thinkingbox wrote:(Disclaimer: This is not a confrontational post. This is not a personal attack. I am asking a legitimate question. Why am I hearing this disclaimer in a robot voice in my head? Also, I got carried away and strayed way into tl;dr territory, so I applaud and thank anyone that actually reads the whole thing.)
It seems like those who decry woot for continually printing Ramy and Seki shirts, beyond the perpetual vote-rigging accusations (please do not provide links to prove your point; that is not the crux of my argument) all claim that the designs are lacking in artistic merit and rehash the same designs over and over again. Without agreeing or disagreeing with either of those accusations, I have to ask a question:
How do you feel about these guys?
Now, I admit, I'm not a fan. I worked with them for years in a technical capacity and they most certainly do not "just work." They're fine machines, but they cost more than an equivalent device under most circumstances, they are proprietary and occassionally incompatible. However! I will readily admit, with great fervor and enthusiasm, that they have marketing down to an exact science. Their marketing machine works like gangbusters, and I've been wanting to use that word for a while. If there was a Nobel Prize for Marketing, they would win -- retroactively and pre-emptively -- forever. They have a very sound design philosophy, they know what will sell products and they never deviate from what works.
And so it seems to me that woot prints these shirts because, primarily, people want them. I mean the shirt just sold out, which means at least a couple thousand people, give or take, wanted one? Secondly, woot's model seems to be, "You there, on the internet! Vote for the shirt you would most like to wear. On your body. In public, if that's your thing." That's a pretty straightforward model, and if most of the people out there don't want clever, thoughtful new shirt designs every week then so be it, the masses have spoken. I like the shirt because the juxtaposition amuses me, but I wouldn't wear it, which means that several thousand people disagree with me, and that's fine.
So I invite anyone that wants to respond, especially Adder because he seems like a pretty sharp guy and I'd be interested in hearing his opinion, what is it about the shirts that really bother you? Is it the sameness? Do you feel the guy just can't draw?
I understand your frustration in seeing the same thing over and over, but at its core, woot is a business. They're a friendly, amiable business that we all enjoy throwing money at, they're funny and clever and easy to like, but they're still a business, and at the end of the day they provide for their families and maintain their lifestyles based on doing what will be best for the bottom line. Which seems to be a Ramy shirt every now and then.
To start with, I will never buy Apple. They are all about marketing and not remotely about product. When I hear people say "On my third iPod!" or "My iPhone broke again! And the warranty's almost up!" I say to myself "why is this gumball still buying apple products?" I've never used an apple computer that made me feel it was worth the nearly twice as much that a PC costs. And simply put, I consider iTunes to be the biggest insult to real, quality music since Milli Vanilli won a Grammy.
Fast forwarding to what I have a problem with with Ramy and Seki: As I've said before, if someone came to my office with a resume of being fired from a number of other places for cheating the company, I would curbstomp them before I allowed them NEAR my company. To me, it doesn't matter what woot thinks they have or haven't done. I don't for a second believe woot can or will put in the effort to analyze it. The fact is, the blatant fact, is that they spend every week making insulting designs. Designs with no topicality, no originality, and often no execution. They show no respect to the site or their fellow designers by doing that. But they should never have been allowed here in the first place. They have been proven to have cheated and manipulated rules a number of times elsewhere, and that should be enough to keep them from ever printing here. That's basic morals and ethics. By allowing them to print, and saying it's OK because it's business, you're saying you have no morals or ethics.
When your only argument is "it sells, so it's OK, because this is business," it is clear you've never looked at businesses who are about more than just sales. A business has a responsibility to have a moral, ethical compass. It's not all about selling the most, nor is it all about being the most popular. Well, for some companies it is. But what does it say about you or anyone when you are able to find money to be reason enough to accept anything? "woot's just a business". Why is that OK? Why are we so indoctrinated in this "capitalism over all" mentality. Do you honestly think that that is what makes people happy or successful or defines worth? Why do you think McDonalds has such a bad rap despite being so profitable? Popularity does not define worth. Refusing to demand and expect better is refusing to value worth over sales. It shouldn't matter to you what woot is selling if you're not passionate about the quality and meaning behind their company. You are not making a cent off them. Insisting it's OK because it makes them money implies you want to be in their shoes, and sell whatever junk you can scrounge up just for a paycheck.
See, that IS wrong, no matter what our capitalocracy seems to think. If your only motivation is money, and if money is all the motivation someone else needs to be respected, then your value system is worthless. You have nothing worth fighting for, and want to make sure no one else has anything worth fighting for. It is disgusting that there are people in this world who do not see the bigger picture. It's not just a shirt. How the derby works out is meaningful to art as a whole. It's meaningful to business as a whole. As it stands, it pisses on real creative effort and work, and thumbs its nose at the idea that it's better to sell great work at smaller quantities than trash enough to blow your nose in cash. Every time a piece like this wins, it has a real, negative effect, no matter how small, on the real world of art and the real world of business. Ramy's work represents an ignorant, dumbed down America. Which is why the comparison in today's writeup works so well, no matter how woot intended it. Both results are due to a world that is too jaded to stand up and improve things, and as we become so jaded, it becomes worse.
So yes, I find Ramy's work repulsive "artistically". I find it generic and certainly overdone at this site. I find it offensively cavalier toward other artists here and woot's rules in general, regardless of woot allowing them to not be on topic ever (that allowance being a disgustingness of woot itself, as well). I think that his incredibly shady past should put him on warning to begin with, because it is truth, not fiction. It's not like you can create such wide-ranging, multi-site drama fests without a reason. But it is symptomatic of an even larger issue of majorities ruling where they have no right to. It's incredibly limiting, stagnating, stultifying. It harms the art world here, which branches into the art world elsewhere. It kills the desire to create and fosters a cynicism of WIN WIN WIN regardless of quality being given out, or a cynicism of giving up, knowing your work will always be ignored no matter how much passion, creativity, etc you put in. It is not something to be proud of, to support that limitation in defense of capitalism. Capitalism failed.