Amanda Palmer, Melbourne, The Gasometer
Photography: Angelique Joy
Year: 2017

Amanda Fucking Palmer, Patreon and Your Consumer Dollar

My partner and I awoke on a sad, snuggly Saturday morning overwhelmed with the notion that adulting was not for this day and the rest of the world can go and fuck itself. It had been one of those weeks, actually months, no, years… you know how it goes.

My silently buzzing phone stirred us to wake. Tea and emails and snuggles, keeping most of the world at bay. I had a Patreon email from Amanda Palmer, it was an official ‘Thing’ email, I adore these, like little sparkles of art and life and the never ending ramblings of AFP. I sat on the loo (don’t judge me, we all do it) and opened the link.

An ‘Official Video’, oh my its an official one! Such an entrance into my sleepy morning. It said not to watch on a phone, but, I was impatient. Loading… and play… I watched and I cried and cried. My heart prickled with life and love. I quickly crawled back into bed to peel open b’s eyes to play it for him over and again. It is so painfully beautiful. And I felt proud. I felt proud that our measly little $5 a ‘Thing’ had a very (very) small part to play in this divine work that has been birthed into the world. I felt proud that our little mite was a part of paying other artists in my dearest Melbourne. I felt proud that other artists were given space to create in part, and a very small part, to our $5.

Amanda Palmer and Edward Ka-Spel – The Clock At The Back Of The Cage click here! you positively must see it.

I felt proud and a part of something that was much, much bigger than our little mite: the sum, bigger than the whole of its parts. Somehow this black world just felt more of light than it had and we stayed, suspended in these sounds and beautiful stop motion magic and the rest of the world dissolved out of focus…

And then I sat up full of sharp focus- and I realised that we, as consumers, have far more power than we think we do.

From the moment we open our eyes and can take images into our skulls we are marketed too. We are accosted, arrested, impacted and engaged by marketers most vulgar and most nuanced tag lines. Those big multinational corporates that loom over us poor consumers with their gas lighting campaigns, we feel powerless, resistance is futile, swipe my card, take our money, give me the thing, the flavour of the month- I, you, we may die without it. Mindless consuming, because of course they have all the power and we have no choice…

Have you ever played The Logo Board Game?; so woven into our consciousness are their tag lines and branding elements.

Grey men in suits sit in their ivory towers battling egos over the best new way to capture your market segment, to capture your dollars. Dollars gently floating and swirling round the air as if just waiting to be caught in their nets like winged things. I have sat with such men, looked out over our city and been a part of pondering ways to get you, dear consumer, to allow your floating currency to be captured. Just floating about, as if it has no choice, it will be captured, in corporate speak, your market segments spend will be captured, if not by us then by our competitor, like you have no choice, like you are just collateral winged currency in their segment turf war.

Those grey men in grey suits are fighting for your winged currency. They are clawing and scratching to tighten their nets. Those men in suits have and do spend their own pools of currency like water just to conjure new ways of capturing your floating dollars. To capture yours they will spend theirs. They will spend theirs like water. Buying millions of dollars worth of your data. Spread sheets and metrics and pie charts that tell them they may be able to capture more of your winged currency if they just do this thing or that. Do you see?

Consumer behaviour. Market Segments. Customer Engagement. Marketing Strategy. Brand Awareness. It is all about YOU. You. They are desperate for you, you and your winged currency. Sweaty grey men in dishevelled suits clamouring and climbing over others limbs and shiny leather shoes, in a race, a competition of vulgar transparency, all for your dollar. Desperate for your attention, but like a gas lit moment keeping you feeling like you need them, you need their products to live, for you have been told this since the moment their images entered your skull.

Do you see? This is just another abusive relationship, but here is the thing, your dollars are not just collateral winged currency. You are not just a number or a mindless consumer. You are a beautiful, complex being that has the capacity to make a choice, to be awake and impact change by your choices. You are alive and valued and flawed and beautiful. You are far, far more than a faceless consumer attached to winged currency that is sure to be captured.

In our consumer driven society, you, the consumer, are the ‘driver’. Customer centric marketing, heard of that old corporate chestnut? It is you, dear consumer, that has had the power all along. You have the power to choose; your money is not floating, but firmly in your hands, those mites may be just that or they may be wads of cash enough to line your mattress or digital dollars filling your lovingly feathered nest, but it is yours. Yours earnt, yours to keep and yours to spend.

Alone we are just all we can afford, in our case just $5 a ‘Thing’, alone we are just a mite, but together, we are the ‘consumers’, the ‘drivers’ of a ‘consumer driven society’. Our measly $5 can change the world, can impact those faceless corporate men and we, the collective ‘us’ can choose to spend our dollars on local growers, producers, artisans and creators that give their hearts to make our world a kinder place to be.

You, together with me and us, have the capacity to heal our world, to make it lighter and kinder all by where you choose to spend your dollars. We can not save the world, we cannot fix all the little dark tendrils that try to asphyxiate our breath and light, not on our own, but if we each move together, if we each spend our singular dollars on authenticity and magic, on ethical and sustainable products and on art and love in our own little corners of the world then perhaps our little mites will create light to draw a breath and exhale.

You, dear consumer, hold all of the strings, go and exercise that power, knowing that you have the choice and you are at the centre. Go buy a Zine from some local writers and artists, you have no idea how you will make that day one of their best, buy some art from artists you love, I love these prints by my favourite local photographer, buy a handmade scarf from the nanna at the market in the hills, I promise it is full of her love and hands, not empty like the one at Kmart, join a Patreon, empower an artist to make choices that fill our world with beautiful, prickly works that make the darkness just a little lighter, I adore the AFP Patreon. But of course, who am I? I am nobody. I am insignificant on my own.

But Dear Consumer; in collection, connected, my mites and yours can change our world.

Aj

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