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We're not over sensitive: An open letter to Amanda Palmer

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We're not over sensitive: An open letter to Amanda Palmer

Postby lillerina » Wed Apr 7, 2:46 2010

For those of you who didn't follow the Evelyn Evelyn fuck-up, this is a fairly concise summary.

Dear Amanda,

I like you. I like you a lot, actually, and I think that your music is mostly great, and until recently I'd cite you and recommend you as a feminist artist and talk about your fuck the system attitude and your rebellyon and the naked dress with the armpit hair. Some of the time, I would still do these things, and I still like you, and your music, and I think that songs like Ampersand are really great and we need feminist music and media out there.

But you messed up, and that's a little problem, but then you made a bullshit apology, and that's a bigger problem, but the biggest problem is that you seem to take the attitude that there's no way you could have been in the wrong, and that sucks, frankly. Partly because, like I said, I like you, and I hate it when people I like show their asses like that, but also partly because you hurt people, and when you act like you did nothing wrong, that makes the hurt worse.

The problem, as far as I can see it, started with Evelyn Evelyn. Two musicians getting together and playing duets using only one hand each is pretty cool, I think, and shows both talent and imagination. Unfortunately, I really can't get behind two able bodied people getting dressed up to fake like they're disabled because it's edgy, or because it's art, and doing the same thing. It may be art, it may be edgy, but it reeks of entitlement and lack of respect and short sightedness to me, and I'm able bodied too. I don't need to imagine how some disabled people took it, because some of them blogged about how unimpressed or hurt they were (a full linkspam roundup can be found here).

The apology made things worse, Amanda, because you made the most rookie mistake, as far as I can see it, that anyone can make when they're called out on their privilege and apologise for it: you used the word 'if' instead of 'that', which neatly absolves you of responsibility. " i deeply apologize if anyone has been offended by our project." is not a real apology, particularly when you follow it up by justifying what you did and dismissing the problems people had with it. Playing disability bingo (I have a disabled step brother) doesn't help. A real apology starts with 'I am sorry that I hurt you,' not 'I am sorry if you were hurt'. The second one puts the responsibilty for the hurt, on the person who has been hurt. An apology takes responsibility for the consequences of your actions. Referring to what you did as drama in their heads is a bad move, too. Here are some more links on apologising when you've fucked up: 1, 2, 3.

So, really, Amanda, what I wanted to say is about the blog entry that you posted today, specifically the part where you commented: "peoples gettin’ mighty sensitive lately". Thank you for clarifying the reference you were making with the phrase 'black ass', and I mean that without sarcasm, because it's interesting, but I wanted to address the part where you mentioned the sensitivity. The thing is, it's really a matter of trust. With your previous work, you built up trust in people, so that they expected intelligent, socially aware art from you. They expected dialogue on feminism, and on art and truth, and a sense of humour and the ridiculous built in. It's hard to build trust, and it's easy to lose it, and with the Evelyn Evelyn thing? You messed up, and you lost trust. Suddenly, we have to question whether you're being thoughtless, ignorant and acting with open privilege, even when we still accept that you're acting in good faith.

It's not that we're being over sensitive. Really, it's not. It's just that we can't let you off the hook like we might have done before. We can't assume that you're not showing your ass. We can't just assume that you're making witty references, or satirising the ignorance like we might have before. We've lost a little faith in you, and it sucks, but that's how it is. You messed up, and I feel bad for you about that, because I like you.

So, for the record, I will not be buying the Evelyn Evelyn record, and I will not be seeing you in Glasgow, and I will not be buying your merch, and I will not be donating via your website. This pains me, but I feel strongly about it. I do not want to support Evelyn Evelyn in any way. I thought Who Killed Amanda Palmer was a great record, and maybe in the future you'll make another great record, and maybe I'll buy it and see you live. Maybe you'll build up the trust again, and I really hope that that's the case. For right now, though, I do not support what you are doing, and I am not sorry about that.

Thanks for being pretty cool in the past. I hope you get past this blip.

Yours, Lillerina
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Re: We're not over sensitive: An open letter to Amanda Palmer

Postby monk » Wed Apr 7, 19:35 2010

Because I dwell in my own little world I had not heard of this controversy till Lilly posted this today(thanks Lilly!). But this subject is very close to my heart since I work with the disabled so I did some research on my own and read every link Lilly cited(thanks again Lilly!).
My own conclusion is that this Evelyn Evelyn project is in poor taste and will hopefully not do what controversial things tend to do and that is generate money for the Artist because of the "buzz" that has been created.

I don't blame Miss Palmer for what she did, she follows her artistic vision and that's to be respected, what I don't like is her fuck you response to the people who had issues with it. The people who are objecting have legitimate grievances against how our society acts toward and treats it's disabled and when you offend someone even unintentionally the polite thing to do is to apologize respectfully even if you're not going to change your plans due to the objection.

The other part that I also find disturbing is the reaction from the people she offended, much like our political contests these days it seems that any controversy generates a bunch of people who insist on slinging mud and name calling that is way out of proportion to the offense they might have received and they will see no middle ground to maybe compromise with the people who offended them.

what would have happened if some representatives from the disabled community that found itself so offended were to start up a dialogue with Miss Palmer about how her new project made them feel and maybe worked with her on how it could be spun to be more representative to and acceptable to the disabled community. Do you think she would mind having a bunch of people who would likely have never seen her perform show up to her concert dates? I bet she wouldn't. Instead we get a lot of "F%^& you bitch" and her equally volatile "Bite Me I'll do what I want" which solves nothing and gives us nothing to grow with.
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Re: We're not over sensitive: An open letter to Amanda Palmer

Postby Mathmo » Thu Apr 8, 4:39 2010

Great post, Lilly. Similarly to monk, I hadn't heard of this until reading this yesterday. And thanks for introducing me to disabled feminists ... I suspect I will spend many hours on that site.

monk wrote:The other part that I also find disturbing is the reaction from the people she offended, much like our political contests these days it seems that any controversy generates a bunch of people who insist on slinging mud and name calling that is way out of proportion to the offense they might have received and they will see no middle ground to maybe compromise with the people who offended them.

what would have happened if some representatives from the disabled community that found itself so offended were to start up a dialogue with Miss Palmer about how her new project made them feel and maybe worked with her on how it could be spun to be more representative to and acceptable to the disabled community. Do you think she would mind having a bunch of people who would likely have never seen her perform show up to her concert dates? I bet she wouldn't. Instead we get a lot of "F%^& you bitch" and her equally volatile "Bite Me I'll do what I want" which solves nothing and gives us nothing to grow with.


Sure, there were some people who were name-calling. But actually, I was impressed by the number of people stopping to write thoughtful things to Amanda Palmer, asking for her to listen, in a respectful way. In particular there was a comment on her own blog which was well-written and encouraged dialogue, so that person was definitely trying to approach her and start a conversation, not to just offend, and there were many other similar comments. I hope she starts listening, and taking a bit more responsibility for her actions - for example, from the things I read, her responses seemed to be 'oh, well, my tone of voice didn't come across' which may be true, but doesn't apologise for hurting people - "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you, my tone of voice didn't come across and I didn't realise it would sound that way" reads completely differently.
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Re: We're not over sensitive: An open letter to Amanda Palmer

Postby Bork » Wed Apr 14, 15:01 2010

I hadn't heard of that either! In theory, it's not a bad idea because it seems like it's a project that could be used towards making more people aware of issues disabled people face, especially disabled women. However, I also disagree with what Amanda did. Her apology really was a horrible one, and it seems a lot like the kind of apologies people give when they're forced to give an apology even though they don't feel sorry at all. Also, her "fuck the system" attitude really doesn't work here, and I don't like that she kept it up.

I like Amanda Palmer too, and I find this really disappointing.
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Re: We're not over sensitive: An open letter to Amanda Palmer

Postby vex » Sun Apr 18, 16:32 2010

I love you. Amen to your letter and sentiment, I couldn't have said it better myself. (That's not just a platitude, I honestly just have nothing to add because I agree completely.)
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Re: We're not over sensitive: An open letter to Amanda Palmer

Postby lillerina » Mon Apr 19, 1:03 2010

I've been hearing the fuck the system thing from a few different sources lately, and it bugs me because a lot of the time when they're claiming to be all 'fuck the system', they're just fucking over or hurting the people that the system fucks.
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Re: We're not over sensitive: An open letter to Amanda Palmer

Postby Bork » Mon Apr 19, 10:02 2010

lillerina wrote:I've been hearing the fuck the system thing from a few different sources lately, and it bugs me because a lot of the time when they're claiming to be all 'fuck the system', they're just fucking over or hurting the people that the system fucks.


YES. This is the problem that I have with this kind of attitude. People start saying fuck the system just to say it because it's "in" right now. All they end up doing is screwing over the people, not doing anything productive. If they actually wanted to accomplish something, they'd work productively towards changing what they don't like. Of course, in order to do that, they'd actually have to identify things that they're unhappy with, not just say they're unhappy.



Too much off-topic-ness?
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Re: We're not over sensitive: An open letter to Amanda Palmer

Postby vex » Mon Apr 19, 15:59 2010

^hey, why not. For me it's quite on-topic because as much as I really, really fucking adore AP she is a prime example of when 'fuck the system' becomes 'fuck everyone who doesn't agree with me'. it is a get-out clause where you don't have to apologise, ever, because everything you are doing is a battle against your own Oppression and Servitude which is Forced on you by The Man, and when you're fighting The Man, you're obviously in the right whatever you do, so anyone who claims you're not must be The Man too. And then you confuse your own personal insecurities with the views you espouse, so that when people call you on your views you think they're calling you on your life, and your life as you see it is a constant battle against the System, so you use the System as an excuse for your pride taking a blow and you call them squares and you claim they don't understand what you're trying to do, when in actual fact you know all too well that it's not about art, it's not about Art or the System or any capital letter ideas, it's about individual pain and what they're doing is calling you on your individual bullshit. but you can't handle it, because you've spent years trying to get free of the System who will gladly tell you EVERYTHING you feel is bullshit, just to to control you, so you spaz out and you ignore their pain because otherwise you would have to deal with yours, and the knowledge that YOU can fuck up after trying so hard for so many years, and that you can't ever really guarantee that you won't be a tool of the System, and that's simply far too bloody hard so you just go straight on being like 'fuck the system', ignoring your fellow allies who've been crushed under the wheel.

essentially.
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Re: We're not over sensitive: An open letter to Amanda Palmer

Postby vex » Sun Apr 25, 20:03 2010

cwbyrvr wrote:Hey look this post has no point except OH GOD WHY DID I GO TO WAL-MART.
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