Justice Pricing Stunt Explained

I’m Shiraz, the person who made international news for saying I was going to charge hetero white cisgender males double to attend a comedy screening. We called this pricing model “Justice Pricing.” A lot of people got very angry, and, as a result, the story spread like wildfire.

Why did I do it?

Because it was funny, because people’s reactions were interesting, and because it was dead easy to do.

Even though I knew I could get international press doing this, it is incredibly stupid that it worked. Many dozens of blogs, newspapers, and other media covered a story about a discriminatory pricing scheme for an event by a company literally called Made You Look Media, attached to the premiere of a webseries about comedy and guerilla marketing, spread around by “Sid Mohammed,” the thinnest alibi possible, with literally nothing but a gmail account to his name. I mean it literally says on the “Building the Room” website “…a fun romp full of exciting promotional stunts .” And, we were NEVER even selling tickets…

But the media outlets didn’t care it was a stunt, because stunt or not, it was controversy, and they could get clicks and shares by posting a provocative headline. Read Ryan Holiday’s Trust Me I’m Lying for more on how that all works (and for a much more in depth examination of the failings of online media). I basically just followed that book to the letter (with the help of my friend Brent Underwood) to make this happen.

In the ensuing madness the highlights included hearing a bunch of people get fired up about discrimination for the first time in their lives. Seeing a bunch of people give discrimination a free pass for the first time in their lives. Reading a bunch of comments and messages where people railed against discrimination, then turned around to say “why don’t you charge Asians more, they’re more privileged than we are.”  

This incredibly hypocritical comment railing against discrimination and racism:

 

Being told by people who live in cities 5 hours flight from me that they were going to boycott my screening.

This google search result:

I mean damn, making people incredibly irrationally angry was way too easy.

It was so easy because the whole discourse around identity politics (and politics in general) has become completely absurd, on both ends of the spectrum. People on one side feel attacked by any mention of privilege and its power. People on the other feel no empathy for the struggles faced by those who have privilege (white, male, hetero, cis, rich). And no, don’t punch Nazis, they’re mostly insecure virgins and mentally ill people acting out. They deserve our compassion, despite giving us every reason to withhold it.

Reasonable people have left the conversation on social media, blogs, twitter and wherever else. These places have become battlegrounds for people who have no interest in critical thought, empathy or humour. Anyone with half a notion of their own ignorance is completely checked out of the conversation at this point. Overconfident ass hats dominate the discourse and there seems to be no room for humour.

The worst thing about all of this is that so many media outlets continue to pedal bullshit to make you angry and get your clicks, shares and comments, regardless of how absolutely irrelevant the content is. This was a nothing event, and it became international news.

Stop reading shit that makes you angry. And stop telling everyone how angry you are in comment sections. Go talk to other real people. It’s a lot harder to hate the other side if you’re looking at them and seeing that they’re human.

I knew suggesting white males pay more for tickets would get me national media attention, because I was being a simplistic ass hat, and if you’re a simplistic ass hat, you can get as much press as you want. STOP GIVING ASS HATS PLATFORMS, DONALD TRUMP IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES… WE SHOULD KNOW BETTER BY NOW.

And no, I’m not trying to tell proponents of social justice to shut up and go home, neither am I trying to tell white guys to sit down and take it when overt expressions of discrimination like this are leveled at them. The only thing I want is for us to be able to have some damn fun. If people could take themselves a bit less seriously, and get a bit less angry and irrational about this stuff, I think more of us could have had a good laugh about the ridiculousness of a bunch of naked apes using supercomputers to unleash their egos.

We’re all human. We’ve all been in a public washroom with single ply paper and have looked down to find brown and red and have wondered, “Is it dangerous to continue? Should I just wrap this up and shower when I get home?” In those moments, we’re equals.

BUY TICKETS HERE:

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/building-the-room-premiere-and-after-party-tickets-38302432607

 

JUSTICE PRICING MODEL EXPANDED

The past 72 hours or so has been a marathon. I have done countless interviews, have had my little event published many dozens of times, and have been flooded with feedback. Justice Pricing has always been a work in progress, but with the help of my cousin Faelan Lundeberg, I have just completed that work and hope that we can get the new pricing model out to people before the previous one becomes a source of anymore hurt and anger.

In reaction to many comments asking why our pricing model was targeting a single group, we have attempted to respond to the best of our ability on a tight time schedule with an updated pricing model that better reflects the complexities of privilege. In order to determine your suggested ticket price, please read through the following table, all of the applicable footnotes and the accompanying addendum. REMINDER: THESE ARE PRICE SUGGESTIONS AND ARE VOLUNTARY. If you do not find, or have issues with how your ethnic grouping or identity has been represented, e-mail sidmohammedpr@gmail.com

ANYONE WHO LIVES WITH A DISABILITY CAN SUBTRACT $5 FROM THEIR SUGGESTED PRICE

Ethnicity/Gender and Sexuality Cisgender male Cisgender female Gay/Bi Male[1] Gay/Bi Female1 Trans Man[2] Trans Woman2
African Descent[3] [4] (excluding Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, see “Arab”) $10 $7 $6 $5 $5 $4
Americo-Liberian[5] $13 $10 $7 $6 $6 $5
Arab[6] $12 $7 $4 $3 Free Free
Arab from Saudi Arabia[7] $25 $5 Free Free Free Free
Citizen of Qatar[8] $30 $10 Free Free Free Free
Citizen of UAE[9] $20 $17 Free Free Free Free
Armenian[10] $13 $10 $6 $5 $5 $4
Chinese[11] $15 $12 $8 $7 $7 $6
Chinese (ethnic minority)[12] $12 $9 $7 $5 $5 $4
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson $150 N/A N/A N/A $10 N/A
Eastern European $14 $11 $7 $5 $5 $4
South East Asian[13] $12 $9 $6 $5 $5 $4
Indigenous (Canada)[14] Pay what you want Pay what you want Pay what you want Pay what you want Pay what you want Pay what you want
Indigenous (International) $8 $6 $4 $3 $3 $2
German/Austrian[15] $20 $17 $15 $13 $13 $12
Indian[16] $14 $11 $7 $5 $5 $4
French Canadian/ Quebecois[17] $15 $12 $8 $6 $6 $5
Iranian[18] $14 $11 Free Free Free Free
Iraqi/Syrian/Afghan[19] $10 $6 Free Free Free Free
Israeli[20] $15 $12 $8 $6 $6 $5
Irish[21] $14 $11 Free Free Free Free
Japanese[22] $14 $11 $7 $5 $5 $4
Jewish[23] $14 $11 $7 $5 $5 $4
Kurdish[24] Free Free Free Free Free Free
Norwegian[25] $50 $45 $42 $41 $41 $40
UK and Western Europe[26] $15 $12 $8 $6 $6 $5
Spanish[27] $15 $12 $8 $6 $6 $5
Russian (Oligarch)[28] $10,000 $5,000 Free Free Free Free
Russian (Serf)[29] $10 $7 Free Free Free Free
Rwandan[30][31] $10 $7 Free Free Free Free
White South African[32] $18 $18 $17 $17 $16 $15
White U.S. Citizen[33] $15 $12 $8 $7 $7 $6

Understanding the pricing further:

Gay/Straight Differential:

The American classification system for mental disorders listed loving your own sex as a disorder under some name or another up until 1987. The World Health Organization only removed “homosexuality” from its list of mental disorders in 1992.[34] Being deemed to have a mental disorder for loving who you love has massive ramifications on self-esteem, but also on one’s ability to find gainful employment, housing, etc. We are in the midst of a civil rights struggle to set the world on a new course with regards to its views on sexualities that do not fit into the heteronormative structures in place. We have tried to reflect some of the difficulty the LGBTQ+ community has faced in the pricing, but it cannot be quantified in dollar terms, so this is clearly a halfway measure at best.

Trans man/Trans woman price difference:

Trans men are being charged slightly more than trans women due to the simple fact that males are more privileged than women as a group in general. We have offered free admission to Trans man and trans women patrons who are from places where trans people are still very much discriminated against in law, but we are not necessarily privy to all the places where that takes place. If we have made a mistake, please just enter the show without paying.

Ethnicities:

Our list of ethnicities is incomplete and should be taken as a rough guide. If you feel our pricing model is flawed for any reason, please feel free to adapt it, or contact us with adaptations.

  1. It is extremely difficult to gauge the level of discrimination a given member of the LGBTQ+ community faces for their sexual orientation or gender. Even within a given ethnic group or country, the treatment of those are not heterosexual. We have provided these prices as very rough and probably flawed guides. Please adapt at will.
  2. Because the recognition of trans rights and the discrimination trans people face is a relatively new phenomenon and is constantly developing, please feel free to adapt below pricing based upon your knowledge of how trans people are treated in your ethnic group or community. We have provided these prices as very rough and probably flawed guides.
  3. Due to the fact that homosexuality is illegal in Algeria, Angola, Botswana Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana (male), Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mauritania, Namibia (male), Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone (male), Somalia, Somaliland, Sudan (North and South), Swaziland (male), Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe (male) in a number of cases under penalty of death, any patrons who are homosexual hailing from these countries are welcome to attend the screening for free.
  4. Due to the fact that the Kingdom of Ethiopia was considered exempt from European colonialism and left independent after the 1888 Congress of Berlin, they do not share the same past of institutional violence that has faced many other African populations. In fact, under the reign of King Menelik II, the Kingdom of Ethiopia acted as a colonial aggressor against their peaceful neighbors. For this reason those of Ethiopian descent may refer to to the Americo-Liberian price bracket.
  5. Americo-Liberians (descendants of free black Americans who relocated to Liberia during the late 19th and early 20th Century) will pay a $13 price due to their domination and sometimes outright enslavement of the indigenous population for over a century (1847-1980). Persons of indigenous Liberian descent can refer to the “African Descent” pricing. They are excused from the $15 price due to the fact that they were themselves enslaved in the United States prior to colonizing Liberia.
  6. Anyone fleeing violence in Syria, Libya, Iraq or Palestine is welcome to attend the event for free.
  7. Subtract $5 from ticket price if you have ever performed public acts of dance, or general jubilance in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (see: http://bit.ly/2g4wHhz). Subtract $5 if you have been involved in any dissident movements aimed at the modernization of Saudi Arabian law and culture.
  8. The IMF forecast that the average annual income in Qatar at $129,112 in 2017. Add $5 to ticket price if you are a paid worker in the construction industry due to tacit support of modern day slavery. (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/series/modern-day-slavery-in-focus+world/qatar)
  9. Add $5 to ticket price if you are a paid worker in the construction industry due to tacit support of modern day slavery.(https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/series/modern-day-slavery-in-focus+world/united-arab-emirates)
  10. Made You Look Media acknowledges the historic crimes committed against the Armenian people (1915-1917). We do, however, ask that the discourse around this piece of history not be invoked by non-Armenians in order to derail important conversations about the history of Anti-Semitism that must take place.
  11. Patrons of Han Chinese descent will be asked to pay an additional three dollar indemnity. This will be used to subsidise discounts for our patrons of Tibetan or Uyghur descent who may be unable to pay the base price due to financial issues deriving from historical marginalization from state power structures. Please note that if a Han Chinese patron’s family history in Canada predates 1990s (following the 1970s multicultural revolution), they are exempt from this surcharge due to the atrocious abuse of Chinese workers during the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, as well as generalized racism and racist policy (Chinese head tax, etc.). Also, if you immigrated to the west coast of Canada (particularly Vancouver) after the year 2000, subtract $2 from your ticket price to account for the rise in Sinophobia and seeming widespread acceptance of racialized generalizations about Chinese people, culture, and the “threat they pose” to “Canadians owning their own homes.”
  12. See Chinese price bracket for additional discounts.
  13. Subtract an additional $2 if you are from Laos or Vietnam for atrocities carried out during the Vietnam War by the United States. Subtract an additional $3 if you are from Cambodia for both the bombings carried out during the Vietnam War and for the horrifying rule of Pol Pot which set the country back decades, if not centuries in terms of development. Non-practicing Muslims from Malaysia may subtract $1 from their ticket price for being subjected to a separate legal system against their will. Members of the Rohingya ethnic group from Myanmar may attend the event free of charge.
  14. This event is being hosted on unceded territory. A lot of people like to mention this point before their event to get it out of the way, but we believe that if we’re going to recognize that the land is stolen, let’s at least let the people it’s stolen from come for free. Due to historical connections with inter-tribal warfare and slavery we ask patrons from the Haida Nation voluntarily cover the donation for any members of nations they carried out injustices against. However, due to their valiant efforts combating the spread of settler violence on the West Coast of Canada (using, amongst other things, canons and canoe mounted swivel guns), members of the Haida Nation are welcome to enjoy a complimentary snack and beverage. This gratuity must be paid for by a patron of settler descent.
  15. If a patron is of German/Austrian heritage whose family left Germany prior to 1930, subtract $5 from price.
  16. Canadian adults of East Indian origin receive more of their income from earnings than the overall population. In 2000, Canadians of East Indian origin aged 15 and over said that 85% of their income came from earnings, compared with 77% for all Canadian adults. (http://www.statcan.gc.ca) This is likely due to the fact that in 2001 67% of indo-canadians were born outside of Canada. Thus, they have not benefited from the accumulation of wealth common to more settled societies. Please note that if an Indo-Canadian patron’s family history in Canada predates 1990s (following the 1970s multicultural revolution), they are exempt from this surcharge due to the extremely racist treatment faced by Indian immigrants to Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries.
  17. If the patron is a separatist, subtract $2 from base price. If patron voted to secede from Canada in the 1995 referendum subtract $5 from base price. If in favour of Charter of Values, add $10 to base price.
  18. Iranians displaced by the 1979 Islamic Revolution should subtract a further $3 from their ticket price, so long as they had no direct connection to the corrupt regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi or did not benefit directly from the regime.
  19. We at Made You Look Media firmly believe that it is the job of Canadians and affluent societies as a whole to welcome those fleeing violence and extremism at home. For this reason those with valid refugee status from the above countries will be provided with complimentary entry to the screening.
  20. If in favour of halting settlements and forging a lasting peace with Palestine through a two-state solution, subtract $5.Please add $5 if you have contributed to the occupation of Palestinian territories in some capacity.
  21. Tiocfaidh ár lá and all that, but any Irish with connection groups that have engaged in violence against civilians should add $3 to their ticket price
  22. Subtract $5 from ticket price if your family was affected by either the atrocious internment camps set up in Canada and the United States during WWII or by what remains the only use of nuclear weapons on human targets in history carried out by the United States in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  23. Subtract $7 for holocaust survivors and their descendants. Subtract $2 if you have been affected by anti-semitism.
  24. Due to their long history as an oppressed and marginalized people and their courageous stand against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Made You Look Media proudly offers complimentary entrance to our Kurdish Patrons. Any patron of Kurdish descent who who can demonstrate membership in a Peshmerga militia unit will be provided a complimentary beverage (root beer or sprite).
  25. Price is due to the strong extremely high standard of living enjoyed by Norwegian citizens.
  26. Add $2 if of Swiss descent (due to high per capita GDP and laundering Nazi money. Add $3 if of British descent due to atrocities committed during colonial era (Opium wars, colonization of Africa, Americas, Ireland, East Asia, South Asia, etc.) and Nigel Farage. Add $2 if Belgian due to Congo Genocide. Subtract $2 if Scottish or Welsh due to ongoing occupation by British. Add $2 if French due to colonialism and Atrocities during Algerian war.
  27. While we understand that the Spanish Empire was a at one time a world power built on wealth pillaged from the indigenous peoples of the Americas; we also understand that through centuries of financial mismanagement this wealth no longer plays a role in Spanish governance. We aim to reflect this in our pricing. Holders of current Spanish citizenship should subtract $2 from ticket price due to Spain’s current unemployment crisis (18% in 2017 according to Eurostat (http://bit.ly/2w8SCYN)) and targeting in recent terror attacks. Those of Spanish heritage in Europe, Canada and the United States should pay standard pricing, those of 50% Spanish lineage from South America (excluding Brazil) and Mexico should pay an additional $5, with an additional $0.10 added for every 1% of Spanish blood added (i.e. 100% Spanish descent =$10, 75%=$7.50).
  28. In modern Russia one hundred and eleven people control nineteen percent of all household wealth.
  29. Analysis suggests that eighty-three percent of the Russian population has less than ten thousand dollars in personal wealth
  30. Rwandans of the Hutu ethnic group should add $5 to their ticket price due to the atrocities committed during the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.
  31. Rwandans of the Tutsi ethnic group should add 5$ due to atrocities committed before and after the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.
  32. Add an additional $10 to ticket price if family fled South Africa during fall of Apartheid (between 1989 and 1991).
  33. Add $10 to the ticket price if the patron voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election. Subtract $10 from ticket price if a member of the white appalachian community (see Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance). Subtract a further $5 from ticket price if white appalachian who didn’t vote for Donald J. Trump.
  34. Burton, Neel. When Homosexuality Stopped Being A Mental Disorder. Psychology Today, September 18, 2015. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hide-and-seek/201509/when-homosexuality-stopped-being-mental-disorder

 

A Further Discussion of Justice Pricing

Over the past few hours, I have had the opportunity to discuss justice pricing in a lot more depth with the public and journalists interested in the ideas we are putting forward. Here are some thoughts I have about the pricing model that I think are relevant to future discussions.

– A lot of people have pointed out that the pricing model we’ve adopted is not equitable. They’re right. Having said that, equity does not equal equality. In fact, achieving equality sometimes demands inequitable treatment to correct for existing disparities in rights, privileges and economic power. Our income tax code, for example, is not equitable. People who make more money are taxed more. It is, however, aimed at promoting equality.

– I do not think we’ve nailed the pricing model. Obviously there was a problem with charging white males double for their tickets. It did not represent in real terms the disparity between average incomes and purchasing power that exist. This is why we have adapted the model to lower the price for white males. Still, the price does not represent in real terms the disparity in purchasing power, it’s too high. Given the right resources, we could work on a model that took into account a lot more and was more nuanced in terms of it’s treatment of ethnicity and gender as markers of purchasing power. In the meantime, I would like to point out that our inflation of the purchasing power disparity is justifiable due to the fact that we are the only people who are adopting this model. Much like insurance pricing, the more buy-in, the cheaper it will get. If more businesses join us, we can approach a more equitable solution to the issue of inequality.

– Many readers have pointed out that price discrimination along the lines of gender and ethnicity already exist. For example, women pay considerably more for hygiene products aimed at them. Women are also often charged more for used cars and car repairs. Even haircuts are much more expensive for women, even if it’s a straightforward job taking the same amount of time.  Minorities are often more harshly punished economically. More likely to be given speeding tickets. More likely to be randomly carded in Toronto (https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/10/23/random-or-arbitrary-police-carding-will-stop-province-says.html). It’s also been proven that people with ethnic names are less likely to be hired (https://www.forbes.com/sites/ruchikatulshyan/2014/06/13/have-a-foreign-sounding-name-change-it-to-get-a-job/#13ce46f45316 ).

Thank you again to everyone who has engaged with this topic. Please continue to carry out respectful debate and discussion. Together we can build a better society through communication.

 

NEW PRICING MODEL ANNOUNCED

In reaction to a considerable amount of public outrage as well as some support, we have decided to adapt the pricing scheme for the screening of building the room. Initially white cisgender males were expected to pay double ($20 as opposed to $10) for their tickets. It has been brought to our attention that this model of price discrimination should be adapted to avoid offending a large swath of the public.

We have lowered the price for White Cis-Straight Able-Bodied Males to $15. Everyone else will pay a discounted price of $10.

We are also donating any profits from the door to both the Native Friendship Centre of Victoria,  and the Victoria Pride Society.

We hope that this adaptation is a satisfactory compromise that will quell the doubts about our pricing model.

A statement from the Director of Building the Room:

“There has been considerable backlash against the model. There are two things I’d like to say. One is that the death threats need to stop. That kind of behaviour doesn’t solve any problems. Two is that the cast, crew and venue have nothing to do with the pricing of this event. Justice Pricing does not reflect the views or desires of anyone else involved in this project. So please leave them alone.”

When: September 28, 2017
Where: Roxy Theatre
What: Screening of comedy series Building the Room
Suggested Price: $15 GA/ $10 discounted price (for people who are not Cisgender Hetero Able-Bodied White Males.)

Justice Pricing Defended

I feel the need to provide some context regarding the practice of Justice Pricing.
First of all, no this was never intended to be some kind of attack on white men. It was never intended to be a settling of scores. The simple intent of Justice Pricing is to meet people at their economic level.
Price discrimination is not a new idea. The notion of accommodating differences in purchasing power is as simple as having discounts for students and seniors . Now, are all students and seniors less able to pay regular prices than the average working adult? No, of course not, there are students who drive quarter million dollar cars and seniors who live in mansions, but the pricing model is sound despite these outliers.
No, not all white men are seeing the financial fruits of their privilege, but many are. White men are the highest earning group in Canada, and as a result we are trying to meet them at their level in order to make the event more affordable for those other groups who don’t have the same purchasing power.

A few notes:

– There have been many good insights from people around the problems this pricing model raises. As a result, we’ve halted ticket sales for the day and are going to be reassessing the pricing model to better fit the needs of the community.

– Some people have been comparing what we’re doing here to the discrimination black people faced in the 20th Century and prior in North America. Addressing this seems somewhat ridiculous, but let me just say, I don’t think there would have been a million man march if African Americans were simply being asked to pay $10 more for a comedy show that they may not have even heard of. Voting rights being revoked, segregated water fountains, busses, schools, workplaces, and a history of literal slavery is not comparable to our pricing model, so please try not to make fools out of yourselves by comparing the two.

–  We really appreciate the discussion this has raised and the respectful tone so many people have taken. I have, however, received a number of death threats privately, and those are a serious matter that will be taken up with the police if they continue. It is not okay to threaten violence and death, even if you feel angry.

– Please continue to provide your input and let us know where we can improve this. Justice is a group project. We can not achieve it by keeping our ears closed to people, so we’re very interested in hearing your suggestions for a more equitable pricing model.

Building the Room Screening Announced!

The first public screening of Building the Room is taking place on September 28th, 2017 at 7PM at the Roxy Theatre (2657 Quadra St, Victoria, BC).  This is going to be a fantastic event and we are proud to be introducing Justice Pricing to our ticket sales. This means that our general admission price of $10 will be doubled to $20 for all white cisgender males! We hope that our patrons on both sides of the pricing spectrum will understand the value of this model.

Here’s the press release for the event:

When: 7:30PM September 28th, 2017
Where: Roxy Theatre (2657 Quadra St, Victoria, BC)
What: Screening of comedy series Building the Room
Suggested Price: $10 GA/ $20 for Cisgender White Males (Justice Pricing)

Building the Room is a hilarious comedy series that showcases the trials and tribulations of putting on a stand up comedy show. Director Shiraz Higgins initially intended to create a documentary that shed light on both the behind-the-scenes of comedy show production and on the world of guerrilla marketing. What was intended to be a collaborative process between the director and the cast, a group of up-and-coming comedians, became a source of considerable conflict, strife and disillusionment. The director’s refusal to pay the cast after the completion of filming led to a civil lawsuit.

Filmed in the apartment and workshop of virtuoso production and costume designer  Jimbo Insell, Building the Room combines footage of the original production with deposition footage from the civil suit to tell the story of an idea and a cast unraveling.

The series shows comedians struggling through male modeling auditions, professional wrestling events, a bottling incident, and a Santa slave parade, among other things. Cynicism and negativity put the fate of the project in doubt from day one to the final comedy show 10 days later.

This truly unique series combines a variety of styles of comedy both stand up and stunt based. On the whole, it is a glorious portrait of failure, doubt and redemption.

For more information or interview inquiries, contact Sid Mohammed at:

sidmohammedpr@gmail.com