Thursday, February 7, 2013

Artists Doing Good

Too often people believe that "legal" means "right" - but I disagree. Sometimes, other people also disagree and we remember words like "ethics" and "fairness". Or, we remember how to treat each other the way we'd like to be treated instead of being hateful and rude. There are people out there doing and saying things better than I feel I ever could, and I wanted to share these in a way more lasting than a Facebook or Twitter update. Most of these links will involve people doing the "Right" thing in the face of actions that may be legal (or not) but are definitely not "Right". In the face of a world that seems ever more morally bankrupt, there are people doing good. Here are some pretty easy ways to help...

First, Jonathan Coulton. I love Jonathan Coulton. His music is quirky and perhaps he now dwells in the same house Weird Al carved out in my young heart. In Season 4 of the Fox program Glee, the song "Baby Got Back" was used. Glee often reworks pieces (or appears to), and this case was no exception - EXCEPT that they appear to have taken J. Coulton's individual arrangement (new melody, new lyrics, and all) and used it nearly wholesale. There was no acknowledgement of Coulton associated with the episode or the iTunes release of the song. (A Forbes.com article says that they did edit out "Jonny C's in trouble" line eventually but it was in early releases and can still be heard in this video at the 2:15 mark.)

In answer to this, Jonathan Coulton has re-released "a cover of Glee’s cover of my cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s song" ("which is to say it’s EXACTLY THE SAME as my original version"). Proceeds from the sale of this release will go to the VH1 Save The Music Foundation and the It Gets Better Project.

Links to the specific tracks from three different platforms:
iTunes
GooglePlay
Amazon MP3

(This information is directly from Coulton's blog post on the subject, put here for those who don't like following links to find links to find things they want.)

Second, John Scalzi. Not only do I enjoy Scalzi's fiction writing, I have come to enjoy his "nonfiction" by way of his blog and the way he tackles often controversial topics with aplomb.

Due to his candid manner of presenting his opinions, he's attracted his fair share of internet trolls. In light of one particularly persistent troll, Scalzi has decided to turn this person's bigotry and hatred into a good cause he refers to as "Counteract a Bigot" . In brief, everytime this one particular person mentions Scalzi's name, Scalzi will set aside $5 toward a fund, up to $1,000, which he will donate at the end of 2013 split between several charities. I highly recommend checking out his blog directly - it will allow you to read further details on the situation, and if you decide to participate, you can let him know in comments. This is not a traditional fundraiser nor a website driven one (such as Kickstarter or IndieGoGo), but based on the honor system. If you say you're going to participate, it's up to you to honor your word - no one is going to know one way or another (except for you).

On a smaller scale, a more local and more personal level, I'd like to add Art as Action to my list of folks doing good in the world - not to combat a particular wrong, but because doing good is something that should be active, not just reactive. This group is about performance art, but they also provide programs for people involving dance, especially people who live with Parkinson's Disease. They launched their Reconnect with your Body program in 2011 and it has been successful, but small groups like this are always in need of some funds - no matter how little - to keep their good works going. If you know someone with Parkinson's Disease, you know how important bodily health is and the ways the body can betray a person after so many years together. This is a program that I've seen do good personally and I am happy to support. I encourage you to take a look at their webpage.
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