***Ed. Note: It’s been revealed after I wrote this that the whole thing was a hoax. I’m not upset about that fact, it really did seem too good to be true. I think it still brought up an important debate and that the points below are still valid.
A kerfuffle has erupted in the usually minor world of small press and independent literature.
Surprisingly, this kerfuffle t involves a wildly, huge mega-corporation.
(Does that make the whole issue a large waffle? A falafel? I don’t know).
It involves a small grassroots lit group called Mellow Pages Library and Exxon. Mellow Pages has been trying to raise money to basically pay its rent in Brooklyn, started an IndieGoGo campaign, and then received an offer from Exxon (of all places) to fund its rent. Or basically that’s how I understand it and you can read more about it at Fanzine (link ab0ve).
This got mentioned/picked up by a few others and seems to summarize the general “pro-money” viewpoint, but what Mellow Pages is facing isn’t any different than what several other artists have faced in their lives.
It used to be a badge of honor not to “sell out” especially for musicians.
Then economic realities set in. But not only that, taking a stand becomes a lot more complicated when your clothes come from Bangladesh and your computer is created with “blood diamond” minerals shipped to China and put together by poor workers making lower-than-low wages.
I’m also willing to guess that the majority of people that use Mellow Pages library and the people that donate books to Mellow Pages Library has been in some type of moving vehicle in their lives, rather it be a car, train, bus, plane or automobile and there’s a good chance that on one of those outings the said vehicle used a petroleum that was sent through/purchased through some type of Exxon subsidiary. And I don’t even know if Exxon sends petroleum etc., to be used for electricity or what but there’s a good chance that they do.
That doesn’t make it right or good or anything, it’s just the truth.
Exxon is that big and we (as Americans) depend on such things.
Point is, we’re all culpable. And even our well-known, feel-good businesses like TOMS can’t even get their stuff together or benefit the communities they perpetuate to help.
What to do? It’s a continuing problem. That’s why the best thing in my opinion is to take the money and then do good. Do what you want with it. Turn something that you deem negative into a positive.
But why? Because then Mellow Pages Library has a place at the table, albeit a small one. They can engage in conversations, they can help authors with their books, they can spread ideas further and help out with books. Who cares how it’s financed?
It would be different if Exxon was asking Mellow Pages Library not to stock this book, or to only stock pro-oil propaganda, but it doesn’t seem like they are. And if they do, then Exxon themselves has to re-examine what they mean by “charity.”
Because at the end of the day, this is a number on a spreadsheet that says “charitable donations” and it’ll be checked by a Senior VP who doesn’t know where it’s going or who’s doing what with it, but in the meantime my guess is some nice intern who wants to be a writer may be slipping Mellow Pages a free pass.