the creature from the blog lagoon (ishyface) wrote,
the creature from the blog lagoon

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Who Broke Up With Amanda Palmer? (Spoiler: ME.)

Okay, SO. Evelyn Evelyn. Let's talk about it.

Ever since I found out who she was, way back in 2005 when I was just a wee Ish who listened to the Dresden Dolls more than was entirely healthy, I have adored Amanda Palmer. I don't mean that I like her music or find her interesting or think she is hot like ten thousand glorious suns (although all of these things are true!). I mean that since I was sixteen years old I have fucking worshiped her. Her music didn't just move me or speak to me, it was me. She was messy and complicated and funny and weird and desperate for attention and aware of herself and lonely and happy and everything I was, pretty much, and I fucking loved her for it.

And then came Evelyn Evelyn.

When I first learned about this band, the fact that it was kind of ableist definitely registered and made me intensely uncomfortable. The idea of anyone appropriating an identity that is not theirs- that they have no right to claim- is fucked up. It would be different, I think, if she was just writing songs from the point of view of a cojoined person (although even that is problematic), but to dress up as one? To play the part of a minority you're not a part of for a fucking lark? Not okay. Really, really not okay.

But it's AMANDA, I thought. She can't not make something awesome out of this. It's probably all gonna be a statement! About disabled rights, and exploitation, and... um... artifice! And stuff! Yeah!

And then I read this, and this. And that uncomfortable feeling got stronger. The idea of her dressing up as a disabled person was bad, but the way she constructed the twins as "real people" somehow affected me way worse. Not only was she cashing in on the suffering of a minority (of which she is not a part- don't talk to me about "Oasis" and how this is the exact same thing, the difference is she actually experienced date rape and abortion but she has never experienced disability), but the way she wrote the twins was so... so privileged. They aren't fully realized people even in her own mind. They're shy, fey women-children, victims (always ALWAYS victims because God knows disabled people can never be anything else amirite???) of hideous circumstances who somehow managed to come through it all with their innocence intact, ~*~rising above~*~ their awful body through the healing power of song- and with the help of an able-bodied messiah who graciously decides to make them famous. This is not a new story. This is not a new take on disability. These characters are not people. They're dolls.

I mean, for God's sake, they're afraid of beards. BEARDS.

But... it's AMANDA, I thought, a little desperately this time. Sure, maybe she doesn't get it, but maybe she just hasn't thought about it properly!

Because whatever privilege we have- and most of us have some form of it or another- we've all had that experience where we think something is cool and weird and transgressive until we, you know, learn something about people without that privilege and realize that actually, that's kind of fucked up and not cool at all really. I've done it; I can't count all the times I've looked back at things I wrote as a teenager and felt a deep, unhappy shudder of shame as I realized that my privilege wasn't just showing, but hanging all out and flapping in the wind.* You've probably done it, either with something you've created or something you were really into or something you just didn't think too hard about. Recognizing and confronting your own privilege is difficult, and it takes time, and it's always an evolving process. I'll probably wake up tomorrow and realize that something I did yesterday was fucked up, and I will feel ashamed of myself and mope about it for a little while and then make a committed effort to not do it again. Because that's how this shit works. You've got to learn as you go, and part of the learning process involves learning the many and varied ways you've been a dick to people who aren't like you. Sad but true.

So, I thought, maybe since there are people calling her out on this, she'll rethink things. Maybe she'll take a second look at this project. Maybe she'll take these critiques to heart.

I really hoped she would. Because she was AMANDA FUCKING PALMER. She was who I looked up to, who I admired, who I wanted to goddamn be.

And then came this:

setting aside 846 emails and removing the disabled feminists from her mental periphery, @amandapalmer sat down to plan her next record.

"Removing the disabled feminists from her mental periphery."
"Removing the disabled feminists from her mental periphery."
"Removing the disabled feminists from her mental periphery."
"Removing the disabled feminists from her mental periphery."
"Removing the disabled feminists from her mental periphery."
"Removing the disabled feminists from her mental periphery."
"Removing the disabled feminists from her mental periphery."
"Removing the disabled feminists from her mental periphery."

Because that's how you respond to people who call you out on your shit- you gaily throw them out of your headspace and carry on without learning a goddamn thing.

Because examining your privilege is boring, and your imaginary two-headed freak show is way, way more important than real live people.

Because they just don't understand your art.

Because they're just reading too much into it.

Because who gives a fuck what they think, they're just a bunch of whiny bitches.

I love the Dresden Dolls. I love Who Killed Amanda Palmer? I love her words and her music and her art and her blog and her everything, my God, I really do.

But I can't love this, and I can't support it, and I can't describe how awful and lonely and disappointed it makes me feel.

ETA: Looks like Jason Webley (kinda) gets it. :D?

* One of the more fucked up ones I found, written when I was thirteen: a black tribe that worshiped a white goddess. I know. I KNOW.
Tags: ableism, amanda fucking palmer, life sucks sometimes, music, privilege ahoy!, the dresden dolls
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