Monday, August 8, 2011

Etsy's Fauxbo-gate

There's an interesting battle being waged between crafting website Etsy and its...mockers... at Regretsy

Etsy's a place for artists and crafters to set up their own "shops" to sell their work online. A lot of the sellers have real talent and make some beautiful things. At the same time, a lot of people try really hard and make some...interesting things. Or...crazy...things. I mean, the internet's pretty depraved so you have to imagine that some of those people made their way to Etsy, you know? There's also a lot of people that buy things super cheaply online then mark up the prices and resell them on Etsy-- which is against Etsy's policy and those shops are shut down, but then are just reopened under a different name. 

Regretsy is a blog run by voice actress April Winchell; she posts screencaps of the most...unique...items on Etsy. Recent posts include this quilt of the USA:

And this necklace:

See what I mean by "unique"? Unique. So commenters respond and mock and have a little fun at the creator's expense. Most of the crafters take it pretty well but there's always the group that takes extreme offense and threatens legal action and then they really get made fun of. 

Regretsy also holds monthly sales for charity to benefit an Etsy artist in need, ones that have been hit by hard circumstances and are essentially supporting their families with their shops. 

So here's the situation. One of the blogs Etsy runs is "Handmade Weddings" and it features posts by Etsy artists on handmade wedding ideas and their own handmade weddings. On August 1st, Etsy posted THIS, a post describing an Etsy artist's "Depression-Era Hobo" themed wedding. 

Let me bold that for you. Depression-Era Hobo Wedding. 

And the Etsy-ers went nuts! And not in the way you'd think! The comments were pouring in on this, about how cute and unique an idea it was. 

April Winchell, aka "Helen Killer", posted this in response and rightfully reamed Etsy, the posters, and the commenters for the unbelievable insensitivity and poor taste shown by throwing a party with a homeless and starving theme. 

I understand standing up for the couple's right to celebrate how they wish, and I understand they had their feelings hurt by a section of the internet, but you really honestly can't expect that people will all react positively to everything you say. 

Oh, no, wait-- on Etsy you can. Critical comments are not allowed and if you are caught making one your account is deleted. But that doesn't stop Regretsy, and it doesn't stop me, the whole situation is disgusting. It would be like making your wedding theme WWII Refugees. 

So the happy couple's family and friends turned out en force to support the theme-- on Twitter, on Facebook, maybe even other places I don't know about-- which is totally understandable, their feelings were hurt and they felt like they were protecting people they cared about. Unfortunately, those people were wrong. 

On August 3rd or 4th (after removing the most negative comments) Etsy added a blurb to the top of the blog posting saying that they understand some people were upset. And...uh...that's it. Good work, Etsy. 

On August 5th a news site called The Atlantic Wire posted this, an editorial detailing the battle and siding with those against the idea of celebrating poverty and starvation. 

British News source The Guardian posted this, an article giving a short overview of the details above, then going on to describe the outrageous cost of weddings anymore. 

Here's the real kicker: the hobo-chic wedding costed $15000. That's not a typo, that's the truth- fifteen thousand dollars. Because, according to the bride and groom, they couldn't afford to do much. Hypocrites. 

I'm not sure what I want to come out of this. I sort of want the bride and groom to apologize-- which they might have, I don't have confirmation on that-- but I guess ultimately I would like people to think about what they do before they do it. No, I would love that. Think about what you're doing. Think about who it could hurt. Think of all of the possible outcomes and implications. Be sensitive. 

Err on the side of kindness. 


  1. Thanks for this summary; I ran into a faux-bo reference this morning and was thoroughly confused!

  2. Thanks for this summary; I ran into a faux-bo reference this morning and was thoroughly confused!

  3. Glad I could help! The situation was spread over so many websites I thought it needed a bit of a cheat sheet.

  4. I liked it better when they did it on Zoolander. More funny, less crying.

  5. Haha, good call-- I'd forgotten about that. Zoolander managed to make a lot of serious subjects funny by making its characters so stupid...kind of like how Arrested Development made horrible things funny by making their characters such awful people. Unfortunately when these things happen in real life...

  6. What if they had chosen a ‘medieval peasant’ theme? Or a ‘Renaissance Faire’ theme? I’ll bet no one would complain then. Yet the peasants had it as bad, maybe worse, than the hobos. For that matter, why aren’t you people off complaining about Ren Faires on the grounds that some bad shit was done back then like burning people at the stake or totalitarian government? The answer is: Ren Faires are about enjoying the positive from that time, not about providing a balanced historical dissertation for pedantic nitwits.
    Or a 1920′s jazz scene theme for example… I mean the pioneers of jazz, not to mention the blues, were minorities whose civil rights were trampled! We’d better _never_ celebrate the positive stuff about them! We should only ever talk about jazz in the most sombre way and never enjoy it or the blues which were the product of minority suffering! And since rock & roll was influenced by the blues, which was a product of minority suffering, we can't possibly enjoy that!
    Do you object to the various comedy sketches that used to be done involving hobos?
    This wedding idea was dumb. As weddings go it sounds like this one blew monkey chunks. However, I don’t see how they were being ‘insensitive’ because they chose to romanticize an historical group and use that romantic image in their wedding. For ****'s sake, people!

  7. The main problem people, including myself, are having with the wedding is not as much the theme itself but the way it was handled. You are absolutely right that Medieval and Renaissance themes also deal with a time when people were living in truly awful conditions, but this particular wedding romanticized the worst of the time, and not the best as those Medieval and Renaissance themes do. They dress as royalty, not victims of the Inquisition. People have 1940s themed weddings, but they do not dress as concentration camp inmates. I find the Jewish men and women that married in secret in the barracks of the camps incredibly romantic and beautiful, but to make that the theme of my wedding would be tasteless and insensitive, and I think you'd agree.

    What also added to the offense was that these people were spending thousands of dollars to play poor, then were very proudly flaunting how cleverly they saved so much money on their wedding. As someone who had holes in their shoes growing up and is struggling to afford medical care, it's shocking and hurtful that people would spending just under what my family makes in a year to simulate poverty, then congratulating themselves on cutting corners. Blogger "Little Red Lupine" does a far better job explaining this than I ever could on (

    As for the comedy sketches, as bumpasaurusx and I discussed below, these types of things can be funny, but they need to be handled properly-- just like weddings with sensitive themes can be romantic.