TL;DR – Should we hate the player or the game?
SgInstaBabes, if you are not already familiar with them despite them having made headlines several times over the past few months is well, an Instagram account that features local girls that later expanded its content offerings to having a lifestyle site of its own with various type of content ranging from videos to articles. However, the content mainly surrounds one single theme as the name suggests – ‘babes’.
So what happened this time?
- Instead of having just its website and Instagram account, they decided to offer exclusive content with the help of a platform known as Patreon.
- How does Patreon work? It’s basically a kickstarter of sorts where fans and followers donate to keep the site alive in return for perks. In this case, SgInstaBabes is offering exclusive images, photoshoots to even yacht parties to their donors.
- How did that turn out? The image below pretty much sums up how the Internet feels about it.
Let’s get on our moral high horse and let the witch hunting begins.
To set the record straight, I am not defending SgInstaBabes and neither am I supporting their project but let’s look at what they are doing here objectively.
- Donation to keep websites afloat is a common practice around the world although not exactly common in Singapore. So how do content sites or YouTube channels stay afloat in Singapore? Sponsored content, advertorials, and even ads banner. My point is that it’s really not a case of it being a bad business model.
- Pardon my lack of a better example, but paid pornography and WebCam models aren’t exactly a new industry either. I’m not talking about how legal it is or how is it considered right or wrong on a moral scale. I’m just pointing out the fact that the porn and webcam models industry is real internationally, and they too are using a comparable business model where members have the option of paying for exclusive content.
- Instagram accounts that feature girls on the Internet is nothing new. If you are a user of Instagram you would know that it’s not difficult to find such accounts that repost pictures of pretty girls from the Internet.
What went wrong?
Those facts above seem to be pointing to the conclusion that they did not break any law or did anything ‘wrong’. So why are netizens so angry? Based on a brief sensing from what I am seeing based on comments, here’s what I’ve gathered.
- The choice of the word ‘influencers’
The word itself has brought much controversy to the industry. What – or rather who – used to be known as “bloggers” have evolved over time because of the increasing number of platforms where users can create their content. So instead of calling them bloggers, Twitterers, Instagrammers, or Tiktokers, we have over time started to recognise the term “influencer”. Many comments against SgInstaBabes usually start off with “Influencers? Who are these people?” To be fair, they did try very hard to avoid using this word and instead used words such as ‘content creators’, ‘models’, ‘actresses’ and even ‘social media icons’.
- That cringe-worthy video
I am no Michael Bay myself but if you have watched the video, you can probably feel what the Internet is unhappy about.
- The girls look barely legal
I know I pointed out about how paid pornography and WebCam models share a similar business model but one thing for sure that is being frowned upon even in the porn industry is underage girls. As much as we can argue that they are not porn actresses and there is nothing illegal about them just being photographed in bikinis, it just felt wrong I guess. The sense I’ve gathered from most people is that they feel that these girls will grow up to regret their choice. And the most common remark goes along the line of “How would you feel if it’s your own daughter?”
We do not know if this is real. We are not sure how much the girls are being paid or are they just promised fame and more followers but I guess this concern is not uncalled for. I’m no expert but I am guessing if the woman is 30 years old and doing it willingly on her own Instagram account, it would probably not have gotten such response from the Internet. The fact is that these girls look barely of legal age and doing it on a collective platform which means there is an agent behind this platform and idea. Of course, he has to be paid for his work and it feels a lot like he (or she) is exploiting these girls and their naivety.
- Missing the point
Of course we also have those who just jump onto the bandwagon of anger simply because everyone else is angry. MUST BE PAP’S FAULT! Fine, nobody said that. At least not this time.
Can anyone do anything about this?
If you have a subscription to NetFlix, you can actually tune in to one of the NetFlix originals titled Hot Girls Wanted. It’s about the fact that there is a whole new group of girls turning legal age every day and many of them are ready to bare all for fame and money. It’s an endless battle, the Internet can continue to shame the industry or even the girls who jump on board but sometimes there is not much we can do.
Except to stop supporting them. No demand, no supply. Yet ironically, the Patreon subscription has gone up from 20+ subscriptions to 80+ subscriptions a few hours after the video went viral.