Crowdfunding is nothing more than a modern day way of begging without actually having to stand around asking someone.
I think that’s a little wide of the mark in a couple of ways. Firstly, the person appealing for funding stands naked before the denizens of the internet. They have to make their pitch and make it as convincingly and professionally as possible. It’s up to the consumer to fathom out whether their final product/service/work of art is worth their investment.
Secondly, it isn’t begging as it isn’t about asking for something for nothing. There is an exchange here so it cannot be defined as begging (though I will grant you that there are some unscrupulous cases where I can see people asking for funds which appear to be in excess of what one would need to fund their project. These look suspiciously like ‘please fund my lifestyle’ cases to me. IMO a healthy degree of cynicism is warranted).
It is also worth remembering that Crowdfunding may not have been the first choice for a creator. Filmmakers, especially ones working in the ever-shrinking independent scene, need as many sources of funding as humanly possible. When Kevin Smith made the original Clerks in the early 90's he did so by maxing out his credit cards, borrowing money from family and friends and risking his future financial solvency. Whilst there’s an element of admirable bravado in putting ones absolute faith in ones talent, Crowdfunding is a way of negating an often unreasonable risk that sometimes discourages new talent from entering a medium. Particularly talent from a working class background.
There have been several cases where an artist has tried to go the old- fashioned route only to be told by the studio/publishers/record label that there is no audience for their work. Then, lo and behold, one Crowdfunded release later and they are successfully selling their art to an audience. Crowdfunding need not replace traditional release methods but IMO it can co-exist as an optional and surprisingly effective alternative. It is a flawed system (as are the traditional release methods) and I can understand being cautious, especially if one has been stung before. But I do think it has a good deal of merit.