RND// To consider the ideology of Patreon, whose founding story (ie. ‘something entirely made up’) is neatly, mythologically presented as somehow remotely natural, clean, friendly and inherently benevolent:
3398 x 3195 .jpg, Patreon screenshot
“It cost over $10,000 to make that video.”
– Poor old millionaire Jack Conte on ‘not being paid for his art’ and therefore deciding to found Patreon.. conveniently forgetting that (unlike him and his Stanford graduate buddies) if I had $10,000 dollars to begin with, I wouldn’t fucking need Patreon, would I? Hipster Gwat.
1920 x 8725 .jpg, screenshot edited in Gimp:
To realize, acknowledge and understand the set of distinctly synthetic social circumstances and mis-relations which brought about Patreon, which (unlike Athena arising complete from the forehead of Zeus) appears a completely artificial state of affairs, AKA “I dislike and mistrust Jack Conte’s smug hipster beard.” No wonder these parasitic, Silicon start up middle-men types are always smiling. Luckily it’s all about the artists tho, right?
Update: Millionaire Patreon Ceo Jack Conte And His Butt Kissing Fanbois
It’s any wonder Jack can site down, what with the sheer volume of smoke blown up his ass by brown-nosing minions and obsequious flatterers. Toady, unctuous, uncritical, boot licking, sycophantic worshiping doormats of random rich white assholes who got to their (apparently exulted) position as ‘winners’ through pretty much nothing but the sheer force of their own historical privilege and Cultural Capital. What a darkly laughable shower of fawning fuckwits. Simply through existing, Jack’s constantly pissing on your head and telling you it’s raining free Patreon dollars. Talk about a cult.
“Oh please Mr. Conte, let me shine your designer shoes with the oil from my nose! Feel free to spread my ass checks even wider with this handmade artisan anal speculum so you can fuck over real artists even harder with your unnecessary, parasitical middle-white-man Art Tax platform waaa! Nobody understands your Innately Altruistic Vision like we do!”
You heard right, dummies – Patreon is a fucking Art Tax, not the humble savior of the go-getting artistic little-guy. You’ve not only been sold down the up-flowing river, but have to hire the boat and paddles as well. How incredibly ideologically convenient it is that good old Benevolent Overlord Jack gets to hack off his slick cut in order to ensure that everyone else make their measly fucking handfuls of change. It’s exactly like that starched tosser Elon Musk and Paypal. The oh-so ‘conveniently inconvenient’ service that – from the outset – merely helps you help It serve Itself. Patreon is no fucking pal of yours, dear Artist.
As usual, the world has been turned on its head and the idiots are in charge. According to the self-fulfilling microverse of Patreon, artists are no longer simply artists, but *suppresses gag reflex* ‘Artistic Entrepreneurs‘. Blurrrg! *wipes mouth* (Sorry about that.) Holy fucking hairy shitballs that’s some honest-to-dog hypercorporate Bullshit Bingo right there! It’s like some new age version of the Thatcherite-era, it’s-OK-to-be-Gordon-Gekko groupthink. Such ill-considered, wrong-headed views are beyond contempt. Do The Fucking Math, people; Patreon needs artists a shit ton more than artists need Patreon.
Example Reference Links
- Robert What: Crowdfunding as a continuous (Drip) activity
- Pluto Books: Untangling Art’s relationship with Capitalism
- Tech Crunch: The founding story of Patreon [Check out the vids; try not to puke from all the lab grown Bro-Enthusiasm on display -Rob]
- Counter Punch: The Commodification of Art and the Illusions of Capitalism
- Burlington Contemporary: Art’s hidden abode of production
- Polygon: Please pay attention to my Patreon career
- The Outline: No One Makes A Living On Patreon
- Jacobin: The Myth of the Temporarily Embarrassed Millionaire
- Bloomsbury: Working Aesthetics: Labour, Art and Capitalism
- Reddit: Why do people worship the rich? And what can be done about this?
- William Deresiewicz: The Death Of The Artist: How Creators Are Struggling to Survive in the Age of Billionaires and Big Tech
Update: An email to William Deresiewicz
> On Jun 10, 2021, at 10:11 AM, Robert What wrote:
> Dear Mr. Deresiewicz
> Hello! I’m a skint, UK based philosopher, artist and writer – dropping by to say your book “The Death Of The Artist” sounds cool. I’ve not read it yet, but I intend to.
> I’ve written an angry article on my site entitled The Capitalist Ideology Of Patreon, and would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.
> Basically: I need to get paid while doing art – ‘Art As Work’ – but am ideologically mistrustful of parasitical, self-inserted platforms like Patreon, which I view as an Art Tax. What can one do as a struggling artist? (Likewise, what are my immediate collective political-artistic responsibilities, and priorities?)
> I hope you are doing well. Stay safe.
> Most Sincerely, Robert What
> Hi Robert,
> I enjoy the venom, and I hate Silicon Valley and all its platforms and founders with a passion deeply sincere, but my feeling, having written the book, is that in a capitalist society, some engagement with the market is a necessary evil. In the case of Patreon, it really does seem to be a net good for a lot of artists, whatever Jack’s interests and oleaginous rhetoric. It serves a function that wasn’t otherwise being served, and many of the younger artists I spoke with benefited from it. I hate that it has to exist at all, but I can’t say that I hate that it exists. Put it this way: I hate Google and Facebook and Amazon, and I use them as little as I have to, but I do use them.
Wow. I’m surprised and disappointed to hear you precisely mirror and express what Mark Fisher called Capitalist Realism, and what Slavoj Zizek terms ‘fetishistic disavowal’ – which is the internalized form of commodity fetishism. It takes the form of ‘I know very well, but’ (or as you put it, ‘I hate that it has to exist at all, but’.)
To use a common example. One understands that Amazon is truly awful and Jeff Bezos one straight up evil, greedy ass motherfucker.. but one continues using Amazon (ie. is in service to It) simply because it’s ‘convenient’. Yeah, sure is convenient for Jeoff’s disgusting bank balance..
One has taken on the very notion of Capitalism internally, successfully been subsumed within its ideological functioning and operations, to the extent that one readily accepts its false premises and promises – mainly that it’s The Only Game In Town. One does this however, through one’s inner moral or troubled thoughts, but through one’s daily actions. After all, it’s not just what one thinks, but how one acts. The relationships one makes. And it’s this mental schism and consumerist Realpolitik style bullshit ‘pragmatism’ which allows us to successfully ignore our ongoing complicity in violent, repressive ethical compromises under Capitalism. One can continue to indulge in I.T, because one feels absolved from the guilt that arrives from falsely feeling powerless at an apparent lack of alternatives. That nothing can possibly change for the better, because everything’s changing so fast one simply hasn’t the opportunity to jump off the train of Global Capital currently heading over the cliff. One might as well enjoy the ride, right? Shit, why not help stoke the comforting fires of our own planetary destruction while we’re at it?
Drifter: You gotta listen to me. I thought you boys understood. It’s Business, that’s all it is.. You still don’t get it, do you boys? There ain’t no countries anymore. No more good guys. They’re running the whole show. They own everything, the whole goddam planet – they can do whatever they want! What’s wrong with having it good for a change? Now they’re gonna let us have it good if we just help them. They’re gonna leave us, alone, let us make some money. You can have a little taste of that good life too. Now I know you want it, hell, everybody does..
Frank: You’d do it to your own kind.
Drifter: What’s the treat? We all sell out everyday. Might as well be on the winning team!
– They Live (John Carpenter, 1988)
But then Amazon doesn’t even tell you you’re powerless does it – like an endlessly fruitful cornucopia (of cosmically useless, plastic Earth destroying bullshit), it ‘offers’ you the story – the goddam lie – that the only real (pseudo) ‘choice’ is simply to Shut Up And Shop. The irrationality of the System is built in with every click of that Purchase button.
Fuck that white noise. And fuck Patreon, too. I need alternatives to (Capitalistic) Alternatives. As for the bullshit term ‘necessary evil’, that just means “It’s necessary for me to continue being evil, because I profit mightily from it.” Irrational modes of non-thinking which begin “In a Capitalist society, we all have to make compromises.” It’s only Capitalist because the wankers that own absolutely fucking everything are immune to genuine change, and hold billions of minds in the strong ideological grip of ‘100% Genuine All Natural & Innate Capitalism, Honest!’
A better world for all is not only possible, it’s essential for our survival as Artists, and as one species amongst many. You know what they say – if “Patreon” is the answer, you must be asking the wrong fucking question. Just stating the obvious here, Bill. It’s long been a Public Secret – but the point is to change.
Beneath the greasy cobblestones of Capitalist crowdfunding, the cool artistic beach.