ThoughtSlime on Why All NFTs are a Scamby@justin-roberti
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ThoughtSlime on Why All NFTs are a Scam

by Justin RobertiNovember 25th, 2021
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Comedian Mildred “Thought Slime’s” offers an exclusive line of joke NFTs. They promise that these will not increase in value and call it a scam that is “definitely not worth it” but they have sold 2 already. Each one is guaranteed to not really be minted as an NFT but are available for easy download by anyone from [Imgur. When someone buys one, they retain exclusive rights to it in some abstract metaphysical sense, but it goes in the folder like all the others.

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Interview with satirist, comedian, writer, and political commentator, Mildred “Thought Slime” on their scathing critique of NFTs as another way to exploit creators.

Mildred “Thought Slime” is a political and social commentator and comedian and one of my favorite creators on YouTube. They have a penchant for punching up hard at established political, justice, and financial systems and I’ve always admired how hard they can take down an idea while being hilarious.

Now they have come for NFTs -- specifically with a video titled The Grift Economy: Why Everything is a Scam, Always.

In this video, Mildred offers an exclusive line of joke NFTs. Each one is guaranteed to not really be minted as an NFT but are available for easy download by anyone from Imgur. You can pay $500 on Patreon and Mildred will create another horrible and distasteful original drawing for you. They promise that these will not increase in value and call it a scam that is “definitely not worth it” but they have sold 2 already.

I’m not sure if the new owners of these horrible Slimeys intend to mint them as NFTs but I’m sure Mildred hopes that they won’t.

Here is my interview with Mildred on how NFTs have an impact not often talked about in blockchain-friendly spaces -- and one that is potentially exploitative of the creator.

Google-Gobble, Mildred’s exclusive personal non-NFT. He is still the most attractive drawing in the series.

Mildred, aka ThoughtSlime

So, you posted a joke NFT of a Slimey JPG -- is this technically a run of 1/.of 1. Is Gooble-Gobble a unique NFT? How many signature Slimeys are you releasing? Are you going to mint Gooble-Gobble as an NFT?

“They are pointedly NOT NFTs. There is no blockchain esoterica going on, I simply post JPGs into an imgur folder. When someone buys one, they retain exclusive rights to it in some abstract metaphysical sense, but it goes in the folder like all the others. I expressly do not give my permission for anyone to download them without purchase, but of course, that is deliberately unenforceable to demonstrate the absurdity of the premise.

You pay me $500, and I give you the rights to a JPG. I will create a horrible JPG for you. It will be upsetting in concept and execution, to convey my contempt for the entire process. I thereby grant you sole and exclusive permission to do with that JPG as you please, and post it in the imgur folder with a note explaining that it has been purchased. You may do whatever you like with it, I don't care, and there is nothing useful that can be done with it. It is a bad deal for everyone involved except me, and I encourage everyone not to participate in this scam I am running as a joke,” Mildred said.

In your recent video "The Grift Economy: Everything is a scam, always" you make a case that there is no inherent value in NFTs -- but as you indicated using monthly app subs as an example, this is far from the only vapor we buy as consumers. What makes NFTs worse?

“If I pay a monthly fee to, let's say Amazon Prime or whatever, I still get access to those services even if I never use them. Their retention tactics are scummy, but there is at least the theoretical possibility that I could take advantage of the service as intended and get the things that I presumably signed up for in the first place.

NFTs have no real utility. They don't do anything. They're just a thing you own, and that ownership itself is meant to be valuable irrespective of whether the thing you own is something anybody would actually want. It's just a note that you bought into a shell game at a particular time, that hopefully, you can sucker someone else into buying later for more money. Some people will, but the majority of people will lose their shirts.

That alone would just make it your typical get-rich-quick scheme.

You'd look at it and say "Caveat emptor, I guess." What makes NFTs so especially heinous is their environmental impact. The enormous energy that is required to sustain the technology which powers them, being extracted at the exact moment that we are hanging on the edge of utter climate ruin. It's like it was engineered to be the worst possible thing for the human race at this particular moment in history,” Mildred said.

You have expressed a dislike of NFTs used to raise funds for non-profits. Why is giving a donator an NFT worse than giving them a plaque or some other random swag? What makes NFTs a bad idea even for fundraising? Just the expectation for gain if you can resell on the secondary market?

“Both the environmental impact, and the normalization of these types of scams make NFTs inherently unethical. Maybe you could do more good than harm by selling one for charity, maybe you could even do some sort of carbon offset to reduce the environmental impact, but surely you could just raise money in a way without these problems? Surely you don't have to lend the credibility of your non-profit or activist group or whatever to such a damaging and pointless fad,” Mildred said.

Cater-Pooper, one of the other unpleasant Slimeys created as part of ThoughtSlime’s joke scam non-NFT series.

Will you be amused or saddened if Gooble-Gobble ends up gaining value on the secondary market?

“Gooble-gobble is not for sale, he is my personal property. But if someone wants to try selling one of these horrible drawings I have made after buying one, they are welcome to it. It would be very funny to me if someone made a profit off of the purchase of the joke scam drawing I made. How could you not laugh at the absurdity of that,” Mildred said.

How do you feel, as a creator, about the casual disregard for IP? Would you object if someone launched Scaredy Cats-inspired NFTs?

“Well it's complicated I guess. I don't really care about IP, I think it's kind of a capitalistic concept that doesn't so much help artists create and profit but rather helps large multinational firms retain exclusive rights to the work and creations of those artists.

That being said, it's generally kind of a dick move to steal someone's art and profit from it without including them. I would certainly object if someone were to make a Scaredy Cats NFT (that sucks, don't do that please), but I'm not gonna take them to court or anything. One of the virtues of being crowd-funded as an artist is that it doesn't particularly matter if people steal your work, since someone seeing it somewhere else is pretty much as good as seeing it on my YouTube channel.

I don't get paid by the click, I get paid by people who like the things I make and want to toss me some disposable income to make sure I keep making it. My perspective might be very different if I were someone whose livelihood depended on a paywall around my work,” Mildred said.

What advice do you have for creators considering dropping some NFTs as a way to perhaps fund their content/message?

“Don't. There are plenty of less morally compromising ways to profit from your art, pick one.

I don't know if your publication will allow you to print this, but I'd also add that if you're really struggling to scrape by as an artist you can always pick some obscure sexual fetish that you can tolerate and create content geared towards that. There's always money in weird pornography. Then you're creating something that at least helps people, and doing work with a little god-damn dignity,” Mildred said.

What if you continue to get requests for Slimeys? How long will you carry out the NFT joke thing if you keep getting requests?

“My intent is to make this nakedly a scam as possible, so I have repeatedly stressed that there is a limited amount of Signature Slimeys for purchase, and once they're gone you'll never be able to get more. Lately, I've started coughing and saying under my breath "series 1", to signify that if somehow I did sell all 100 I would immediately pivot to deflating their perceived value by creating more.

I'm gonna sleep pretty soundly at night if people want to spend money on the scam I made as a joke and told them in no uncertain terms that it was a scam. Anyone buying one at that point must think it's funny to do, and if $500 is something you can spend on a joke I am perfectly willing to take your money and reward you with a horrible thing. I considered making the price absurdly high when I originally thought of the joke, but I genuinely felt uncomfortable with the idea that someone might spend a huge amount of money on one. The price point I have picked is high enough that nobody should ever buy one (though two have sold, God help us), but if someone does then it hopefully won't ruin their lives,” Mildred said.

Although blockchain advocates are rarely aligned with lefty POVs, it is arguable that both stem from a feeling of economic disenfranchisement -- both cohorts feel cut out of a system that serves only the wealthy. Where would you have people direct their collective frustrations and wish for a better life for themselves and their families?

“I definitely sympathize with people who view the blockchain as their ticket out of poverty. It's easy for me, a comfortable and useless lump, to stick my nose up and declare that I am above such things. But anyone can act like a saint when they don't have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. There is no individual solution to poverty, it is a systemic issue. Maybe if you get very lucky, you can get rich with this shit, but I think a safer choice might be to hedge your bets a little and participate in the project of building a world without poverty. Long-term, that's a solution that I think makes more sense because there isn't always going to be some new disruptive technology you can capitalize on, and who knows when the bubble bursts on any of them? It's always a risk. You could just as easily invest your life savings in buying a bunch of domain names you think might be worth something in the future, maybe it'll pay off, it has for some people.

I would encourage people to look into mutual aid networks like Food Not Bombs or Mutual Aid Disaster Relief as examples of reshaping the economy in ways that benefit everyone. Rather than scrambling, trying to beat everyone else to the punch and get in on the hot new thing, it would perhaps be wise to create the conditions under which your basic survival needs are met no matter what, freeing you up to do something useful with your time. Like creating YouTube videos, the noblest of pursuits.

Though obviously, that is a far more long-term project, and it doesn't help you in the here and now. It doesn't do people who are suffering under late capitalism any good to say "well, it's your fault for not starting a community garden!" But there's never gonna be a good time to get started, and the sooner we do the sooner we can create the new world in the shell of the old. Nothing changes until something changes,” Mildred said.


If you follow my column in another publication, you know I have spoken to and platformed many of the leaders in the NFT space, major projects and major platforms. What makes ThoughtSlime interesting to me is his outside POV from which we can learn, if we are open, to the perceived weaknesses and real weaknesses in our own systems. Blockchain is so new that the technology is often stronger than the philosophy behind it -- something that will have to be addressed over time.

A community not open to criticism is inherently a weak community. It’s important to engage with outside POVs -- it’s no longer just our baby. Blockchain belongs to the world now. Mainstreaming includes dissenting points of view.

And really who wouldn’t want a joke scam NFT Slimey to call their own?