Danger Brown’s Potato Salad and Social Justice

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/324283889/potato-salad?ref=popular

One thing that really excites me about the world that we live in is the ridiculousness of the internet. The creativity it inspires and makes possible is always one step ahead of what we can currently imagine. There is simply no way that anyone could have imagined that less than one month ago, some dude from Ohio would raise over $40,000 for a project involving only him and increasing amounts of potato salad. Yes, you read that correctly – over forty-thousand actual U.S. Dollars for making potato salad (for the first time). You may be saying to yourself, but hey, I have been making potato salad for years and have never earned even a cent! Or you could be wondering if there is a new potato famine you somehow have not heard about. Or, perhaps, this guy is going to create some innovative method of making potato salad. No, the project is as simple as you know it to be – making potato salad.

It all began with a simply stated goal:

I’m making potato salad.

Basically I’m just making potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet. 

Twenty-two days later, the Potato Salad Kickstarter project  had attracted nearly five and a half thousand backers and a series of updated goals. The most recent is a “Big Stretch Goal” for those willing to donate $3000 to the project:

My kitchen is too small! I will rent out a party hall and invite the whole internet to the potato salad party (only $10 and above will be allowed in the kitchen)! The internet loves potato salad! Let’s show them that potato salad loves the internet!!

Rather than simply dismissing this as the dumbest fucking thing I have ever heard of, I can’t help but pause for a critical moment. Don’t want to throw the potato-salad out with the Tupperware, now!
Danger Brown is some middle class white guy living in white bread middle America. This positionality gives him access to things like resources, and importantly, a knowledge (or even perhaps mastery) of internet communications and language. I actually found the project page to be hilarious, and has obviously created a sense of community amongst the backers, people who themselves are likely middle class people (I mean, they are willing to donate USD to this clearly satirical project and have the time and capacity to do so), and this is likely because of the comedic dexterity of Danger Brown. The backers essentially egg him on to create more crazy goals and potato-salad themed gifts for different levels of donation. So in this sense, of course, if any body on earth is going to create a kickstarter project for making potato salad and actually gain backers, you bet, its going to be a white and male body, that is probably also American.
The positionality of Danger Brown stands in stark relation to millions of people across the world who will not see that amount of money in a year, a decade, or even their working lives. And, the project is clearly not one of charity – Danger Brown will not be feeding potato salad to the homeless. And, we are living in a world where food scarcity is a real threat, yet where hipster “foodie” culture has developed in tandem with the iPhone Instagram app. “Passion for food” can only ever be a middle-class “hobby”. The Potato Salad Kickstarter Project speaks to the development of “food” pop culture, and the inequalities it highlights. Food is conceptualized as humorous, stylish, and photogenic, not an “essential need” for human life.
So, lets not dismiss Danger Brown’s Potato Salad as the dumbest fucking thing we have ever heard of. Let’s think about what this kind of phenomenon tells us about the state of our world. And, on the other hand, let it tell us something about the power of the internet to accomplish just about anything. As unfair and ridiculous the Potato Salad project is, it shows just how relatively simple it can be to gain support for one’s projects (at least on Kickstarter). It is unlikely that whatever you are thinking of right now is less mundane and ordinary than Danger Brown’s extra-ordinary Potato Salad.
 

 

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