My apologies on misunderstanding. I read in the acuteness of opposition to this service a certain feeling of it being a bridge too far, which is why I was curious about your feelings toward precursor tokenization. I don’t disagree that celebrity can be corrosive to both art and identity, but I also know that it has ever been thus. How many rich Italians are immortalized as apostles and mythic heroes because they provided room, board, and allowance to Renaissance masters, for instance? Likewise, the subjugation or erosion of personal identity of a consumer/fan has always been a thing and would continue to be a thing if it did not have art and artists to focus on. This, again to me, seems somewhat fundamental to human nature in an indelible way.
Now, that said, I do believe that there is a direct benefit to art and artists both in the opportunity for artists to interact with fans, and I know artists, writers, and actors who derive benefit from interactions with fans. It can inform and humanize their work in a way that a more sterile, arm’s length patronage would not. It’s not zero sum, in other words, because the artist does not make art in a vacuum, and needs interaction beyond their art and remuneration for it in order to produce more art.
Do I believe that a watercolor landscape artist should be required to spend the bulk of their time on portraiture? No, of course not, but this opens up a whole other discussion of what artists must do to pay the bills in general, and communal support overall for anyone to pursue their passions. All artists must and, again, pretty much have always had to deal with this tension between what pays the bills and following their true art’s path, whatever that may be. See again the Renaissance masters and direct patronage. The tension between “money pictures” and “art pictures” in Hollywood. Ran across a lovely article not that long ago, as it happens, profiling actors David Dastmalchian and Karen Gillan talking about the personal projects they’ve been able to get going and get support for directly due to their involvement in Marvel movies. Or a writer like Lawrence Block subsisting on writing smut before his mystery and thriller novels caught on. Those are directly analogous to the watercolor landscape artist doing portraiture to pay the bills.
And again, I suggest that this sort of thing can inform and improve the artists’ “core” work and passion. Artists often benefit from working in various and disparate genres and even forms of art, and the one which is their passion can even shift over time, so that perhaps at one time they were making money at their passion, but now it is just the thing they do to pay the bills and support their other, less successful art.
In terms of Faustian bargains, then, this is the one that literally everyone makes in order to provide for their needs. I enjoy working in IT for the opportunity to solve problems and learn new things, but if I didn’t need to do it to provide for me and my children, I certainly wouldn’t subject myself to the depredations of corporate worklife. And while it might inform and enable my hobbies and other passions, I could certainly do with less of it. But, my skill in IT is like a celebrity’s fame–it is the commodity with which I have to trade in the present socioeconomic environment. It is far from ideal, but short of a massive paradigm shift in how humanity views work and reward and subsistence, it’s what we’ve got.
Now, again, perhaps I’m misunderstanding because we started narrowly discussing this one model of commodifying fame, but it does seem to me that you’re actually frustrated with the entire system as it stands. The problem isn’t celebrity qua celebrity, but larger, deeper, more fundamental concepts of value and worth and work and so on. Is that correct, or am I barking up the wrong tree?