Zosia Mamet and Clara Mamet Kickstarter Fail: Backlash Against Celebrity Crowd-Funding Or Poor Twitter Skills?

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Updated Thursday, 9:57 a.m.: The Mamet sisters have more than doubled their pledges in 24 hours, bringing in a total of $1,615 from 41 backers. The campaign has 10 days to go. They need to raise $3,038.50 per day to succeed.

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Critics of celebrity crowd-funding campaigns have been taking great joy in watching Zosia and Clara Mamet’s effort to finance a music video through Kickstarter struggle to get off the ground. 

When Zosia isn’t playing Shoshanna Shapiro on HBO’s “Girls,” she’s singing in a folk band called the Cabin Sisters with her half-sister, Clara. The girls, both daughters of the playwright David Mamet, say they need $32,000 to produce a video for their song “Bleak Love,” but as of Wednesday afternoon, the project had only managed to raise $584 from 14 backers -- a far cry from the $2 million Zach Braff was able to raise in just three days.

In response to the Mamet sisters’ apparent Kickstarter fail, the snark has been swift and severe. Both Gawker and the Observer cranked out gleeful posts about the absurdity of two very privileged showbiz royalty types turning to the masses to fund their dreams. Across social media, responses have ranged from pithy to downright harsh. The journalist Jessica Grose pointed out via tweet the irony that the Mamet sisters misspelled “privilege” in their project description, while Redditors on this thread blasted the sisters as “pretentious,” out-of-touch hipsters. “She has balls asking for that much for such utter crap,” one user wrote.

Given the recent increase in celebrity crowd-funding projects, a backlash against such efforts was probably inevitable, but can that alone explain the embarrassing lack of interest in the Mamets’ musical ambitions? Braff, too, received his share of Twitter hate after launching a $2 million bid to fund the follow-up to “Garden State,” and yet that project exceeded its goal by more than 50 percent. But then Braff has always shown a keen understanding of social media and its ability to engage fans. He was on MySpace -- posting under his real name -- before most celebrities knew what it was. Today he has more than a million Twitter followers, and he communicated with many of them personally throughout the Kickstarter fiasco. He’s also shown a demonstrated interest in crowd-funding itself and had backed several other projects before launching his own.

The Mamet sisters, conversely, have backed zero. Zosia, the more famous of the duo, is not on Twitter, and the newly launched Cabin Sisters Facebook page has only 257 “likes” as of Wednesday afternoon. Granted, funding an indie movie is a lot more exciting than putting your money behind a product whose only hope for exposure is YouTube, but given that the Mamets are asking for about 1.5 percent of what Braff asked for, the dismal earning power of their project is still notable.

Consider other recent celebrity Kickstarter that have failed to reach their goal. Melissa Joan Hart, who raised $51,605 before canceling her campaign to raise funds for her film project "Darcy's Walk of Shame" earlier this month, was a stellar success in comparison to the Mamets. She was also more ambitious, asking for $2 million from the crowd-funding gods. Similarly, Shemar Moore of “Criminal Minds” fame is off to a slow start for his efforts to raise $1.5 million for the film “The Bounce Back,” having raised only $112,641 with 23 days to go.

The ethics of celebrity crowd-funding campaigns have been argued to death and back since Braff threw his hat into the ring late last month. While it’s unlikely we’ll ever agree on a consensus, it’s almost certain that such campaigns will continue to surface. In light of recent failed efforts, however, it’s at least gratifying to know that celebrity crowd-funding hopefuls cannot merely pop up a Kickstarter profile and expect their famous names to do all the work.

Maybe there is something to that whole “wisdom of crowds” thing. On that note, check out the Cabin Sisters live at the Bowery Electric and decide for yourself.

Got a news tip? Send me an email. Follow me on Twitter: @christopherzara

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