Friday, November 13, 2009

Hiding from Sniper Fire, Mr Fire?

Mr Fire announced yesterday that he had found the secret to Poland's vast wealth and riches. Yes, were you not aware that Poland is one of the richest countries in the world? Just like Siberia's vast wealth can be attributed to a little doll named Hochun, resurrected as Vitale's own Hoshun paper doll printout (yes, a veritable lifetime supply!) sold for $40, Poland has vast riches attributed to...

wait for it...

a picture of an older Jew counting gold coins hung in homes across the country.

Oh, great, well then that explains a lot.

This is just another gimmick, another expensive and ineffective superstition marketed by Joe Vitale. I thought about this new product for at least a day. Friends and complete strangers emailed me asking me if I was going to say something about it.

But there was something larger that was bugging me. See, he SAYS he's not making any money off of this, that he is, out of the generosity of his "heart," helping a young artist get her start and make money for school.

This may be true. He may have traded his marketing acumen for free photos from "Poland's greatest photographer." Only they really know.

But see, a kid is involved. And I don't want to quash the kid's spirit. Her art is pretty nice considering, and I think wow, maybe I should just lay off of this one because of the kid.

Wait a minute!

Don't criminals take children hostage and hide behind them so snipers don't kill them? And when the snipers (me in this case) start taking aim for the common good, the criminal (him in this case) hold the child up as protection, so that the KID takes the bullet? (The common good being that of exposing the crazy superstitions Joe Vitale uses to extract money from his legion of followers.)

Oh, good lord, he's more insidious than I thought. Yes, that's entirely what he's doing, figuratively at least. He's recovering from the hochun/hoshun alleged thievery debacle by hiding his superstitious trinket peddling behind a child.

He's even using the same chintzy marketing gimmick. He can't TELL you it works, so he says, "What if it works?"

Could you imagine if someone sold you a car and said, "What if it works?" Or a house, "What if it is inhabitable?" It's just infuriating to see people fall for this scam. If there is no evidence for it working, then you can put that "investment" money on a bet that it doesn't.

Now here's where I am really angry. If he really believed in what he says, then he would be encouraging the child to paint original art from an inspired place that comes from within her. He would NOT encourage her to paint art that is a superstitious trinket.

Look, she's a kid. She doesn't know any better. Hell, here's this supposedly famous (infamous) author from an exotic foreign country (American!) coming and telling her how to start a business and make money. And maybe she will make money. Good for her. But he's exhibiting exactly what others have criticized him for doing. He's teaching someone who is very impressionable that she should paint for money instead of painting for inspiration.

I think there are elephants in Thailand who are painting more inspired pieces. With apologies to the girl. But seriously, you shouldn't have to put your own inspiration on hold because the ego of a not-very-famous author from my country thinks that because he believes in superstitions, everyone else does.

This is not a criticism of the girl or her work. Not at all. Her style looks marketable and a piece infused with her own passion and inspiration is much much more marketable than a reproduction of a piece of art infused with greed. And then she actually begins to build her following as an artist.

Why does Mr. Fire not tell her THAT? Oh, right. Because it has nothing to do with his overblown EGO.

But that, my friends, is the truth, and that is what will bring her REAL wealth, the wealth of feeling that spirit is moving in and through her in inspired ways. Right? I mean, that's what Vitale himself preaches, isn't it?

But he must not have much interest in this young artist beyond her selling something that he wants and wants to market. Because if he DID have any interest in her talent or marketability, he'd encourage that next big inspired piece of artwork that is lying dormant within her.

And this, my friends and not-so-friends, is the critical point of contention that I have with him. He is a hypocrite who spouts off spiritual platitudes with no depth whatsoever while he really preaches and believes in greed and nothing more. It is not about being inspired by "the divine." It's about being inspired to MAKE MONEY.

Which leads me to the point others have written to me about.

Okay, you know the old stereotype about Jews and greed right. Well, take a look at the message of this art. You'll have to set the whole Polish superstitious custom aside... I mean seriously, there are African countries that have superstitious customs of female genital mutilation, too, customs don't make it right, folks.

A Jew counting gold coins?

A few quotes from around the web about this from people who say it better than me.

"Poland has changed in other ways, too. The government has made real efforts to recognize the Holocaust and preserve what is left of Jewish life before World War II. There is clearly anti-Semitism, although no one will admit it publicly. I saw and photographed a painting for sale in a small market with a very ethnic looking Jew counting gold coins with a horrible smile on his face. Individuals with ethnic hatreds are hard to change." from here
And another:
"One vendor surprised me as I came upon him because he was selling his paintings done of Chasidic Jews. But why here of all places? I called Alex over to see if it was worth buying one or two, but Alex told me to look closer and, sure enough in each picture those religious Jews were all doing the same thing, counting money.

"I quickly suggested to Alex that I buy it, put my fist through it and then hand it back, but Alex responded, "Why give him a penny?" and he was right..." from here
And one more:
"In the town center (as everywhere in Poland), one can buy depictions of Jews, ranging from folksy wooden dolls of klezmorim (Jewish musicians) to stereotypical paintings and dolls of a Jewish man counting money or holding a coin, or with grossly exaggerated facial features." from here
I don't think Jews take too kindly to people selling this type of artwork. It continues a stereotype, a stereotype that isn't fair. Okay, well some people who bitch about Wall Street might think it's an accurate stereotype, but seriously... even if it is, aren't these the very things that a spiritually minded individual would work to move past?

I mean, no one, not even the most narrow minded bigot in the world can say all Jews are like the ones depicted in this artwork. Not possible. And THAT is the problem with stereotypes. And that's also the problem with buying this piece of art and supporting the stereotype.

The stereotype doesn't serve anyone. It holds an entire group of people in a place where they are persecuted for a non-truth.

And, if putting it up in your home or office affects your unconscious mind the way Mr. Fire says it does, won't that insidious belief of a stereotype affect YOUR beliefs and actions unconsciously?

Haven't the Jewish people suffered enough?

So, Mr. Fire finds an old superstition in Poland that is anti-semetic at best, recruits a young artists in his plan to sell and distribute the superstition and the anti-semetic artwork, and if I say anything about it, I need to feel guilty because he's doing it out of the goodness of his heart... right.

Keep going, Mr. Fire. I can't wait to see what complete idiocy you come up with next.


  1. You did a great job covering this, BBF. To me, the big issue that stuck out, besides the obvious just-another-Joe-Vitale-superstitious-gimmick angle, was the distasteful ethnic stereotyping. What also stuck out for me was Joe's implication (not actually a claim, but an implication) that he is not getting a penny from this. All he actually wrote about that was that he told them he didn't *expect* a penny from it. Even if it's true that he isn't getting a direct cut of the action, he did, after all, have "Poland's most famous photographer" following him around snapping his pic while he tried on leather jackets and sniffed cigars.

    I'm all for encouraging creativity in others too, especially young people, but this just seems crass. And your observation about him "hiding" behind a child also seems to really hit home. It's not the first time. (Anyone remember little Kirk?)

    And by the way, Joe mentions that the painting was created by the girl and her mother.

    Apparently there's more than one version of it:

    Prints and post cards are soon to come. But this seems to be the most important message from that site:
    "Remember: the more you give or spend the more you attract!"

  2. BBF - Very insightful post, but this isn't the first time that "MrFire" has done a disservice to a religious ideology. I don't think that such was his intent in this case, since a declaration of intent would imply that he had actually given some thought to what he was doing. I figure he just saw an opportunity and latched onto it... but I somehow doubt that his motivations are altogether altruistic, since he rarely does anything that he doesn't believe will benefit him in dome fashion.

    While I've known JV for many years, and decided to distance myself from him long ago due to a distaste for his ethics, it was only when he began representing his belief in unbridled acquisition as being consistent with Buddhist teachings that I grew truly angry with him. I won't go into my reaction here, but offer a link to my blog post on the subject instead:

    Best wishes to you for striving to let the world see the man I know, who bears little resemblance to the persona he projects.

  3. OMT: The site I mentioned in my previous comment, which is the one you have to go to if you want to actually purchase one of the paintings online...

    ...has a reproduction of the young girl's painting, immediately followed by a big pic of "Dr." Joe Vitale's smiling face. Then we learn that he bought "a picture of a Jew counting gold coins" on his recent trip to Poland. His Twitter comment about the purchase is reproduced.

    In reality, though, it wasn't one of the girl's paintings he bought; it was one he got from a street vendor. So right off the bat it would seem that the young girl and her parents are learning deceptive marketing. I wonder if they were acting on one of the hot marketing tips Joe gave them.

  4. Im glad I found your blog. I tried to tell Joe in a respectful way that some people would misinterpret his intent. I told him that I showed his post to a neighbor lady, a Polish Jew, and that she was offended and was sure that most Jews would be too. He didnt publish my comment, so I have to assume that he really is hiding like you say.

  5. Wow, it's great to read that someone is calling Joe Vitale on this. My mom loves the guy and is always buying his stuff even though she is on a fixed income. There's no talking to her about it, though. She believes everything he says. It really bothers me that she spends money that she could be using to take care of herself on overpriced inspirational garbage.

    My husband is Jewish. I haven't showed this to him yet, but I can tell he's not going to like it very much.

  6. Um. Why doesn't one just save a copy of the picture then enlarge on Photoshop, print it out, hang it on one's wall, and see if it works.

    Would save a lot of time and effort, not to mention lining someone else's pocket.

    If it works, then great. if it doesn't, then you've lost no money in the process. Seems Mr Fire is huffing and puffing on dying embers if you ask me.

  7. I did find a pic of a jew counting coins on ebay so I saved it and printed it. I do get good vibes from it. Will let you know what happens soon. It is black and white. Fred.