Is My Soul Worth 100 Dollars? An Investigation
About a week ago or so I got an email from an ominous marketing entity involved with the shaving industry. The email said that because I have such a strong social media following that I was qualified to write a “sponsored post” for their company.
Would I potentially be interested in sacrificing what’s left of my dignity and artistic credibility for the sake of a paycheck? I honestly did not know but I was, at the very least, curious as to what this soulless corporate entity thought my integrity was worth. Because I am going to be brutally honest here: I really fucking love free stuff. And free money.
Hell, I started an entire column here called “Stuff I Wrote About Because I Got It For Free” solely to promote the sending of free things to Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place’s corporate headquarters over at
Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place World Headquarters
1231 Church Street
oh, and also because writing about that free stuff is creatively fulfilling, I guess? Hell, one of the things I miss most about working at The A.V Club was the free stuff I received. And at The A.V. Club some of the free stuff we received was ridiculous, like an all-expense-paid trip to Brazil to cover some cockamamie film festival as a guest of the Minister of Culture or an ounce of weed.
I love getting free stuff, and during my regular moments of intense financial distress, selling some of the free stuff I have received has allowed me to do things like pay my mortgage and also my baby’s health insurance.
So I am not, on any level, opposed to getting free stuff. But signing on to write a sponsored post seemed like it might be crossing a barrier that should not be crossed .Yet curiosity got the best of me so I filled out the application paperwork and a little later got an email with a concrete offer.
The shaving company, which I will not name but rhymes with Schlilette, would pay me one hundred dollars and a free razor to give a glowing online review of their razor. But there were caveats, of course. I had to present the razor in a flattering and wholesome fashion. I could not, for example, brag about how using this razor allowed me to shave both a pentagram and 666 into both my pubic hair and my beard, and I only bled a little bit. And for some reason they didn’t want me to mention drugs or alcohol, or rivals such as Harry’s Shave Club (who actually fund a pop culture website I sometimes write for), or to mention that I’m only raving about a razor online because I’m being paid modestly to do so.
Here’s the thing: I could use a hundred bucks. I can always use a hundred bucks. But my integrity and my relationship with my readers (that’s you beautiful, indulgent people) is worth, at the very least, one hundred and twenty seven dollars. So I would be selling myself short if I accepted their offer and their ground rules.
It’s a good thing to know how much your self-respect is worth. It turns out it’s substantially more than a hundred dollars, and I write that as a man who regularly chooses projects because they’re sketchy and weird, like a long-ago gig ghost-writing a hip hop book for a pair of overwhelmed white teenagers or a Canadian panel show co-starring Jimmie “J.J” Walker and Erik Estrada.
Besides, if I’m known for anything it’s the moral purity of my razor reviews and the integrity of my shaving commentary. I would be a fool to compromise my reputation as the world’s most upstanding razor critic solely for the sake of money. I will never lie to you about the razors I use or don’t use. That’s the Nathan Rabin promise!
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