Sunday, August 23, 2009

An Open Letter to Geeks

Dear Geeks-

Please first understand that I am one of you. I have a house full of comic books, trading cards, and sci fi movies on dvd that i've purchased about 4 times now either during a format upgrade or because the newest version has a different commentary. I collect records and Pez, and if I'm watching television, 8 times out of 10 it's animated. I have a clay pinch pot full of 12 and 20 sided dice, and a collection of autographs. My wedding ring is engraved with my wedding date and "I Know", a reference to The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. I know that Kryptonite comes in red, gold, and green, and that the moon left the Earth's orbit September 13th, 1999. My small silver car has a license plate of BDBDBD, and I've spent time thinking about the choice I would make were I faced with a Kobayashi Maru scenario.

But there is one thing only a few of us geeks seem to have learned. You know your favorite actor/artist/musician? The one you think owes you something for your being such a loyal fan? Well, they owe you nothing. You see the movie, buy the album, read the comic, trade the card, and then your transaction is done. They did something, you saw it/bought it, now you're done. They don't owe you anything else, and contrary to your belief, you don't pay their salary. Granted, the cost of your movie ticket or the amount you paid to buy their book or album contributes to the living they make, but because you spent $8 seeing a movie or $15 buying an album or $20 buying the trade paperback doesn't mean that you now own their soul and as a fan they must bend to your will and satisfy your whims. As a fan, I would think you would respect the person you admire a little more, rather than thinking you can own them in some way.

If you want an autograph from an actor and he's at dinner, then too bad. If you notice him going into a bathroom, use a different bathroom if the temptation to ask for a signed photo with the one hand he's not using is too great to bear. If he's on the street in Chicago with what you can only assume is his granddaughter, you just smile once you realize who he is and you keep walking. I don't care if it's Dustin Hoffman, he's having family time and deserves to have that time. And if Jerry Seinfeld happens to be in your hotel, just let him be. He's there to rest, not to be bombarded with people who have to tell him that they too are the masters of their domain.

If you meet your favorite musician, try to avoid telling them how you like their old stuff better. You don't sound cool and old skool to them, you just sound like an ass who hasn't given any of their recent work a chance because they just want so badly for the world to know that you were into the band way back when. And also, it's not nice to berate the rest of an audience because they don't happen to own the Australian import only album that's been out of print for 5 years.

If you commission a piece of comic art, understand many say that the cost for original art in any other medium is based on time, studio costs, size, materials, etc. So that $200 you spent on an 11"/17" Dr. Doom is a most likely a bargain. And, if the artist reminds you that they have a paying job that may very well be for a company with whom they are under contract and that job comes first, commission second, don't start emailing asking for your piece a week later. Especially if they tell you it may be 4-6 months. 4-6 months means 4-6 months, so don't start whining about where your piece is 3 months and 29 days after you commission it. And, if you want to art direct to the point where every square inch is meticulously scrutinized to the point where you request a do over, draw your own damn Batman. And you're not going to speed anything up if you threaten legal action because it's taking longer than you expected for your $100 drawing. Keep in mind that you'll pay more in legal fees than you did for the piece, and you never got it in writing that it would take a week, so try proving that one.

Keep in mind, assault is still a felony. And assault is a broad term. So is harassment.

And it's not cool to try and weasel your way into the business through a 5 minute chance meeting. Ridley Scott doesn't want to read your script, Weird Al can't use your idea for a parody, and that comic book artist you like so much? He can't draw your character for you for free only to have you use it as the cover of your self published comic. Remember too that actors aren't going to pass along your script or student film on dvd to their producer friends, and that writers aren't going to take your short story to the next meeting they have with their publisher.

Some of you need to remember that these are people, and these are businesses. There are professional and unprofessional ways of doing things, and you almost always fall into the latter. And several of you seem to forget that you are fans of people, not robots. They have jobs, families, and require food to stay alive, so it's not cool to bug them while they're eating or trying to spend time with said families. I'd say think of how you'd feel if you were interrupted during your time away from work that you chose to spend with your spouses and children, but I think several of you are too selfish to have been able to forge any sort of meaningful relationship with another human being, so I shouldn't ask much from your empathy skills.

So the next time you think it's appropriate to post on a newsgroup that some actor should never work again because he wouldn't sign your stuff, or that a writer should be fired from a series because the book is later than you thought it would be, or that you'll never buy another album by a band because they wouldn't play your request, say your thought out loud. Maybe once you hear it, you'll be able to tell how thoughts like that make you seem like an ass.

Thank you.


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