Thoughts on Selling Out

My motto on selling out is an old chestnut on this blog and podcast by now. For the record it is “There is no such thing as selling out, only selling too cheap.” In my most recent podcast I played the clip of Henry Rollins on the subject which has fleshed out my thinking some. Add in the most recent furor over blogospheric integrity, this time with Arrington at the center, latest in a series of endless furors over who is selling out. Here is my updated stance:

Selling out is doing the work you don’t really want to do, or work that you aren’t proud of. It is still selling out no matter how little you get from it or how pure the sponsor is.

It is not selling out to do the work you want to do and that you are proud of. It is still not selling out no matter how much you get and how sleazy the sponsor is.

If you hack out some work you don’t care about and get paid off with a Happy Meal, you sold out. You compromised your integrity and not even for a paycheck. Lose-lose, cabron. If you did the same work you were going to anyway, and the sleaziest scumbag in the world paid you a million to do it, you did not sell out. You played the player, created your work and got rich for it. Win-win, daddyo.

This is why I thought the previous tempest in a chamber pot about PayPerPost was misplaced. It’s not about the money, it’s about the creator and the work. If someone is creating work that matters to them and me and they can soak some company for it in the process, carry on sailor. In fact, wasn’t Mike Arrington one of the prime finger pointers about the loss of integrity in the blogosphere in that go around and isn’t he the current whipping boy? I am not really following the brouhaha closely because I’ve long since stopped caring about such things. It’s the most self-correcting system possible. When someone turns shill and stops providing value to you in reading them, you take your attention elsewhere. If they overplay their hand, they erode their own value and audience and no one will pay them to shill anymore. No hand-wringing is necessary by anyone, it just works.

To slightly paraphrase the Rollins quote “So what if someone is paying bloggers and trying to sell you something using their credibility? You saw through it, right? Because you aren’t a fucking moron, right?”

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Selling Out”

  1. sam says:

    I like what you say about selling out and I agree. Very smart thinking. And original.

  2. jbk says:

    Hi, wanted to alert you to something very cool that Henry Rollins is doing. He’s offering a chance to sound off on an issue for a national audience — and the one person he personally chooses will be flown to LA to co-host the “Henry Rollins Show” marathon on IFC (Independent Film Channel) with Henry.

    Rollins is inviting you to tape a short video “rant” and the person who does the one he chooses will be flown to L.A. (the winner and a guest for 3 days/2 nights), meet Henry and host the upcoming “Rollins Show” Marathon.

    Go to and record and upload a 30-second video “rant” on one of the 11 hot topics Henry has selected (including abortion rights, has the Iraq war made us safer? Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina, is America a dumb country? global warming, etc.)

    All entries will be watched by, and the winner chosen solely by, Henry. He encourages anyone to enter, no matter their political persuasion – his only requirement: have “passion and attitude!”

    An amazing opportunity. And a chance to sound off on some issues!

    Henry explains it all, and upload your “rant” at:

  3. I’ve always found the entire idea of “selling out” to be somewhat absurd.

    The only people that can sell out are those that were at some point revolutionary. The whole point of a revolution is to shift things so that your stance is the norm. Every succesful revolution eventually becomes the mainstream. To be an eternal rebel you either have to be ineffective or eventually rebel against your own rebellion. Which would be like jerking off while fantasizing about jerking off.

    So I submit that anybody that “sells out” by letting their stuff be used by the mainstream has actually won a revolution.

    And just for the record, not only would I be happy to sell out, I would like to be able to give it away.

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