i'm gonna stick around and help until my haunting time is over
November 23, 2021 10:27 AM   Subscribe

This webcomic made it okay to be sad online. Then its artist vanished. The author of ‘Pictures for Sad Children’ went AWOL after a 2014 Kickstarter drama. In an exclusive interview, she explains why she had to unplug from the internet.
posted by meowzilla (48 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
Wow. Thank you for posting this. I hope she's OK.
posted by feckless at 10:33 AM on November 23 [4 favorites]

This interview gives me hope that she's doing better.
posted by scruss at 10:46 AM on November 23 [3 favorites]

I'm particularly struck by:
“what can a regular person do about a story about themselves that has been repeated by, literally, thousands? hundreds of thousands? of people. like, where would i even go to provide some kind of centralized story? how would i convince a totally disparate group of people to read and accept some different story, even if it were possible for me to communicate with them somehow?”
and by one of the last quotes in the article:

“at least i'm not always being harassed i guess.”

And there's something that's getting at me, about Justin Ling's observation:
That nomad lifestyle used to be a liberating premise of the internet. That once you outgrew or cracked your digital shell, you could go find another. But increasingly that doesn’t feel like how things work. Quitting your digital life and starting anew feels so uncommon and strange...
Let's say there's a spectrum between frequent reinvention/moving on and steady accumulation -- of reputation, direction, networks, back catalog, etc. I am way over at the accumulation side of that spectrum. It's hard for me to let go of what I've made. And so I'm grateful to get to read a story about someone who is at the other end.
posted by brainwane at 11:13 AM on November 23 [14 favorites]

She came clean on the book-burning escapade: Everyone who paid at least $15 had received a copy of the book. The ones that were set on fire were damaged or misprints that couldn’t be shipped.

I believe that she wasn’t actually burning copies that were ever meant to be shipped but it’s not that uncommon online to come across people who claim not to have received their book so I dunno about the claim that everybody who paid for one got one. There are far more unforgivable things than having a breakdown dealing with the Internet; I just get an odd sense of someone wanting to play off a fuckup as more performance art here. But I don’t have any idea of the truth of the matter, myself.
posted by atoxyl at 11:27 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]

Holy smokes that was a powerful read.
posted by djeo at 11:45 AM on November 23 [3 favorites]

Thanks for this FPP, I'm glad to hear from her. I really loved the comic at the time and have occasionally wandered back to it and thought about how she's doing.
But cherishing her right to appear and disappear at will didn’t mean that Veil had disconnected entirely. Quite the opposite: She engaged with the internet on her own terms. “i don’t think i would have survived without the visibility of trans people online,” she wrote. “i think i would have given up. offline media still hasn't shown us merely living, and i’m grateful every day for the people who encourage each other and connect and make life more livable for us.”
I feel this very strongly, as well as her impulse to just drop everything and disappear. I know many trans and neurodivergent folks who have spoken about similar desires. I often fantasise about it or about shedding my skin like a lizard and scuttling off somewhere dark and private to just exist for a while. I'm happy that she managed to go "on strike" against the expectations of the Internet, though obviously she's been through a really tough time to get to where she is now and that's not great.

It feels like the ultimate Monkey's Paw of being an artist. Many of us yearn for success and recognition, but what happens when that success isn't something we can cope with? I really hope Simone finds her place both in the real world and in her art.
posted by fight or flight at 11:57 AM on November 23 [18 favorites]

It's fascinating to see how some people respond to success. Veil was very successful. She had a lot of fans who were more than happy to contribute and support her in her endeavor. But, success clearly isn't what she actually wants. She doesn't want fans, she doesn't want their support, because with that support comes the feeling that she owes them in return.

So then what happened? Is the "story repeated by thousands" true, that she had a breakdown, burned books that belonged to people, and fled the internet? Or was it performance art, and she deliberately torpedoed her webcomics career because she realized it wasn't what she wanted? The answer is probably somewhere in the middle. I've witnessed many kickstarters implode and blogs go silent because folks don't know how to respond to overwhelming success. Finding out thousands of people want what you have can be much worse than finding out no one wants it, because for most people the latter is the default. Looking at what she's done since, it's clear she wants her art to be perceived, but she desperately does not want the relationship between artist and observer that comes with that perception.

I don't think the way Veil responded to her success is particularly healthy, I hope she has people in her life that can help her. If someone likes what you're doing and responds positively to it you do not actually owe them something in return, nor are you going "on strike" by then refusing to do that any more (and then doing it anyway, quietly in ways that hopefully no one will notice). I know so many artists who would do anything for the tiniest scrap of that success, but then of course knowing there are many out there struggling in the dark for the thing you seem to have been handed, that too plays into the feeling of owing and being owned. The key might be to use your success to lift up the voices of other artists, even if it costs being perceived in the process.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:19 PM on November 23 [12 favorites]

Funny, I was thinking about PFSC just yesterday. I can't believe the KS drama happened that long ago. I feel like 2014 was the last time that "online" felt like a place to be that I recognised and participated in (perhaps not coincidentally it's also the year I first signed up for a MeFi account). Definitely around the time "when being very online" started to move from feeling "transgressive and maybe a little odd" to the domination of Facebook and the increased beige-ifyng of the internet. Maybe it's taken me that long to start to find ways to want to move away from online being the place to be transgressive, and try to go back to the "real world", only to find it's not really a place any more at all.

“I think maybe I’m one of the internet sociopaths?” Yeah, me too. I lurk, I don't create. It all goes into me and nobody knows I'm looking. I don't project myself, yet I want to be seen. "It is a joy to be hidden, and a disaster not to be found".

She has a website where a link to "art subscription" leads to a monthly paypal payment of $15. I want to give her the money, but that little sour consumerist in me says- what will I get in return? I don't have $15 a month to give away for nothing, I tell myself to reassure myself, to protect myself against a pure version of me who would give the money away, smiling.

Also sorry, I never knew her name, and it is SIMONE VEIL?? Perfection. Heiress to Weil, having the courage to be insane when sanity is the option of evil.

I'm an artist that doesn't draw. I'm a person that looks at the need to "make a living", daily, with horror and dismay. I meditate and volunteer on organic farms. I'm Veil, she's me. We don't have a way to live which doesn't violate itself. We want to get out from a place of no escape, we want to get beyond when there is no beyond.
posted by Balthamos at 12:25 PM on November 23 [22 favorites]

I think the choice of name is unfortunate to tasteless, especially given the book burning. Internet webcomic fame isn't Auschwitz.

There are a couple of people I know irl who claim they supported the kickstarter and never got a book, but I kind of feel that sending money to internet people is inherently risky and that people who read the webcomic shouldn't have expected her to churn out art like a well-oiled machine. Lord knows I've blown through deadline after deadline thanks to depression.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:13 PM on November 23 [7 favorites]

The remaining books that went out to backers did so because Max Temkin, one of the creators of Cards Against Humanity, volunteered his time and money to make it work.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:16 PM on November 23 [10 favorites]

ugh I was just thinking about PFSC! a defining work of my early twenties. genuinely think she's one of the most interesting webcomics artists of her generation. I haven't finished reading the piece but i really hope her archives have made it back online.
posted by pmv at 1:54 PM on November 23 [2 favorites]

I would be surprised if she didn't delete her archives personally, or at least through inaction allow her archives to become deleted.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:02 PM on November 23

I haven't finished reading the piece but i really hope her archives have made it back online.

You should probably finish reading the article.
posted by zamboni at 2:02 PM on November 23 [3 favorites]

Wow that made feel so many so much just wasn’t prepared to get knocked over by their reaction to the Kickstarter on zoom. Here’s to everyone who was too online.
posted by zenon at 2:10 PM on November 23

I am sorry she has had such a hard time of it. But I feel uncomfortable with the author conflating the idea of an audience who feels they own a creator--which is absolutely a parasocial type of relationship that develops in fandoms--with an audience that paid for [thing] and did not get [thing] or a refund for [thing]. Saying "I paid for something and I am upset I did not get it" is not the same as "I own you and your art and I am upset you do not perform for me". Asking people to give you money for the sake of supporting your work is different than asking people to give you money in exchange for artwork, and she did the latter and the piece is pretending like the Kickstarter was the former. I don't think the people who paid money with the expectation of a book and then didn't get a book are in the wrong.
posted by schroedinger at 3:00 PM on November 23 [21 favorites]

Yeah, I'm just not... feeling a lot of sympathy? Okay, yeah, people flake out on things, projects can be harder than you expect, artists are not necessarily good at budgeting properly, etc, but her response to people asking, quite reasonably, if they would get the thing they had paid for *two years ago* was to either spitefully burn the thing they paid for or pretend to do so.
posted by tavella at 3:28 PM on November 23 [7 favorites]

“what can a regular person do about a story about themselves that has been repeated by, literally, thousands? hundreds of thousands? of people. like, where would i even go to provide some kind of centralized story? how would i convince a totally disparate group of people to read and accept some different story, even if it were possible for me to communicate with them somehow?”
SO MANY people on the internet are dealing with a situation like this, imposed on them by others, and I was ready to be sympathetic, but in this case the thousands of people believed the story because that's what she told them and posted a supposed video of.

I can respect trolling and KLF-style art pranks, but this just seems like she pressed some buttons on purpose and then noped out when things got real.
posted by mmoncur at 3:37 PM on November 23 [9 favorites]

The Wikipedia article for PFSC refers to the author by her dead name exclusively, and refers to her gender identity in only one sentence, saying her "gender identity has become unclear."

See the talk page for people defending the use of incorrect pronouns and calling every source unreliable. When this article came out, the conversation started anew for the 3rd or 4th time since 2015.

I don't know enough wiki-fu to make an educated case for making the change, maybe someone here does?
posted by shenkerism at 6:24 PM on November 23 [6 favorites]

God that talk page is a nightmare. Gotta love some random busybody policing the documentation of someone's gender identity for YEARS for no particular reason. I'd say they should simply adhere to Simone's wishes, but undoubtedly she'd want the whole article obliterated.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:04 PM on November 23 [5 favorites]

It seems that she's a kind of artist that used to be more widely known, if not more widely understood, especially not in the US. Wanting to create and wanting the creations to be seen but not wanting to be a part of a world where that happens, to be complicit in it -- it's a very '60s idea, although I know it is older.

I remember reading about the fire in what seemed like another world. The account that I read was not a sympathetic one, to put it lightly, and I came away with the idea that she was a scammer and a nasty art brat. Yet in this article you read that she cries at the thought of it. I know you can't be sure of anything you read, but I was moved, I have to admit it. She fucked up, but she's keenly aware, and she's trying to live a different life.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:53 PM on November 23 [2 favorites]

I actually LOLed when I read this line in the article: “I am looking for people who do not feel they need to see any ‘return’ on their ‘investment,’” she wrote.

Really, aren't we all? But if that's the case, one should probably refrain from offering a specific product in return for cash.
posted by rpfields at 8:11 PM on November 23 [5 favorites]

The tone of this discussion has been gross, so I’ll just open with that.

Firstly: Everyone who paid at least $15 had received a copy of the book.

Secondly, these two things:

“Before I sold my original art, I wrote a post to backers that mentioned my sexual identity,” […] It was her quiet announcement that she was transgender. And, what’s more, that her own personal wellbeing was taking priority.“

she had to quit her antidepressants because she didn’t have the funds. She offered a screencap of her checking account: $751.47.

This combination can be _deadly_. It might be that this particular point hits too close to home for me to have a healthy, respectful discussion about whatever y’all’s bugbear is with art and commerce at crowdfunding’s infancy, but again, the tone of this discussion has been gross, so I’ll just close with that
posted by Maaik at 8:47 PM on November 23 [23 favorites]

I don't have many opinions about the comic or this artist (neither of whom I had heard of before this) but many parts of this article resonated with my own life. For instance:

“I feel like there was something I wanted to communicate about the seemingly illusory nature of human identity, the criteria we use to decide when someone no longer gets our empathy, how little we actually know about each other, especially online,” she wrote in a follow-up email. In those questions about identity, both real and invented, “how strange it is to wrap all that in capital and ‘making a living.’”

This parallels a lot of things I've been mulling on, as someone who recently came out as transgender and is a pretty visible person in my field. I'm far from a household name or anything (thank God) but, well, let's put it this way: there are a lot of people who "know" me that I don't know at all. That's kind of cool in a way, but I'm acutely aware that they don't really know me, they've constructed an image of me, and that kind of parasocial relationship is pretty disconcerting to be on this side of.

The point is: I have an online and professional presence that I value and is in some ways inextricable from me doing the things I love, but it does create tension. I feel like I'm constantly walking an invisible tightrope between (on the one hand) being authentic and using my visibility well, but (on the other hand) having that visibility lead to real safety, privacy, and identity concerns at times. And it all leads to really deep issues about what it means to be authentic in such an environment, anyway.
posted by contrapositive at 11:23 PM on November 23 [13 favorites]

Just to make sure the other side exists, I paid for a book and received it with no problems at all. In fact I didn't even know any of the bad stuff happened until this article came out. It's a great great book.
posted by wyndham at 11:43 PM on November 23 [9 favorites]

I don't think the people who paid money with the expectation of a book and then didn't get a book are in the wrong.

This is the problem that many people face on Kickstarter: it's not a store. You do not purchase an item. You are paying to back a project which may or may not be completed, may or may not deliver on all of its promises, may or may not be the thing you funded in the first place. This is especially true of the early days of the platform when PFSC was running.

Even these days, Kickstarter is very up front that you might not get what you have "paid for":
Unfortunately, however, not every project will go as planned. When this happens we expect all members of the Kickstarter community to act with honesty and openness. For creators who have acknowledged that they are unable to finish their project as they had initially hoped, we ask that they bring their project to a satisfying conclusion by sharing an update that details how the funds were used, and what it is that’s preventing them from completing their project.
In this case, people who paid money with the expectation of a book and didn't get one are not in the wrong, but they are in the wrong if they used that entitlement to harass Simone, which by all accounts many of them did. As has already been pointed out, all that was required was a little empathy for the human being behind the project.
posted by fight or flight at 4:20 AM on November 24 [17 favorites]

You should probably finish reading the article.
I have now, did I miss a part where she declared she'd destroyed her archive? It's not up on her site, but Justin clearly has access to some subset of her archive which was used for the article. I have the first PFSC book, but the Michael Keaton series I felt was quite inspired, and I'd like to read it again. Big fan of her work, and I'm glad she's doing OK after all these years.
Yeah, I'm just not... feeling a lot of sympathy?
wrt to folks' responses re: the book burning, is this an americanism? as someone who was well versed in her work, it seemed clear to me at the time, years ago, when this all went down that she was a) deeply depressed and b) deeply ironic.

not my vibe to get too worked up about an artist who got too sad, blew a series of deadlines, and retreated from a hostile audience expecting customer support. knowing all of the above, i'm still inclined to paypal her $15 and see what happens on the other end.
posted by pmv at 6:36 AM on November 24 [3 favorites]

This is what I've been struggling with for the past few years.

I've created something marvelous. Something that I think could make a lot of people happy. But in order to get it out into the world, I have to step out into the glare of internet fame, and I know for certain that I won't be able to handle it.

I can create beautiful things because I like to spend time alone, thinking and tinkering. I'm not good with people, definitely not good with conflict, and I'm not organized and businesslike. I'd love to get my creations into peoples' hands, but I'm neither qualified to nor interested in being a business owner/social media personality.

The idea of giving up my privacy, my anonymity, making my life public property, appalls me. I use automated checkout lines at grocery stores so I don't have to talk to people; having the Eye of The Internet fall upon me, having the attention of thousands, of millions, well, that's just terrifying. The internet can be unkind.

I've spent a couple of years trying to find a business-oriented extrovert who could take all the prototypes I've been building and make them into an enterprise, but that involves going on the internet and attracting attention. Which, as I may have mentioned, I'm not good at because it scares me. So I think I just have to move on. I'm sure that these would be successful, that they'd bring music to people who never thought they could play, but I know for sure that the process of bringing them to the world single-handedly would destroy me, and I can't figure out how to get help.

I wonder how many beautiful, exquisite creations are out there right now, sitting in drawers and on shelves, gathering dust in cupboards, never to be seen by the world because their creators aren't the kind of people who can cope with the demands of fame.
posted by MrVisible at 6:42 AM on November 24 [10 favorites]

in all the years we've been on the planet and people have created things, and all the ways we've refined transactional relationships to allow for the buying, selling, owning, of things.. if you take a step back, the fact that this person got to create things and then burn and erase what they created is.. what? a big deal? something to have strong opinions about?

I hope the artist does it again. Or not. People need to get over themselves, this is just one more story that adds to a rich tapestry and I'm grateful for it. shit you'd think the denial of the book really harmed people.
posted by elkevelvet at 7:37 AM on November 24 [3 favorites]

pmv - there is an unofficial archive available online, as a torrent.
posted by kickingtheground at 11:16 AM on November 24 [2 favorites]

In this case, people who paid money with the expectation of a book and didn't get one are not in the wrong, but they are in the wrong if they used that entitlement to harass Simone, which by all accounts many of them did.

Both of these are correct.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:55 AM on November 24

shit you'd think the denial of the book really harmed people.

It sure seems to have harmed Simone, which is sort of the point of this whole thing. People should be able to make art and share it and not feel a parasocial pressure from that. We can thank our culture for that, both the mental health support options we have available to us and the weird relationship between artist and observer that the internet has created.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:08 PM on November 24 [2 favorites]

I paid for and received a book, which has the promised dead wasp in it. A+ seller will do business again.

I'm glad the author is still with us.
posted by zymil at 2:19 PM on November 24 [7 favorites]

I am deeply sympathetic to the idea of somebody not being able to deliver on a project due to personal circumstances, practical or emotional. I have been that person. Hell, I could forgive actually outright scamming people to pay one’s medical bills - not to imply that it’s what happened here, just putting even the nastiest framing of the incident in light of the creator’s personal circumstances.

I think it’s more the framing of this article that feels a little strange to me, like it’s trying to turn that story of a person going through rough times and making a provocative gesture in the moment into a big artistic statement, a commentary on capitalism and transactional relationships, which... I think actually makes it harder to identify with.

I do think there’s an interesting tendency for people to get more upset about somebody failing to deliver on a crowdfunded project than if they failed to receive a product that they purchased on Amazon for $14.99. It feels more personal. But that also illustrates that the moral logic of “you promised me this thing and didn’t produce it” is not just about capitalism.

I also do like that this article has served as a source to fix her fucking name on Wikipedia. Although it looks like I might just be catching it at a better moment as wiki-cave-dwellers continue to squabble about it.
posted by atoxyl at 3:26 PM on November 24 [3 favorites]

She came clean on the book-burning escapade: Everyone who paid at least $15 had received a copy of the book. The ones that were set on fire were damaged or misprints that couldn’t be shipped.

If she never had any intention to withhold the books promised to people (which the timeline on the still-up Kickstarter page and the full controversial post leave unclear, considering someone else apparently had to step in to send out the remaining books out-of-pocket, unless that was also performative?), then intentionally putting out a fake inflammatory story about oneself online is a... novel and seemingly counterproductive response to not wanting to deal with harassment and negative attention.

It reminds me of some Twitter self-immolations, in which someone says something provocative and doesn't seem to realize it's very easy for it to spread among millions of the public and not the couple dozen followers it was intended for. She became essentially the main character of Kickstarter for a while, before that was as well-known a phenomenon.
posted by Wandering Idiot at 3:32 PM on November 24 [3 favorites]

I’m personally pretty (unfortunately, unhealthily) familiar with being outwardly provocative and negative online for attention. That is simply how mental illness manifests sometimes, and if that’s something you’re unfamiliar with, you should count yourself lucky. I obviously don’t know Vail’s thinking, but judging from her reaction when the incident is brought up years and years later, and her seemingly strange admittance that she hoped the truth of the burning would “come out on social media,” what I’m taking from that is she may have hoped the stunt would be received as a cry for help. Or just a cry.
posted by Maaik at 3:55 PM on November 24 [4 favorites]

Maybe I missed something, but taking an average of $5 from a thousand people and saying “everyone that paid at least $15 got a book” seems slightly off. Was $15 the level that offered a book as a reward?

And realistically, if you post a performative gag like “I’m burning the rest of the books, never darken my email again, losers,” you kind of have to expect a lot of people might believe you. I think there is actually some internet principle named after a dude that says if you say something, someone is going to believe it.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 5:44 PM on November 24 [1 favorite]

to me it seems very easy to imagine that a person whose entire internet-fame to that point came from a comic whose pillars were "late-capitalist nihilism" and "hopelessness where a punchline usually goes" would proceed to push the boundaries on that level of sad/funny in every other interaction they have with their audience, and would do so not initially assuming that audience would misunderstand, even if the misunderstanding might seem from some other vantage point to be inevitable

which sets aside entirely veil herself, really, and the way that so much of the conversation here presumes veil to be a "perfectly rational" actor in the worst-faith manner possible, truly a "well if I were in the horror movie I certainly wouldn't have opened that door" approach to another human being. but also I don't want to sit here and diagnose veil because I also do not know her, so I don't even know how to articulate the frustration I have with reading a lot of the thread here

I read the original piece as trying to contextualize PFSC and its artist in both our present moment as well as the many shitty moments that led to this present (still shitty) moment. it's almost definitionally a glimpse at shards of a silhouette, contradictory and emotionally fraught in the way many of us are when we are not willing to be vulnerable in the way the world seems to want; it is not nor trying to be a clear portrait of a person where you can do some kind of Internet Sleuthing to figure out whether and who was really In The Wrong here

dunno man now I feel like I'm venting frustration from a potentially bad-faith reading of some of y'all and I do apologize if so. I'll just stop by saying PFSC is beautiful, this piece's comparison to the work of Don Hertzfeldt resonates strongly with me, and I hope all involved are simply doing whatever it is they are doing, somewhere where I probably can't see them
posted by Kybard at 6:48 PM on November 24 [7 favorites]

There seems to be something fundamentally wrong and destructive with the way parasocial relationships form with content creators on the internet. I realize there have always been crazed fans, but something here feels broken in a new way.
posted by Orb2069 at 7:36 PM on November 24 [1 favorite]

Maybe I missed something, but taking an average of $5 from a thousand people and saying “everyone that paid at least $15 got a book” seems slightly off. Was $15 the level that offered a book as a reward?

It was an average of $50, not $5, with the minimum level for a book being $25 and levels up to $1000. Also, almost certainly everyone did not get a book. Of the 1,073 backers, only 23 picked a level that did not include a copy of the book, so 1050 books. 75 percent fulfilled, so roughly 260 not fulfilled before she burned 127 books and promised to burn more*. When Max Temkin took over there were 100 books left. The numbers suggest quite strongly that in fact she did burn part of the deliverables, not some random extras.

Temkin was able to fulfill the backers that still were contactable two years later (or at least the ones who were contactable and hadn't decided they were no longer interested in Veil's work), but the numbers on the Kickstarter suggest the claim that everyone got what they paid for is slightly stretching the truth, and more than stretching it in the claim that she only burned extras.

*Again, to be noted, for the sin of asking to get what they paid for. The email she notes as the point where she quit was not harassment, but simply someone asking for a refund.
posted by tavella at 12:14 AM on November 25 [4 favorites]

Again, to be noted, for the sin of asking to get what they paid for.

Again, to be noted, because apparently this keeps being misread: they got what they paid for, i.e. they paid for the project to happen. And again for those in the back -- Kickstarter is not a store:
Kickstarter is not a store, and when you backed a creator’s project you weren’t buying or pre-ordering an existing product from them.
Anyone who goes into any Kickstarter expecting to absolutely 100% get "what they paid for" is fundamentally misunderstanding the service they're using and the only person they have to blame for that is themselves, and maybe also late stage capitalism for teaching them that they're entitled to whatever they want if they put themselves in the position of a "customer". Kickstarter is a roll of the dice, a donation made with (hopefully) good faith that you don't care if you get anything but you want to help out the creator. This attitude that these people were somehow mislead or "deserved" their books is, frankly, wrong. If you want to buy a book, go pick it up at Barnes & Noble or from Amazon or something. Not Kickstarter.

(If it wasn't obvious I also agree with the above comments that some of the discussion here has been gross and in bad faith from a position of entitlement that isn't warranted. If it's a case of not RTFA then that's one thing, but if you've RTFA and come away doubling down on a lack of empathy for a human in pain, then, well.. I don't think the problem here is with Simone at all.)
posted by fight or flight at 4:12 AM on November 25 [10 favorites]

The email she notes as the point where she quit was not harassment, but simply someone asking for a refund.

genuinely asking, because I might have missed it, but -- where is this in the article? this paragraph is the closest equivalent I can find but to be fair I'm just re-scanning:
Her supposed fans didn’t see it that way. One patron wrote that they contributed at a higher rate “to thank you somehow for helping me laugh through those bad times. is this really the sort of thing you’re protesting?” Another expressed environmental outrage: “Hey, you are a prick. Do you think what you are doing is cool. There are toxins in those books and you are polluting the air. Why don’t you fly a swastika next time you burn books.”
the first quote there is not stated to be a breaking point, and the second is very clearly harassment, so perhaps you mean something/somewhere else?
posted by Kybard at 9:00 AM on November 25

From the "I'm burning your books" letter on Kickstarter.

"During Sunday School, my phone buzzed because someone e-mailed me asking for a refund. Later I realized I had another unfeeling patriarchal religion to reject from my life."
posted by tavella at 9:14 AM on November 25 [3 favorites]

"they got what they paid for, i.e. they paid for the project to happen"

fight or flight, while the fantasy version of Kickstarter you have constructed in your head from their "don't sue us for creator's failures" asscovering is interesting, Kickstarter is extremely, extremely clear about what constitutes fulfilling backers:

"When a project is successfully funded, the creator must complete the project and fulfill each reward. Once a creator has done so, they’ve satisfied their obligation to their backers." (emphasis in the original)

"If a creator is unable to complete their project and fulfill rewards, they’ve failed to live up to the basic obligations of this agreement. To right this, they must make every reasonable effort to find another way of bringing the project to the best possible conclusion for backers. "

Setting their rewards on fire is neither of these things.
posted by tavella at 9:23 AM on November 25 [4 favorites]

Conceptually, what she did is the best possible conclusion.

Economically, of course, it's wrong.

But are artists business people? Well, they're selling a product. But we can't say that the core of art is commodity exchange value. Or can we? If we are, I say... yeah, fuck it, burn your product.
posted by Balthamos at 9:44 AM on November 25 [1 favorite]

It is very discouraging to me that after a story about a newly (somewhat reluctantly) out trans woman, living in squalor, suffering a mental health crisis and abandoning their art, we are relitigating the argument that drove her there in the first place
posted by Maaik at 9:46 AM on November 25 [14 favorites]

"During Sunday School, my phone buzzed because someone e-mailed me asking for a refund. Later I realized I had another unfeeling patriarchal religion to reject from my life."

this does not read to me like "someone said may I please have my money back, and that was the last straw!" -- this reads like a rhetorical gesture.

even if that is how it's meant to read, without the actual phrasing of the e-mail it is not possible to say that the request definitely did not constitute harassment

and even if it was the politest email request for a kickstarter refund ever sent, it is not unreasonable to imagine such a thing still feeling like the trigger for the avalanche when it comes after plenty of real-deal genuine cruel harassment directed at you personally and your relationship to your art
posted by Kybard at 5:28 PM on November 25

...I do appreciate the link to the KS post, though, which I'd had a weirdly hard time finding before and which I hadn't read in full previously. I'm reading it now; for whatever else it is, and I will not try to essentialize it, it's full of really powerful, vulnerable, thoughtful writing
Driving home late from the movie theater I worked at in high school, I saw a rabbit that had been hit by a car lying in the road. I pulled over and got out and I wrapped the rabbit in a towel that was in the trunk of my car. I carried the rabbit in a towel through a nearby field to a creek. I laid the rabbit next to the creek, unwrapped the towel and sat down next to the rabbit, who was conscious but very still. I cried a lot.

I felt strongly that how we live, how we got here and what we do to stay here, hasn’t been “worth it.” I did not feel like anyone I knew in suburban Texas could identify with this feeling. I still feel this strongly but now I believe there are other people who feel the same way.
posted by Kybard at 5:54 PM on November 25 [5 favorites]

tavella, respectfully, we seem to be talking about two different things. The original point was regarding backers feeling like they are owed/deserve this specific book as if they have made a "purchase" (they hadn't; they weren't). Of course we can't change the human condition so there's nothing anyone could have done to stop those backers feeling that way, but, according to Kickstarter's guidelines, the fact that they were treating the site like a store in the first place is a fundamental misunderstanding.

Now you've moved the goalposts to encompass what Kickstarter expects of its creators, which is different. Arguably, Simone did make every reasonable effort she could, but mental illness is neither reasonable nor is it something you can just put aside. She was at the bottom of a very, very dark spiral at that point. You might as well have been asking someone buried under an avalanche if they're capable of serving afternoon tea.


we are relitigating the argument that drove her there in the first place

Quite. And I'm going to stop there.
posted by fight or flight at 4:50 AM on November 26 [1 favorite]

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