Friday, August 11, 2006

Selling Out: A Rant

Category: Mind Change
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Old Comments

  • I think the term “sell out” is overused.  I think most handy terms we have for behaviors that reflect a preference for short term effects over long-term effects (often called “wrong”, “immoral”, or “stupid”) are overused.

    To me, a sell out is someone who owns something precious and beautiful, the value of which depends to a great extent on that person’s ownership of it.  This owned thing could be faith in an idea, or it could be a commitment to answering fan letters.  It could be a style of play or dress.  Whatever it is, the owner constantly exhibits and uses and improves it because that’s what ownership is all about.  When a person abandons that thing in capitulation to a source of funds, that’s selling out.  Ownership is the essential long term strategy to maintain quality.

    The point I tried to make in Red Light, Green light is that in any trade, the quality of the people with whom you trade matters.  Money makes prostitution easy, but that doesn’t mean everyone who earns money is a prostitute.

    But I think there’s some truth in the all-too-common usage of “selling-out” to mean “achieving financial success”.  Financial success so often comes from clever legal structures like trademarks, copyrights, patents, licenses, etc., which in turn rely on government to be enforced, which enforcement relies on resources taken by force (taxed) from people.  So in this long roundabout way, financial success, in a sense, often relies heavily on taxation, which is what we generally call theft when government is the thief who takes our earnings from us without giving us a choice.  Anyone care to contribute to the “Enforce the DMCA” fund?

    I might gain a reputation for blaming taxation for everything, and that’s OK.  Worthy people who get to know me will see the truth in it, or, if I really am just a nut, they’ll help straighten me out.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/11  at  10:08 PM
  • Well, I think that more thank likely, your response went well over my head. But anyhow…

    While I agree that to just change yourself for the purpose of money, to allow your creative abilities to be exploited by some major corporate buisness just to reach ‘wealth’, yeah, that is selling out.

    Perhaps I did not clarify myself, but I was trying to make a point about a lot of fans will just dump or ridicule some artist when they are signed by either a major label, or if their fan base suddenly grows (even without the help of a major label). I’m simply saying that in ‘scenes’ such as punk, people will automatically assume you aren’t punk anymore or your sound has radically changed because you have shifted to a label that isn’t exclusively punk.

    I understand all the strings attatched to copyrights, taxes, and etc, but if a band chooses to do something different, such as trying something new, and not necissarily change labels, they automatically lose credibility. Then people have a to complain how nothing is original anymore.

    I can understand if ‘selling out’ were true, that somebody radically changed themselves just to earn a few bucks, but in many cases, people will scream it just when they no longer like the way an artists sounds, or if they have new fans.

    Posted by tree-lights  on  08/11  at  11:01 PM
  • Sorry TL, I think I’m guilty of “stealing the point.”  I was using your post as a springboard to launch into my own rant.

    Anyway, I fault myself for writing stuff that is unclear.  Maybe you can help me out by picking a sentence or a concept in my comment that made it obnoxiously complicated.


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/12  at  11:11 PM
  • Oh, hey ‘tis ok. You were making some good points, so rant on!

    I don’t think it was complicated, at least not when I reread it, I think I just got myself confused because you were making a point about the idea of selling out for a goal of finicial success, when I had tried to make the point of the fans selling out. 

    It just irks me when supposed fans will attack a band because they are not ‘scene enough’ or conversly, posers, or if they have gone ‘mainstream’. There are supposedly mature, grown adults participating in such behaviours!

    I appreciate your comment, and subsequent apology. The fact that you bothered to read it, and were affected to write the comment in the first place, make me estatic!

    And by the way, I liked ‘Red Light, Green Light’.

    Lots of Romantic Existentialism,

    Posted by tree-lights  on  08/13  at  02:24 AM
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