movies matter | criticism by maryann johanson
Fri Sep 30 2016, 08:40am | 18 comments
Once you let the money in, you can never get it out again.
I feel like we’ve been over this before. So, to reiterate, I’m really not seeing a problem here. These people’s time is valuable; the customers are willing to pay these rates. The commenters at THR are framing it as some kind moral issue, which seems hyperbolic, to say the least. I guess it goes back to the idea that artists should suffer for their art, not profit?
Why should the money get out? For that matter, why wasn’t there money in the first place?
People who do it because they love it get screwed over when the money comes in. People who do it for the money do it badly.
Then the amateurs who actually had ideas get out, and what’s left is a hollowed-out core of PR men drumming up enthusiasm for a product whose real fans, and usually creators too, have long since departed.
So, artists should work and suffer for their art, never profit. Because that’s “hollow”. And the people willing to pay aren’t “real fans” anyway. Do I have that right?
I also call bullshit on “People who do it for the money do it badly.”
OK, if you feel the need to swear about it there’s no point in having this discussion.
Jesus, Roger, when did you decide to become so precious?
I call nonsense, then. Shenanigans. [Citation needed], as the kids say. Your notion that people “doing it for love” inherently do a superior job to anyone who does the same for money is an unsupported, counterfactual assertion. As anyone who’s ever seen a community theater production of “South Pacific” can attest. Steven Amell, the target of this articles thinly veiled scorn, puts on by all accounts a good show.
C’mon. There’s a difference between suffering for your art, and taking the fans for all you can get.
Nobody’s taking anybody. The fans are getting what they pay for. If they want the thing*, they’ll pay (as they do). If it’s not worth it to them, their life will go on without the thing. Meanwhile, the artists are getting paid.
*And that’s what we’re talking about here: a thing. A scribbling of ink on a photograph.
I don’t get what the big deal is. It’s capitalism – stars are selling a product (time, pictures, autographs) and people are buying. It’s not like they’re being forced to pay, it’s purely discretionary entertainment.
There’s technically nothing illegal or wrong about stars selling a product and fans voluntarily buying it (or not). But sometimes a product is priced so high that many fans will feel it’s beyond their reach. While those fans aren’t ENTITLED to the product, it certainly feels as if those with smaller budgets are at a disadvantage, especially in a setting — a fan convention — for which all attendees have already paid a lot of money to be at.
I’m attending New York Comic Con this weekend, and I’ve shelled out $80+ for a ticket for me and another $80+ for my kid. I feel like once we’ve passed that (pretty steep, for me) entry threshold, it would be nice to be able to enjoy everything the con has to offer, along with everyone else. I wanted to get an autograph from Carrie Fisher, but it turns out she’s charging $80 per signature — as much money as it costs to attend the con to begin with.
It feels disproportionate. For $80 I can get a half-decent seat at a Broadway show and enjoy two hours of performers singing and dancing; I can get their autographs afterwards, for free, just by standing outside the stage door (along with anyone off the street who’s interested, and who didn’t necessarily even see the show). If an author or celebrity is doing a reading and signing at a bookstore, there might (or might not) be an entry fee, and you might have to buy a book from the venue to be eligible for signing — but you don’t have to pay the cost of attendance or the cost of the book AGAIN just to get the author’s signature.
$80 for an autograph isn’t necessarily wrong, but it does feel anti-egalitarian, and a bit like fleecing. Certainly the stars who attend the con should be compensated for their time and effort, but I wonder if they can get it just from the con’s own budget or people’s entry fees, or from advertisers or corporate sponsors.
Carrie Fisher’s signature isn’t something “the con has to offer”. Because Carrie Fisher’s signature doesn’t belong to the convention. The convention made arrangements to get her there, maybe a venue for her to speak. Essentially, to put on a performance. A signature, something that has resale value on the open market, is something else. That she happens to ask the same cost as a con ticket is incidental. Someone – probably her agency – figured out what her signature is worth on that market, and what a reasonable cut of that is. Mark Hamill asks more than twice that, because his signature is worth more.
Hanging around backstage (or the locker room door) has always been creepy and stalkerish.
Authors exist in a very different market from actors and pro athletes.
“Fleecing” (or MAJ’s related “taking”) implies deception. Which is nonsense.
Broadway stagedooring involves protocols, etiquette, official supervision from stage manager and staff, and doesn’t happen “backstage.” Maybe you’re not familiar with how it works.
I’m familiar. There’s a lot of etiquette and protocol around locker room doors, too. The practice is still creepy and stalkerish. (IMHO, or course.)
My family has happy, meaningful memories of our interactions at the stagedoor, and I disagree with your characterization of our actions. Your opinion is so noted.
As a professional stage actor, I agree that there is nothing creepy and stalker-ish about meeting actors and getting autographs at the stage door. Or at least not inherently creepy and stalker-ish. There could be a few exceptions, but it’s generally a pretty wonderful thing to be a part of
Charging for autographs seems a tad slimy, especially if you had to pay a bunch for admission. Wouldn’t you be paying for the talent to be there then?
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