Late last week, amidst an agonizingly slow pre-holiday news cycle, CNET introduced the world to Zack Danger Brown, a Columbus, Ohio native who wanted to crowdfund the making of his very first potato salad on Kickstarter. He wanted $10. He got over $15,000 (and counting). And here, because this is the world we have created, is your Kickstarter potato salad guy think piece. The thought: Kickstarter potato salad guy rules.
The joys of Danger's (can we just call him Danger? let's just call him Danger) potato salad Kickstarter are many. It's funny, for one, in a sustained and understated way that's surprisingly hard to find on the internet at large, much less on a crowdfunding platform. Each update—there have been 11 so far, as Danger bursts through target after absurd target—hits the same faux-sincere notes. The stretch goals are as creative as their amounts are outlandish, the FAQ and their answers are all perfectly in character.
$250 - Better mayonnaise (from the natural foods section)
$300 - Call a chef to get a better recipe
$350 - Make way more potato salad and probably do a third recipe.
There's a reason Kickstarter potato salad guy has 120,000 shares (and counting!) on Facebook, and that 2,100 people have handed him actual money. It's not just because of holiday weekend filler coverage like ours and others. He is funny! He is charming! He promised a pizza party! I mean how can you not just fall in love a little:
But funny and charming and pizza are not what make Danger a hero. What makes him a hero is that he's found a way to skewer Kickstarter in a way that's entertaining, lucrative, and (potentially, depending on how much dill he uses) delicious.
What you might not realize is that Kickstarter potato salad guy wouldn't have been possible just two months ago. There were rules back then! Barely enforced, not extraordinarily helpful rules, but rules just the same. Projects were at least nominally vetted before, to keep out the obvious scams and duds. Well, most of them anyway. Last month, though, Kickstarter transitioned from nanny state to bachelor uncle weekend visit. Any project can stand, as long as it's not illegal, regulated, or dangerous. And potato salad guy is the perfect distillation of that sure, whatever ethos.
I mean, just look at his Risks and Challenges disclosures:
See? Funny! Also a nice little needle in Kickstarter's eye.
Good things have come out of Kickstarter. But, especially with these new rules in place, they're far outnumbered by terrible no good impossible projects, pipe dreams wrapped in windmills, renders not worth the pixels they're produced with. Potato salad guy, though? Openly satirical. You give money to Danger because you're in on the joke, not being made into one. At this point it's safest to think of Kickstarter as performance art. And potato salad right now is the best show in town.
Here's what we can take away from this textbook virality, before we collectively forget it ever happened (next Tuesday-ish?): Assume everything on Kickstarter is potato salad in life-size hologram clothing. Give money to people whose ideas could maybe make the world a better place, but don't clear out any space for them on your mantel. And when in doubt, always trust a man named Danger.