at 6:27 AM on September 27, 2004


*blinks*
posted by Hartster at 6:36 AM on September 27, 2004


[This is what I needed on Monday morning.]

On preview: Faze, go fuck yourself. It's not like Sarah the revolutionary is going to overturn the music business and put entire production staffs on the street. There's more than enough greed to keep everyone happy and employed.

How do you know what Ms. McLachlan gives to charity? How do you know what pro bono work made this video possible? And... prostitute? Get a grip. Wanker. Troll.
posted by stonerose at 6:36 AM on September 27, 2004


Faze, I don't have time right now to really read even a sampling of the 987 posts you've made to mefi, to see if you generally have a subtle sense of humor, so...

Before I type a reply to your post, let me ask : was that a joke? ('cause if so it was actually pretty funny.)
posted by mragreeable at 6:37 AM on September 27, 2004


She's saying, "I think all music stars should make $15 videos, and sacrifice YOUR job to give money to the poor."

Actually, I don't think she's calling for that kind of thing. Rather, she's bringing an awareness of the costs involved in those three-minute videos that are cranked out every week, and what that money can actually buy.

Besides, if a handul of people in the entertainment industry losing their jobs are the cost of feeding, sheltering, and educating entire nations, that's something I can live with.
posted by mkultra at 6:39 AM on September 27, 2004


Heh mragreeable I started to do the same thing and gave up....so I'll cut right to the chase...shut the fuck up faze...

I'm sure whoever will keep on making big money productions to keep funding those poor hard done by production crews....but this is just OK...its by no means a bad thing...and the song is OK too.
posted by mattr at 6:42 AM on September 27, 2004


BTW faze, I just got through reading your post to a friend who produces music videos (and does a lot of work for WarChild) and when he got through laughing, he called you a jackass and wished me a happy Monday. So, thanks for that.
posted by stonerose at 6:45 AM on September 27, 2004


Also, just so that my sole contribution to this thread isn't fluff, McLachlan's comment's remind me a bit of a recent interview with Alan Moore, in which he explains why he had his name taken off the adaption of Constantine.

"I just don’t want any connection between me and the movie industry at all. I think that it’s a joke quite frankly and it’s not a very intelligent joke. It seems to be a joke for children. Any kind of involvement with Hollywood is a waste of my time and there is no amount of money that can compensate for that. I think the industry is an embarrassment on all sorts of levels but sure there are bad comics, bad books and bad culture so it’s not just films that produce an overwhelming majority of unwatchable rubbish but films that are unwatchable rubbish cost $100 million. That is the budget of an emerging third world nation, which is the point where it goes from being merely tasteless to being kind of evil. If it’s worth reacting towards something then it’s worth overreacting."
posted by Hartster at 6:49 AM on September 27, 2004


She's bringing an awareness of the costs involved in those three-minute videos that are cranked out every week, and what that money can actually buy.

The money that is spent making those three-minute videos doesn't go into the toilet. It goes into the lives of the people who write, produce, show, sell and sweep up after the making of those videos. It goes to pay for the food and education of children who are just as cute and deserving as the third world kids in the video. It goes to the lives and families of all the people who do business with the people who make music videos. Its called an ECONOMY, and it gives people jobs, and extra money, and enough of a feeling of security and well-being that they will give some of their surplus income to Oxfam or another charitable organization. To call for the destruction of an industry that employs lots of non-glamourous people (and lots of UNION people), so that this little chippie can pretend to be Mother Theresa, is arrogant, self-righteous and immoral.
posted by Faze at 6:59 AM on September 27, 2004


[this is good] Thanks, NMRN.
posted by shoepal at 7:00 AM on September 27, 2004


.CA Domain Registration: $14.99

(I like Sarah Mc - just saying.)
posted by Hankins at 7:03 AM on September 27, 2004


Wait -- has anyone considered flying in starving Sudanese children and giving them jobs as makeup people and video editors? Oh, right, that takes away good American jobs. OK, I guess there's really nothing we can do for them, then.

*turns back on Africa*
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:11 AM on September 27, 2004


I kind of agree with Faze here.

Get Frontpage and the artists could knock their own websites together for next to nothing, saving more money. how about firing their designers as well... make their own packaging - bound to save money there. And who needs fancy fly posters to advertise gigs... why not just use a photocopier.

That video looks like it cost $15. professional videos don't.

I'm not knocking Sarah for doing something good and giving a bit back, but really... where does it end?
posted by twistedonion at 7:12 AM on September 27, 2004


Ahhh, the old "It doesn't matter how awful something is as long as it provides jobs" argument.
posted by tommasz at 7:18 AM on September 27, 2004


Faze,

...to call for the destruction of an industry that employs lots of non-glamourous people...

I don't recall anywhere where she "calls for the destruction of an industry" or of anything else for that matter. Would you mind supporting that arguement? Thanks.

...so that this little chippie can pretend to be Mother Theresa, is arrogant, self-righteous and immoral....

I don't think it's any of that. Any consumer in any environment has the right to pick and choose from those who supply the goods that they desire. They also always have the additional choice of not using the goods at all. In this case, she is making the decision to use her money in other ways.

You think this is arrogant, self-righteous and immoral? Well, then next time you are in the supermarket, you better purchase the most expensive items on the shelf. Next time you fill up your gas tank, you better go to the most expensive gas station in your town. And don't even think about bidding below asking price on a house or condo. If you do anything less, then you are potentially taking money out of the hands of those who would charge you as much as they think they could.

We all face options like this every day, and we all have the choice to simply go home and not make the purchase. You make the arguement (and it's a fair one) that by employing these people, she is giving them the chance to use their disposable income to support these charities. You're absolutely right, she is. But by giving directly to the charities, she is doing nothing wrong. It's her money, after all.

I would also make the final arguement that more people are being touched and supported by this then they would be by producing a video in the normal manner and seeing the economy play out as it usually does.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 7:22 AM on September 27, 2004


It's fun to condemn the excesses of an industry to which I have no connection. Makes me feel superior. I’m glad there is nothing about my own economic activity that is frivolous. *entered on a computer the cost of which could have fed 5000 children in Calcutta*
posted by found missing at 7:22 AM on September 27, 2004


Ahhh, the old "It doesn't matter how awful something is as long as it provides jobs" argument.

Wait, how is making a music video awful? It seems like faze is making a fairly decent point, although with more vitriol than I can really support.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:28 AM on September 27, 2004


Oh, brother. Here we go, let's take an argument to the extreme.

I think Sarah's message is to try to do things a bit simpler. To speak as a citizen of the nation that uses most of the resources of the World - the USA in case any of you were wondering - I think we could do with a bit of sense about ourselves.

I don't think she is calling for the destruction of an industry - but how about desiring less flash more often. How about living with a Honda or a Saturn rather than two BMWs? How donating your time to a literacy campaign? Bag lunch it once a week and send $500 dollars a year to Save the Children? Other ideas, sure. I am not suggesting sell your house, but how about pick one of the above. Just one thing. That is the message I get from her video, and a good message it is.

We are a spoiled, whiny nation that is driving too many SUVs while education can't get funded, but we want to bitch about taxes. We have the luxury of choosing to help other people. If you need to be convinced read Kennedy's inagural address - get up and do something.

Besides all that, it reminds me I never should have broken up with Sarah. Big mistake. Big big mistake.
posted by fluffycreature at 7:28 AM on September 27, 2004


To call for the destruction of an industry...

Who's calling for the destruction of an industry? Strawman much, no?
posted by signal at 7:29 AM on September 27, 2004


The jobs argument only makes sense if this one video was the difference between prosperity and starvation for the video industry.

If everyone stopped making videos, I'd bet everyone who would have worked on Sarah's videos would find another line of work. Careers become obsolete all the time, and the economy somehow grinds on.

I can't stand her music, but she did more to raise the consciousness of her target market (which, by the way, is notoriously hard to reach about greater world issues) in those three minutes, and with something that will get played on every video station on the planet. She's not propping up the video industry all by herself, and she's not dropping out.

I understand her point: It's hard to worry about the techs and crew when people are starving. I can't believe anyone has a problem with her saying that.

Would you rather no one said anything, and these people got ignored? Is there another option that keeps her entourage off the streets and stops her from being a, what was it, a whoring little chippie?

Jesus Arm-Flapping Christ on a pogo stick, you people set a high bar.
posted by chicobangs at 7:33 AM on September 27, 2004


Aren't cheaper means of prodction are ALWAYS desirable for the economy?

... and doesn't trickle down economic practice ALWAYS fatten the deficit?

/Just asking
posted by magullo at 7:36 AM on September 27, 2004


McLachlan's cool. Faze is, too.
how's that for a paradox
posted by matteo at 7:39 AM on September 27, 2004


Of course, there are a few curmudgeons like me out there who decry the very concept of "music videos" -- the phrase is, in fact, a contradiction of terms.
posted by davidmsc at 7:39 AM on September 27, 2004


Faze, aren't you the ex-busker who fled New York when you couldn't make it playing for change in the subways? I remember from your embarrassing posts after 9/11 how much you hate New York for your failure here, but now we all know that it embittered you to musicians rich and poor, and to the very concept of charity and the eleemosynary impulse whenever you're not the recipient; now we all know what a complete and sad putz you are. Really, and I say this as a friend: kill yourself.
posted by nicwolff at 7:43 AM on September 27, 2004


Shit, that was harsh. My hangover, which has a mind of its own, just asked me to tell you we're sorry and you shouldn't kill yourself. I mean, unless you wanted to anyway, it's not like I'm the boss of you.
posted by nicwolff at 7:46 AM on September 27, 2004


Naw, davidmsc, videos are just advertising. Since they don't play music on the radio anymore, and everyone's got the teevees on all the damn time, they make a world of sense.

Advertising is little more than the chrome of commerce. But if there's gotta be ads, at least make them imaginative. (And make sure they employ tons and tons of poor starving children, as editors, grips, drivers, caterers and (of course) extras.)

(On preview: Yikes. Hey Faze, you have any records? I'll buy one if it makes you feel better.)
posted by chicobangs at 7:51 AM on September 27, 2004


Faze: ... to take livings away from ...

Clever.

But of course, you could make the same arguments for the porn, tobacco, liquor, prostitution, gambling, arms manufacturing, slave-labor, or cotton-candy-machine industries. So what's your point?

Anything that you do differently on some large scale is going to upset someone else's rice bowl. That's how the world works. Why would you advocate preserving inefficient production systems for the sake of the people who depend on the inefficiencies?

That's a real question, by the way. Not a rhetorical one. There are good, solid answers to it. So how about some?
posted by lodurr at 7:51 AM on September 27, 2004


nicwolff: Really, and I say this as a friend: kill yourself.

You were right the first time. He's an absolute horror of a human being.
posted by hincandenza at 7:53 AM on September 27, 2004


going for the self-righteous dollar, big dollar, huge numbers
posted by fullerine at 8:05 AM on September 27, 2004


$15!! No wonder she couldn't afford a chorus line of booty girls. That's not a music video, it's an infomercial for poor people with a hippy soundtrack.

These altruistic exercises always remind me of the parable of the Widow's Mite. The ones who have the most to give usually make the most noise when giving it. After all, what is $15k of the record companies money to an established artist?
posted by DrDoberman at 8:07 AM on September 27, 2004


Does Faze even know what percentage of the earnings from music videos actually get into the pockets of all the regular joes who work on it?
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:10 AM on September 27, 2004


Really, and I say this as a friend: kill yourself.

Maybe Sarah MacLachlan should kill herself, if she feels so guilty about the business and industry that gives her and the the people around her a living. Everyone seems to think that the answer to the problems of the poor is to cut back on the excesses of the rich -- in this case, the "frivolous" spending of hundreds of thousands of dollars on the making of music videos. Historically, this is a recurring fallacy that goes back to the sumptuary laws of middle ages. But it doesn't make any sense. If you attack the spending of the rich, they send their money underground, they hoard it, they invest it in gold or other static commodities. If you really care about the poor, you'll encourage the rich to spend MORE money, to buy more frivolous things, to buy silly clothes, silly jewelry, to have big silly parties that employ lots of people to set tables, deliver flowers, and play music. That's how you help the poor. Sarah MacLachlan doesn't have to go to the Third World to find poor people. Los Angeles is FULL of poor people. If she wants to help them, she should encourage the making of more music videos, more lavish music videos, bigger movies, with bigger budgets. All that spending doesn't go into outer space. Most of it goes right back into the Los Angeles economy -- and into the pockets of the working poor. Ms. MacLachlan is too holy and precious to want to help the poor people she sees everyday through the window of her limousine on the way to the studio. She'd much rather make YOU feel bad about poor people living 8,000 miles away.
posted by Faze at 8:30 AM on September 27, 2004


Do people actually make money on music videos? Does the label get a cut each time a video gets TV airplay or is it a loss-leader to promote record sales?

So now that this little prostitute has enough money for herself, she wants to take livings away from the production assistants ...

Do these people have a right to her money? It's basic business and the demand for video production crew fluctuates with the economy and fashion just like any other service.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:36 AM on September 27, 2004


Seriously, Faze. You got an album? I'd love to hear it.
posted by chicobangs at 8:39 AM on September 27, 2004


Ah. I see. Your answer to the questions you raise is "make the rich spend more money." So they can support the industry grunts. And the order is thus preserved, amen...

As I pointed out, you have an opportunity here to ask some interesting and valid questions about economics, and you're not doing it. So I'll help.

We all assume that efficient economies are "better". Cutting production cost obviously improves efficiency; when does that go too far?

Why and how is Sarah MacLachlan different in this effort than, say, General Motors, as it seeks to improve its margin by cutting production, sourcing and distribution costs?

If systemic inefficiency is good because it results in higher employement rates (which seems to be what you're arguing), then wouldn't a radically inefficient system be best of all?

Any takers?
posted by lodurr at 8:41 AM on September 27, 2004


I think the brilliance of this piece is that she does not call for anything explicitly, leaving it open to some interpretation. She doesn't "call for the destruction of an industry." She doesn't suggest that we all ride bikes to work and send our gas money to orphanages. She doesn't tell you to curtail your lifestyle to improve others'. She just points out that, hey, this time, just this once, instead of making a conventional expensive video, we looked around and found places to donate all the money, and wow, look how far it can go. Whether that inspires you to do something similar, or think twice the next time you are frivolous, or throw a lavish party, or call her a prostitute... is up to you. Doesn't it take great artwork to spark this kind of discussion?
posted by Tubes at 8:55 AM on September 27, 2004


So, Miss Sarah should not film her videos in LA, but in Ethiopia... where the $150,000 would ideally go into the local economy and help the poor there.

Even more directly if she hired the actual poor to create her video! Catering, makeup, etc.

The video quality would probably be about the same as the $15 videos she's talking about.
posted by BobFrapples at 8:57 AM on September 27, 2004


For those people worried about the US economy now that Sarah McLaughlin -- a Canadian -- has ruined it, I think you need to consider the economic upside.

That 12 room clinic in Kenya that Sarah jumpstarted will probably charge *something* for their services, meaning a growing Kenyan middle class. Who knows... maybe a doctor will save up and buy a computer, or maybe a local will become a doctor after paying to study overseas. In either case, in six months, that clinic will eventually need to import medicine... and who's to say that some of the building materials for the clinic didn't come from the USA or a US multinational? Same with those nuts & bolts being purchased to secure houses of monsoon victims, and those smoke hoods used to make safe, healthy housing.

Ditto for the mobile medical unit, who will need meds to treat its expected expected 150,000 patients. Ditto with the bicycle ambulances. Ditto for the street children’s hospital in India. (Also, the food that is being used to feed street children had to come from somewhere, and the US is the largest exporter of grain in the world...)

Schooling for 100 street children in Tanzania increases the earning potential of those children permanently, and also permanently increases their imports from the western world. Ditto for those 200 students in Ethiopia. And do I need to say why schooling 70 former child soldiers is a good thing for our economy, as well as potentially a money-saving expense for our future military budget?

Those 6 wells in S.E. Asia may require equipment from the US as well... and will provide clean drinking water suitable for local economic growth. Once you have clean water, you can use it for other purposes... such as the Sudanese irrigation project that's also being funded, or the 5000 lbs of potato seeds in India. I sense trade in the future!

Those 100 widows in Afghanistan who will soon have new independent careers that raise their standard of living permanently. As a result, they will be more capable of buying imported goods, especially those brought in from countries that currently occupy Afghanistan. Ditto to those girls sent to school for a year in Afghanistan too. They'll grow up in a world where they can afford to buy their own Coca-Cola... and the equipment used in their classrooms could be made in the US as well. Their 10 newly trained teachers will have a good future too!

The orphanage in South Africa will help thousands of people to become educated, functional members of the rapidly growing South African economy. (Did I mention that South Africa imports $1.69 billion per year in US goods, which comprise 9.4% of their total imports?) Same with the job training in Sierra Leone, and the education and food for orphans in Ethiopia.

The improved lives of the 10 elderly people in Eastern Europe may also find themselves lengthened due to better care. (That means more Western medicine, btw.)

I'n not quite sure what a Multi-Function Platform in Ghana is, but they seem to mention expensive (western?!) scholarships. See what I said about education earlier...

The 2 heifers, 6 goats, buffalo, 2 sheep, 2 llamas, 1 pig, chicks, and ducks from Heifer International also come with training on best methods, which help people leverage those assets into stronger local economies -- and stronger economies can buy US goods.

In short, Sarah McLaughlin is offering direct economic assistance to these people which will have real, permanent effects on their consumer buying power. These people aren't just getting "trickled down upon", they'll be able to buy US goods, which is vital considering there is a lack of worldwide demand for new goods that only imports from emerging countries can really improve. We *NEED* these people to buy Coke, eat their Kellogg's Corn Flakes, and get their cheese from Kraft, because our economy demands growth. Well, Ms. McLaughlin is jumpstarting exactly the kind of economic growth we need. Three cheers for her!

That said, I can't believe Ms. Mcaughlin is wasting $9,500 on Film Aid, just so refugees can be entertained. What a crock!
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:57 AM on September 27, 2004


After all, what is $15k of the record companies money to an established artist?

I guess you're missing the point that it's worth a hell of a lot more to people who don't have anything.
posted by clevershark at 8:59 AM on September 27, 2004


The money spent on a music video is only wasted if there is no generated value. Clearly marketing is a fundamental part of flogging product, if she feels she can keep her career going with $15 videos then she's welcome to try out that marketing paradigm. Is this video an attempt to shift the paradigm of the whole sector? Unlikely. So really it's just an attempt to attach some dollar values to some things that can really have a very positive impact on people's lives in developing countries. Presumably this aims to encourage more giving in relation to these positive things. Plus she gets some exposure of course.

Personally I got rid of the telly so she's welcome to spend as much or as little as she likes on her next video. Which of course is another point in favour of her little novelty as I would never have seen this or heard of her otherwise. Though she still won't be making any money off me.
posted by biffa at 9:00 AM on September 27, 2004


<Faze-think>
matthew shepard: destroying the fag-dragging industry one pickup truck at a time.
</Faze-think>
posted by quonsar at 9:03 AM on September 27, 2004


Why and how is Sarah MacLachlan different in this effort than, say, General Motors, as it seeks to improve its margin by cutting production, sourcing and distribution costs?

Sarah MacLachlan doesn't want to cut costs for any reason related to the marketplace. Personally, I don't think she wants to cut costs at all. She's just making a statement to make herself look good. It's all about her trying to gratify her moral vanity. It would have been a lot more sincere if she'd come out with a statement like this before she became famous and successful. "Don't spend $17 on my CDs. Give the money to the poor instead." She was free to make that pronouncement at any point in her career. Now that she's got her pile, she feels comfortable enough to preach -- at other people's expense.
My pronouncements about lavish spending by the rich are made from the artist's, the working person's, the service industry person's point of view. I am not qualified to speak on the macroeconomic implications -- although I would be interested in hearing what some people think they are.
posted by Faze at 9:03 AM on September 27, 2004


lodurr: Heh, I wish I could remember the name, but I read an interview from a B-list music artist who pointed out that his previous album left him $1 million in the whole before it even got out of the studio. Although the album did well enough to make a living, it still was barely worth it.

So his next album was produced "raw" in his basement. He figured that the return on a $10,000 album marketed to a fanbase that cares more about songwriting and musicianship than the extra bit of mix quality offered by a full studio would offer about the same return on investment with less risk than a $1 million album competing for radio and video play. It turns out he was right.

Certainly, there is a lot to criticize in regards to the publicity stunt aspect of this, but I don't think that McLaughlin owes anything to video production companies.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:09 AM on September 27, 2004


Relax, Faze, there's good news. As a former Libertarian, I can assure you that those people who didn't work on Sarah's video didn't really lose any work. Instead, they were freed up to do other jobs! That's a lot better. ;)
posted by kindall at 9:10 AM on September 27, 2004


Ms. MacLachlan is too holy and precious to want to help the poor people she sees everyday through the window of her limousine on the way to the studio.

I don't know that Ms. Maclachlan is tooling about in a limo. As far as I know, she's a Vancouverite. And we all know that limos are useless for dodging all those logs everywhere. You need an SUV for that.

But I do find it ironic that she is singing about the high cost of doing a music video, when really, she is the most costly thing about them. The people working on music videos (grips, and makeup artists and the like) do not make a mint. They make very little, which in my experience, seems to suit them fine, because they like to live in run down urban studio lofts anyway, and use the experience as an opportunity to build their portfolios and eventually be given a makeover show on The Life Network.

One other thing: As much as I think Sarah's okay, and think the idea for the video was pretty cool on a conceptual level, it did not cost $15. Those graphics, whatever you think about them, were probably pretty expensive. (When we commision graphics at my workplace, we pay hundreds if not thousands -- and we don't beam them to the whole world )I'm sure a lot of pro bono work went into this video. And for all the donations made of time, Sarah's included, she stands to benefit the most from it.

But then, when did we start getting uppity when pop music goes all hippie on our asses? That's what pop music does.
posted by UncleDave at 9:16 AM on September 27, 2004


Faze, read upthread. Much talk of macroeconomics already.

Also: "Don't spend $17 on my CDs. Give the money to the poor instead." She was free to make that pronouncement at any point in her career.

You haven't been to too many of her shows or seen her interviews much, have you? She's said this more than once.

And I didn't realize you knew exactly what she intended by all this.

I take it all back. You obviously know better, and no good can come out of this video. Humanity is worse because someone made an effort.

I'm sure her next video will have lots of bling and booty-dancers galore, and that will prompt you to love her musicagain. Because really, it's all about the bling and the booty dancers.

Sorry. The music. It's all about the music.
posted by chicobangs at 9:19 AM on September 27, 2004


The ones who have the most to give usually make the most noise when giving it.

Best line of this whole thread.
posted by fungible at 9:21 AM on September 27, 2004


She was free to make that pronouncement at any point in her career. Now that she's got her pile, she feels comfortable enough to preach -- at other people's expense.

Well, the problem with that argument is that she's famous now, therefore people will actually hear her. If she were an unknown artist, do you think her video would have made it to the front page of MeFi (or anywhere else)?

As to your larger argument about rich people's spending benefitting the poor- that is technically true, but it's a dangerous argument. When I buy, for example, a pair of jeans, some small some of that price goes into the pocket of a poor laborer somewhere who works on the assembly line. The problem is that my purchase reinforces that laborer's lowly station in life. It will rarely amount to a sum significant enough to really improve his or her life significantly. That's the unfortunate reality of labor practices, which has only gotten worse with unfettered globalization. The spending that SM is talking about in her video are much more on the investment side of things- they have value beyond their fundamental material worth.

So, Miss Sarah should not film her videos in LA, but in Ethiopia... where the $150,000 would ideally go into the local economy and help the poor there.

Even more directly if she hired the actual poor to create her video! Catering, makeup, etc.


... must... resist urge... to make tastless joke... about Ethopian catering company...
posted by mkultra at 9:23 AM on September 27, 2004


Faze, just shut up.
she feels comfortable enough to preach -- at other people's expense.
This is her expense. The record company doesn't pay for her music videos, they bill it to her record sales.

Besides, unless everyone donated their time, that video cost more than $15 to make, with the stock footage clearance, the CG, animating the artwork, and the editor who put it all together. (as Uncle Dave just said)
posted by FreezBoy at 9:23 AM on September 27, 2004


Metafilter: It's all about the bling and the booty dancers
posted by lodurr at 9:27 AM on September 27, 2004


Faze, besides the fact that you've made one artist who has advocated reexamining fiscal priorities into some sort of "death to the establishment" statement is amazing.

The assumptions are hilarious. If she gives up music video making, then these people are out of a job! Wait, what if they work in commercial advertisement or elsewhere in the film industry. I doubt anyone's full-time job is to make music videos for one artist. If so, they have to realize that their meal ticket is based on that individual's success.

So she wants to "kill economic activity in the business that has given her a good living." Yes, marketing helps musicians to make a good living, sometimes. Look at it this way: music videos are known as "promos" elsewhere, because that's what they are: a three minute advertisement. It doesn't mean they can't be good art, but there's certainly an economic motivation. When your advertising just isn't necessary when you've built up a market already or your audience isn't going to see the ads, why make them? I could definitely see that this is the case with Sarah McLachlan.

With your argument, I should buy all kinds of things I don't need because I can afford them and the purchase will help someone make a living.
posted by mikeh at 9:29 AM on September 27, 2004


mikeh: Bingo. Quite a few muscians make a good living without getting their face on empty-vee (or in McLaghlan's case, VH1 is more likely).
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:35 AM on September 27, 2004


You know, I can't help but feel Maclachlan's point would have been driven home if only the video was actually good. It's boring. If it were exciting, and truly thought-provoking, it would have at least proven that all that money spent on producing a video is a waste. To me, that video ( as well-intentioned as it was) was like watching one of those Saturday morning adopt-a-refugee shows that are hosted by Alex Trebek (at least in Canada they're hosted by Trebek), except with a Sarah Machlachan soundtrack. Actually, come to think about it, I think those shows already feature at least one Machlachan track.

There's no point getting angry at Faze though. He's bringing up a pretty valid point, as much as I just can't get that worked up about it. I say, good on Machlachlan. Too bad it's another sermon for the choir.
posted by UncleDave at 9:43 AM on September 27, 2004


That video needed at least one good explosion or an exposed breast. Better yet, one good exploding breast...

shot from like fifteen angles, and in slow motion, and reverse.

Why didn't Sarah hire me?
posted by UncleDave at 9:47 AM on September 27, 2004


Because it hasn't been said.

Great song.

She's my favorite lesbian singer/songwriter ever.
posted by Bonzai at 9:50 AM on September 27, 2004


Why didn't Sarah hire me?

On a budget of $15, UncleDave, she couldn't afford you. Also, the economy, as of this morning, is in the toilet.

And like all the good lesbian singer/songwriters, she's actually married. To her drummer.
posted by chicobangs at 9:53 AM on September 27, 2004


Why didn't Sarah hire me?

On a budget of $15, UncleDave, she couldn't afford you. Also, the economy, as of this morning, is in the toilet.

And like all the good lesbian singer/songwriters, she's actually married. To her drummer. Who's a dude.
posted by chicobangs at 9:54 AM on September 27, 2004


But then, when did we start getting uppity when pop music goes all hippie on our asses?

October 6, 1967

"Activate your neural and genetic equipment ... interact harmoniously with the world around you... [pursue] an active, selective and graceful process of detachment from involuntary or' unconscious commitments."
posted by mrgrimm at 10:49 AM on September 27, 2004


Faze, just shut up.

Let's ease off on the Faze pileup, shall we? Though he may not have put it in the best of terms or with sufficient tact, he does have a point. You're more than welcome to disagree with it, of course, but calls for suicide seem a bit much.

Ms. McLachlan has obviously done a good thing here - while the money she's given to charities will only go so far, she's gotten people (including all of us cynical MeFites) to think about some important issues. Of itself, this is valuable; even if she does stand to gain from the humanitarian "fame" of it all.

That said, I tend to agree with some of Faze's reasoning. While not the trickle down economist he seems to be, I do pick up on the same disingenuous vibe. Sarah has my Spidey® sense going in the same way Oprah often does.

When individuals with a personal wealth in the millions, or in Oprah's case many millions, donate money to charities or give away cars, it smacks of a certain self righteousness. Like Rockefeller giving out dimes.

Which isn't to say that public displays of charity are bad. But we need to view them critically.

Thus: While Sarah McLachlan has made a moving video that will open some minds, and has donated significant money to deserving charities, her gains (in notoriety, record sales, media coverage) will undoubtedly outweigh that investment. The same goes for Oprah, Ted Turner and his donations to the UN, etc.

It is not wrong to point this out. We'd be remiss and ignorant if we accepted such gestures at face value alone.
posted by aladfar at 10:49 AM on September 27, 2004


And like all the good lesbian singer/songwriters, she's actually married. To her drummer. Who's a dude.

No kidding? I wonder how I got that wrong.

Next you'll be telling me that the girls in taTu aren't really gay.
posted by Bonzai at 10:55 AM on September 27, 2004


this little prostitute

I guess everyone missed the sterling misogyny of Faze's opening statement in their rush to pile on the macroeconomic discussion.

Dear Faze: fuck off.
posted by solistrato at 11:11 AM on September 27, 2004


Most of it goes... into the pockets of the working poor

No, most of the budget for a typical music video does not go into the pockets of the working poor. Duh.
posted by Zurishaddai at 11:19 AM on September 27, 2004


When individuals with a personal wealth in the millions, or in Oprah's case many millions, donate money to charities or give away cars, it smacks of a certain self righteousness.

And why is that, exactly? What is self-righteous about it? And why does that even matter if thousands of people's lives are even a fraction better than they were before? Before Oprah gave away cars (which were donated by the manufacturer, by the way), she went to Africa and gave away millions of dollars of toys to thousands of African AIDS orphans, and then came home and went on the national news to tell the world that it needed to wake up to the humanitarian crisis happening in our own backyard. So should she be criticized for donating what must have personally cost her millions, or celebrated for employing what must have been a small army of people to actually make this happen?
posted by archimago at 11:24 AM on September 27, 2004


I guess everyone missed the sterling misogyny of Faze's opening statement...

Naw, solistrato, that was just a little piece of gender godwinism. We were right to ignore it. (In fact, I'm ignoring it right now!)

Now.

I suppose it would have been better for the economy if she did what all the other millionaires do, which is blow their golden parachute money on offshore securities, yachts and sex tourism. That way, the servants and other little people will make just enough to stay poor, and she's spared the ignominy of making a show of "doing good."

If the charities are so deserving, they should find a way to hire the video production companies themselves to make booty-and-bling videos for VH1 or MTV or wherever.

And that way, everybody wins.
posted by chicobangs at 11:37 AM on September 27, 2004


If you really care about the poor, you'll encourage the rich to spend MORE money, to buy more frivolous things, to buy silly clothes, silly jewelry, to have big silly parties that employ lots of people to set tables, deliver flowers, and play music. That's how you help the poor.

It would appear that Faze is channeling Supply-Side Jesus again.
posted by briank at 11:40 AM on September 27, 2004


My god, you're right Faze! Sarah is destroying jobs by not spending money on her music video! Quick organize a boycott! Come to think of it, anybody who buys an album that is so-called 'low budget production' is taking jobs away from the poor, hurting, music industry. So, I'm coming to your house, and if there are any cd's in your collection other than Xtina and Avril, I'm kicking your ass and calling you my bitch. I mean, we can't have you taking jobs away from those producers, handlers, personal assistants, rehab clinics, and paparazzi stalkers, can we?

Why is it that when anybody tries to make a point of doing something good there's instantly somebody around to call them stupid names? Look Faze, there's no doubt a hint of condescension in SM's attitude. Here on earth we call that human nature. I would suggest you look to yourself before you go bitching others out for having a superior attitude.

And as for the The ones who have the most to give usually make the most noise when giving it. argument, no shit you moron. Nobody makes a big deal when you or I donate 20 bucks to the united way because nobody calls the media when you or I do anything. We're not famous. The whole point of a famous person doing this is to encourage other people with piles of money to throw some at poverty, too.

You don't want to support artists who want to donate some money to starving people? Fine. Only buy the work of artists whose money goes to support their dealers. I mean, that's a job creator right? But to suggest that a huge artist shouldn't try to take a little time out and throw some money at a worthy cause because a makeup artist might lose a job is just... well, there are no words.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:50 AM on September 27, 2004


So should she be criticized for donating what must have personally cost her millions, or celebrated for employing what must have been a small army of people to actually make this happen?

Why do these celebs go 1,000s of miles to give money away? They say charity starts at home, but... $150k won't buy anywhere near the same amount of 'charity' in the West. If you want a lot of bang for you (charity) buck, you have to look to the third world.

"Look everyone, look, look ,look, I spent the $150k of my record company's money that was given to me to make a video on ALL THIS stuff for charity. Look how wonderful I am for giving these people polio jabs so they can survive long enough to die in next years annual drought."

Never mind day care centres in Africa or Where-the-fuckistan, how about a day care centre in Canada or the USA? Ohh sorry, I forgot $150k probably wouldn't be enough for one centre, so let's go spend the cash where you can get real value for your record company's promotional dollar...

Cynical... moi??
posted by DrDoberman at 11:56 AM on September 27, 2004


... gender godwinism ...

Yeh, I guess I kind of didn't believe it was real. I'd go back and look at it and say to myself, "that can't really say that." Just more of what passes these days for fashionable irreverence, I guess.

But then again, if Cohen's really all about the chicks, then maybe it was just misogyny.
posted by lodurr at 11:59 AM on September 27, 2004


It's a nice gesture and raises a lot of issues with how we live in the west vs. the rest of the world. A nice gesture, thorny issues* and all.



* yeah, she's a rich rockstar and maybe it's a bit patronizing to bequeath money on the developing world only to gain headlines for it, but it's a good cause and I think people are really freaking out over nothing. Get over yourselves.
posted by mathowie at 12:11 PM on September 27, 2004


Now that she's got her pile, she feels comfortable enough to preach -- at other people's expense.

Well, she ought to. If not for her, the production team you mention wouldn't be making money. The production team is freeloading off of her!

Think before posting mindless tripe, please.
posted by oaf at 12:50 PM on September 27, 2004


You know what I find really disheartening about this thread? (I mean besides the fact that Faze has taken a series of runny stinking turds in it and every other post keeps trying to explain to these piles of steaming crap why they're logic is faulty even as they soak deeper into the nice blue carpet. That may leave a stain, Matt, you might want to pour some club soda on it or something. But I digress.)

You know what's really disheartening about this thread? The sort of baseline assumption that someone of Sarah Maclachlan's stature is incapable of acting in anything other than a self-serving way. I mean, I'm no huge fan of her or her music, but I thought the video was quite poignant and in a very gentle way made a powerful and thought-provoking argument about the staggering scale of First World decadence.

And Sarah Maclachlan's never struck me as being particularly obsessed with augmenting her own fame nor magnifying the intensity of the spotlight directed at her.

And this is a pop star who's first big gesture upon achieving international fame was to try to bring a handful of other female artists she felt weren't famous enough on stage to share her spotlight. (I.e. Lilith Fair.)

And this is someone who takes hiatuses of several years in length, disappearing from the public eye as much as possible, in order to do stuff like start a family.

And to my mind the point of this video seemed to be to use the heavy rotation it would almost certainly receive on VH1 and MuchMoreMusic and such for some purpose other than augmenting her own record sales. Not that it won't also do that, mind you, but Sarah emoting in soft focus in a form-fitting frock of some sort almost certainly would've done more for those sales, and she seems to be trying here to instead use the attention her new single gets for something just a tiny bit noble.

And yet despite all of this, clearly a significant portion of her potential audience can't get past the fact that she's famous and therefore intrinsically self-serving, apparently.

Which begs the question: Can a famous person's fame be used for any purpose other than to feed its own growth, or does fame automatically cancel out all other factors? Or put another way: Is it impossible (at least to some cynical eyes) for someone like Sarah Maclachlan to differentiate between the social impact of her fame and that of, say, Paris Hilton?
posted by gompa at 1:04 PM on September 27, 2004


One has to really marvel at the level of stupidity that continues to push the moronic and discredited idea that the spending and excesses of the rich is really good for all of us, and is therefore completely justified.

Concentrating wealth is good? Sure it is. Ask any rich person. They'll tell you.

Next up by these same geniuses: smoking supplies steady supplies of diseased lungs which can be removed and used as wonderful fertilizer and/or planters in community flower gardens -- and only coincidentally enriches tobacco companies.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:13 PM on September 27, 2004


Why do these celebs go 1,000s of miles to give money away?

And you are the accountant for which celebrities? Because you sure are talking like you know what they do with all their money.
posted by archimago at 1:18 PM on September 27, 2004


The alternative to this would just as easily have been to make one fewer video for that album. This is better. And Faze needs to be medicated.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:19 PM on September 27, 2004


smoking supplies steady supplies of diseased lungs which can be removed and used as wonderful fertilizer and/or planters in community flower gardens -- and only coincidentally enriches tobacco companies.

It also keeps me somewhat sedated. So there's that to be thankful for.
posted by jonmc at 1:40 PM on September 27, 2004


Next up by these same geniuses: smoking supplies steady supplies of diseased lungs which can be removed and used as wonderful fertilizer and/or planters in community flower gardens -- and only coincidentally enriches tobacco companies.

And it's been a total boon to Oncologists, not to mention morticians! Philip Morris (sorry... Altria)- driving job growth!
posted by mkultra at 1:52 PM on September 27, 2004


gompa: Maybe it's a[nother] corrollary of Truffault's Maxim ("It's impossible to make a war movie that doesn't glorify war"). Maybe it really is impossible, once you've got a pile, to act in a manner that's not affected by the gravitational pull of said pile. Because, you know, well, money is so damn seductive.

But I do believe you can try, and that people to do try, deserve at least a little credit for it.
posted by lodurr at 1:56 PM on September 27, 2004


10 Most Expensive Music Videos. Look at the line items -- the point isn't that production assistants are getting rich -- it's that most music video spending is wasteful.

Let's not consider the marketing aspect. Surely money spent is always money earned from one perspective or another. Let's just consider the $60,000 floating yoga pods in TLC's Unpretty music video.
posted by VulcanMike at 2:09 PM on September 27, 2004


And I agree with insomnia_lj. Money invested in the development of the world is an investment with long-term dividends.

When our huge companies in the US outsource to India in 15 years, where are the big Indian companies going to outsource to?
posted by VulcanMike at 2:13 PM on September 27, 2004


Gabe from Penny Arcade just wrote a very relevant post about celebrities and charity.
Once again this post smacks of “seventeen-ism”. Unless he’s typing this post with one hand and giving blood with the other he can go fuck himself. You’re telling me that unless I can help someone every single day it’s worthless to help anyone ever? Unless I spend every day at the hospital hugging sick kids I shouldn’t bother trying to help them at all? What you’re asking for is certainly admirable but in reality it’s not possible. I’m not Mother Teresa, I just draw a comic strip about games. The majority of people couldn’t and wouldn’t devote their lives to charity. If we all lived by your rules no one would ever help anyone, not even once a year. Your outlook means that since you can’t help everyone you never have to help anyone. How convenient for you.
Worth a read, Faze.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:38 PM on September 27, 2004


"So now that this little prostitute has enough money for herself, she wants to take livings away from the production assistants, make-up people, camera people, caterers, maintenance people, directors, lighting people, electricians, set dressers and their families, whose living depends on the creation of music videos and their like."

This is correct, if Ms. McLachlan in fact hired every one of those people just to be able to tell them that she was taking away their contractually-obligated money to give to the poor, and then fired them on the spot.

More likely: She didn't hire any of those people, spent $15 and used the surplus for charities of her choice. You can't take money from people who didn't have the money to begin with.

If like for most musicians the monies fronted by the record company to Ms. McLachlan to produce the video are an advance, to be recouped by the record company from Ms. McLachlan's profits from additional sales, it's her own money to spend, and suggesting that she spend her money any other way than she chooses seems kinda commie to me.

If the record company paid for the video out of its own pocket (to be recouped through additional sales), I imagine they're thrilled, since all those charitable contributions are a tax deduction for them (assuming Canada allows charitable contributions to be deducted). A truly creative accountant, in fact, might be able to get the amount deducted twice, once as a business expense and then as a charitable contribution.
posted by jscalzi at 3:47 PM on September 27, 2004


Wow... I'm really surprised no one has criticized the charities for accepting the donations.... or, ya know, the poor for being poor and needing assistance in the first place....

*Gasp!* How dare they?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 3:53 PM on September 27, 2004


I apologize for the prostitute remark, and my perhaps too-quick-off-the-mark comments on this post. I certainly didn't mean to attract this level of ad hominem vitriol, or provoke the generally scrappy tone of the comments in this thread. I'm going to go out to the library right now, and take out a Sarah MacLachlan CD and see if I might actually like her. She might even become my new favorite band.
posted by Faze at 4:25 PM on September 27, 2004


faze ... your sense of entitlement amazes me ... that somehow a person with money in a business has an obligation to spend it in traditional ways or the people who usually get that money would be robbed ... and then there's the corrosive cynicism of others who feel compelled to denigrate a good deed

just remember ... if enough people speak and act, they will get the world they speak and act for ... make sure your words reflect the kind of world you want
posted by pyramid termite at 4:39 PM on September 27, 2004


Charity begins at home - ha, that isn't some kind of universal axiom, people. It's just an opinion. And my contrary opinion is that Charity begins where it's needed most.
posted by Jimbob at 5:09 PM on September 27, 2004


Ethiopian food is really good.
posted by goneill at 5:13 PM on September 27, 2004


And they have the coolest forks and spoons.
posted by y2karl at 6:15 PM on September 27, 2004


Amen, jimbob. Alongside that I'd like to add something my friend emailed after observing Yom Kippur this weekend:

So, yesterday in the midst of fasting and beating our breasts for no reason (or some reason), the particular group with which I chose to do these incomprehensible things was reminded of a very common sin: the sin of making moral distinctions on the basis of non-moral differences.
The most egregious of this is distance.


DrDoberman, I was surprised at how your post turned sour. Seems to me like people all over the world are equally deserving of charity. If you can make a bigger difference with the same amount, why the hell not?

$150k won't buy anywhere near the same amount of 'charity' in the West. If you want a lot of bang for your (charity) buck, you have to look to the third world.
posted by zerolucid at 6:19 PM on September 27, 2004


Hey, didn't Blink 182 do a video where instead of "paying for lights and all that stupid stuff" they just gave away money and broke stuff?
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:28 PM on September 27, 2004


Never thought I'd see the day where I'd see an argument about Sarah McLaughlan of all people.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 12:32 AM on September 28, 2004


I apologize for the prostitute remark...

Well, you have called Yoko Ono a wicked prostitute and Bea Arthur, an aged prostitute elsewhere here. It's a favorite epithet for women with you.
posted by y2karl at 7:54 PM on September 29, 2004


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