eumelia: (Default)
Eumelia ([personal profile] eumelia) wrote2010-02-19 11:32 am

I'm Her Fan and I Am Sad

I do not follow music news that closely, or often. Usually, I'm surprised when an album by and artist I like has come out.
It feels as though the world is being nice to me.

In addition, I'm a fan of the music. The public persona of artists that I like, don't interest me that much. If I hear about them, as the people they are, it's usually in some award capacity, some new relationship or if they've done something extraordinary.

(That's the reason I couldn't ignore Lady Gaga, she was just creating huge amounts of discussion and her music was fun. So now I like her. Yes, I know there are issues with her persona, presentation and performance...).

This entry is about Amanda Palmer. Who is one of those artists I would listen to anything she put out. I've been a fan of her (and Brian Viglione) for years. The day I heard "Girl Anachronism" I knew The Dresden Dolls were a duo for me.
Their musical style appeals to me, I like piano-rock and thrashing drums, their aesthetic turned me on a little (Yes, I have a crush on the Emcee from "Cabaret") and their exploration of the uncanny through their music, imagery and recall of the 1920's in Europe made for a winning combination.

When Amanda Palmer went solo I was a bit weary, unsure if she would manage to have the same energy without bouncing it off another person.

I love "Who killed Amanda Palmer?" - the kooky reference to that uncanny and weird of all teevee shows ever aired (Twin Peaks, in case you missed the reference) must have appealed to even more fans who had heard of The Dresden Dolls.
Her photography books accompanied by Neil Gaiman's gorgeous craft of horror, macabre and morbid was absolutely fantastic.
I think Amanda Palmer made a wonderful critique on the visuals of violence against women, the photographs made me twitchy, because she was very attractive in them...
She was also dead.
What does that mean, that I found her arousing as a dead body? It made me ponder.

I'm also second guessing myself and my reactions due to her latest project; a co-operation with fellow artist Jason Webely, in which she and Webley are producing an album which tells the tale of musically inclined conjoined twins known as Evelyn Evelyn.
I've not heard any of the music yet, so I shan't comment on the artistic merit of the music.
I will, however, voice my disappointment in the way Palmer and Webley decided to tackle this piece of performance art.

I had first heard of the Evelyn Evelyn project via the (truly amazing) site FWD - Disabled Feminists, in which Annaham wrote a critique, voicing concerns regarding the ableism1 in this project.
At first, I didn't really understand what the fuss was about, Amanda Palmer and another guy I'd never heard of decided to do (allegedly, of course, the conjoined twins are "real", as fictional people often are) a performance art calling back on the Freak Shows and circus acts of old.
There have been quite a few conjoined twins in show biz before, referencing those historical figure while making music sounded good to me.
Until I read the critique a little deeper and also read the Twins' back story.

That Amanda Palmer enjoys the uncanny and ambiguous is a given, it's a big part of what I like about her. I'm not easily shocked by art, so her use of "circus freaks" aesthetic was just another costume she donned.
I didn't realise, until reading the back story on her blog - The story behind "Evelyn Evelyn that I caught on that what she and Webley were was basically putting on the abelist equivalent of Blackface2.

Good art pushes the boundaries of appropriateness not by being shocking - but by exposing what is shocking to us, or on the flipside, to show up that what should be shocking, is easily accepted as something beautiful (which is what I gathered from the "Who Killed Amanda Palmer?" book).

Reading the back story I was shocked. Not by the story itself, which is clearly a work of elaborate fiction, but by how entitled Amanda Palmer was as to owning this story. Not owning in the intellectual property sense, but in the sense that this story is nothing but fodder for her creativity, as though there is no history to the objectification of conjoined twins and circus freak shows. As though her "giving voice" to these "poor women" with their horrible childhoods are nothing more than material to throw in the audience's face.

Yes, art should be in your face. I love that Amanda apologises to no one about who she is. It crosses a red line when she presumes to tell a story that in which she is exploiting and appropriating the history surrounding the story and not giving the Truth of it the respect it deserves.
It's all pretend you say?
Well, that doesn't cut it any more, nor did it ever.
She and Webley wanting to make a statement about the objectification of the disabled body, them wanting to show that it is the able-bodied gaze that makes the disabled body grotesque would have been absolutely fantastic and sensitive and on par with what I know and love about Amanda Fucking Palmer.

That is not what she and Webely have done.

The flack they are getting, and now my post added to the mix, though I very much doubt she'll read it, have gotten them to write their own blog posts, trying to explain their motivations.
Here is Jason Webley's post on the subject and Amanda's over at her blog - Evelyn Evelyn Drama Drama she's basically saying, I didn't mean to offend anybody and hey, other people loved it when I told them about this project, left a very sour taste in my mouth.
Unless you're a bigot who actively hates other people for who they are, I don't believe any harm was intended, but it never is, is it. Intentions may garner leniency when it comes to life and death situations (self-defence, comes to mind), but good intentions don't negate the very real harm that is caused by actions. Good intent is not a free-pass for continuing to do what is harmful.

I'm really sad about this. I ♥ Amanda Fucking Palmer a lot. I'm listening to her album as I write this.
I'm truly and honestly torn about this.
I really, really hope they manage to fix this debacle up, by not dismissing their disabled critics, that fans be aware of the issues arising from this project and that I can go back to admiring her without her entitlement and prejudice colouring her music and art for me.

I doubt that is going to happen though.

This is my *sad face*

1) For whom this is a new term (it is for me still, I'm very much out of my depth when it comes to speaking about accessibility and disability), it is a term used to describe the discrimination and prejudice towards disabled people in society - we're all (or should be) familiar in how inaccessible certain places are for wheelchairs, how there are usually no visual aids for people who are hearing impaired, etc. etc. I really recommend FWD - Disabled Feminists in order to gain awareness and learn more about how the world favours able-bodies people.

2) It's not directly stated, but it's quite easy to infer that the twins, Evelyn Evelyn, are Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley in costume. The whole project is a conceptual performance art thing. Very likely, due to a desire for veracity, Palmer and Webley are simply "producers" and not "performers". The twins are independent personas people attached (seriously no pun intended) to the project in order to promote the album and show.
flexibeast: Baphomet (Default)

[personal profile] flexibeast 2010-02-19 11:17 am (UTC)(link)
She also made a rather sizeist comment when she appeared on the Australian television show Good News Week last year. :-/
linkspam_mod: A metal chain (Default)

[personal profile] linkspam_mod 2010-02-21 12:41 am (UTC)(link)
Your post has been added to a linkspam round-up.