Shaq, that lovable character you can’t get enough of in his capacity as the grumbling grouch on TNT’s NBA studio coverage, apparently has a new docuseries—a fancy word that means “reality television show”— coming up on TNT. The show, apparently already hard-up for content, is hoping to put together a series of animated shorts based on first-person stories from Shaq’s past, not unlike those of our own Dave McKenna. Looking to get in on the outrageous devaluing of work that is the function of our glorious gig economy, the big galoot made a reverse pitch Wednesday evening on Twitter, asking artists to submit animations of his stories to a contest with an insultingly puny reward:
You probably don’t need this explained, but: Animating a sequence of more than a few frames is long and tedious work, and doing it well requires talent and know-how and experience, and doing it well enough to be featured in a television show on TNT is worth a hell of a lot more than $500. According to the website Get Wright On It, a freelance 44-second animation—the longest of the audio clips on the Shaqtoons website—using 2D animation at the lowest possible production quality would run between $2,900 and $47,000, depending on the specific style chosen. No legitimate working artist who isn’t desperately hard up for cash will pursue Shaq’s shitty, exploitative reward, and every person that isn’t a legitimate working artist who does will be actively driving down the value of the art of legitimate working artists.
Maybe Shaq doesn’t know this, but TNT sure as shit does, and their willingness to dangle “exposure” in order to exploit workers and get an outrageous discount on content for their television show says awful things about their company. Don’t participate! As a general rule, don’t participate at either end in sleazy gig marketplaces that exist to drive down the value of work by sourcing it from desperate amateurs.