Posts Tagged ‘Kickstarter’

2013 - 3Here’s my new kitten Nik (named for Nikola Tesla) telling me to shut up. That way, you don’t have to.

Please read – and parse – what I’m actually saying before posting a comment or linking on some outrage tumblr, thanks.

Recently there was a Kickstarter project for a ‘seduction manual‘ which turned out to contain some quite rapey and illegal advice on how to pick up women, involving being physically overbearing and invading personal space. For once the outrage levelled at something on the internet actually seemed to have a bit of substance and after some sniffing around and checking into it I joined the voices asking for it to be pulled. It crossed a certain line for me in advocating real, genuine, illegal and horrible behaviour in real life.

The project funded anyway, Kickstarter acted too slowly to withdraw it, but instead they apologised and gave a sizeable donation to a charity.

So far, so good. Until you read through the apology.

I’m a pretty staunch free expression advocate and getting more hard-line that way with almost every day and every twitterstorm over something or other that someone finds offensive. I made an exception in this case because the book was advocating a breach of personal autonomy, the chief reason I’m for free expression. Kickstarter’s apology is, however, worrying on several levels.

1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with seduction guides, per se.

That is, they’re distasteful and crappy but no more so than Cosmos’ ‘how to please your man’. Many of them – based on my limited experience – seem to be more like self-help guides to give guys the confidence they need to approach women and that’s not necessarily a bad thing so long as it doesn’t advocate anything criminal. Sure there’s things like ‘negging’ and ‘peacocking’ but these aren’t the same as suggesting you shove someone around and, like the yellow and black stripes on a wasp, they act as a warning that the guy doing it is a douche.

2. Saying that content ‘glorifying or promoting violence against women’ is already barred.

It is all too common to conflate ‘depicting’ with ‘glorifying’ or even ‘promoting’. If you wanted to get backing for your 50-Shades-Alike via Kickstarter you probably couldn’t, because it would be adult and would depict fictional bondage. Tentacle Bento – a rather tame (but suggestive) card game was already knocked off Kickstarter well before its closing date unlike this one. Despite being coy and cartoony.

What about teh menz? Where’s the concern over glorifying or promoting violence against men?

This all seems very… reactive. Tightening an already rather strict and exclusionary funding opportunity from yet more people and skewing away from creators and towards vocal opposition.

3. Backing RAINN.

I’m sure RAINN does a lot of good work but they’re mostly known – to me – for their promotion of what appear to be vastly inflated rape statistics. I am deeply uncomfortable with my objection to the project having lead, indirectly, to funding an organisation that seems to use and abuse poor statistics. I don’t, personally, believe that you need to inflate the figures. Rape is a horrible crime and making people more afraid than they need to be doesn’t help. It just creates a climate of terror not unlike the irrational fear many old people have of crime based on watching the news.

In conclusion, Kickstarter is already one of the most restrictive crowdfunding sources out there. I tend to prefer IndieGoGo which seems to be more ethical overall when it comes to free expression issues and access to crowdfunding. There is no question, however, that Kickstarter is the big boy in crowdfunding and so any tightening of the rules becomes de facto censorship, no matter how justified in this instance.

Good: Kickstarter listened, apologised, made amends in a transparent way.
Bad: It’s going to make it even harder for risqué, grown-up or legal-but-difficult projects to get made.

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This is a long-winded and overwrought appeal for you to back Red Phone Box. There’s not long left and we’re SO close to the stretch goal.

London seems like a stuck up, grand old lady. She has her grand old buildings and Victorian lanes, the stuffy clubs and the seats of government an justice. Get a few gins down her though and she turns into what our American cousins call a ‘cougar’.

She’s a magical place, without the need for metaphor and stories. She changes people, literally. A cab driver who learns ‘the knowledge’ makes permanent changes to the physical structure of his brain, the same sort of thing that happens with habitual meditation. This is probably why you can’t change a cabby’s mind about anything else.

Fire and bombs, boom and bust, redevelopment, gentrification and the usurpation of purpose by the street make her a patchwork quilt of styles and times and the people reflect that. Past an future, near and far brought together by immigrants and punks, historians and cockneys, new media wankers tickling their MacBooks and old crime geezers sinking pints and comparing scars.

The Underground is another dimension, time and space distorted by the tunnels in the dark. Swarming with clans of tube-mice and echoing with the tunes of buskers, both well heeled and down at heel. The colour-coded map is a sigil, a mystic mark that despite bearing little or no resemblance to the tracks above ground will get you where you need to go.

A day there gives you stories for a lifetime.

The black monk, dressed in white, reading about UFOs.

The mad old bastard shouting warnings of a ‘Jerry’ bombing that hasn’t happened in sixty years.

The stinking tramp who gives you hugs, words of wisdom and headlice all at once.

The cab driver who, before he gives you directions, drops a lit cigarette, kicks it into the air and catches it in his mouth.

The singing street sweeper at 3:30am whom nobody tells to shut the fuck up.

London’s magic is in bringing things together. Ideas, people, cuisines, cultures, words,  architecture, rich and poor, right and left, near and far, old and new.

No wonder that a simple, iconic Red Phone Box from old London Town could bring so many different people and ideas together – and make it work.

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Ring! Ring! Ring!

Who the hell uses a phone box any more? Other than flexible homeless people looking for shelter, foreigners with shitty cell phone plans and closing-time drunks in need of an emergency urinal?

Well, it turns out that even if phone boxes are neglected by much of the ‘normal’ world they’re still fetish objects for a whole host of urban myth and magic.

Red Phone Box is a story cycle contributed to by a bundle of great new and old talent and curated and edited by Tim & Salome. Salome does the editing on my stories, Tim will be known to many of you as a Master of Puzzles and one of the guys involved with Nightfall Games.

This project means I’m going to be published alongside Warren Ellis – something I never thought would happen – and it has also formed a loose community of creative people to form around it. It’s less a book than a family in many ways and it has cemented my love for the way social media can create something wonderful by pulling together writers and artists who are normally fairly… well, hermetic.

Anyway, I think you should back it. It deserves to be out there, read and enjoyed and with support there’ll be a sequel.

It’s a fever dream, pressed between the covers of a book like a preserved and delicate flower.

It’s cheaper than drugs.

Back it.

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