Is It Bad When The Rich & Famous Use Things Like Kickstarter?

from the why? dept

A few different people pointed us to variations on the story of how Tom Hanks’ son Colin Hanks is funding a documentary about Tower Records via Kickstarter. With plenty of time to go, he’s already passed his goal of raising $50,000. Of course, he was significantly helped along in reaching that goal thanks to a tweet from his father. The project sounds nice enough (as someone who spent a ton of time and money at Tower Records as a kid, I’m certainly interested in the documentary itself), but what struck me about this is the comments found under the THR article linked above. They’re almost all angry that someone like Colin Hanks would use Kickstarter for something like this. Here’s a somewhat representative sample:

Seems to me that the meaning of Grass Roots is lost on the hollywood elite.

It is not about rich people taking money from people on kickstarter and using it to fund a film without any kind of investor responsibility. I wonder, Jem, if you would have the guts to ask if they TRIED to use their own money or money from their incredible amounts of connections and investment routes OR if they simply thought: “Dude, we could get lower and middle class people to just GIVE us their money!”

In this economy this is some of the most narrow-minded use of crowd-sourcing I’ve seen.

The other comments are similar. I was kind of surprised, because I don’t actually see anything wrong with anyone using such platforms, whether they’re rich and famous or some poor nobody just starting out. One of the nice things about a platform like Kickstarter is that beyond just being a system for fundraising, those who use it find that it’s a great way to really connect with an audience and fans. For a movie like this, that makes a lot of sense. It’s part of the marketing as well. And, honestly, this is getting some people to prepay for stuff. If Colin Hanks had found the money elsewhere (say, from his Dad) and then made the movie, and people went and paid $10/ticket to see it in a theater, would the same people be complaining that it was the rich people “taking money” from “lower and middle class people”? Also, the whole point of Kickstarter is that the people aren’t just giving away their money — they get something in return.

Part of me wonders if this is the same sort of way that people react when the little indie band they loved becomes super popular worldwide, where people seem to start to resent the band, as if they felt that the band was “their band” and couldn’t go out and find a wider audience. Perhaps that’s how some people feel about things like Kickstarter, where they feel like since its initial users were smaller and less well-known, that that’s all the platform should be used for. But I have a hard time seeing how this takes away from anyone else’s use of the platform at all.

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Companies: kickstarter, tower records

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Comments on “Is It Bad When The Rich & Famous Use Things Like Kickstarter?”

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PW (profile) says:

Take it or leave it

The thing that strikes me from that sample comment is how unnecessary it really is. After all, part of Kickstarter’s appeal is that as someone donating to the entrepreneur/artist’s cause, you’re helping someone with a good idea or a compelling project move ahead with it. If you don’t like the product or are not compelled by the project then you simply pass and don’t donate. What the heck does this have to do with his dad or his personal wealth. Sure, Colin may have gotten more attention for his project from his dad tweeting it, but that’s no guarantee that people will donate if they don’t like it. If anything, one might call this market research or testing user demand for the idea.

Also, I don’t recall there being a box on Kickstarter stating the entrepreneur’s personal net worth as a reviewable category or criteria for donating to the project.

This backlash feels like an example of small minds and is disappointing.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: It's Annoying at Best

We shouldn’t kid ourselves – Kickstarter is a corporate backed organization with over $10 Million investment from banks, pension funds, corporations, and other totally NON-grassroots organizations.

Did anyone ever claim otherwise?

And the “banks, pension funds, corporations… etc.” is misleading. Like a very large percentage of tech startups, Kickstarter raised some VC funds. VCs raise their money from pension funds and banks, etc. But you don’t see people making the same claims you just made about every other starup out there.

Anonymous Coward says:

How do those people know that Steven Spielberg and other Tom Hanks friends aren’t the ones doing the donating?

They don’t.

But they flap their pieholes anyway because the internet is full of idiots that think because they have a computer keyboard, they’re suddenly smarter than those they were previously dumber than. Snore.

Lala Lagula says:

hate the rich

I find it baffling that Americans hate rich people so much. Esp. people who have worked very hard to earn their riches. It is okay for many people to steal from Madonna, Metallica, Lady Gaga, because they are “stinkin’ rich already”.
I agree with other commenter, if you don’t like it don’t support it. Would people respect Colin Hanks more if he went to daddy to fund any future business ventures? Also I don’t think making a documentary about Tower is exactly a get-rich-quick scheme, I think it is much more his personal interest in the topic, which might get media attention but is unlikely to rain income.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: hate the rich

I don’t have a problem with rich people, per se. But when people abuse their wealth to lobby governmental representatives to write laws to benefit themselves and screw everyone over (with such things as copyright extensions), then I have a problem.

Poor and middle class people aren’t doing that. Are they?

Nick Coghlan (profile) says:

Re: hate the rich

I didn’t understand this attitude either until I started to learn more about just how *bad* the inequality in wealth distribution is in the US (e.g.

The place is apparently becoming a veritable model of plutocracy, so it’s understandable that a lot of the folks that live there are getting rather annoyed about it.

Danny (user link) says:


…Colin didn’t want to get money from his dad and had no other choice but to go here instead.

…Colin did try to hit up his dad, Tom refused and Colin decided to go to Kickstater instead.

…Colin decided to do this in order get some word of mouth out about Kickstarter (few things get something rolling better than having a known name attached).

More power to him I say.

Mike Jansta (profile) says:

I donated to this project...

Worked at Tower Records for 9 years. Really miss it. I pledged because I thought it was cool. However, I work in marketing and I thought it was an incredibly clever PR stunt to use kickstart to publicize the project AND to publicize kickstart, which I had previously not heard of. The web and traditional media are full of stories about this project now and if Colin had used his own money or his dad’s money there would be very little anticipation about the project or it’s eventual release. In my humble opinion, the only way to make a documentary like this a success is to use Colins name and passion for the topic, Tower’s iconic yet fallen brand and this “new” platform where people who have a similar passion or fond memories that involved a trip Tower Records feel that they have a part in getting this made…which they now do. Very clever indeed, and I look forward to watching “my” film.

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