A Few Final Thoughts on Selling Out

What’s Relevant?

We’re on the tale end of a couple rainy days over here in the Midwest, and rain always puts me in a contemplative mood. Figure now is as good a time as any to tap out a few thoughts to wrap up the conversation about selling out. I’ve come to think that there are a three points to consider when it comes to the idea of selling out, and only one point is relevant.

“After a Rain”

The first irrelevant point is the accusation of selling out. It’s naïve to think peer pressure ends with high school or that accusations (or opinions) are incapable of ruining lives, but we can’t allow ourselves to be judged as sell outs by others. Shakespeare has that line about being true to yourself. As long as you stay true to yourself the accusations of others shouldn’t effect how you view yourself. Subscribing to some generic definition of selling out is the second irrelevant point. We shouldn’t worry ourselves with the accusations of others or try to live by their definitions either. It is all too easy to criticize ourselves or to think less of ourselves when we apply some generic definition of selling out to our lives. The third and only relevant point is whether or not we believe we sold out. If you can look in the mirror and live with what you choose to do then the accusations of others and their definitions don’t matter.

The only judge of whether or not you’ve sold out is you. The accusations and definitions of others are irrelevant. I’ve dedicated the past month to the topic of selling out and now it’s time to move along to a new topic. I hope you found something interesting (or at least entertaining) among these posts.

-K-

Stereotypes and Selling Out

Don Lee and Labels

What connections can be made between stereotypes and selling out? I read Don Lee’s short story “Reenactments” yesterday, and it has me thinking about the ramifications of being labeled a stereotype and how that label can lead to accusations and/or feelings of selling out.

The protagonist of Lee’s story is Alan Kwan, an aging Hollywood actor known for primarily for his action roles. He has landed the largest role of his career in a standard action shoot ‘em up movie that has sequel potential which would secure a recurring role and guaranteed work. Unfortunately the script plays to several stereotypes including Alan’s role as an Asian hit man. This is not he first time Alan has dealt with stereotypes during his career. He changed his name to Alan Kwan from Alain Kweon years ago to improve job prospects.

“Reenactments” by Don Lee

What distinguishes Alan’s current situation from previous experiences with stereotypes is that now fellow actors and crew expect Alan to respond to the stereotypes. Alan’s dilemma is whether to call out the stereotypes he and others have been labeled at the risk of losing future work or to remain quiet. Lee’s protagonist must grapple with not only how others will view him but also how he will view himself.

If you are looking for a short piece of fiction that addresses stereotypes and the personal ramifications that may accompany selling out then Don Lee’s “Reenactments” is worth a read.

-K-

“Reenactments” by Don Lee. One Story Issue #275

Dose of Dr. Gonzo

“I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look into the hearts and minds of others for your happiness”

-Hunter S. Thompson-

100 Little Compromises

The Tipping Point to Selling Out

Selling out isn’t confined or limited to a single event or decision. We tend to view selling out as some life changing moment, a decision that will or won’t label us as a sell out. These moments exist and are tests of our character, but there is also the sell out through compromise. There is the multitude of little compromises we make throughout our lives and then we wake up one morning wondering when and how we sold out.

Compromises are part of life. To believe that we would never compromise is unrealistic and will eventually lead to frustration. It would be better to review each compromise we are asked to make and evaluate what it is we are giving up and more importantly if we will ever get it back. Every time punch at a job we hate is a compromise. Every day spent in a relationship we know won’t last is a compromise. Every time we say yes, every favor we do, every task we complete for people who don’t care and/or are just using us is a compromise. These little compromises, when added up, will eventually reach a tipping point to selling out.

“Time Clock #1”

In most instances those who sell out at least get something for their decision (even Faust got something for selling out). But selling out through compromises usually offers no reward, at best there is a illusion of gratitude or friendship. We wake up one morning to the realization the we’ve sold out for less than cheap. Beware of compromises asked of you and whether or not you may be selling out on some sort of sad installment plan of 100 easy compromises.

-K-

Musicians on Selling Out

Four Bits of Wisdom

  • “Selling out is doing something you don’t really want to do for money. That’s what selling out is.” -Bono-
  • “Most of the people who call me a sell out were 7 when I was face-down in the punk trenches.” -Henry Rollins-
“Accordion Music”
  • “It’s not selling out, it is called making lots of money.” -Mick Jagger-
  • “There are two kinds of artists left: those who endorse Pepsi and those who simply won’t.” -Annie Lennox-

-K-

Selling Out a Friend

Intentions, Outcome, and Regret

We may be the protagonist of our own story but that doesn’t mean we are always the hero. There may be moments when we are not necessarily the villain but our actions and words can be considered questionable. I’ve had my share of these questionable moments throughout the years (moments when I was less than heroic). One such moment found its way into my thoughts while drinking a second cup of coffee the other morning. I got to thinking about an old acquaintance, the moment I sold him out, and regret.

Coffee, cigarettes, memories, and regrets…

Many years ago I inadvertently got mixed up in some workplace politics. The particulars of the event aren’t too important, but it’s important to know that two clear sides were drawn and there was no room for neutral viewpoints. I found this out when I was called to the conference room and found the manager with a representative from the district human resources office. Big Don, the manager, showed me a list of employees who signed a petition stating they refused to work with a man who, at the time, I considered a friend. Hell, at least a half dozen people who signed the petition considered the man a friend. Don informed me that I had to give a formal statement to the HR representative concerning certain rumors I heard. I had every intention of defending my friend but the outcome of the meeting was clear before I started talking. Decisions had been made. My statement was a formality. Even so, I couldn’t help but feel as if I was selling out a friend as I gave my statement.

Over twenty years have passed since that day. Now and again I regret how I handled that event. But the regret isn’t that I told Don and the HR representative the truth. I felt bad for my friend and I felt I sold him out, but I never regretted telling the truth. To this day I regret that I remained friends with some of the people who signed the petition.

-K-

Major League Baseball and Selling Out

It’s Been Happening since 1919

Major League Baseball stopped being a game a long time ago (at least one hundred years ago since I’ll be referencing the 1919 World Series). MLB has been in the news of late due to current political issues. I’m not going to address MLB’s decisions and whether they were right of wrong (in any political sense at least). What I want to do is take a moment to look at the movie Eight Men Out and show how that movie can provide a long view of the business that is baseball and how MLB sold out the game.

Eight Men Out

I remember going to the theater way back in 1988 to see this movie. I didn’t know then or now how true and accurate the movie is to the actual events surrounding the 1919 World Series scandal, but the movie has a well written script and is played by an ensemble cast of talented actors. I viewed Eight Men Out as a good movie and an interesting piece of baseball history until 1994 and the MLB strike. The movie took on a different meaning for me after the strike and so did baseball. The idea of what Major League Baseball meant to me and/or could mean to me was lost after the strike (not even W.P. Kinsella could change how I viewed MLB after the strike). The MLB strike put Eight Men Out in perspective. I lost faith in the game and could better see how many lost their faith in the game after 1919. I don’t want to spoil the movie for you (you probably know how it ends) but the last ten minutes can really get you in the feels if you are fan of the game. A close viewing shows how the league treated the players and to some extent the fans. The league was more than willing to sell out eight men, and what has really changed in 100 years?

People still have a fascination with Major League Baseball, a desire to see it through rose colored glasses. It’s a fascination and view that the league banks (specific word choice here) on from the fans. MLB wants fans to think baseball is something more than a game, something other than a business. There was a time when fields and stadiums were compared to cathedrals, when poets referred to them as holy sites. There may have been a time when such views were applicable but those times have long passed. Today, fields and stadiums are nothing more than a variation of a big box retailer looking to take your money in exchange for a so-so product. Don’t be angry with MLB if you think they sold out. Give Eight Men Out a watch and you’ll see the league sold out the game of baseball a century ago.

-K-

Eight Men Out (1988) with John Cusak and Clifton James. Directed by John Sayles.

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