Re: But I NEED 20 zillion dollars to make my art!

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Posted by sean at on May 03, 2002 at 14:03:44:

In Reply to: But I NEED 20 zillion dollars to make my art! posted by Isis on May 03, 2002 at 13:15:21:

: : I'd say that this has about as much to do with whether Gap has good clothes or not as the Hopper commercial in question will affect the quality of the next Coen Brothers work.

: It's not a question of whether they have good clothes. It's a question of whether you choose to contribute your money to an operation that does not value the enviroment.

But the point -- which you conveniently deleted :) -- remains that the company, Gap Inc. or whatever, is not even the one fucking with the environment. It'd be like boycotting the Braves because you think that TNT has too many commercials. Or not buying the wheelchair that goes upstairs because the Segway is misspelled and stupid.

Granted, the motivation behind the boycott is better and purer, but I couldn't think of a good example, and I think my point is still clear. Gap is only Gap, and the sweat-shop stuff that they're doing is plenty of reason to boycott them if you choose to without dragging in things that they have no responsibility over nor ability to change.

: It's like, why don't I buy Eminem's album? He's a good rapper. But I don't care to pay money to support someone whose values I DON'T support.

Right, but that doesn't mean that you're going to stop buying *Snoop's* records, does it?

[Um ... Snoop is still with Dre too, right? Maybe I should skip the rap talk.]

: : All the other stuff -- except possibly for how they make their clothes, but including their trendiness -- shouldn't matter.

: It does to me. I like to know where my money is going.

Really? Where/how do the people that Kevin has hired to make all the Askew merchandise make their shirts? I'm not accusing Kevin of anything, don't get me wrong, I just feel like any money that isn't left in a shoebox under the bed is going to wind up, somewhere down the line, going to the people you don't want it to. Put it in a bank? Better watch out, plenty of banks supported the Nazis. Computers? Clothes? Sneakers?

Books? Well, hell, they chop down trees to make those.

Cars? Fuckin' forget it...

: I don't buy that argument. None of us ever HAVE to do anything. If you choose to be in business, there's no reason you can't do it responsibly. How much money does Gap Inc. make per year, do you think? I doubt they're all poor urchin ragamuffins with only one newsboy cap and bowl of porridge to share amongst them. I do agree that we need legal standards, however.

I'm going to make their argument for them because it's easier than coming up with my own and more accurate to what they would say, in response to you, anyway.

"We have a responsibility to the shareholders to make as much money for them as possible."

Because you're absolutely right, they can, indeed, choose to do it responsibly. But then they'd bankrupt anybody that held onto their stock, which wouldn't be very many people, when they went out of business. It all boils down to the bottom line. The best you'll get is that they'll choose to operate legally. But don't expect a business to be run by ethics, because it's bad business to do so, especially when you're dealing in other people's money.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with capitalism. It's fine, and that's the way it is. But if we're going to live in a society of capitalism, then the law has to be constantly watched in order to make sure that it stays up-to-date with the goings-on of the day, in order that the people can be protected. The reason Michael Moore is fighting a losing battle in the world is that he's going up against the CEOs, who all have the law on their side, rather than the laws and lawmakers.

: : Which would you rather see, Kate:
: : 1) A bunch of people you consider artists waste months of their lives on a shitty movie so that they can get a lot of money and be comfortable for a little while and do their own thing.
: : 2) A bunch of people you consider artists wasting an afternoon on a decent commercial for a shitty company so that they can get a lot of money and be comfortable for a while and do their own thing?

: Neither. Again, I don't buy that anyone ever has to do anything. Even if there's a gun against your head, you have a choice -- stick to your principles and bite the bullet, or compromise yourself in order to have a future opportunity to do what you want to do. No one is forcing Gap to make billions of dollars, poor little Olivers that they are ("we'd stick a knife in your best friend...for yoooouuuuu!" -- anyone who remember that SNL skit, I love you). No one is forcing the Coens to make big budget movies. If they CHOOSE to compromise themselves in order to do what they WANT to do, that's one thing. But I think anyone posting here knows perfectly well that you can make an excellent movie for the credit-card-charged price of a luxury SUV, if you really want to.

: If you're an artist, in my mind, your talent, your name, and your influence are worth FAR more than money.

You know, at first I disagreed with the "fool's paradise" comment, but now I'm starting to see it's validity... not that you're a fool, just that it's pretty much a rose-colored view in the above.

Is being an artist a job? Not neccessarily, but we are talking about people who make their living as artists. So in the case of all the people we're discussing, yes.

What is the job of an artist, then? To create the art that they choose in their medium, yes? Well, okay, for actors, it's not as hard. (Except that, granted, if you slip out of the spotlight for even just a little while, you risk the ability to get back in each time.) You can act on the street, just like you can play music on the street, and you can paint on the street, and all these other things, with just your principles keeping you warm. And plenty of people have done this and survived.

But are you actually suggesting that any filmmaker -- especially the Coen brothers, who have never wasted a time as far as on-screen production value goes -- could spend the rest of his life just making movies funded by credit cards? Your point was clearly that Kevin made "Clerks" that way, and yes, it's true. He did. He made *one* movie that way, as many people have. But to go back to that time and again would be impossible and illogical. (I should ask, at this time -- you've never made a movie, have you Kate? Especially a very very low budget experience. Trust me when I say that, at the very least, it's a young person's game. Especially funding it on a credit card. Sure, Kevin, or anybody else, could keep doing it -- but they have no reason to unless they're trying to push themselves to an early grave. There's no reason to make a movie for 200 grand when you can make one for 20 mil, unless the film in question shouldn't cost more than 200 grand to start. I'm raising it from 20 to 200 because it's virtually impossible to make a releasable movie, these days, on a "Clerks" budget.)

So now we come to question of, how to make the movies that a person wants to make? Different directors have had different solutions. Barry Levinson does big studio work -- "Toys", "Sphere" -- in order to pay for smaller films -- "Liberty Heights", "Wag The Dog". Spike Lee did Nike commercials for a while. George Lucas made a lot of toys, and then made movies full of even more toys. The Wachowski brothers wrote and sold "Assassins" to do "Bound", and jumped from that to "The Matrix". Steven Spielberg put Reese's Pieces into "E.T." because they paid more than M&Ms.

And none of these things affected the work that got it's funding because of them. Yet all of them are various degrees of "selling out" behavior.

The Coen Brothers have been doing commercials for years, Kate, and since their names aren't on them, how can it possibly have any standing on their name? Isn't it actually far preferable than having them waste their times on studio nonsense just so that every third or fourth movie from them can be a "Fargo"? I mean, I understand your point and all, it just seems a little naive.

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