High and Dry

Two jumps in a week
I bet you think that’s pretty clever, don’t you boy?

I knew for a while that I wasn’t happy writing for other people. Once upon a time it was legitimisation, that being employed by somebody else meant that it was true, I could write, because I’d get a small monetary recompense every month that proved it. After a while, however, something quietly sublimated within. If somebody else would validate this, that could mean others would too, perhaps enough to sustain my own projects. The problem with sites such as Patreon however is that so many of the people I respect and look to think they’re a con. By becoming a user you are effectively asking your subscriber base to pay for shit that you could really do for yourself. The one that always gets brought up is the ‘please pay for me to go to this Convention so I can continue to provide content for you’ and yes, that’s where I’d draw the line too. Take the holiday for yourself, don’t expect others to pay for that, and THEN make your content separately.

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I have Mick Montgomery to thank for my rethink on crowdfunding, which happened just before he got accepted for a dream gaming job last year. He made me realise that if we focussed solely on content generation and never looked past the job in hand, that there was justification in asking people to fund. He was trying to get me to accept a wage, which at the time I can remember being quite hostile to the idea that I’d be paid for a project that was pretty much 90% of his effort: I just turned up and read stuff! It made me consider the possibilities, and make a key distinction between why you ask for money and then what that money does. The key, ultimately, is transparency. It has to be very clear, right from the word go, what people will be paying for. Once that was reconciled, I wanted to be able to put 100% effort into the process. That meant yesterday, I handed in my notice on the weekly column with a clear conscience.

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I’d love to build my part up by saying I don’t have a clue what happens next, but that would be a big, fat, dirty lie. There would not have been the cutting of all these cords unless there was a goal, and there is. What I’m planning to do is make a unique profession around what and how I write, but not expect anyone to pick up the tab for the extras. That means when I offer tier rewards they’ll be exclusively around content written just for Patreon. This isn’t me asking you to fund a book, or send me on courses. If I want to learn to write, that’s my cost to cover. What you will do however is allow me to begin a journey from scratch, and if I can do that right then it will be easier later on to get other people to invest and believe in me. I’ll be filling in details on what happens next when we get into May, and the Patreon will launch June 1st.

I promise you, it will be worth your attention.

White Punks on Dope

I was having a chat with someone about this Amazon advert yesterday on Twitter, and a cursory look on Google reveals that it has upset quite a few people, including my husband. His argument was quite simple: if this had been a woman, with a guy wanting to buy a meat thermometer, this 30 seconds of film would probably never have made it to air. Somehow making this a bloke allows this to be socially acceptable? That’s not true either, as that article by Ragen Chastain points out. Using shortcomings as humour might have been how silent films made the world laugh a century ago, but a lot has changed. Certain forms of humour have always been a dangerous game, especially now as social media allows the visually viral to sweep around the planet in days.

Then I went to my own reaction to this, when I first saw it in the Gym, to understand where I now exist in Western society when it comes to humour. Yes, it made me laugh the first time I saw it, but it wasn’t in surprise that this happened, but in shock. It’s that moment when you’re in a conversation with somebody else and you realise they have no idea that their joke just offended you, or their attitude is making you feel uncomfortable. It is the sad truth that sometimes, trying to be funny just makes things worse, and not better. No more so is this true with jokes that attack weight, disability and sexuality, although many people will tell you they really don’t care whether your routine is in good taste or not, it is if you laugh or not that matters. I think the best humour make you think, or can be told without the need to use the physical at all.

Eddie Izzard is a brilliant comedian for many reasons, but that sequence isn’t funny because of the humour, I’m laughing mostly in embarrassment at the way my country used to turn up and appropriate territory without a thought for hundreds of years. He was front and centre last week on Question Time when told to ‘shut up’ over his argument with Nigel Farage. There’s another blog post in that subject too, and that again focuses on the power of imagery to make a point (and often to be altered in able to do so.) But I digress: Izzard’s done stand up in three languages, and I listened to him explain how this works: you have to remove the specifics from your comedy. You can’t make a joke about Curly Wurly’s in Germany, because they won’t know what that is, you need to use the phrase ‘chocolate bar’ and base your humour around that. That’s what using the fat bloke does, it allows this humour to be ‘relevant’ across Europe for Amazon. Except as time goes on, that’s not good enough.

We need better metaphors than laughing at each other’s failings to sell shit.

We need people like Dove. Oh, and Always:

It is incredible to think that the same company who can take the piss out of a lone guy having the balls to do yoga in a class full of women also made this:

Times are changing. One can only hope advertisers keep getting the memos about how it’s not about the stupid any more, but the truth. You can’t lie any more to people, not with the way the World now operates, because in the end they’ll see right through you. The irony is, of course, however good you think you are, there’s always room for improvement, and no more is that true than when you talk to someone else.