Why "F* You, Pay Me" Is A Necessary Mantra
September 29, 2014 2:04 PM   Subscribe

In order to promote her new book, Lena Dunham has elected to engage in some AFPesque labor exploitation: Last month, the writer, actor and producer Lena Dunham started an ambitious project. Nearly 600 people responded to an open call for video auditions on her website, including a sand artist, a ukulele player, a cappella singers, gymnasts, performance artists and stand-up comics, even some exceptionally charismatic babies. The seven who made the final cut won’t be making cameos in “Girls,” Ms. Dunham’s HBO show about Brooklyn 20-somethings. Instead, they’ll be the warm-up acts — performing free of charge — on an elaborately produced, 11-city tour to promote Ms. Dunham’s new book, “Not That Kind of Girl.”

Hamilton Nolan at Gawker points out some of the key financial figures regarding Ms. Dunham's new book and tour, further illustrating why her decision to exploit the labor of these people is even more offensive.
posted by NoxAeternum (221 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Amanda Palmer Adventure, round 2.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:08 PM on September 29, 2014 [32 favorites]


"Money is what you live on; exposure is what you die from."
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:09 PM on September 29, 2014 [131 favorites]


Do we need more proof that she is the worst? Someone get her out of the spotlight.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:09 PM on September 29, 2014 [24 favorites]


"Money is what you live on; exposure is what you die from."

But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? So if you survive this exposure, you're stronger.

Or something.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:10 PM on September 29, 2014


Let me guess: "performing arts internships."
posted by spitbull at 2:10 PM on September 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Something useful to note here. When someone uses "Fuck you, pay me" to mean, "I don't work for free," it's completely missing the point at the heart of the movie quote.

"Fuck you, pay me" means you have no choice. You have made a deal with the devil, and the devil doesn't care. Business bad? Fuck you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning? Fuck you, pay me.

Lena Dunham's people are not the shop owner being forced to pay up. Lena Dunham's people are the devil.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:11 PM on September 29, 2014 [51 favorites]


And yet, inexplicably, there are feminists who spend their time denouncing Beyonce instead of Dunham. At the bare minimum, Beyonce isn't going around conning people into performing for free at her shows.
posted by Frowner at 2:12 PM on September 29, 2014 [30 favorites]


Oh good. I mean, people really needed a reason to hate on Lena Dunham.
posted by fungible at 2:13 PM on September 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Are. You. Kidding.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:13 PM on September 29, 2014


The most disturbing thing is when young people (and Dunham is 28) decide to reinforce the inequality as soon as they're in a position to benefit from it.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:14 PM on September 29, 2014 [99 favorites]


Okay, aside from the Amanda Palmeresque questionable business ethics, why is Dunham "the worst?"

I haven't paid enough attention to her one way or the other to have a strong personal opinion, but did she do something terrible? Last I noticed, she seemed to be fairly well regarded...
posted by stenseng at 2:15 PM on September 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


Before this blows up, best to note she's already folded and will be paying her opening acts.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:16 PM on September 29, 2014 [114 favorites]


Cite here.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:17 PM on September 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


2nding stenseng, someone enlighten me!
posted by ghostbikes at 2:17 PM on September 29, 2014


Fuck You Pay Me is not a reference to Goodfellas, it's a reference to this talk by Mike Monteiro
posted by sweetkid at 2:17 PM on September 29, 2014 [23 favorites]


Okay, aside from the Amanda Palmeresque questionable business ethics, why is Dunham "the worst?"

Literally, everything she's written has been the most annoying thing I've ever read. Sorry.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:18 PM on September 29, 2014 [13 favorites]



Literally, everything she's written has been the most annoying thing I've ever read. Sorry.

OMG, tastes vary.
posted by sweetkid at 2:19 PM on September 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


F* You, Pay Me == they go with somebody else. Those kinds of demands only work when you have leverage beyond "but I'm a really good a capella gymnast!" Who cares? You aren't bringing anything to the table that an equally- or even lesser-skilled tapioca pudding percussionist who doesn't mind working for free, because your product has no intrinsic value. To have leverage, you need lots of fans. That's how show business works, because the supply of talent outstrips demand by many, many orders of magnitude.

It would be nice of Ms. Dunham to provide transportation, lodging and a per diem for meals, and who is to say she isn't? But beyond that, the exposure - which is real, BTW - is worth more to the careers of these would-be superstars than any amount of money. You buy food with money. You buy fans with exposure.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:19 PM on September 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


Okay, aside from the Amanda Palmeresque questionable business ethics, why is Dunham "the worst?"

This is the latest mefi thread of people explaining why they hate her and then other people saying why those people are wrong. If you really care to know.
posted by tofu_crouton at 2:20 PM on September 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


People just really like to randomly hate on her. Metafiltery type people especially.

That said, c'mon, get real - if a warm-up act is worth having then it's worth paying money for.
posted by Artw at 2:20 PM on September 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


Before this blows up, best to note she's already folded and will be paying her opening acts.

Oh good, she did the right thing when shamed into it, instead of not exploiting people from the start.

At least she didn't write a passive-aggressive attack on her critics, like Palmer.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:21 PM on September 29, 2014 [36 favorites]


F* You, Pay Me == they go with somebody else. Those kinds of demands only work when you have leverage beyond "but I'm a really good a capella gymnast!" Who cares? You aren't bringing anything to the table that an equally- or even lesser-skilled tapioca pudding percussionist who doesn't mind working for free, because your product has no intrinsic value. To have leverage, you need lots of fans. That's how show business works, because the supply of talent outstrips demand by many, many orders of magnitude.

It would be nice of Ms. Dunham to provide transportation, lodging and a per diem for meals, and who is to say she isn't? But beyond that, the exposure - which is real, BTW - is worth more to the careers of these would-be superstars than any amount of money. You buy food with money. You buy fans with exposure.



Are you by any chance a Spotify exec?
posted by stenseng at 2:22 PM on September 29, 2014 [31 favorites]


You buy food with money. You buy fans with exposure.

You can die from exposure, you know.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:23 PM on September 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


To have leverage, you need lots of fans.

No. For modern workers in every field, collective action and public shaming are the leverage. This applies as much to those in the arts as to any other business where people try to make money on the backs of unpaid labor in exchange for contacts or "valuable experience."
posted by 1adam12 at 2:24 PM on September 29, 2014 [41 favorites]


Shaming Dunham is a corrective against the market forces which would otherwise make it advantageous to not pay her openers. This kind of thing doesn't always work, but here, it did.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:24 PM on September 29, 2014 [11 favorites]


Before this blows up, best to note she's already folded and will be paying her opening acts.

Oh good, she did the right thing when shamed into it, instead of not exploiting people from the start.


Ay cool your jets, there was no implicit moral approval of Dunham in my post. Given this is your op it might be best to not jump back in to the comments to editorialise / give her a further kicking.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:27 PM on September 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


Funny...last week one of the doctors in my wife's practice lost a large number of "irreplaceable" files from his laptop. Wife and doc call, as I do some of this sort of thing using very expensive hardware and software. I tell him that I'd be more than happy to recover what I can, but it will be expensive due to the time and equipment involved. He gives me some line about "how hard can it be...you do this stuff all the time...". I respond with "yeah...you do ortho surgery all the time, we've both been practicing for decades, both bill by the hour, so how about doing that spinal fusion we both know I need a decade or so from now gratis. How hard can it be...". So I'm either getting a big check or a chit good for one spinal fusion procedure, he's getting his files back and we understand one another completely. Just had to put it in terms he understood.
posted by kjs3 at 2:27 PM on September 29, 2014 [146 favorites]


I buy fans with money. Well, I try to, at least.
posted by malocchio at 2:27 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


To have leverage, you need lots of fans.

And you only require leverage when you are dealing with people who need to be leveraged into doing the right thing.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:27 PM on September 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


The fact that Gawker pointed this out really proves Judd Apatow's saying that "a good note can come from anywhere."

Zing!
posted by spilon at 2:27 PM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Fuck You Pay Me is not a reference to Goodfellas, it's a reference to this talk by Mike Monteiro

Who obviously got the line from Goodfellas, right. Right?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:28 PM on September 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


Fuck You Pay Me is not a reference to Goodfellas, it's a reference to this talk by Mike Monteiro

Good lord, I hate being corrected incorrectly.

If you watch the talk (you watched it, right? I did, when it came out two years ago.), Monteiro says the title of his talk is a reference to Goodfellas. It's at 1:40 in your link.

So, you're wrong and Monteiro doesn't understand his own point. Happy now?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:28 PM on September 29, 2014 [27 favorites]


This was not a good move in any sense. However, Lena Dunham is not Amanda Palmer. Not even close. She's not the worst of her generation. Or the worst of a generation. She's a supremely talented artist. Tiny Furniture, as well as the first season of Girls deserve every bit of praise they received and then some. The continued hatred of her is really unbecoming of this place.
posted by naju at 2:29 PM on September 29, 2014 [31 favorites]


I thought the origin of F* You, Pay Me was Harlan Ellison.

F* You, Pay Me == they go with somebody else

Solidarity forever! Solidarity forever...
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:29 PM on September 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Sounds like she changed her mind, is now paying people, and apologized.

Pitchforks to plowshares people.
posted by gwint at 2:30 PM on September 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


Oh good, she did the right thing when shamed into it, instead of not exploiting people from the start.

Fucking people and their acknowledging of their errors and rectifying their mistakes. It positively infuriates me when someone whose art and public persona I don't like does a bad thing and then attempts to do the right thing.
posted by griphus at 2:31 PM on September 29, 2014 [98 favorites]


Tiny Furniture, as well as the first season of Girls deserve every bit of praise they received and then some. The continued hatred of her is really unbecoming of this place.

I guess I don't understand why people aren't allowed to dislike her, even vehemently.
posted by girlmightlive at 2:31 PM on September 29, 2014 [19 favorites]


I like her show.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:31 PM on September 29, 2014


However, Lena Dunham is not Amanda Palmer. Not even close. She's not the worst of her generation. Or the worst of a generation. She's a supremely talented artist.

I've never heard of her. But this entire thing should have been avoided, and would have been if she wasn't stupid or being advised by stupid people.

That having been said, I have noticed as I have gone up in income, the amount people are willing to give me or do for me for free has increased dramatically. I can sort of imagine how she thought that it might be a workable idea.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:33 PM on September 29, 2014


I guess I don't understand why people aren't allowed to dislike her, even vehemently.

You're allowed. But the hatred has a particular tone that makes me think it's less about her art, and more about some perceived obnoxious characteristic of her, or about knocking her down, or - I don't know. You tell me. I don't think she's done anything to merit criticism in that way.
posted by naju at 2:33 PM on September 29, 2014 [14 favorites]


I have this trick for dealing with performers I don't like. I don't watch them.

(Am I doing this right? I'm sure I'm better than somebody here. Raise your hand if it's you.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:34 PM on September 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Are you, by chance, a spotify exec?

Nope. I'm a composer, songwriter and performer. I've toured with various bands for various amounts of money as well as for free. One of the reasons I stopped touring was that I was essentially just selling my time at a heavily discounted rate, and once the ancillary benefits ran out (exposure to new fans, networking, etc.) it was no longer worth my time. If I were given the opportunity to, say, open for Radiohead on tour, I would absolutely and without hesitation do it for free, because the people I would meet and the fans I had the potential to win over and the cachet that would give me with booking agents etc. would far outstrip any amount of money they could give me.

I'll say this - if your goal is to get paid by the hour or performance to do your thing, day in and day out, with the understanding that when you stop you'll just stop making money - then by all means use the FYPM route of "negotiation." If you're looking to build a brand which will serve you on multiple levels, you need brand recognition, which means goodwill, fans and common knowledge of your existence. The fastest way to get there is by association with people who already have those things, and it is potentially worth it to forego getting paid to gain access to those people.

And leverage, BTW, is necessary in any negotiation. Not just with "evil people."
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:34 PM on September 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


I guess I don't understand why people aren't allowed to dislike her, even vehemently.

They absolutely are, but anyone who has vehement problems with someone people like should be prepared to face criticism of their opinions, on the grounds of the opinion itself, or the vehemence with which it is uttered. No one gets banned for saying "Lena Dunham is the worst" and no one is forced to reply to "I disagree."
posted by griphus at 2:35 PM on September 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Sounds like she changed her mind, is now paying people, and apologized.

Pitchforks to plowshares people.


Sorry, but no. The problem isn't just that she tried to exploit people, but that she even thought that it was acceptable. Yes, it's good that she reversed direction, but the thread of thought that led her here needs to be stomped out.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:35 PM on September 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


Fuck You Pay Me is not a reference to Goodfellas, it's a reference to this talk by Mike Monteiro

Good lord, I hate being corrected incorrectly.


The title of his talk is a reference to Goodfellas, yes, but when most creative people are talking specifically about how creative people should get paid, and use Fuck You Pay Me as a reference, they are talking about the entirety of the points Monteiro makes in that speech, which is primarily about how design is a job.

I work in the design field and this is something we talk about a lot. I wasn't "correcting" you, at least not in the manner you think. It wasn't even a personal comment to you.
posted by sweetkid at 2:35 PM on September 29, 2014 [15 favorites]


This was not a good move in any sense. However, Lena Dunham is not Amanda Palmer. Not even close. She's not the worst of her generation. Or the worst of a generation. She's a supremely talented artist. Tiny Furniture, as well as the first season of Girls deserve every bit of praise they received and then some. The continued hatred of her is really unbecoming of this place.
posted by naju at 4:29 PM on September 29 [+][!]


But suggesting Amanda Palmer may be the worst in a generation is becoming?
posted by Area Man at 2:37 PM on September 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


It's constantly amusing to me that the people who have The Money are the ones least likely to spend The Money. I guess you don't get to have The Money by writing a bunch of cheques but c'mon seriously now.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:37 PM on September 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


They absolutely are, but

You know what they say about everything before the word but...
posted by phaedon at 2:39 PM on September 29, 2014


But suggesting Amanda Palmer may be the worst in a generation is becoming?

I think they can both evenly share the weight of the crown of turds.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:39 PM on September 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


I thought the origin of F* You, Pay Me was Harlan Ellison.

Yep. It's from a short story: "I Have No Mouth And Fuck You, Pay Me".
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:39 PM on September 29, 2014 [68 favorites]


Good lord, I hate being corrected incorrectly.

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a pedant.
posted by thelonius at 2:40 PM on September 29, 2014 [60 favorites]


A reasonable response to some high-powered individual who asks you to work for free is to offer to trade and have them play your sister's birthday party for free in return. I mean it would at least be worth it for the look on their face.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:40 PM on September 29, 2014 [11 favorites]


This was not a good move in any sense. However, Lena Dunham is not Amanda Palmer. Not even close. She's not the worst of her generation. Or the worst of a generation. She's a supremely talented artist. Tiny Furniture, as well as the first season of Girls deserve every bit of praise they received and then some. The continued hatred of her is really unbecoming of this place.

The topic is not the aesthetic merits of her work. Perhaps you (or someone) will think the antipathy derived from her apparent anti-labor intentions is beside the point because she's a gifted artist, but there's nothing "unbecoming" about taking someone to task for doing something that's ethically crappy, is there?
posted by clockzero at 2:40 PM on September 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


You know what they say about everything before the word but...

I do! How it applies to what I said is unclear, however.
posted by griphus at 2:40 PM on September 29, 2014


The title of his talk is a reference to Goodfellas, yes, but when most creative people are talking specifically about how creative people should get paid, and use Fuck You Pay Me as a reference, they are talking about the entirety of the points Monteiro makes in that speech, which is primarily about how design is a job.

I was on the board of a small arts organization that prided itself on paying its artists. We couldn't pay much, but we paid something and always paid on time and at the agreed-upon rates. Also, we worked hard to raise more money so we could pay better in the future. The Board took some pride in paying our artists who created work we thought was beautiful and important. Board members would say during meetings that being able to pay our artists was one of the things they valued about the organization. However, when it came time to re-design our website and some marketing materials those same people were convinced they could and should get top-quality design work for free. It was very strange.
posted by Area Man at 2:43 PM on September 29, 2014 [29 favorites]


Prepare to face criticism of their opinions, on the grounds of the opinion itself, or the vehemence with which it is uttered? This is you responding to someone wondering why people aren't allowed to dislike her? What, are you setting ground rules?
posted by phaedon at 2:43 PM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


But suggesting Amanda Palmer may be the worst in a generation is becoming?

I didn't mean to imply that, but Amanda Palmer seems to pop up every few months with something cringe-inducing and self-consciously attention-getting, so I think there's probably more room for criticism there. Amanda Palmer and Lena Dunham are two very different people and I think we can evaluate them differently. Fair enough, I shouldn't have waded into those waters and it's a derail here.

there's nothing "unbecoming" about taking someone to task for doing something that's ethically crappy, is there?

Nope, but I'm responding to statements like "Do we need more proof that she is the worst? Someone get her out of the spotlight." Sentiments like that actually appear fairly frequently on this site and elsewhere and I don't get it.
posted by naju at 2:45 PM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


I understand that some people think exposure is its own reward but I still can't think of any earthly reason why an organization with unlimited resources (The Lena Dunham Machine, Radiohead, Amanda Palmer, etc.) should get services for free.
posted by bleep at 2:46 PM on September 29, 2014 [22 favorites]


The most disturbing thing is when young people (and Dunham is 28) decide to reinforce the inequality as soon as they're in a position to benefit from it.

You can only see something so many times until you're no longer disturbed by it. This is, as far as I am concerned, behavior I would more or less expect. The jackboot comes off your face and the former underdog starts wondering if it would fit. The trend runs from large-scale historical to small-scale personal and you can see it all over the place as soon as you start looking for it.

I spent some time talking to the guys from an industrial band who are more or less a footnote in music history at this point, talking about their experience working for someone who came up before them. This person was quite clear that he got screwed on the way up, so he was going to screw other people, too, now that it was his chance. And screwed they were!

I suppose points can be granted for the level of introspection required to realize you're doing it.
posted by adipocere at 2:46 PM on September 29, 2014 [15 favorites]


Beginning to get the impression that MeFi didn't actually give a shit if artists got paid... Which let's face it, would have been a turnaround from the usual position here anyway.
posted by Artw at 2:47 PM on September 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


In fact you can take the word "unlimited" out of "unlimited resources" and my statement still stands.
posted by bleep at 2:47 PM on September 29, 2014


This is you responding to someone wondering why people aren't allowed to like her?

Yes, my response is that the idea that people aren't allowed to dislike her is incorrect and there's ample proof right here in this thread of people openly disliking her and not having their comment deleted or being banned. No one's opinion is disallowed unless giving someone an allowance to dislike a person implies that their opinion will not be commented upon except positively.
posted by griphus at 2:48 PM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


When I said "allowed" I was not being literal. I wasn't saying that disliking her meant deleted comments.
posted by girlmightlive at 2:50 PM on September 29, 2014



Yep. It's from a short story: "I Have No Mouth And Fuck You, Pay Me".



No, its "Fuck You, Pay Me, said the Ticktock Man".
posted by doctor_negative at 2:50 PM on September 29, 2014 [11 favorites]


This gets a big "who cares" from me. Is Lena Dunham buying slaves? Is anyone being deceived? Are any of these performers even complaining? Granted, it would be risky for them to complain...they might get fired from their no-paying job. Sure, Ms. Dunham could pay them (and apparently, she is), but they always have the right to not apply in the first damn place.

What's wrong people, not enough to be outraged about today?
posted by Edgewise at 2:51 PM on September 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


I still can't think of any earthly reason why an organization with unlimited resources should get services for free.

"Should" is a moral term, it is extraneous to the economics of the situation. We're talking a business deal between consenting adults. The negotiated price was settled at zero. Anything given now is by way of being a tip. Or PR to the public who might be offended by the business deal. Because Ms Dunham prizes good PR over bad PR.

Again, the warm-up acts had agency. Raise your hand if you download books and music for free.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:52 PM on September 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Edgewise: What's wrong people, not enough to be outraged about today?

Or maybe some folks have an outrage meter that registers outrages long before "buying slaves."
posted by tonycpsu at 2:52 PM on September 29, 2014 [39 favorites]


Are you, by chance, a spotify exec?

Nope. I'm a composer, songwriter and performer. I've toured with various bands for various amounts of money as well as for free. One of the reasons I stopped touring was that I was essentially just selling my time at a heavily discounted rate, and once the ancillary benefits ran out (exposure to new fans, networking, etc.) it was no longer worth my time. If I were given the opportunity to, say, open for Radiohead on tour, I would absolutely and without hesitation do it for free, because the people I would meet and the fans I had the potential to win over and the cachet that would give me with booking agents etc. would far outstrip any amount of money they could give me.

I'll say this - if your goal is to get paid by the hour or performance to do your thing, day in and day out, with the understanding that when you stop you'll just stop making money - then by all means use the FYPM route of "negotiation." If you're looking to build a brand which will serve you on multiple levels, you need brand recognition, which means goodwill, fans and common knowledge of your existence. The fastest way to get there is by association with people who already have those things, and it is potentially worth it to forego getting paid to gain access to those people.

And leverage, BTW, is necessary in any negotiation. Not just with "evil people."


Swapping out payment for the possibility that someone else might deem you payable in the future is a shitty deal from a shitty system, whether or not you are a part of that system yourself.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:53 PM on September 29, 2014 [30 favorites]


When I said "allowed" I was not being literal. I wasn't saying that if people say they dislike her it meant their comments would be deleted.

Then I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "allowed."
posted by griphus at 2:53 PM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Beginning to get the impression that MeFi didn't actually give a shit if artists got paid... Which let's face it, would have been a turnaround from the usual position here anyway.

*slowly steps away from laptop filled with pilfered mp3s*
posted by gwint at 2:54 PM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Is Lena Dunham buying slaves? Is anyone being deceived?

Man, you would've killed it in Hollywood in the 50's. Let me try - does anyone really care if people who stand up for their unpopular political beliefs are blacklisted?
posted by phaedon at 2:55 PM on September 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


We're talking a business deal between consenting adults. The negotiated price was settled at zero.

The warm-up acts don't really have agency if the done thing becomes not to pay them. Oh, so they're getting exposure? But the done thing is also not to pay for content, and touring is where you make the money. But not on this tour. When are they going to get paid at all? What if they don't have rich parents to subsidize them?
posted by bleep at 2:57 PM on September 29, 2014 [11 favorites]


I'd really just like a nice clear explanation of why Lena Dunham the person deserves our vehemence. Is she a privileged, rich, self-satisfied hipster? Let's hear it...
posted by naju at 2:57 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


And it WILL become the done thing not to pay them, if the ones with power and money decide not to hand it out, like Lena Dunham originally did.
posted by bleep at 2:58 PM on September 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


Swapping out payment for the possibility that someone else might deem you payable in the future is a shitty deal from a shitty system, whether or not you are a part of that system yourself.

The "someone" who "might deem [me] payable in the future" is you, Navelgazer. I need you to know who I am and want to buy my music. How do I do that? By demanding a fair wage? No. I do that by getting myself in front of you and showcasing my talents. And, because you don't know who I am yet, you probably won't go see me at Joe's Local Talent Showcase. But you'll probably go see Radiohead.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:59 PM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Lena Dunham the person deserves our vehemence. Is she a privileged, rich, self-satisfied hipster?
Well, on top of that, she's also a young woman, so she can't really do anything right.

I don't have any vehemence for her, in fact I like watching Girls, but I think what she did was a misstep.
posted by bleep at 3:00 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


But the done thing is also not to pay for content

Then start paying for it.
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:00 PM on September 29, 2014


I pay for all the content I consume. Including Metafilter.
posted by bleep at 3:00 PM on September 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


Then I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "allowed."

I meant being "allowed" to dislike her without having to be accused of being sexist, for one. (Not seeing that much in this thread but it's stated outright and implied a lot.)
posted by girlmightlive at 3:01 PM on September 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think Dunham is disliked to the extent she is because there was a period a while back where she was overexposed (in the sense that every other news story was about her, and people got sick of it). "Girls" doesn't grab me, not because I don't want to watch a show about women but because I don't want to watch a show about Brooklyn hipsters. She's still quite talented.
I guess I can understand how she'd think it would be fine to get a bunch of unpaid "interns" to hire her in exchange for the publicity, and why people were willing to sign on for that. But I'm also perfectly okay with a public outcry forcing her to acquire a sense of noblesse oblige. It's a start.
posted by uosuaq at 3:01 PM on September 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


I hate the west repeatedly bombing the middle east, over and over. I hate the way Ebola is spreading, unchecked, as it wouldn't do in a western country. I hate politicians who are in it for themselves and not for the people they represent who voted for them. I hate inequality, racism, sexism, violence, the suppressive lawsuit against two librarians and the circumstances behind it, the situation in Ferguson, the fact that the media has forgotten about occupied Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine, and forgotten about the 200+ kidnapped girls in Nigeria, and forgotten a whole host of other stories that are no longer "trendy", and I hate the cancers that killed my good relatives, and the fact that a few of my bad relatives escaped the jail time they deserved.

I find some celebrities entertaining, some annoying, others meh, but all of them easily ignorable.

I cannot hate a celebrity. The concept is ridiculous.
posted by Wordshore at 3:05 PM on September 29, 2014 [22 favorites]


Harlan Ellison, "Pay the Writer." I now often just send this link back in response to requests for my clients to write something for free.
posted by twsf at 3:06 PM on September 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


Before this blows up, best to note she's already folded and will be paying her opening acts.

And yet the gears of the Internet outrage machine keep grinding on. Funny that.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 3:06 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I meant being "allowed" to dislike her without having to be accused of being sexist, for one. (Not seeing that much in this thread but it's stated outright and implied a lot.)

FWIW, I think that's an undertone in a lot of the discussion around her. I wasn't accusing you or anyone here of it though. I'm not accusing, in general. Just mystified as to the pile-on hate-on being applied to her over the past few years.
posted by naju at 3:06 PM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


I meant being "allowed" to dislike her without having to be accused of being sexist, for one. (Not seeing that much in this thread but it's stated outright and implied a lot.)

Ok, well I totally agree that criticism of her that isn't sexist shouldn't be called out as such.
posted by griphus at 3:08 PM on September 29, 2014


I pay for all the content I consume. Including Metafilter.

Good on you! So do I. That it is a basic behavior to not pay for content is as much, if not more, of a problem for artists than opening acts who don't get paid.

Re: touring revenue, I don't think that applies in this case to the opening acts since they appear to be one-offs from each stop on the tour. So it is more like performing at an open mic, except you are the featured performer and there is a built-in audience who are very excited to be there and inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt since you were hand-picked by someone they respect and admire.
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:08 PM on September 29, 2014


Then I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "allowed."

I've been asked to back off my zealotry of simple things like James Cameron, so maybe you can let people have their opinions on this site without tracking and matching their every move. Or without floating this ridiculous reminder that they're not being banned or censored.
posted by phaedon at 3:08 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


naju >

"there's nothing "unbecoming" about taking someone to task for doing something that's ethically crappy, is there?"

Nope, but I'm responding to statements like "Do we need more proof that she is the worst? Someone get her out of the spotlight." Sentiments like that actually appear fairly frequently on this site and elsewhere and I don't get it.


I see what you mean.
posted by clockzero at 3:08 PM on September 29, 2014


I'll never get past what Dunham said about the Obamas. and I'm not even an Obama fan
posted by Bwithh at 3:11 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am not over Dunham whitewashing New York and then insisting that was just how it had to be.
posted by gingerest at 3:12 PM on September 29, 2014 [23 favorites]


I'm not letting go of that time she told me the truth about Santa Claus.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:13 PM on September 29, 2014 [11 favorites]


grumpybear69: in this instance, and in tons of the ones that mirror it both inside and outside of the entertainment industry (in which I also work), the person determining that these artists have value was Lena Dunham. They will be performing a service by opening for her, , which she will thankfully now be paying them for. I've played shows for free, sure, but they were shows put on by my friends where we just wanted to get together and put on a show. When I've played clubs, I have gotten paid, even if just a pittance.

I don't know Lena Dunham personally and am fairly agnostic about her. (I mean that literally - I am on the fence as to the fact of the existence of Lena Dunham, but seriously...) The stories I've heard from people at Oberlin with her (which I'm pretty sure I read here somewhere) paint her in a light I don't like, but they're also just really gossip when you get down to it, and so I treat it like The Strokes. I was at NYU with them, they became a smash hit, largely due to their dads, but also on their own legitimate talent, and I hate them for it. They don't deserve that hate at all, but there it is.

Where I get for-reals pissed at Dunham and Palmer and others (and it's a damn shame that the two clearest examples of this behavior are both women of a similar... type, when that's not really the relevant issue at all and leads to a lot of possible misogyny behind the mask of anger over the underlying issue) is the unmistakable feeling that the "exposure" these fans would be getting paid in is less exposure to a wider audience and more exposure to Lena Dunham of Amanda Palmer. That kind of manipulative stratification between the vaunted stars and the little people lucky to be near them sickens me, and makes it unlikely that I'll ever be a fan of Dunham's, even though I believe her talent to be genuine.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:18 PM on September 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


Lena Dunham the person deserves our vehemence. Is she a privileged, rich, self-satisfied hipster?

Oh come on. Remember, it's Amanda Palmer who is worse than Hitler.
posted by happyroach at 3:19 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I hope she's only booked non-union venues, because I can see IATSE having a serious issue with this.


On preview, it's good that she's going to cough up the dough.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:20 PM on September 29, 2014


This reminds me of the time at a comic-con when Sergio Aragones (he draws those wonderful cartoons in the margins of MAD magazine, among other things) drew a piece for someone and then asked for payment. Now, Sergio's a very, very, fast draftsman and the person he drew it for made a comment along the lines of: "You want "X" dollars for that? It only took you five minutes!" To which Sergio replied: "You're not paying me for the five minutes it took to do the drawing, you're paying me for the 40 years it took me to learn how to do it!".
posted by TDavis at 3:20 PM on September 29, 2014 [23 favorites]


...so maybe you can let people have their opinions on this site without tracking and matching their every move

Well I'm certainly glad girlmightlive assumed better faith on my part in the discussion than you just did. But you can definitely have your opinion.
posted by griphus at 3:21 PM on September 29, 2014


I'll never get past what Dunham said about the Obamas. and I'm not even an Obama fan

Wait, what did she say? I can't find much because that campaign ad nobody would shut up about is taking up all the top search positions.
posted by dialetheia at 3:21 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Griphus, you've got to stop replying or you're totally going to blow your posts-to-favorites ratio.
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:21 PM on September 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


she turned me into a newt!
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 3:23 PM on September 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


F* You, Pay Me == they go with somebody else.

I'm perfectly o.k. sitting at home not getting paid as opposed to doing work and getting someone else paid (note: I do play some charity gigs, as a donation to the charity), it tends to be cheaper, and I can even spend the time honing my craft so more people would want to hear me play. I've also found that the more cheaply (all the way to free) I work, the more unreasonable the client tends to be. I'm perfectly willing to let some one else have to deal with that.
posted by Gygesringtone at 3:23 PM on September 29, 2014 [15 favorites]


One of her writers makes racist jokes including one about the Obamas. I haven't seen anything from Dunham like that but I've seen Lesley Arfin's comments misapplied to her.
posted by sweetkid at 3:26 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Navelgazer: I don't know what LD or AP are like in person, but I know what you're talking about. I once changed a flight back to school at the behest of a music exec who was going to give me an internship due to a "really important event" that I needed to attend. It turned out to be a celebration in honor of Duke Ellington's birthday, and my "really important job" was to make sure that a big cardboard cutout of The Duke didn't get blown over by the wind, while enduring insults related to what a terrible job I was doing. He then passed me off to a recording studio. It was the first and last time I let the industry crap all over me.

But gambling for fans is the reality of trying to be a successful entertainment personality. There are no guarantees and it isn't fair. And someone who works their Lena Dunham Opening Act opportunity correctly stands to benefit, career-wise, more than someone who opted to babysit instead because that was a "paying gig."
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:28 PM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Her star may wax and wane amongst the younger folk, but dammit we're going to have to read in the New Yorker for the next 50 years (or long past the end of my life).

I guess she is the current demographic cohort's answer to the insufferable Dave Eggers.
posted by Nevin at 3:29 PM on September 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


I think Dunham is disliked to the extent she is because there was a period a while back where she was overexposed

I had no idea who she was when I read her latest New Yorker piece... she's just a crappy writer.
posted by Nevin at 3:30 PM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well I'm certainly glad girlmightlive assumed better faith on my part in the discussion than you just did.

This isn't about me making assumptions; this is about me responding to something that you said. And let me level the playing field by saying that if making people face vehement criticism, both in terms of content and assumed intent, is your modus operandi on this particular issue, then you shouldn't take issue that the same gets thrown Dunham's way. After all, let me remind you that nobody's banned or censored her, so this is all fair game and we didn't really need to have that exchange.

I will say though that Dunham and Arfin have at times received unbelievable condemnation. I appreciate why people are sensitive. They are female writers trying to make it in a difficult business, trying to be funny and break new ground and lead all at the same time. And the characterizations of who they are as people are wrong and often offensive. People are allowed to make mistakes, but for them all I can share is the observation that the road is extremely narrow, even unusually and suspiciously so. They have my sympathy, and I hope they keep hacking at it.
posted by phaedon at 3:38 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd really just like a nice clear explanation of why Lena Dunham the person deserves our vehemence. Is she a privileged, rich, self-satisfied hipster? Let's hear it...

I enjoyed the first season of Girls very much, and thought "One Man's Trash" from season 2 was one of the best episodes of TV in the year it aired. That said, the dislike of Dunham makes perfect sense to me, for a number of reasons both petty and non-trivial:

1) Girls was horrendously overexposed in the first year it aired, with critics calling it the most important show about youth since Freaks & Geeks and other such nonsense.

2) Its first two episodes, unless you lucked into seeing the show with just the right perspective, were pretty unpleasant to watch and led you to believe the show was simply about horrible rich white girls; I didn't click with the show until the dance party at the end of the third ep, and I have friends who didn't get on board with it until Hannah goes home in episode... 5? 6?

3) Hannah's vocal/linguistic quirks are entirely Lena Dunham's, so when you hear Dunham speak or write it's sometimes difficult not to imagine that she is Hannah Horvath herself.

4) The "no black people" thing.

5) The "no black people in season 2, except for Don Glover giving a monologue about how little Lena Dunham I mean Hannah Horvath cares about/understands black people" thing.

6) Dunham has made some pretty off-color jokes on Twitter, including dressing up as a serial killer for Halloween which I believe attracted comments from families of the murderer's victims.

7) The subjects of her comedy/writing/shows are all pretty much "look at this young fuckup [who has enough education/wealth/privilege to deal with issues that generally involve needing to have money/education/privilege in order to even experience". As a fairly educated/wealthy/privileged person myself, Hannah's problems come off as precocious even to me.

8) Everything about her reeks of New York City, which I hear has a somewhat awful stench to quite a great number of people.

9) She's a fuckin' hipster (see point #8).

10) Girls and its huge critical attention prevented Enlightened, which was a far better show that similarly required a couple eps' perseverance to click with most of its audience, from attracting the audience that would have granted it a third season. (Possibly this one is just me.)

11) More generally, we're living in a golden era of television, and Dunham/her show have received a disproportionate amount of attention from critics, when there's so much great TV that Girls doesn't necessarily "deserve" all the press that it receives. (This is less the case now than it was two years ago, but two years ago... yeesh. I know this is a recap of point #1, but it really was a huge source of much of the backlash to the show early on.)

So yeah. I generally like Dunham, and the ways in which she's off-color/problematic mesh well with the ways in which I am off-color/problematic, but she is far from above reproach, and in this case she did a shitty thing (whether deliberately or without thinking — and keep in mind that "doing things without thinking" forms a huge part of the criticism of Lena Dunham in general). I'm glad that she reversed her decision, but am unsurprised that people aren't willing to go from negative to apathetic just because she's realized in retrospect that she's done a less-than-good thing.
posted by rorgy at 3:41 PM on September 29, 2014 [18 favorites]


I pay for all the content I consume. Including Metafilter.

But Metafilter doesn't pay its content creators, does it? Aren't you creating content in this thread and not getting paid for it?

That doesn't prove to me that it's OK to exploit artists' desire to find audiences for their work. But it does suggest that their are some cases where you don't insist that Fuck You, Pay Me.
posted by layceepee at 3:51 PM on September 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Metafilter doesn't have unlimited resources.
posted by bleep at 3:52 PM on September 29, 2014


Metafilter also pays the individuals who provide labor.
posted by bleep at 3:52 PM on September 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


In their defense, the exceptionally charismatic babies tried to say "fuck you, pay me", but it just ended up as wordless spittle.
posted by naju at 3:53 PM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter doesn't pay you because it is a community, not a publishing company.

Dunham is hiring performers to appear before an audience. If she were offering to let people come on stage and have a conversation with her, I think there would be a qualitative difference in the not-paying — and that's what posting on MetaFilter is more akin to, I reckon.
posted by rorgy at 3:54 PM on September 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


rorgy's comment worked best for me when I imagined it spoken by Eustace Tilley.
posted by gwint at 3:55 PM on September 29, 2014


A newt?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:55 PM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


This tactic of demanding unpaid work from artists and creatives has worked in the past, and would have worked in this case, because public attention is a common good, and subject to the same tragedy as all such commons. Either you put yourself in people's heads, or someone else will. And the only answer, as in so many cases, is collective action.
posted by penduluum at 3:56 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can't wait until this monster marries Max Landis. They were made for each other.
posted by Yowser at 4:13 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


And someone who works their Lena Dunham Opening Act opportunity correctly stands to benefit, career-wise, more than someone who opted to babysit instead because that was a "paying gig."

Why can't someone get paid and get exposure? Then again Dunham could have went the "pay-to-play" route and charged her openers for all of that sweet, sweet exposure.
posted by MikeMc at 4:25 PM on September 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


You're allowed. But the hatred has a particular tone that makes me think it's less about her art, and more about some perceived obnoxious characteristic of her, or about knocking her down, or - I don't know. You tell me. I don't think she's done anything to merit criticism in that way.

I think a lot of people bristle at the mention of Dunham because her abrupt rise to fame revealed how contrived the entire process of the "next big talent" actually is, because she is talented, but not that talented. Basically her fame reveals the transparently corrupt nature of the fame-machine.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:30 PM on September 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


I tried watching Girls and it wasn't my thing. I have nothing good or bad to say about Lena Dunham. Nobody's immune from criticism though, and Dunham's fans are free to argue the merits of a particular critique. But this thing where people tell other people they can dislike someone as long as they mind their tone is obnoxious. Quit taking it personally when someone hates on the stuff and people you like. I'm pretty sure it isn't hurting Dunham's career.
posted by echocollate at 4:33 PM on September 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think a lot of people bristle at the mention of Dunham because her abrupt rise to fame revealed how contrived the entire process of the "next big talent" actually is

Nothing like being force-fed the Flavor of the Month™. I went from never having heard of Lena Dunham to sick of hearing about Lena Dunham to "I wish I had never heard of Lena Dunham" in about a month. It's The Quickening in action.
posted by MikeMc at 4:36 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


You figured me out, I'm only posting on metafilter to get (pseudo)name recognition in the hope that my career as a professional blog botherer will someday take off.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:37 PM on September 29, 2014


But this thing where people tell other people they can dislike someone as long as they mind their tone is obnoxious. Quit taking it personally when someone hates on the stuff and people you like.

Cool, if I did either of those things lemme know. That would be pretty bad!
posted by naju at 4:41 PM on September 29, 2014


Of course, what the acts should do is at the end of their bits to go into the audience and pass the hat (and hope Charlie Sheen is in the audience).
posted by IndigoJones at 4:46 PM on September 29, 2014


A newt?

It got better.
posted by The Bellman at 4:51 PM on September 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


What they should do is perform at the top of their game, have a merch table ready to go afterward, interact with the people who liked them in a positive, friendly way and convert them into fans via a mailing list or merch sales. Also: get photos taken with LD and put them on their (hopefully up-to-date and well-designed) website, as well as on Twitter, Instagram and Ello. Also, make a connection with one or more of LD's people and stay on their radar. Etc etc. Do not, however, pass a hat around.
posted by grumpybear69 at 4:53 PM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Granted, the ideal scenario here would have been Dunham working out some sort of compensation for her opening acts from the beginning.

That said, I'll never understand the mindset of:

"This person is doing a terrible, terrible thing. She should do this other thing instead. It's the right thing to do!"

The person being referenced reverses course, stops doing the terrible thing and starts doing the exact thing being suggested as the morally correct choice

"Well, fuck her anyway!"
posted by The Gooch at 4:55 PM on September 29, 2014 [15 favorites]


If I were given the opportunity to, say, open for Radiohead on tour, I would absolutely and without hesitation do it for free, because the people I would meet and the fans I had the potential to win over and the cachet that would give me with booking agents etc. would far outstrip any amount of money they could give me.

And yet the two are not mutually exclusive. You could gain both the exposure, networking, et al. and be paid a reasonable amount.
posted by oddman at 4:58 PM on September 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


I know this sounds accusatory (and I don't mean it to be), but generally speaking, I suspect that hatred of certain known personalities has an unconscious meme-like nature that's less about considered rational judgment of their characteristics and merits and more about joining in on knocking someone down or punishing them for somehow not attaining fame in the right or proper way, or not acting as a famous person properly should, or having the temerity to be opinionated in a messy way, etc. They sin in some way that merits our gleeful ire. One illustration is This is Phil Fish which notes, among other things, that there's an unspoken "assumption that famous assholes – people who don’t act the way famous people are supposed to act – deserve to be punished."
posted by naju at 5:00 PM on September 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


I hope she's only booked non-union venues, because I can see IATSE having a serious issue with this.

Hunh?

IATSE is for stagehands and technicians, not performers. And speaking from experience, IATSE doesn't much give a shit how a tour's internal accounting works - they only care about having enough of and the right kind of hands & techs on a show.

In theory the American Federation of Musicians might care, but in practice they're pretty much toothless when it comes to this kind of thing - which is to say one-night stops on tours and pop entertainment in general. IME, anyway.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:04 PM on September 29, 2014


I tend to only work for free for people who I think are pretty likely to work for me for free sometime in the future. But from working as a freelance writer, I will never write for "exposure." "Exposure" is wildly overvalued by the people offering the exposure and the reliance on it as some sort of whuffie currency turns into a race for the bottom. I can't pay my rent in exposure, and that's something that's true of a ton of people I know here in LA.

And fundamentally, "exposure" should be at least moderately quantifiable. How much is opening for Lena Dunham actually worth? How much will that one gig increase your sales? How much is having artists, generally, opening for Dunham allowing her to increase her door? Lena Dunham ain't Radiohead.
posted by klangklangston at 5:05 PM on September 29, 2014 [10 favorites]


Another way to look at it is: how much will it cost you to open for Lena Dunham for free? If the answer is "nothing, really, I'd have otherwise been at home watching Bob's Burgers" or even "$75 in lost wages at the coffee shop" it is still a sweet deal for what is essentially prime advertising space. This is a long way from some sketchy promoter promising "exposure" if you play his showcase.

If, as an author, you were invited to read an excerpt from your new novel - which was for sale right across the room at your merch table - would you not do that for free?
posted by grumpybear69 at 5:18 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think a lot of people bristle at the mention of Dunham because her abrupt rise to fame revealed how contrived the entire process of the "next big talent" actually is, because she is talented, but not that talented. Basically her fame reveals the transparently corrupt nature of the fame-machine.

Lena Dunham, a person who made two feature films and thereby got a chance to create a television series, which she did, and which won her personally two Golden Globes, is the exemplar of the fame machine to you? How have you managed to stumble onto her without ever hearing of the Kardashians?
posted by Etrigan at 5:18 PM on September 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


We're talking a business deal between consenting adults. The negotiated price was settled at zero.

Was it negotiated, or was it imposed? "Hobson's Choice" comes to mind.
posted by rhizome at 5:19 PM on September 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


That having been said, I have noticed as I have gone up in income, the amount people are willing to give me or do for me for free has increased dramatically. I can sort of imagine how she thought that it might be a workable idea.

I've seen this as well, and in fact have been getting offers of free interns over the last six months (which so far I've been declining, because the last thing I need is someone who is unskilled, needs supervision, and has irregular hours). So I can see how someone in her position who is getting exponentially more offers from people who will eagerly work for free for the exposure might think she's making an incredibly generous offer that instead turns out to be crappy and highly criticized.

I liked the first season of Girls, but hated her recent New Yorker essay for the same reasons parts of Girls bug me (like the no black people issue) -- the insularity of her life obviously fuels her creative work in powerful ways, but it has also produced her biggest blind spots, and I'm not at all surprised that she would be tone-deaf on the issue of compensation.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:19 PM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


What they should do is perform at the top of their game, have a merch table ready to go afterward,

You should work for a record label. "Sure you're not getting paid a dime for the U.S. tour but think of the exposure! Next year, if you sell enough merch and save your money, you'll be able to buy your way onto a big package tour. You could be the next opener on the Scrivener Stage at the Stephen King Warped Minds Tour! Think of that exposure. Eventually you may sell enough t-shirts to cover the credit card bill for the money you spent on gas, food and lodging."
posted by MikeMc at 5:20 PM on September 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


it is still a sweet deal for what is essentially prime advertising space. This is a long way from some sketchy promoter promising "exposure" if you play his showcase.

I'm no economist, but isn't the Net Present Value in both cases zero, or even negative?
posted by rhizome at 5:21 PM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


griphus: Fucking people and their acknowledging of their errors and rectifying their mistakes. It positively infuriates me when someone whose art and public persona I don't like does a bad thing and then attempts to do the right thing.

While i recognize i may be grinding an axe or riding a hobbyhorse here, it pisses me off to no end that specifically on this site, people seem to think that if someone apologizes and does the right thing after doing, or declaring they were about to do(or support, or whatever) some assholish thing that we should all congratulate them and anyone who is still offended or angry is like, illegitimately angry and reacting out of proportion.

I hate that. hate hate hate.

Far too often these types of about faces seem to be of a more "oh wow, i guess i can't do that so publicly and have to cloak it better in the future" or "i don't want to be attacked anymore" than "i actually understand why what i did was wrong".

Just because someone can land a good backflip during an about face, or craft a good apology that gets people who were nominally already on their side to go "Awww, look, they did the right thing. Leave 'em alone guys".

I don't know. The mindset that allowed the person to think $SHITTYTHING was an ok thing to do doesn't evaporate overnight, and from real life experience i tend to think that negative reactions being a "Wow, i need to change my life" slap in the face are very rare. Someone doesn't just stop thinking they should get something for nothing overnight because people should just love them that much. That's a deep seated mindset.

And i might get far afield here, but i think the discussion in the previous thread about her and in this thread with relation to growing up relatively privileged is relevant here. I feel that an element of thinking that sort of "work for exposure as the only compensation" thing is totally OK are from people who were supported by their parents/trust/etc while they worked unpaid internships, or rented expensive housing while they took low wage entry level jobs at XYZ media/music co to get their foot in the door.

Pretty much, i bet the venn diagram of people who defend internships is almost a perfect circle compared to the people who would think this was an ok thing to try/do.

2bucksplus: The most disturbing thing is when young people (and Dunham is 28) decide to reinforce the inequality as soon as they're in a position to benefit from it.

This is like, a basic tenet of human nature in a huge subset of the population or something. You can watch it play out even in the smallest local music and art scenes if you're in a decent sized city. I've watched even the tiniest amount of exposure, success, and recognition turn people into raging dickheads who instantly reach for this toolbox of behavior. Often including even the same kind of thing with "Well no one who opens for us should get paid since we're the Real Deal and need+deserve money, and everyone else really just needs the recognition they'll get from being alongside us anyways"

grumpybear69: Another way to look at it is: how much will it cost you to open for Lena Dunham for free? If the answer is "nothing, really, I'd have otherwise been at home watching Bob's Burgers" or even "$75 in lost wages at the coffee shop" it is still a sweet deal for what is essentially prime advertising space. This is a long way from some sketchy promoter promising "exposure" if you play his showcase.

This, respectfully, is not the point. It's impropriety. Lets say her show sells 500 tickets for $40. Yea, the venue takes $8 of that and another $3-4 is lost to fees. Ok, so you have $28. That's $14,000.

Does it still really seem fair to not pay those people at all? I would be fine if she paid them $200 even. I would think that was totally fair!

There's just something inherently icky and disrespectful about the "think of all the exposure you'll get, it's free advertising!" mindset.

I have friends who've opened for big touring bands and only gotten paid $200, or $500 or whatever when the band took in way more than the example amount i gave. They were fine with it because they got paid decent money for their time AND got exposure. They also made a decent amount at the merch table for the same reason.

Why shouldn't it be both?

It's like arguing you shouldn't have to pay for your sandwich a guy just made you, because you'll tell all your friends it's good if you like it.

It's also worth noting the metrics of whats ok change if she wants them to tour with her, and they have to travel and take time off work and such.
posted by emptythought at 5:26 PM on September 29, 2014 [30 favorites]


As someone who is not ashamed to be a Dunham hater, this is delicious.
posted by lownote at 5:29 PM on September 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


I just had an epiphany which may explain the problem artists/performers/writers have with a stunt like this.

Somewhere in AskMe there was a question I can't find right now where someone was asking whether or not they should take someone up on a particular roommate offer. At first it sounded like they were just a little uneasy about how she was being offered a smaller bedroom, furnished, but being asked to pay equal rent.

But - then it came out that guy wasn't just offering her a smaller room, he was also saying that his furniture was probably going to be better than hers, and that living with him would give her access to his social circle, and so that totally made up for her getting a smaller room.

There's a difference between "I can give you a platform but I can't afford to pay you" and "what i'm offering you is so awesome and wonderful that you should be happy just with that".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:30 PM on September 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


Dunham is the executive producer, head writer and runner for Girls, so the hate-on for LD is a bit more grounded than the general backlash against successful women and/or female actors who fail to meet the conventional beauty standard.

There is a lot wrong with Girls, and she carries the can for that. I mean, honest to God, Glee does a better job with some of that shit than Girls does.

I don't hate her, I'm just solidly unimpressed.

(Also I find the show dull but I am very much not the demographic so that's fine.)
posted by DarlingBri at 5:36 PM on September 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


Etrigan: Lena Dunham, a person who made two feature films and thereby got a chance to create a television series, which she did, and which won her personally two Golden Globes, is the exemplar of the fame machine to you? How have you managed to stumble onto her without ever hearing of the Kardashians?

Well, it's not like Dunham and the Kardashians can't both have amassed fame and fortune out of proportion to their talent, and since this thread isn't about the Kardashians, I think Ray Walston, Luck Dragon's comment was totally reasonable.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:44 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


The FYPM thing, as applied to this situation, takes it to a difficult logical place. So say there were 1000 artists willing to open for Lena Dunham for free. But now she's agreed to pay her opener. If there were 1000 people willing to do the job for [exposure], I'm guessing there'd be a substantially greater number who'd be willing to do the job for [exposure] + [$]-- many of whom will be working artists considerably more talented than the original 1000 audition-ees. Does Dunham owe it to those marginal people to reopen the auditions with the new payment agreement in place? If not, isn't she overpaying for the calibre of work she's getting? If so, doesn't she end up with better openers than her original choices, and the original artists get screwed anyway by winding up with no gig at all?

(Personally, I blame the whole silly post-Romantic valorization of creative labor that our culture's got going on. The reason I never expect anybody to do my HVAC for free to get "exposure" is because HVAC isn't cool. But working as an artist is cool (satisfying, fun, respectable, honored), and to a certain extent, that coolness is the currency in which artists end up getting paid, in lieu of actual cash.)
posted by Bardolph at 5:54 PM on September 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


emptythought: I think you are spot-on with the Venn diagram. I definitely came from that kind of background, though I only lasted around 10 months in the low-to-no-pay circuit before I decided it was more important to move out of my parents' house than to work in the industry. An inordinate number of people from my high school cohort went on to successful careers in entertainment and I've no doubt that it was due in large part to the safety net they had which insulated them from financial failure.

That said, I think doing one show for free opening for a known celebrity - not a series of shows, even, just one show - is a reasonable trade-off. I mean, is it better to get $200 than $0? Sure! But for me, as an aspiring performer interested in notoriety, the money itself would be besides the point (unless I was hard up for cash). It is two entirely different things, though, for me to feel it is worthwhile from a cost/benefit standpoint and for LD to say to me "hey man, do this for free, think of the exposure" which would come off as skeezy and manipulative. But the math doesn't change.
posted by grumpybear69 at 5:54 PM on September 29, 2014


Also:

It's like arguing you shouldn't have to pay for your sandwich a guy just made you, because you'll tell all your friends it's good if you like it.

Companies do that all the time, giving free stuff to celebrities in the hopes that it will increase sales by proxy. And it works! I mean, maybe not with sandwiches.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:00 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


While i recognize i may be grinding an axe or riding a hobbyhorse here, it pisses me off to no end that specifically on this site, people seem to think that if someone apologizes and does the right thing after doing, or declaring they were about to do(or support, or whatever) some assholish thing that we should all congratulate them and anyone who is still offended or angry is like, illegitimately angry and reacting out of proportion.

I guess my question about this mindset is: What then is the purpose of ever trying to get people you think are doing the wrong thing or hold the wrong beliefs to change their way of thinking? It seems to me the system worked here. Dunham was going to undertake a bad action that would have left several performers uncompensated for their work. Many, many people expressed displeasure with her plan to do this. She then changed her plan and decided to compensate those performers, the very thing her critics were saying she should do.

I don't think she should be "congratulated" for her change of heart (nor, I should say, do I see anyone suggesting this in the thread, so it feels like a bit of a straw man), but I also don't see the point of continuing to flog her when she has done the exact thing people were asking her to do in the first place. What's the point?
posted by The Gooch at 6:00 PM on September 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Well, it's not like Dunham and the Kardashians can't both have amassed fame and fortune out of proportion to their talent, and since this thread isn't about the Kardashians, I think Ray Walston, Luck Dragon's comment was totally reasonable.

Check out this part that I quoted again:

Basically her fame reveals the transparently corrupt nature of the fame-machine. (emphasis added)

If Lena Dunham is the thing that revealed all that to someone, I am legitimately amazed at how little of the fame-machine that person must have been exposed to prior to 2012 and continues to be, given the dozens-verging-on-hundreds of far more egregiously famous-for-being-famous people that plaster our modern society? There's a lot that can be said against her, but that particular thing is like saying you finally realized how big the Harry Potter franchise was when you saw wands on sale at Toys R Us.
posted by Etrigan at 6:02 PM on September 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Etrigan: If Lena Dunham is the thing that revealed all that to someone

Eh, people colloquially use "reveals" to refer to things that they aren't necessarily learning for the first time, but are getting a more detailed perspective on. That's how I read it, anyway.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:09 PM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


If, as an author, you were invited to read an excerpt from your new novel - which was for sale right across the room at your merch table - would you not do that for free?

I thought people had already agreed to open for her for free. I understand their motivations.

I still say that noblesse fuckin' obliges, and noblesse should maybe worry a little more about getting burned at the stake and eaten if it doesn't. It's great that she's seen the light, and if the light was coming from the villagers' torches, well, that's fine. My question is, where should the villagers go next?
posted by uosuaq at 6:15 PM on September 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


Given that she's already on record saying she finds it weird that people write for money (but I guess it's also weird that that she feels compelled to take the money she's offered?), she may be arguing that if you pursue something for other than purely economic benefit, your need for economic sustenance should remain segregated -- which is a point I sort of see and at times support. But given her age and well documented career, it doesn't seem like she had much in the way of experience that is providing her own economic sustenance (absent those weird moments where she got paid to write).

So perhaps this isn't a situation where perhaps she suffered at the hands of inequitable system and has forgotten how dehumanizing or unfair that experience is, but perhaps that she's never really felt like the shoe was off the foot that felt like asking strangers for not only free labor, but labor that she would additionally profit from.
posted by 99_ at 6:17 PM on September 29, 2014


grumpybear69: That said, I think doing one show for free opening for a known celebrity - not a series of shows, even, just one show - is a reasonable trade-off. I mean, is it better to get $200 than $0? Sure! But for me, as an aspiring performer interested in notoriety, the money itself would be besides the point (unless I was hard up for cash). It is two entirely different things, though, for me to feel it is worthwhile from a cost/benefit standpoint and for LD to say to me "hey man, do this for free, think of the exposure" which would come off as skeezy and manipulative. But the math doesn't change.

The point is that yes, it is almost entirely a principal thing. If you're starting out as an artist, getting paid $200 for an hour or two of work is going to feel like a huge deal. It's super confidence boosting, and makes you feel like you're finally getting your foot firmly on the first step of the ladder. The exposure, online response, merch sales, etc that will also happen at the event will cement that.

To someone touring and doing medium-large shows like this who is already an established presence, it's fucking nothing. It's a rounding error amount of money. You probably spent more on food for yourself and your crew even just that one night. Paying them a fair price as a local opener is barely anything to you, but it's a big deal to them. Why not do it, even ignoring the moral arguments above? It has nothing to do with being hard up for cash, and it's not just that it's "better". It's that by not paying them, you're implicitly sending the message EmpressCalipygos mentioned above that you should just be thankful to even be given the chance to accept what they have to offer.

And this entire "contest" way of narrowing this down radiated that attitude, honestly.

grumpybear69: Companies do that all the time, giving free stuff to celebrities in the hopes that it will increase sales by proxy. And it works! I mean, maybe not with sandwiches.

If you can't see what the difference is here i don't know how to help you.

Like, a celebrity could buy a sandwich, or whatever product the company is giving away. The company, counterintuitive as it may seem, is actually in the position of the artist being lured with a free ride for exposure here.

In addition, it's a dynamic in which everyone is privileged. It's not some starting out artist being boned over by a successful artist.

The Gooch: I don't think she should be "congratulated" for her change of heart (nor, I should say, do I see anyone suggesting this in the thread, so it feels like a bit of a straw man), but I also don't see the point of continuing to flog her when she has done the exact thing people were asking her to do in the first place. What's the point?

No one specifically says it, but it's an attitude. "Pitchforks to plowshares" was essentially a comment to that effect, in my opinion. And it wasn't the only comment to that effect. And i will note, that i was talking about discussions with relation to this sort of thing in general not just this specific instance. It's definitely been more prevalent in previous threads than it was in this one.

That, and i don't really think we're flogging her all that much in here. It's mostly a discussion about why(or why not) this sort of thing is wrong in a greater general sense that i've seen going on in here.
posted by emptythought at 6:17 PM on September 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


That, and i don't really think we're flogging her all that much in here. It's mostly a discussion about why(or why not) this sort of thing is wrong in a greater general sense that i've seen going on in here.

To be fair, a little of both is happening. For all the criticism of Dunham, there's sure a lot of "welp I already hate her, so lemme just come in here and shit on her in whatever manner I think'd be most humorous" going around. (I am not accusing you of that; quite the contrary! But it's certainly happening.)
posted by rorgy at 6:21 PM on September 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Given the book tour seems like a pretty naked cash grab (tickets for these events are $38, which I don't think even gets you the book), not paying these performers (or initially not thinking it was necessary) is nakedly evil. This is true if your name is Lena Dunham or not.

But, it seems especially stinky with someone like Lena Dunham, given her show is about educated, underpaid millennials.

This is more likely "Lena Dunham's people" than Lena Dunham, but she damn well better start paying attention after this kerfuffle. Pay your help.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:50 PM on September 29, 2014 [11 favorites]


mcstayinskool: which I don't think even gets you the book

It actually does, so the net cost (assuming full retail price of the book) is $10.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:51 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I like Lena Dunham's work and I think her TV show is mostly very good but this is a pretty bullshit move. is that a thought that can happen
posted by threeants at 7:11 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Given the book tour seems like a pretty naked cash grab (tickets for these events are $38, which I don't think even gets you the book)

Lena Dunham's naked cash grab:
Ticketed events include 1 signed copy of NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL

David Mitchell's naked cash grab:

Mr. Mitchell’s appearances are ticketed events (the Barnes & Noble appearance is an exception), and though prices vary, several run between $30 and $40, including a copy of the book – which sells for $30.

You sure you're not just piling on to someone you already hate? And how is this situation not different from an internship? You go do some work, you don't get paid but hopefully you've learned something and got something new to put on your CV. At least its just for the evening and not three months.
posted by meech at 7:50 PM on September 29, 2014


Ethics aside, is anyone else amused by this situation given the pilot episode of Girls?

Dunham's character has just been cut off by her parents. When she tells her boss at her unpaid internship that she needs to be paid for her work, [SPOILER BUT NOT REALLY BECAUSE YOU TOTALLY SAW IT COMING] she is let go because there are many other people who would gladly do the work for free.
posted by The Girl Who Ate Boston at 7:50 PM on September 29, 2014 [11 favorites]


you don't get paid but hopefully you've learned something

If nothing else you've learned that an author who just pulled in a $3,000,000+ advance and a publisher who hopes to make many multiples of that don't think your talents are worth one thin dime. But, they will be gracious enough to let you promote their book.
posted by MikeMc at 7:59 PM on September 29, 2014 [11 favorites]


Well, it's not like Dunham and the Kardashians can't both have amassed fame and fortune out of proportion to their talent, and since this thread isn't about the Kardashians, I think Ray Walston, Luck Dragon's comment was totally reasonable.

Check out this part that I quoted again:

Basically her fame reveals the transparently corrupt nature of the fame-machine. (emphasis added)

If Lena Dunham is the thing that revealed all that to someone, I am legitimately amazed at how little of the fame-machine that person must have been exposed to prior to 2012 and continues to be, given the dozens-verging-on-hundreds of far more egregiously famous-for-being-famous people that plaster our modern society? There's a lot that can be said against her, but that particular thing is like saying you finally realized how big the Harry Potter franchise was when you saw wands on sale at Toys R Us.


Substitute "reinforces" for reveals, then, and chalk it up to an imprecision in language. Next time there's a Kardashian thread I may try to make the same point, but I probably wouldn't mention Lena Dunham.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:24 PM on September 29, 2014


Look, if you don't like Lena Dunham's work, that's fine. I don't care for baseball. I don't think that makes me a monster. But I would encourage people to earnestly question why they don't like her because a lot of the reasons mentioned for not liking her are lamers, IMHO. Her show is overexposed? How is that her fault? She shouldn't try to be successful? Her success shows that the nature of fame is stupid? At least she has some substance unlike the aforementioned Kardashians. Don't like what she says on Twitter? Don't follow her in Twitter. She's a privileged 20 something? That doesn't make her very different from other people on TV except I'd argue that she is actually talented.

There aren't an adequate number of minorities represented on her show? That's not good but I don't think Friends, Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory, and a lot of other shows have many minority characters. I feel like that complaint comes up more often than not with shows with female leads - Orange is the New Black received a lot of criticism for having a cute blond lead but I don't remember anyone complaining about how few black characters there were in House of Cards because OMG KEVIN SPACEY. And people have criticized The Mindy Project for not having enough minorities on the show when it's one of the first, if not the first, major show in the US led by an Indian actress. But I digress.

I like Lena Dunham. And I like that she acknowledged that this wasn't cool and changed what she was doing. If you don't like her, that's fine. No one has to like all the things. But I think it's valuable to think about why that is.
posted by kat518 at 8:34 PM on September 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


One of the things that makes me groan in these discussions is when it turns in to "you only/primarily hate her because she's a woman!".

What's being expressed here, about this specific event is separate from the general hate of her. It's also different than all the other examples you gave(and i agree, the mindy project one is particularly bullshit).

I can't actually find any other major examples of this that generated any buzz other than AFP and this.

What also bugs me is the that this you guys are the crappy ones with messed up motives! always reaches in to some pretty cherry-picky zones to make it's point

like, Orange is the New Black received a lot of criticism for having a cute blond lead but I don't remember anyone complaining about how few black characters there were in House of Cards because OMG KEVIN SPACEY.

1. Orange is the new black is set in a prison. Prison populations are disproportionately black, and minority. Personally i thought there were more than enough minority characters on that show, and also accepted the argument of how everyone "sticks to their own race in prison" as fairly decent, but nonetheless there's some meat on that bone. It's a legitimate gripe that even when you make a show about a community that's very much majority non-white that the main characters are white. I never argued with anyone on that even if i didn't notice it at first.

2. House of cards is set in... the house, and congress, and generally the government in washington DC. That is like, honkeyville. If you're going to make this disproportionate hate for women leads! point you should probably try a little harder. The general "there should be more minority characters!" call is legitimate here, but it isn't as glaring or striking as it was in OITNB.


In general, i think you can separate this specific action/event from the previous nebulous reasons for hating her. I didn't have any real opinion on her before this, just like i didn't really care either way about amanda palmer. But this is something to me that's like puppy kicking wrong.

I think it's fairly uncharitable and tiresome to group everyone in here hating on this, and questioning her character after this event with people who just dislike her in general for reasons you think are bunk.
posted by emptythought at 8:57 PM on September 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


Lena Dunham, a person who made two feature films and thereby got a chance to create a television series, which she did, and which won her personally two Golden Globes, is the exemplar of the fame machine to you? How have you managed to stumble onto her without ever hearing of the Kardashians?

I think some clarification of what this "fame machine" entails might be useful here. To me, at least, it has less to do with some notion of people-deciding-what-you-like, like some committee to determine what's hip and new, and more to do with what happens after somebody becomes famous. That is, they're abruptly everywhere and impossible to ignore and their celebrity means billboards and magazine covers and TV appearances and that person showing up goddamned everywhere.

The example that I think of, to bring in less stereotypical names than the Kardashians, is Nate Ruess, of the band "fun." Ruess's first band, The Format, was formed in 2001, where it lingered in relative obscurity for a decade or so. "fun." had a first album that was harmless enough, and that didn't catapult them into immediate fame. It was only with the combination of We Are Young and Some Nights that they suddenly became an unavoidable mega-sensation.

Look. I think that if you've been a musician for over a decade, then whatever success you do receive is awesome and probably entirely deserved. On that note, I'm glad that Ruess and his bandmates got all those accolades, and I'm sure they worked their asses off to earn them. But that doesn't change the fact that, between "fun." album #1 and "fun." album #2, Ruess's over-earnest voice became nearly unavoidable, even if you do as I do and avoid radios, parties, human beings, and really anything involving potentially enjoying yourself. As a result, I, and I imagine many other people, began to really goddamn despise the sound of it. I even had a friend who liked Ruess before Some Nights was released, and while I thought he was a bit too fluffy for my liking, I enjoyed him well enough. Post-Some Nights? Burn it with fire.

The whole notion that we should just passively go along with whatever mainstream things wind up mainstream, and keep our opinions about those things to ourselves, has always rubbed me the wrong way. The problem's not that people enjoy popular things — we all do! yay pop! — so much as that those popular things become so pervasive, so hard to ignore, that when some of them rub you the wrong way, it becomes this unavoidable irritant that you can't possibly avoid. I know, because I try.

There is absolutely a "fame machine" behind this sort of rabid more-than-viral spread of new material. I know of plenty of publications which will touch upon whatever big new thing is big and new, but not make it their focus except for once in a blue moon. There's no reason why "the big new it thing" has to dominate every medium for days and weeks and months on end, for longer even than major world-changing news stories do. But it does. It's not just that the things which make it there appeal to the so-called "lowest common denominator", either. Dunham and Girls clearly don't, because a) Girls is a very-intelligent and ambitious and unusual show that b) is about so select a group of people that it alienates, well, a whole shitload of people! Clearly! As this thread demonstrates! So whatever pushed Lena Dunham to the public's eye all at once wasn't just some organic process wherein the people who loved Tiny Furniture all started talking about Girls and somehow that was enough to give her all this mass-media attention.

Before Girls even aired, there was such a loud conversation about it amongst TV-talkers and even non-TV-talkers that pretty much everybody I know had heard about it from somewhere or other before it aired. That kept up throughout the first season, and Lena Dunham herself has been an on-and-off focus of discussion ever since. Her essay about going to Japan made waves a year or so back, and received a lot of negative feedback because, depending on who you talk to about it, it either bordered on being or absolutely was racist as all hell, and I know that was by no means the only time she surfaced on my radar, even after I stopped paying any attention to Girls.

So, while I am generally favorable towards her, I completely understand the backlash. Even though she's a hard worker who's talented along multiple axes at once, even though the "her parents bought her her fame" is a completely bullshit line of thinking, I do think that she received aggressive media attention disproportionate to how many people knew her name before a sustained PR campaign brought her and her show to the public eye. And I completely get that being grating as fuck to people who either aren't interested in her, or find her to be an irritant, or think she is a racist, wealthy, privileged celebrity who made a TV show about her most problematic behaviors despite still being a very problematic person.
posted by rorgy at 9:02 PM on September 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


I always figured that the reason there are few/no black people in Girls is not because it's representing a Brooklyn where black people don't exist but because it's from the perspective of a certain kind of person(that I encounter in Brooklyn regularly) that simply can not see black people.
posted by yonega at 9:05 PM on September 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


One of the things that makes me groan in these discussions is when it turns in to "you only/primarily hate her because she's a woman!".

The celebrity who I think shares a lot of DNA with Dunham, and who seems to receive a similarly ultrapolarized response, is Ricky Gervais, who:

— created/wrote/directed/starred in a show featuring himself and some of his worst characteristics as a human being;

— became a prominent public figure completely independent of his (critically-acclaimed, unusually self-examining) television shows; and

— continued to do problematic things in the public eye that reinforced the opinions of all the people who couldn't stand his material to begin with.

Personally, I think Gervais is even more problematic than Dunham, in that I think his work is a lot better/more breakthrough, and I think he personally is more inexcusably an ass. I wouldn't deny that Lena got a lot of shit for being a woman — hell, she got a lot of flak for being too ugly to be a celebrity, which is the sort of absurd bullshit that reminds you that, oh, right, it totally sucks to be a woman — but that is not the sum total of the criticism against her, either.
posted by rorgy at 9:07 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Look, if you don't like Lena Dunham's work, that's fine. I don't care for baseball. I don't think that makes me a monster.

I don't know that anyone was equating any like or dislike with monsterhood. The topic at hand was that it took a lot of people commenting on what I think a lot of MeFi people agree with as a general principle independent of other factors -- you should get paid for making art, even if it's minimum wage -- to get someone who puts herself out there as emblematic of culture at a point of time to see the fairness of that idea. That she got over $3M when she made is art just, I dunno, icing or something? I haven't seen the least bit of credible defense as to why she wouldn't pay even a trivial amount from the get go which would have obviated the entire dust up and amounted to literally pocket change in the total budget for the tour.
posted by 99_ at 9:10 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


One of the things that makes me groan in these discussions is when it turns in to "you only/primarily hate her because she's a woman!".

I don't think I said that and that's certainly not what I meant. My point was that these types of conversations frequently turn into pile-ons as far as this particular individual is concerned. I'd guess that maybe half of the comments on this thread have little to do with the original post. If the post had been about Lena Dunham wearing a shirt, there would be a lot of comments about how only Brooklyn hipsters wear shirts or she's just wearing a shirt to get attention or sure, she wore a shirt but I'm still mad that there aren't any black people on her show.
posted by kat518 at 9:14 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


2. House of cards is set in... the house, and congress, and generally the government in washington DC. That is like, honkeyville.

And yet House of Cards managed to have more overall and more richly detailed minority characters than did Girls, which is set in Brooklyn. I'm sorry, but that should have been a) obvious and b) embarrassing to everyone involved and should have been fixed before the first episode aired.

Dunham is a really good artist but her insularity and lack of critical perspective serve her poorly at times, and this FPP and the examples in some of the comments highlight that very specifically.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:20 PM on September 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


I just don't see what people see in those racist puppets
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:21 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't mind if people hate Lena Dunham, as long as they also hate Judd Apatow and Joss Whedon.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:24 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Joss Whedon writes strong, smart women characters, though. Lena Dunham writes self-centered, shallow, basically unsympathetic women characters. Joss Whedon's been around long enough for me to judge his work, even find some of it pretty terrible (Aliens 3), and still decide based on the entirety of his vast body of work that overall he is a gifted, talented writer. One who I can generally count on for realistic characterizations and some truly memorable dialogue. To my knowledge, he also pays people who work for and with him. Lena Dunham had to be shamed into doing this very basic, human thing.

I don't hate Lena Dunham; I am ambivalent about her at best. But comparing these two people is apples and oranges.
posted by misha at 10:46 PM on September 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


She was offering a chance to let artists do something they want to do and will happily do for free, something they might even in fact pay to do. Even with no compensation, I'll bet there were more takers than she knew what to do with. It hardly makes sense for her to pay them, except to buy off metafilter rage—like settling a nuisance lawsuit. Look, we all like art and want artists to get paid when it makes sense. Here, it didn't make sense. It's not exploitation, except in the loosest possible definition of the word. If you believe hamburger workers should get $15 when they're only getting $8, go ahead and make it a point to pay extra so's not to exploit them.
posted by king walnut at 10:57 PM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Before this blows up, best to note she's already folded and will be paying her opening acts.

Ssshhh, you wouldn't want to deny people their righteous indignation.

Lena Dunham writes self-centered, shallow, basically unsympathetic women characters.

While Whedon's characters are perhaps more needed as an antidote to what's presented in so much mainstream culture, you can't tell me that Dunham's characters aren't completely authentic. You were in our 20s once, right? Were you killing people with your brain? Or were you obsessing about what you wore and finding your place in the world?

Sticking your fingers in your ears isn't going to make that truth go away.

I'm glad she got pushed into paying her acts.
posted by dry white toast at 11:17 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


kat518: I don't think I said that and that's certainly not what I meant.

You can say i'm taking you out of context if you want, and i'll accept that i guess, but

Look, if you don't like Lena Dunham's work, that's fine. I don't care for baseball. I don't think that makes me a monster. But I would encourage people to earnestly question why they don't like her because a lot of the reasons mentioned for not liking her are lamers, IMHO.
+

There aren't an adequate number of minorities represented on her show? That's not good but I don't think Friends, Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory, and a lot of other shows have many minority characters. I feel like that complaint comes up more often than not with shows with female leads
+
If you don't like her, that's fine. No one has to like all the things. But I think it's valuable to think about why that is.

Really, really reads to me as "i think your reasons are illegitimate, and that you're piling on her because she's a woman".

It really just hit me as a tiresome "i'm not calling you a bigot outright, but i think you're a bigot" sort of stuff that's just very... i don't know, it reminds me of why i deleted my tumblr.

i would have given this more of a benefit of the doubt if i hadn't seen this crypto shaming deal before, and if the EXACT same shit didn't get played in the last AFP thread.

It's ok if you like her, really. I don't think any less of you or that you're dumb or a bad person or anything. I like some people that a lot of people on here hate. But just because we dislike her doesn't make us woman haters.
posted by emptythought at 12:03 AM on September 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


I went into Girls fully expecting to hate it and ended up falling in love and consuming the whole thing in two days. It's slacked a bit (season 3 wasn't great) but it's still one of the most interesting things on TV. I get frustrated watching Hannah but I love it.

I don't like Lena Dunham because she *is* Hannah-(with the exception that Dunham- to her credit- actually gets shit done.) In every interview I've seen with her, every article I've read from her she is insufferable. My heart sank when listening to her WTF interview because I couldn't stand to listen to her. It seems like this constant competition to make her seem like the weirdest, most outrageous person (she's collects obscure movie posters, she absolutely LOVES obscure directors) that she didn't seem genuine at all. That's her thing I guess. And I can't stand it.

So yeah- love the art, don't love the artist.

(FWIW- I put Gervais in the same box as well. Did you know he is an Atheist?)
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 12:44 AM on September 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


You can say i'm taking you out of context if you want, and i'll accept that i guess, but

LOL pot calling the kettle black.

It's ok if you like her, really.

Relieved I have your approval. I think I already said it's okay if you don't so you're okay and I'm okay.

But just because we dislike her doesn't make us woman haters.

Which is what I said where? It's almost like you took something I said out of context ...

Anyway, for those discussing Ricky Gervais, I've also heard comparisons to Louis CK - they both play characters who seem like unflattering versions of themselves, neither are especially attractive, both shows have a senses of humor that are more likely to make one laugh uncomfortably rather than laugh out loud. I think The New Yorker compared her to Woody Allen based on their mutual neuroses and that some people just don't like his work.
posted by kat518 at 3:49 AM on September 30, 2014


And I just reread this:

You can say i'm taking you out of context if you want, and i'll accept that i guess, but

And feel like an idiot. My bad. Where's the coffee around here?!
posted by kat518 at 4:07 AM on September 30, 2014


For the record, I'm totally indifferent about Lena Dunham as a person. I didn't care for Girls the one episode I saw, I haven't had any exposure to her otherwise. This one thing she did, though, I find distasteful.

Now, as for Ricky Gervais, I just plain don't like him.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:15 AM on September 30, 2014


I should want to make Lena Dunham a simple meal...
posted by ennui.bz at 5:02 AM on September 30, 2014


I'm just glad that the combined intellect of Twitter was able to formulate a convincing argument that you should pay people who work for you.
posted by Legomancer at 5:57 AM on September 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


None of the following is labor policy analysis:
1) Best job I ever had was an unpaid internship. If I didn't have a family now, I'd happily do it again.
2) I'd probably pay other people to let me play music for them, but as a talentless hack I fear that would be unfair to them. Performance is a real source of joy for me, independent of the audience.
posted by Octaviuz at 6:23 AM on September 30, 2014


I'll bet it was Random House's idea not to pay the openers originally and that Lena Dunham was forced to notice this by Gawker and convinced Random House it was a bad move publicity-wise.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:38 AM on September 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Dunham's already been paid for the book, presumably she's not the person responsible for figuring out how to extract maximum revenue from it. But her name is all over this, the "quirky" readings are associated with her brand, etc. At the same time this particular issue seems to have been fixed pretty quickly.
posted by leopard at 6:49 AM on September 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


“We’re trying to establish her as a writer, a very serious literary writer, so we put her in conversation with authors who are very literary,” said Theresa Zoro, director of publicity for Random House.

Isn't that something the writer does by virtue of the quality of her writing? Either way, this seems like an odd thing for a publicist to say out loud.

As for the main issue, it seems like it corrected itself thanks to the shaming. Now we can move on.*


*move on to the hideously snarky reviews of the readings themselves, which are sure to follow.
posted by GrapeApiary at 6:56 AM on September 30, 2014


She was offering a chance to let artists do something they want to do and will happily do for free, something they might even in fact pay to do. Even with no compensation, I'll bet there were more takers than she knew what to do with. It hardly makes sense for her to pay them, except to buy off metafilter rage—like settling a nuisance lawsuit. Look, we all like art and want artists to get paid when it makes sense. Here, it didn't make sense. It's not exploitation, except in the loosest possible definition of the word.

No, that's textbook exploitation. When you use someone's own desires against them to benefit yourself at their expense, there is no other word to describe what is happening.

If you believe hamburger workers should get $15 when they're only getting $8, go ahead and make it a point to pay extra so's not to exploit them.

Or you can support the push to provide workers a living wage.

Just because it's the "invisible hand" at work doesn't mean that it's not exploitative.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:10 AM on September 30, 2014 [15 favorites]


the person determining that these artists have value was Lena Dunham. They will be performing a service by opening for her,

Expanding on this point by Navelgazer above, the opening acts are adding value to the show just by being on the show.

From the NYT article,
“I found the idea of a traditional author tour, where you go and stand behind the lectern and talk about yourself, I found it a little bit embarrassing, a little blatantly self-promotional and a little boring,” Ms. Dunham said. “I wanted it to have an arts festival feel, which is why we now have all these remarkable, special weirdos who I found on the Internet.”
While Ms. Dunham may not be admitting it in public, or even to herself, the whole point of doing something like this is the hope that "Lena Dunham Plus Variety Show" will put more butts in in the seats at a higher ticket price than plain ol' "Lena Dunham Stands There And Reads From Her Book".

This happens all the time in the live entertainment business. There are package tours with co-headliners, package tours with a main act plus one or two or several slightly-less-popular acts, it's a factor even when local promoters decide which local openers will perform on any given night. It's Show Promotion 102 - people might be a little uncertain about paying [$X] to see one act, so you add another act or two that convinces people to pay [$X plus small %] to come to the show to see two or more acts they like.

Hell, even free events do this. How are you gonna convince people to come to an arts fest? You bring in bands and jugglers and magicians and bouncy houses and food trucks and you sell beer, and families can make a whole day of it, so people who might think "Eh, it doesn't seem worth the effort to leave the house to look at crafts for a couple hours" will instead think, "Wow, there's a lot of stuff to do here, let's go!"

It's not a one-way street, here. It's not a case where the unknown warm-up acts get all the benefit and Ms. Dunham gets nothing. While any individual act might not have much affect on ticket sales, the whole concept of The Lena Dunham Book Reading And Traveling Arts Festival is supposed to have a beneficial effect on Lena Dunham's ticket sales.

Which is why the openers should be paid.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:02 AM on September 30, 2014 [12 favorites]


I'd really just like a nice clear explanation of why Lena Dunham the person deserves our vehemence. Is she a privileged, rich, self-satisfied hipster? Let's hear it...
posted by naju at 4:57 PM on September 29 [+][!]


Because she is making the same piece of art over and over and over again -- Tiny Furniture, Girls, the pieces in the New Yorker, and probably this book -- and their merit doesn't justify the amount of attention she's receiving for them.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:05 AM on September 30, 2014


I just saw Tiny Furniture for the first time. I hated it. And I rarely hate any movie. I'm guessing Girls is more of the same. I think not paying people for their work is shitty. Lena Dunham seems to lack integrity as well as anything of substance to say. I don't know if I care enough to hate her but I definitely see how one might without it having any kind of sexist undercurrent. Some people just rub the wrong way and it's affirming to bitch about it with like-minded others.
posted by Jess the Mess at 8:26 AM on September 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Joss Whedon writes strong, smart women characters, though."

Ugh, no. He writes shallow, glib fantasy women in, like, four broad archetypes. For every Zoe or Kaylee there's an Inara or River.
posted by klangklangston at 8:26 AM on September 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


The thing I don't see mentioned here is that, by any measure, Dunham's move here was spectacularly MORE foolish and wrongfooted than what Palmer did, because there's approximately zero chance that neither Dunham nor anyone in her camp knew about the Palmer affair and its outcome.

Even if the choice being made was morally neutral -- and this absolutely isn't; neither artist should've ever suggested "internship" openers -- it's boneheaded and stupid to make exactly the same blunder and create exactly the same shitstorm ending in exactly the same reversal. I mean, come ON.

I guess it's conceivable that Palmer, given her DIY/punkish ethos and background, was winging it and employed no publicist as a backstop to bonehead moves, but that ship sailed: she reaped the whirlwind and backtracked, and my friends who played with her locally were compensated for it.

It seems fantastically unlikely that someone with Dunham's level of success in film, TV, and publishing doesn't have someone whose job it is to parse the optics of her plans who would catch the issue even if Dunham herself didn't.

And yet: here we are.
posted by uberchet at 8:58 AM on September 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


For some reason I just absolutely fucking love all Lena Dunham's work without feeling any impulse to be one of her fans or stand up for her in any way ever. It's like the exact opposite of the way I feel about Barack Obama.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:58 AM on September 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


When you lose the moral high ground to Gawker it's time to start re-evaluating your life choices.
posted by Silvertree at 9:04 AM on September 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Or maybe some folks have an outrage meter that registers outrages long before "buying slaves."

Cute, but I still fail to see why anyone would get upset on someone else's behalf for something that they willingly participated in. Getting upset about this is nothing short of indulgence...in this case, indulging in an addiction to outrage. It sounds pretty stressful and pointless.
posted by Edgewise at 9:06 AM on September 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


The thing I don't see mentioned here is that, by any measure, Dunham's move here was spectacularly MORE foolish and wrongfooted than what Palmer did, because there's approximately zero chance that neither Dunham nor anyone in her camp knew about the Palmer affair and its outcome.
Apparently Palmer has been trying on Twitter to get chummy with Dunham. That Dunham isn't even aware of her is delicious.
posted by pxe2000 at 9:10 AM on September 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


When I hear "Fuck you, pay me!" I hear it in Bernie Mac's voice, playing his character Dollar Bill in the movie Player's Club, explaining the origins of the "strippin' game".
posted by history_denier at 9:30 AM on September 30, 2014


You sure you're not just piling on to someone you already hate?

Wow. Yes, I'm sure. I don't hate Lena Dunham. I just think this was a evil move.

And how is this situation not different from an internship?

Why is that relevant? It's not evil because nobody else does it, it's evil because it's evil.

And it's evil because she's having these people perform as part of entertainment that she's charging for, and because she is Lena Freaking Dunham, who should have these people's backs.

She's backtracked, so good for her. I don't think it should have required the 'net shaming to do it, but I'd expect she learned from the whole experience.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:43 AM on September 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


because there's approximately zero chance that neither Dunham nor anyone in her camp knew about the Palmer affair and its outcome.

Even if the choice being made was morally neutral -- and this absolutely isn't; neither artist should've ever suggested "internship" openers -- it's boneheaded and stupid to make exactly the same blunder and create exactly the same shitstorm ending in exactly the same reversal. I mean, come ON.

I guess it's conceivable that Palmer, given her DIY/punkish ethos and background, was winging it and employed no publicist as a backstop to bonehead moves, but that ship sailed: she reaped the whirlwind and backtracked, and my friends who played with her locally were compensated for it.

It seems fantastically unlikely that someone with Dunham's level of success in film, TV, and publishing doesn't have someone whose job it is to parse the optics of her plans who would catch the issue even if Dunham herself


Ehhhhh . . . . . . *hand-waggling motion*

I'm pretty much no longer surprised by anyone's random pockets of ignorance and lack of paying attention. I mean, an awful lot of my work is with people who are noobs at organizing shows and events, and even after they've got a few under their belt, and/or I've spelled things out as plainly as possible, I'll get questions about basic stuff that you would think they would have picked up from experience or things I've specifically told them that apparently went in one ear and right out the other.

So, y'know, I'm willing to give Dunham the benefit of the doubt here, especially since it took her, what, less than 24 hours to change her position? I could totally see a situation where Dunham and everyone around her - for all the experience they have with film and TV and books - have never really thought about the economics and common practices of this kind of live event. Their experience is limited to "Buy tickets, see band", and that's all the thought they've ever put into the matter. So they come up with this cool idea, and they start rolling with it, and then when a whole bunch of people point out that, in context, not paying your openers isn't cool, they go, "Oh shit, we never thought of that!" and shell out the dough.


Amanda Effin' Palmer, OTOH, should absolutely have known better, because she's a musician and live performer. For all that the Dresden Dolls took off fairly quickly (formed in 2000, signed to Roadrunner in '04), you can bet your ass that she had more than a few gigs of her own where the Dolls were desperate to sell $20 worth of merchandise to be able to pay for gas to get to the next show, because the Dolls were getting shit for pay. But apparently she learned nothing from experience, or could not, somehow, extrapolate from her experience to the experience of other musicians, and it took a long and loud public outcry for her to change her tune.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:21 AM on September 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm genuinely surprised that this matters so much to some people. You guys who are fighting for Dunham's interns, I think you should just email them directly and accept their thanks and gratitude for rescuing them from a situation that they opted into. I'm sure they were almost as outraged as some of you guys.

Wait, no, that's impossible. They're probably thinking "I guess it's nice we're going to get money, too, for what we already wanted to do, but those people sure need something to care about in their own lives." Do you really think that any of her participants is half as upset as anyone in this thread? That's not a rhetorical question.

I mean, right now there are political protests in Hong Kong, the IS is tearing the Middle East apart...hell, I've got a sore toe that seems more important. Seriously, it's throbbing. Wait, no, it's better now. But it STILL seems more important than Lena Dunham's (Formerly) All-Volunteer Book Signing Circus.
posted by Edgewise at 10:36 AM on September 30, 2014


The funny thing about comments of the form "you're worried about X when Y is far more important" -- not a new genre of comments by any means around here -- is that those comments are by definition even less important than the comments they're criticizing, by virtue of being a metacommentary about something the person doesn't think is important.

And yes, I recognize my meta-metacommentary falls into this category as well, but I'm not the one who believes that talking about a relatively unimportant thing means I'm not also talking about other more important things. People can walk and chew gum at the same time, even if walking is a higher priority.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:40 AM on September 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


I mean, right now there are political protests in Hong Kong, the IS is tearing the Middle East apart...hell, I've got a sore toe that seems more important. Seriously, it's throbbing. Wait, no, it's better now. But it STILL seems more important than Lena Dunham's (Formerly) All-Volunteer Book Signing Circus.

Does anyone remember whether we have a "think of the much worse crises happening other places in the world" square on the "your opinion sucks" bingo card?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:40 AM on September 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm genuinely surprised that this matters so much to some people.

Getting paid for working seems pretty important to me.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:45 AM on September 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


"Cute, but I still fail to see why anyone would get upset on someone else's behalf for something that they willingly participated in."

Hey, I know you just woke up from the Gilded Age, but there's this book called The Jungle and the punishment for glib statements like yours is to read that tedious, didactic book.
posted by klangklangston at 10:47 AM on September 30, 2014 [17 favorites]


I mean, right now there are political protests in...

The existence of greater crimes does not excuse lesser ones. By dint of a lesser crime being the topic of the post, it makes sense that people focus on that.
posted by rhizome at 10:59 AM on September 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I still fail to see why anyone would get upset on someone else's behalf for something that they willingly participated in.

I also think the minimum wage should be higher and public school teachers should be paid triple what they receive now. But I guess that's all just paternalistic blather because...Boko Haram or something.
posted by rhizome at 11:03 AM on September 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


Andy Warhol once said, "Art is what you can get away with." There is certainly an art to capitalism as well, especially in that sense — it's the art of working out exactly what you can do to earn a higher score for yourself, without being tarred-and-feathered or imprisoned or whatnot.

In theory, in the magical utopian world where everybody's healthy and happy and safe and does whatever they want all the time because We've Got Society Figured Out, this would be a very fun game! In practice, this has led to a century or so of controlled experiments involving figuring out exactly how to twist people's knobs and pull their levers and make them give you money, either directly or indirectly (by having them produce something more valuable to you than what you give them for making it). This is not remotely controversial — it's why scorning popular culture and advertisements and consumerism and what-have-you is such a universal pastime.

As time has gone on, our culture has shifted steadily towards finding new and innovative ways to pay people less and less, while still convincing them to work for you. You see this in unpaid internships, in minimum-wage jobs which can't support a family so you get people working two or three jobs at once, and — yes — in any suggestion that you're doing somebody a favor by employing them to work for your benefit.

I do the things I love most without expecting to get paid for them. I'll even collaborate with other people who are likewise unpaid. But the second money enters into the equation, and my work is a part of that, then we're going to have to talk about money, because money is a part of the project. It's as simple as that. No hidden motive required! No "fuck you, pay me" — unless you're thinking about squirming out of paying me, in which case "fuck you" indeed, because you're making the irrational case that something whose purpose is primarily to make money shouldn't distribute its yield to the people who worked to get that money made.

Yes, art is beautiful. Yes, its true value extends far beyond monetary gain. Yes, I would play music for the sheer joy of playing music, and do, just as I dance for the sake of dancing and write for writing's sake. That's why it's such a lovely thought that maybe you can be paid to do it. Isn't it wonderful that Lena Dunham gets to make a career out of writing and directing and acting? I would like it very much if many, many more people could get paid to do that sort of thing as well — and getting paid for a single gig isn't gonna make that happen, but at the very least it's dignifying the value of a performer instead of allowing the casual erosion of worker rights to proceed unchecked.

(Plus, if we pay performers more, than those of you who hate Lena Dunham will have other people to look at instead! Everybody wins when culture sucks less, and in a culture that revolves around economics, better culture means paying the people who create it. This is not that difficult (and it applies to more than just artists, obviously).
posted by rorgy at 12:14 PM on September 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Cute, but I still fail to see why anyone would get upset on someone else's behalf for something that they willingly participated in. Getting upset about this is nothing short of indulgence...in this case, indulging in an addiction to outrage. It sounds pretty stressful and pointless.

Because the funny thing is that if you erode the idea that people deserve an honest day's wages for an honest day's work, it ultimately screws us all over.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:21 PM on September 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


And let me put it bluntly - the argument that if someone agrees "willingly" this means that the situation is not exploitive is an exceptionally poor one. Exploitation, like many other actions where one person is acting on the other, is less about the target, and more about the actor.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:33 PM on September 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


I could totally see a situation where Dunham and everyone around her - for all the experience they have with film and TV and books - have never really thought about the economics and common practices of this kind of live event.

I find it hard to believe that a person who is credited with creating an entire television show would have blind spots regarding paying talent.
posted by 99_ at 1:13 PM on September 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Wow, I go to sleep for a few hours and the threads already gone down the "why do you care so much? There's starving children in Africa!" Wormhole.

I'm not really surprised, but it's totally a classic derailing/shaming tool in discuss-bad-thing-person-did-who-people-like threads and just, lol.
posted by emptythought at 1:55 PM on September 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yowser: I can't wait until this monster marries Max Landis.
"This monster". A celeb that asked people to work for free, and people agreed.

THAT is why this thread is ridiculous to some of us.

Her less-than-ideal business behavior - raunchy and self-absorbed, even - just doesn't move the needle on the "monster" scale. Ken Lay? Sure. Mel Gibson? Well, maybe... mostly just an asshole, though - he's never ruined anyone, AFAIK. Leni Riefenstahl? What the heck.

But Lena Dunham is "this monster".

Only on Metafilter.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:20 PM on September 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm hard pressed to find a comment that uses the phrase monster that doesn't seem at least like, 25% sarcastic to me.

Whatever floats your boat though, I guess.
posted by emptythought at 3:14 PM on September 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Amanda Effin' Palmer, OTOH, should absolutely have known better, because she's a musician and live performer.
Since this thread seems a quarter about the earlier incident, actually, I still really, really don't get the shit around Amanda Palmer for that.

People saying she doesn't get it - I think she did get it.
She does free gigs at almost every place she travels, and at random request (she turned out at my local Universities GLBT group in NZ after an email - for a grand total of no publicity other than word of mouth from that group of people, oh, and this I guess?).
I mean, she worked as a BUSKER for years. Y'know, standing on the street, only money from donations, busker.
I.e. the opposite of FYPM.


So, yes, I think she was working on a different model, was absolutely not asking for something she wouldn't and hasn't done herself, and was only asking for it from people who were also willing, volunteers even.


But, given what a shitstorm that turned out to be, DESPITE those credentials, I'm surprised Lena Dunham tried it.
Basically, if Amanda Palmer couldn't pull it off, not sure who could or would be allowed to do that.
posted by Elysum at 3:51 PM on September 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Why would Lena Dunham be aware of the Amanda Palmer shitstorm? When did that become a cultural touchpoint like 9/11 or the Kennedy assassination?
posted by leopard at 4:04 PM on September 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


I find it hard to believe that a person who is credited with creating an entire television show would have blind spots regarding paying talent.

*shrug* I dunno, I've seen a lot of instances where people familiar with one creative discipline have blind spots about or almost total ignorance of other disciplines, leading to similar outcomes - a dance company uses music without credit or permission, a small classical music group uses an image without permission, credit, or payment, an art gallery wants a band or DJ to play an exhibition opening night party for free or cheap.

A sort of "talent barter" isn't uncommon, either, and is a way for artists to get projects made without cash. From what I can tell Dunham relied on some of that kind of bartering or favors from friends to make Tiny Furniture.

Plus, creating a TV show sure doesn't mean she takes care of the nuts & bolts of running a budget & paying the tech crew and talent. And TV is Big Bizness, with union contracts and such, which book tours are not, quite. So she might not have seen the similarities in "paying talent."

I'm not inside Ms. Dunham's head, but add up all of the above plus, like I said, her very quick turnaround, and I, personally, am willing to file this more under "honest mistake" than "dastardly plot."
posted by soundguy99 at 4:14 PM on September 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


I mean, she [Amanda Palmer] worked as a BUSKER for years. Y'know, standing on the street, only money from donations, busker.

"Money" being the operative word, here - as in, she performed, she got paid.

True, it's (maybe . . . maybe) more of a gamble than trying to get people to shell out 10 bucks to see you perform in a grody rock club, but she still got paid for her performance.

The busking would only be an apt comparison if the Harvard Square Business Owners' Association had asked her to busk in Harvard Square without accepting tips or donations because busking in Harvard Square is cool and any young performer should be happy to busk for coolness points and exposure.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:22 PM on September 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


That's also ignoring the fact that busking isn't that bad of a gig anyways if you enjoy it. I have several friends who've traveled the country doing it. It's totally typical to make upwards of $12/hour. As in $80 for six hours of work. If you have a good spot in high foot traffic part of town it only goes up from there.

Busking is by no means "working for free". It's a job, and you get paid. More than that amount would imply even too since there's no tax deductions from your "paycheck".

I fully understand where the "she should get it" argument is coming from, but I just figured id throw that out there.
posted by emptythought at 6:31 PM on September 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Why would Lena Dunham be aware of the Amanda Palmer shitstorm? When did that become a cultural touchpoint like 9/11 or the Kennedy assassination?"

uh im pretty sure everybody reads metafilter
posted by klangklangston at 9:32 PM on September 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


Is all of this anger an active plot to turn Lena Dunham posts into the new Israel/Palestine, with instant deletions by moderators?
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:59 AM on October 1, 2014


Actually, if they're angry enough, this could be prepwork for giving this scandal it's own #hashtag and taking it to 4Chan.
posted by happyroach at 8:51 AM on October 1, 2014


Paying openers is Anti-Dunhamism.
posted by rhizome at 8:54 AM on October 1, 2014


Pretty sure we've been criticizing people on Metafilter since long before 4chan and Twitter made it cool.

(Seriously, though, active plot? Conspiracy theory much?)
posted by misha at 6:59 PM on October 1, 2014


(Seriously, though, active plot? Conspiracy theory much?)

No, I don't believe there is a cabal of mefites who meet in secret to hatch nefarious plans involving celebrities.

To explain the joke, I was being sarcastic to draw attention to the fact that people are discussing this one random celebrity with the kind of passion and anger usually reserved for select controversial subjects of world importance.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:24 AM on October 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


For me at least, this isn't about Dunham so much as it's about the devaluation of labor. Which is something that is hurting us badly, and needs to be fought against.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:09 AM on October 2, 2014 [7 favorites]




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