UPDATE - Sept. 20, 2017: The man behind a "justice-pricing'' policy based on charging higher admission to white males attending the screening of his movie says he used a false name to promote it because he was concerned about a backlash that could risk his safety. Shiraz Higgins said Wednesday he has received death threats at an email account he created with the false name Sid Mohammed and admitted he used the pseudonym in an interview with The Canadian Press a day earlier.
VICTORIA — The filmmakers behind a comedic web series in British Columbia are facing fierce backlash after they tried to tackle economic disparity with ticket prices.
Organizers for the Victoria premier of "Building the Room" used "justice pricing" when tickets went on sale last week, with white males being charged $20, while others paid $10.
Sid Mohammed, a spokesman for the production, says organizers wanted to address the fact that white males tend to have more purchasing power than other demographics.
But he says they received a "huge amount" of backlash on the pricing, including emailed death threats and accusations that the practice was racist and constituted discrimination.
Organizers have responded by lowering the admission price for white males to $15 and announcing that any profits from the door will be donated to the Native Friendship Centre of Victoria and the Victoria Pride Society.
We don't think the people we want at the event are particularly angry about this.Sid Mohammed
Mohammed says he appreciates the community's engagement on the subject and doesn't believe it will over-shadow the show's premier later this month.
"We don't think the people we want at the event are particularly angry about this," he says. "We've had a lot of support — it's been quieter, for sure — but we've had a lot of support for this pricing model."
Constructive critiques have helped improve the model and organizers aren't taking the death threats seriously, Mohammed says.
"It's part of change making. I think a lot of people who make change receive this kind of negative attention," he says.
Watch what happens when a Toronto coffee shop charges women extra:
The idea of gender-based pricing isn't new.
Earlier this year, a cafe in Australia made headlines around the world for introducing an 18 per cent surcharge for men, representing the gap in wages between men and women. The cafe donated the proceeds to women's charities.
Despite the uproar, Mohammed says he plans to continue pursuing what he calls justice pricing.
"We're going to keep pushing forward and trying to make this better and better so the community can enjoy a great show and enjoy it in a way that they feel good about the dollars they're spending," he says.
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