Is this another case of “influencers” merely overestimating their influence? Or is something darker afoot?
In a controversial and widely-criticized move, social media influencer group SgInstaBabes launched a crowdfunding campaign on Patreon, a site used by artists to crowdfund, wherein patrons pledge donations to support them so that they have sustainable income. Over the last five years, musicians, writers, filmmakers, podcasters and other creative types have been able to support themselves through the platform.
Enter SgInstaBabes. On August 24, SgInstaBabes started a Patreon campaign to raise money for the group in order to support them as they create more content, writing
“Hi everyone! We’re a team of content creators from Singapore. We produce beautiful photos and funny and entertaining videos with our team of beautiful models and other social media icons in Singapore.
However, producing content does take up a lot of time and money for us. Plus, by joining our exclusive community, we’re able to create even better content and also provide additional perks for our dedicated fans and friends. Depending on the tier you’re subscribed to, you can see more photos and videos of our models, join our shoots and/or even party and hang out with us!
Every dollar you pledge to us is highly appreciated and we promise that we will put them to good use to continue entertaining you all. Thanks for your contribution in advance!”
Exactly what kind of “content” is being talked about here? The first perk for those who join the second tier will have access to a photo album of models Priscillia, Jasmine, Annabelle and Vivian’s nightie shoot.
The seven subscription kits for would-be patrons, who are now 88 in all, are as follows
- Donor ($3/month) – No freebies
- Fan ($10/month) – Full access to photoshoot albums
- Avid Fan ($30/month) – Access to SgInstaBabes’ personal vlogs
- Friend ($100/month) – Access to one photoshoot per month
- Bestfriend ($300/month) – Access to all photoshoots
- Baller ($1000/month) – Party, hangout, alcohol and food (5 patrons only)
- Party King ($3750/month) – Private yacht party every month (1 patron only)
The site also promises homemade cookies from SgInstaBabes first 100 patrons, a private party for the first 300, and a beach party for the first 500.
People are uncomfortable with the campaign as it skirts dangerously close to escort territory, since the young and attractive women from the group are basically being paid for their companionship.
Adding to the controversy is the ages of the young women. According to the group’s Instagram page, which has been taken down, girls under the age of 18 will be allowed on photo shoots, but only those who are over 18 can attend parties.
Ironically enough, the group’s founder, Lai Wee Kiat wrote this on the SgInstaBabesInstagram page,
“My team and I aren’t trying to objectify women. When I started SgInstaBabes, it was to bring out the vibrancy and the beauty of girls in Singapore, and yes, sometimes being sexy and cheeky too. When I started our Patreon, it was to give a chance to our followers to be more involved in our activities and to fund us. We share more photos, we organize photo shoots and we party. And we’re thankful for all our subscribers, not think that we’re so great and they should feel privileged to join us. That’s it. Anything beyond that is your assumption and extrapolation. Unfortunately, I see that our innocent intentions are being perverted, just like how the dark web would.”
No stranger to controversy, Wee Kiat was accused of molestation by underage members of the group in July 2017, which adds another darker shade to this whole saga.