"Sold Out" redirects here. For other uses, see Sold Out (disambiguation) or Selling Out (disambiguation).

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"Selling out" refers to the perception that someone is compromising their integrity, morality, or principles in exchange for money or "success" (however defined). It is commonly associated with attempts to tailor material to a mainstream audience. Any artist who expands their creative path to encompass a wider audience, as opposed to continuing in the genre and venues of their initial success, may be disdainfully labeled by disapproving fans as a sellout. Sometimes a sellout is seen as a person that is disloyal to one's group that he or she belongs (usually ethnic group) in order to gain money or become "successful". Selling out is often seen as gaining success at the cost of credibility.

In politicsEdit

In various political movements (usually communists and anarchists), a "sellout" is a person or group pretending to adhere to a genuinely pro-working class ideology, only to follow these claims up with actions directly contradicting them, often (whether actually or implicitly) supporting capitalism. Equally it could be utilised by supporters of parties for persons that subsequently formed coalitions with those they seemed to oppose, such as the Liberal Democrats' leader Nick Clegg's coalition with the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom. This was also true of the Labour Party in the years succeeding the death of John Smith when Tony Blair started to embrace the free-market and dropped various democratic-socialist ideals to gain more public support. It could also apply to any revolutionary group originally claiming to fight for the people of a country, but acting rather differently upon coming to power, mostly because the covert goal of the revolution was not to benefit the people of the nation, but for the national government to be overthrown so that the revolutionary leaders could themselves have the perks and prestige of being in power.

Sellout examples in entertainmentEdit


The phrase is frequently heard in the musical community, where it implies an artist has compromised their artistic integrity to gain radio airplay or get a recording contract, especially with a major label. Often, the label forces a particular record producer onto the performer and insist on the inclusion of songs by commercial songwriters, or the label may even refuse to release an album, deeming it uncommercial. It has also been used with regards to merchandising and replacing band members. A band often accused of selling out is Kiss, who have released an extremely large range of consumer products with their brand on it, including burial coffins. Other bands, like Metallica and Cradle of Filth, have been branded the "sell out" claim, primarily in the heavy metal scenes, as a result of an increase in fans and revenue and what many perceive to be an overall change into a "mainstream" approachable sound. After the release of their major label debut, Dookie, punk rock band Green Day was accused of selling out by the nation's underground punk community.


Template:Refimprove The term "selling out" is used in a similar sense when discussing the movie industry.

In Wayne's World, Wayne breaks down the fourth wall, mentioning he would never sell out; in this case, to make his public access television show more successful. To humorously contradict himself, as he talks, he displays several products, with the corporate logos highly visible such as Pizza Hut, Reebok, Pepsi, and Doritos. Wayne and Garth also spoof a Nuprin commercial where it is black and white, save for the signature little, yellow, different Nuprin pills.


Stand-up comedians occasionally face accusations of selling out. Comedians who start out in comedy clubs might often use foul language and blue humor in their routines. A comic who alters his or her routine by "sugar-coating" his language and using less-offensive material to obtain mainstream success may be accused of selling out.

George Carlin was accused of being a sell-out for appearing in television commercials for MCI's 10-10-220.[1][2][3] Carlin had previously spoke of his dislike for MCI's commercials in his album Back in Town. In his album You Are All Diseased, which contains rants against advertising and business, Carlin admits the dichotomy but makes no attempt to explain himself, stating "You're just gonna have to figure that shit out for yourself". In interviews, Carlin revealed he appeared in the ads to help pay off a large tax debt to the IRS.[4][5]

Comedian/actress Janeane Garofalo can be considered a sellout based on her participation with the TV show 24 playing Janis Gold. Garofalo initially turned down the role because of the way the show depicted torture scenes,[6] however changed her mind later on, saying in an interview, "Being unemployed and being flattered that someone wanted to work with me outweighed my stance [on torture].”[7]

Video gamesEdit

American author Tom Clancy has been accused of being a selloutTemplate:Citation needed for giving the rights to his name to French video game publisher Ubisoft. Tom Clancy sold the rights to his name to the company. Any war game Ubisoft comes out with — such as the Splinter Cell series, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and its sequel, and the newest title H.A.W.X., Ubisoft Entertainment can put Clancy's name on the cover art, though he had nothing to do with development.[8]

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is thought to be symptomatic of creator Ed Boon selling out, primarily due to a crossover with the likes of Superman or Green Lantern. In addition, the Mortal Kombat series is known for its exceptional violence and gore, which was removed from the game to achieve a family-friendly rating.

Valve Corporation was long known for an exceptionally protracted development schedule. Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2, for example, spent an extended period in development hell before release to critical acclaim. At E3 2009, a sequel to 2008's Left 4 Dead, was announced for a fall release. Immediately after, multiple parties claimed Valve had sold out and become similar to their publisher Electronic Arts.

Criticism of the termEdit

An artist may also be accused of selling out after changes in artistic direction. This conclusion is often due to the perception that the reason for the artist changing artistic style or direction was simply potential material gain. This ignores other causes of artistic development, which may lead an artist in new directions from those that attracted their original fans. Artists' improvements in musical skill or change in taste may also account for the change.

Other times, artists resent the term on the grounds that the perceived desire for material gain is simply a result of the band seeking to expand its message. For example, when questioned about signing to a major label, Rage Against the Machine answered "We're not interested in preaching to just the converted. It's great to play abandoned squats run by anarchists, but it's also great to be able to reach people with a revolutionary message, people from Granada Hills to Stuttgart".[9]

Other bands (including those without politically-oriented messages) may also reject the term, on the basis that not going mainstream or signing to a bigger label—to avoid "selling out"—prevents a band from addressing a wider audiences, regardless of whether or not there is any real artistic change, and arbitrarily hampers the artists' course of mainstream success, with the assumption that mainstream success must be against the artists' intentions. When confronted with the accusation of selling out in 2001, Mike Dirnt of Green Day said:

"If there's a formula to selling out, I think every band in the world would be doing it", he said. "The fact that you write good songs and you sell too many of them, if everybody in the world knew how to do that they'd do it. It's not something we chose to do.

"The fact was we got to a point that we were so big that tons of people were showing up at punk-rock clubs, and some clubs were even getting shut down because too many were showing up. We had to make a decision: either break up or remove ourselves from that element. And I'll be damned if I was going to flip fucking burgers. I do what I do best. Selling out is compromising your musical intention and I don't even know how to do that."[10]

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

pt:Sell-out simple:Selling out