"Ride It Like You Stole It" and "Steal Like An Artist" Grate My Hide!

steal |stēl|
verb ( past stole |stōl|; past part. stolen |ˈstōlən|)
1 [ trans. ] take (another person's property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it : thieves stole her bicycle | [ intrans. ] she was found guilty of stealing from her employers | [as adj. ] ( stolen) stolen goods.
• dishonestly pass off (another person's ideas) as one's own : accusations that one group had stolen ideas from the other were soon flying.
• take the opportunity to give or share (a kiss) when it is not expected or when people are not watching : he was allowed to steal a kiss in the darkness.
• (in various sports) gain (an advantage, a run, or possession of the ball) unexpectedly or by exploiting the temporary distraction of an opponent.
• Baseball (of a base runner) advance safely to (the next base) by running to it as the pitcher begins the delivery : Rickey stole third base.
• attract the most notice in (a scene or a theatrical production) while not being the featured performer : why not be a big ham, and steal as many scenes as possible.
2 [ intrans. ] move somewhere quietly or surreptitiously : he stole down to the kitchen | figurative a delicious languor was stealing over her.
• [ trans. ] direct (a look) quickly and unobtrusively : he stole a furtive glance at her.
I absolutely hate the phrase "Ride it like you stole it." I was first introduced to the slogan on a t-shirt in a motorcycle shop I used to work in. It bristled me. I thought maybe my reaction to the slogan was a personal response to my own bike having been recently stolen, wishing and hoping that my bike would come back in one piece and functional, (it didn't). I feel like the slogan encourages shit behavior in people. People don't respect stolen things, stolen things may be treated as disposable, and they are to the thief. But to the person on the other side of the equation, it's heartache, grief, loss of a vehicle and transportation, as well as being expensive.  Sure we have insurance, but the initial out of pocket mullah is (in my case) rarely available.  Way to fuck someone's day, week, month...for kicks. Another angle to take on stolen conveyances, perhaps it's not for kicks, but because one desperately needs a way to get to work or school, so desperate as to steal someone elses. Shit ass. Walk or bus like you'd be making the person you stole from. 

I appreciate the slogan is a simile utilizing "like" as to imply that it isn't actually stolen, but what is it saying? Ride it like you're about to be caught? Ride dangerously? Ride without concern for consequence? Ride to get-away or go-to with utter desperation? As a person who has lived the better part of a lifetime in "survival mode" suggesting someone dally in this anxious state recreationally is dangerous in itself, it might be fun on occasion but for any duration it gets tough quick. It also suggests that the declarer of "ride it like it's stolen" hasn't really spent any amount of time living in desperate survival mode, perhaps vacationing there for fun, certainly not paying the mortgage there.

I also despise "Steal like an artist!" Fuck that. No.  This statement is not about the book with this title, or the contents of the book, but the phrase itself - which so many people seem to have latched onto.

This sentiment makes us out as cheaters and a thieves, that's shitty energy to put upon someone, or yourself. All work is derivative, and that's great - attribution covers your bases, therefore NOT STOLEN. Putting your work in context of other artists doing similar work is part of being a responsible artist.  Borrowing your subject from current affairs or trends is not stealing, it's responding to the world around you.

There is no 'good theft' and 'bad theft', if it's 'good theft' is it theft or something else? Such as: the resulting subject of research, attributed, inspired by or making a point to question property and the rights associated with property? Which is a huge subject! Thieving or stealing are either desperate or spiteful or both, is that the kind of energy we want to imbue our work with? Let me rephrase that. It is not the kind of energy I want to imbue my work with. Stealing implies that there are hurtful consequences on the other side of the equation.

The underlying messages that is being transmitted with phrases like these, is that stealing is somehow a socially acceptable means to an end. If we have an opportunity to grab someone's attention to impose a message about creativity, boundaries and enthusiasm then lets refine messages that rely on ones own efforts rather than messaging that suggest achievement is at the expense of others. Ideas such as "just do it' and "thrive' and 'fail harder' or "write drunk, edit sober"(Earnest Hemingway) are all wonderful and valid and inspire being present with oneself, making an effort and accepting variance and imperfection. Art work is work, not something that's achievable by stealing.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts