Some of you liked what I wrote. Some of you were very frustrated by my observations, and have taken to the internet to vent your butthurt.
It doesn’t surprise me. There’s nothing worse than a cock-block on your rage boner.
What I wasn’t expecting was for Urban Outfitters to cite me in their official response to the allegations. That’s put me in an interesting position, and it’s made me want to put a finer point on my opinion.
So let me start by saying that I didn’t write the post because I like Urban Outfitters. I don’t like them very much at all, to be honest with you. And there may very well be good reason to call for a boycott, but this particular reason isn’t it.
A boycott is a very serious thing, and if you’re going to start a social media shitstorm, you better have the facts on your side. You may think it’s exciting to be one of the Twitter mob, but with power comes responsibility. I think there’s room for critical thinking in 140 characters.
With that said, here is my effort to be absolutely clear:
• I do not think Truche stole the idea from anyone else.
I think she believed this was her creation. She was wrong.
Now that she knows she was wrong, I think it’s unethical to continue to accept orders. I’m also frustrated with people urging you to buy these pieces to “support” her. She is profiting from an idea that isn’t hers. Isn’t that what everyone is angry about? Or is it okay if you have an Etsy store?
She’s not a hero. She’s not a victim. There are real victims out there who are barely keeping a roof over their heads. A woman who made over 1000 sales based on a false claim does not need a T-shirt.
I also hear people saying that Urban Outfitters “stole” Truche’s copy, and I’m not buying that either. If you think Truche was actually the first person to say “I Heart” anything – much less “I Heart New York” you are drinking the hand crafted Kool-Aid from recycled cups.
But let’s just play Devil’s Advocate for a moment and say yes, Urban Outfitters did see this design in Truche’s store and decided to make their own version.
It isn’t hers.
Would that make Urban Outfitters’ thievery okay? No. But buying from Truche doesn’t make anything right. Whoever created the design first owns the copyright, and that’s the only person who has been harmed.
And not just by Urban Outfitters, but by Truche and all the other Etsy artists who make this same design without permission.
• Collective consciousness means the collective consciousness of all people, not just Etsy artists.
No matter where you stand on the issue, we all seem to agree that it’s possible for artists to independently think up similar ideas without knowledge of another’s work.
So why are we unwilling to consider that a corporation could do the same? After all, it’s not a corporation that comes up with an idea, it’s a human being who works there. People are fallible, whether they work for themselves or for a company you hate.
But we don’t really care about those people, because, well, fuck them. All corporations are evil. Every corporation is Halliburton. Big Pharma, Big Corn, Big Formula, Big Tobacco and finally, Big Necklace.
No one really wants to give the benefit of the doubt to Urban Outfitters, because they aren’t a likable company. I mean think about it; in one corner, you have a company that has stolen designs in the past, helmed by a man whose politics are extremely distasteful. And in the other corner, you have a cute blonde crafter, crying big owl tears over being oppressed by the Man. WHO YOU GOT?
Look, it’s easy to be fair when you like someone. But sometimes fair is not about what’s easy.
If you want to punish Urban Outfitters, punish them for actual crimes. There are plenty to choose from.
• Just as there are some ethical companies, some artists are real douchebags.
I’m not going to go so far as to call Urban Outfitters “ethical”, though they do sometimes do good things. They really do work with independent artists, and have given many an Etsy seller their big break.
But artists are not exempt from the asshole gene. You don’t have to go to an office every day to be a ruthless jerk. Artists undercut each other, steal customers, engage in all kinds of shilling, bad mouthing and politics.
It happens every day. As soon as an idea becomes popular or a design starts to trend, everyone starts making it. Just surf through the closed Etsy threads, and you’ll see hundreds of artists complaining about being ripped off, right down to their photos.
Being progressive is not about reflexively coming down on the side of the artist. It’s about coming down on the side of who is right.
• Rushing to stick it to the Man sometimes results in creating a new Man.
Because of your misplaced outrage, Truche is now looking at over $50,000 in orders she can’t possibly fill by herself in the promised 3 to 4 week delivery time. And the orders keep rolling in.
What do you think that means?
It means she’s going to have to start hiring people to help her. And with all this media attention, she can’t risk doing it under the table. She’ll have to give out W2s and keep pretty tight books, and with so much untaxed income, she’d better think about filing with the state so she doesn’t get hammered at tax time.
Which means that she’ll be a corporation.
A corporation turning out copies of someone else’s idea.
But that’s okay, because the tide will turn soon enough. If there’s one thing people hate more than an Etsy seller being ripped off, it’s an Etsy seller getting rich.
TO THE TWITTER MOBILE!