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But you’re so so backwards… Why you gotta be like that? (My complicated feelings for Amanda Palmer)

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TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE

A little over a year ago, Amanda Palmer saved my family.

Don’t panic. This isn’t the part where I defend her recent behavior, or much of her behavior in general.

In 2013, my life had started to change. My chapter-by-chapter recap of Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels had become more popular than I could have imagined. I’d started a serial romance, The Boss, and that had become pretty popular, too. I considered sending the full to my agent, thinking maybe I could sell it somewhere. I thought about proposing it to Ellora’s Cave, the company that had published my last book at the time. But neither option felt right. I figured I would just leave The Boss on the blog, and then follow up with The Girlfriend. I wasn’t getting paid much for my writing at the time, so I felt like it wasn’t of a quality where I could charge for it.

People started asking if I could set up a donations account, so they could give me money for the blog and for The Boss. I did, but I felt guilty. Again, I thought that what I was doing wasn’t real, because no one had sanctioned my choices. There was no publishing house supporting what I was doing, so I wasn’t a “real” author. But my family of four was trying to get by–and get through a messy foreclosure–on twenty-thousand a year. Granted, it’s not an impossible task, but it isn’t comfortable, and it definitely isn’t stress free. There were plenty of times we were sending unsigned checks “accidentally,” etc, and more than once we had to turn to the state emergency fund to keep our heat on. We stretched one-hundred and six dollars worth of food stamps over every month. In case you’re wondering, those info graphics showing how cheaply you can eat on fresh produce and healthy food? Are all bullshit. We were struggling, and it didn’t seem like we would ever dig our way out of the hole of back taxes, defaulted student loans, and the mountain of medical bills that I’d piled onto the heap.

Then, I saw something that changed my life. It was Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk, “The Art of Asking.” I’d heard of Amanda Palmer before. I knew she’d been in a band called The Dresden Dolls, because I had a friend who loved them. I think I’d heard one song. But my sister-in-law posted a link to the Ted Talk on my Facebook wall, and though I wasn’t super interested, I watched it anyway.

That video changed my life. Here was this woman, a successful woman, saying that there was more than one path to success, and that artists deserve to be paid for the work they do. That there was nothing wrong with asking for support, and there was nothing to be ashamed of if the path people thought you should take just didn’t work for you.

Because of that Ted Talk, I decided that it would be okay to charge book prices for The Girlfriend, the sequel to The Boss. That August, I embraced self-publishing, and put The Girlfriend on Amazon.

It sold two thousand copies in an hour.

A few days later, a complete version of The Boss made its self-pub debut as a ninety-nine cent e-book. In its first month, I made thirty-thousand dollars.

Amanda Palmer became my role model. I listened to her music and absorbed her blog. I learned about the controversy she’d sparked with her Kickstarter campaign that had so inspired me. She’d produced her album and gone on tour, but she was asking musicians to play without payment. I was conflicted; hadn’t she used her power of asking to raise money to fund her artistic endeavors? But then again, wasn’t she using that same power of asking to get these musicians to play with her? No one was forcing them to sign on. She was asking, and they were answering.

The more I followed her work, the more wary I became. At first listen, I thought her song “Guitar Hero” was an incredible portrait of soldiers trying to maintain a sense of normalcy amid the chaos of war; then I realized I’d been hearing the n-word shouted, for no discernible reason, besides to shock the listener (though I’m not confident that there ever could be a good reason for a white artist to include that in their lyrics).  She wrote a controversial poem expressing sympathy for the surviving suspect of the Boston Marathon bombing. But she also started a twitter campaign urging people to post un-retouched photos of their least favorite body part to protest the unrealistic depictions of bodies in the media. She preached the gospel of independent art, but there seemed to be an edge of opportunism in everything she did. I wrote it off as her just being kind of kooky, in a way that didn’t jibe with my personal philosophy. And that, to me, was okay. I would occasionally roll my eyes and move along. I just sort of accepted, as Twitter user @GraceIsHuman tweeted, quoting a line from Erin Keane’s Slate.com piece (TW: rape):

Keane’s essay is one of many regarding  Amanda Palmer’s support of accused rapist Jian Ghomeshi. Palmer had planned on hosting Ghomeshi as part of one of her shows, and as the allegations stacked up (TW: rape), fans were outraged to hear that she still intended to keep him on as her guest. Palmer asked for peace and understanding, stating that she needed time to sort through her thoughts. After a landslide of recriminations rolled through the media and her fan base, Palmer wrote a blog post announcing that Ghomeshi wouldn’t be at her show after all.  This is something that I can’t just roll my eyes at. The heartfelt tone of her announcement strikes me as far too little and extremely late. It’s hard to believe that it came from a place of soul-searching and profound enlightenment when Palmer is currently on tour to promote her new book. The tone policing in her post and her pleas for respect and kindness on social media, her lamentations over how the passionate response to the controversy had somehow damaged society, all seemed intended to scold anyone who dared question her. It wasn’t sincere. It was a haughty declaration of moral superiority.

I can no longer say that I’m an Amanda Palmer fan. Not after this. Yet, I still feel as though I owe her credit for changing my life. So, while I’ll no longer follow her on social media, or defend her to her critics, I still feel a conflicted debt of gratitude toward her. Though I’ll never purchase another of her albums (nor her book, which I had been looking forward to), I may still occasionally listen to the music that I already own. I talk a lot on this blog about recognizing when the art and media we consume is problematic, and that we can still enjoy flawed things as long as we didn’t make excuses for those elements, but I’m not as tolerant as I used to be of creators. I loved Woody Allen’s movies, but I would never watch another, not even an old favorite. Braveheart, a film I once loved shamelessly, leaves a bad taste in my mouth now. Sometimes, when an artist or artwork are so profoundly troubling, we have to know when to walk away. I’ve got to walk away from Amanda Palmer, a person who has made such an enormous impact on my life. As Twitter user @1AprilDaniels said:  

summing up perfectly the conflict that many of Palmer’s fans feel after each one of her devil’s advocate missteps. Fans who have endured rape and abuse, who have been thrown under the wheels of Amanda Palmer’s publicity tour bus this week, are having to decide whether her good qualities–the list dwindles with each new grab at scandal–outweigh the extreme offense and second-hand embarrassment from her outrageous attempts to be provocative and thoughtful.

Yes, Palmer has taught me the “Art of Asking,” but asking that we accept passive-aggressive apologies for her antics time and again is wearing thin. And this time, it’s asking far too much.

38 Comments

  1. the-great-dragon
    the-great-dragon

    I think it’s okay for you to keep looking on her as the person who saved your family if that’s how you feel. By everything you said, she did. Maybe she didn’t do that for everyone, but she did it for you, and that matters. There are plenty of people out there who are going to remember her for the bad stuff, it’s okay for some people to remember her for the good. It’s your positive experience and you deserve to feel good about it.

    I’m not saying this negates what she’s done. But…well, it’s like the people who love 50 Shades for getting them into Romance but acknowledge that it’s problematic and not something they can continue to support. There’s nothing wrong with missing the way you felt about something (or someone) before it went bad. Hell, we’ve all been there.

    November 1, 2014
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  2. Amber
    Amber

    Like any relationship gone bad, you can value the memories of the past and the person you used to admire without wanting to continue that relationship today.

    November 1, 2014
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  3. Jilliterate
    Jilliterate

    I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately, wondering if you were aware of the Jian Ghomeshi news — mainly because of his Facebook post in which he invokes Fifty Shades of Grey in an attempt to hide his abusive behavior behind the veil of BDSM and normalizing it. The irony that he drew comparisons between himself and Chedward was so ridiculous that it’s clear he’s never read the book. Or else he has, and found it inspiring instead of traumatizing, which is likely, considering neither man, real or fictitious, seems to understand what consent is. I wasn’t sure how much news all of this was outside of Canada, but I’ve been longing for a blistering Jenny Trout takedown on this, just because your Chedward takedowns were so satisfying.

    November 1, 2014
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  4. Laina
    Laina

    Something about her always just rubbed me the wrong way. I’m glad you got something so good out of her message, but frankly I’m not surprised.

    November 1, 2014
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  5. Tori
    Tori

    I’ve mentioned to people in the past that I can no longer watch Mel Gibson movies (even though I was a huge, huge fan when I was a kid) because I can’t disassociate his characters from the racist, abusive asshole he’s become. It has almost never failed to be met with some form of “Well I just separate the artist from the art.” I’m not great at that, and sometimes I wonder why we’re expected to be – like, why does making something enjoyable excuse people from being the actual worst? (Irrelevant side note, I will actually cry if Mel Gibson actually ends up involved with Iron Man 4 like RDJ suggested. Cry.)

    I’m not super familiar with Amanda Palmer, but so much of what I’ve seen from her has been, “Look at me, I’m so different and unique!” so I was never a big fan. It felt forced. Kind of like that apology was a little forced. “Don’t insult someone who has been accused of rape by 9 people so far.” Yeaaaah I’ll get right on worrying about his precious feelings. But hey, even a stopped clock is right once a day blah blah metaphors. So she was right on about artists deserving to be paid for their work. Doesn’t mean you owe her a damn thing.

    November 2, 2014
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    • Flo
      Flo

      What you described is similar to how I feel about Tom Cruise. I loved his movies, but after the couch jumping, “I know everything about depression” era, I haven’t watched a thing he’s done since. I think most of us have been there with someone or something, it’s more a matter of what you take away from that person at the time and can realize that while that part may have ben a help, they aren’t exactly what they appeared to be initially.

      I compare it to an old boyfriend that treated me badly. My friends were surprised that I didn’t hate his guts. While I didn’t love him anymore, I didn’t hate him either. It was part of my past, and something I learned from.

      November 2, 2014
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  6. It’s great to see someone who doesn’t just blindly defend someone who has had a positive impact on them or done good things.
    Doesn’t diminish the positive impact or the good things. It’s so frustrating to see so many people who think that acknowledging someone’s fuck ups have to mean denying that they have had any positive impact or done anything good.

    So kudos to you for that 🙂

    November 2, 2014
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  7. Cressida
    Cressida

    Jenny: To begin, I deeply respect your tact and thoughtfulness in writing.

    I’ve been closely following the Ghomeshi shitstorm–I once liked his early band and sometimes listened to his radio show, but then distanced myself a while ago when I first heard creepy rumours about him. This breaking story is more extreme and disturbing. I was wondering when or if you would bring up this news item (the Chedward parallels, UGH), and seeing the tie-in with Palmer, another artist I used to love, is getting two birds stoned at once. (The first woman to speak out on-record about Ghomeshi is on Trailer Park Boys; the show quote seemed apropos.)

    I first discovered Palmer’s work with The Dresden Dolls and followed her solo career because she seemed raw, open, and inviting to her audience–the TED talk is a very savvy PR move for that. However, following her many gaffes, and especially after her tone-policing on this subject, I find her “art of asking” is solely in the realm of asking for attention. (Not to say asking doesn’t work; I’m speaking only about Palmer here.)

    I am frustrated and sad to have to turn away from some artists whose music marked turning points for me, but I can’t justify an artist disrespecting their fans and minimizing their fans’ voices to make a scandal they could easily detach from become a drama all about them.

    Thank you, Jenny, for speaking on the subject.

    November 2, 2014
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  8. This is a really sensitive unpicking of our relationship with artists. I think the problem is that everything is so emotional – artists literally change our lives or provide the soundtrack and backdrop to pivotal bits of our lives. I think you have to acknowledge the good they’ve done or else you’ll go a bit crazy, because suddenly rejecting them feels like you’ve hacked off a limb. But to not acknowledge and act on their bad points always feels like you’re endorsing it.

    I recently had to face this head on when one of my friendship groups’ favourite bands found that they had an unrepentant paedophile as the lead singer.
    (Which i wrote about in depth here if anyone is interested: http://preludesblogofwords.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/curio-how-far-can-we-separate-artist.html )
    The music had been their background music all throughout puberty. Their identity as rock fans centred around all the tens of concerts they went to to see them. One of the best days of their lives was when they got to meet, greet and hug him. He was their idol and their lust object. LostProphets was THEM – it was a huge part of how they became young women rather than little girls, and then all of a sudden that’s snapped away and they have to figure out how much of this identity that they’re allowed to keep.

    It’s clear that Amanda Palmer really did benefit you, Jenny. And i think it’s spot on that you should be able to enjoy what made you live a thing and benefitted you while also acknowledging the problematic side of things. But for me and with LostProphets, i still can’t bring myself to listen to their old music, even if some were my favourite songs. I put all the tshirts in a drawer never to wear again. But we still support what band members we can who weren’t ever involved. Thats all you can do in the end, i guess.

    November 2, 2014
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    • Nonnie
      Nonnie

      Oh God, how did I never hear about this? I listened to the Lost Prophets all the as a kid. I feel slightly violated now. What a disgusting human being. Buh.

      Great article though, both you and Jenny. Kind of a fascinating subject, really. I agree with what so many have already said, that it was you, Jenny, that saved your family and changed your life. I wholeheartedly believe if you hadn’t gotten your inspiration from Palmer, you would have found it in something else. She was just a catalyst.

      Either way, I think we can all be grateful to the people in our lives that have moved us, even if they let us down in the long run. There’s no excusing certain actions but it doesn’t mean everything we got from them was poison.

      November 3, 2014
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  9. Molly
    Molly

    Dealing with problematic media is a minefield even if you leave other people’s approbation completely out of the picture. I have to draw personal lines: like you, I won’t watch Woody Allen’s work, period.

    However, especially when the artist’s work has very little to do with their screwups (eg NOT Woody Allen’s May-December character obsessions), I sometimes decide to not let the artist ruin the art for me. Girl band Little Mix is a good example of that. They make catchy, affirming, woman-centric pop music, and over the last year they have leapt into cultural appropriation full bore, just endlessly.

    So I’m not exactly going to be giving them any more of my money, but I have two albums that aren’t culturally appropriative by themselves, and which I enjoy. I’ve concluded that I’m not going to let the members of Little Mix ruin that for me.

    In other words, roughly your Amanda Palmer compromise. I think that’s an okay arrangement to make with yourself, particularly when you’ve already bought the thing and, frankly, YOU didn’t screw up such that you deserve the punishment of having to throw it away.

    November 2, 2014
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  10. Jessica
    Jessica

    I feel the same way about Roman Polanski’s movies. How can the movie industry give awards to a man who pleaded guilty to the rape of a 13 year old, who was too cowardly to even serve his sentence?

    I was also interested to see that the Gomeshi story went beyond Canadian borders. I am embarrassed to say that when the story first broke, my reaction fell on the wrong side. Previously, I had a lot of respect for Gomeshi, and loved his radio show. So when the first details started trickling in about his actions, I said “we don’t know all the details, innocent until proven guilty, lets see how this plays out.” This was mainly due to my feelings of respect for his work. If it had been anyone else, I know my reaction wouldn’t have been the same. And I’m embarrassed that reactions like mine added fuel to the internet fire storm that the women making the allegations have had to endure. This story makes me uncomfortable because it really brings to light some of the troubling ways we view sex, violence and rape in society. Still today, we seem to have varying degrees of what we will accept, and what we can justify. I feel like the Gomeshi story has really opened my eyes to flaws in my way of thinking.

    November 2, 2014
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  11. Sophie
    Sophie

    This is one of the reasons I respect you so much Jenny, your integrity. It can be difficult to look clearly at someone we admire, especially someone we feel we owe something too. But when that person is behaving in a problematic way and their actions are hurting people, we aren’t ignore that just because we like them or their creations. It’s not an easy thing to do though, and I imagine this wasn’t an easy post for you to write.

    One thing I did want to say though is that Amanda Palmer didn’t save your family, you did that. Her TED talk may have given you the idea and the bravery to go down the self-publishing route but you did it. You wrote The Boss, and it’s sequels. It was your recaps of 50 Shades that gave you the idea to write the series and the fan base to make it the success it has been. That is all on you, so please don’t give away the credit to someone else. You got your family out of that difficult situation, your writing talent and your wonderful self did this all. Be proud.

    November 2, 2014
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    • SS
      SS

      ^^^^^^^^THIS x’s a million. Amanda Palmer might have given you a spark of inspiration, but Jenny, your talent and elbow grease is what got your family through tough times.

      Don’t be afraid to take credit for how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved. You’ve earned it.

      November 2, 2014
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    • Heather
      Heather

      I can’t possibly say it any better than Miss Sophie here, so I won’t try. Just a big ol’ ditto to her whole comment.

      I would also like to add that I love this blog – not only for the wonderful, thoughtful, and funny content you bring to us but for the wonderful community you’ve gathered around yourself here. I always feel like a better woman after reading through the comment section. I have learned to think about things from many different viewpoints and I have learned that a community of thoughtful ladies can really make me feel like a better person for being a part of it.

      November 2, 2014
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      • Erin
        Erin

        Hear, hear!!

        It’s great that Amanda Palmer’s speech inspired you. But if you hadn’t written a good book that people wanted to read . . . if you hadn’t created a marvelous blog that managed to be funny and insightful . . . if you hadn’t put in the time and work and SKILL needed to make all these things . . . then that inspiration would have been worth jack shit.

        Fifty Shades of Shit inspired you to start the blog and gave you impetus to write “The Boss”. You took something terrible and created good writing out of it, which is just impressive. At the moment, it’s looking like Amanda Palmer will function in the same manner. You took something hypocritical and false, and turned it into something genuine.

        You’re like a freaking alchemist.

        November 2, 2014
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    • Courtney
      Courtney

      What Sophie said! Don’t let anyone else take credit for what YOU did! You ROCK, so own that shit!

      November 3, 2014
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    • Courtney
      Courtney

      What Sophie said! Take credit for what YOU have accomplished. You rock, so OWN that shit!

      November 3, 2014
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  12. Lani
    Lani

    I was never much of a fan of hers, but I *did* love her husband’s work. But the more I hear about her, the less I can stand to read anything of Gaiman’s.

    November 2, 2014
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    • Erin
      Erin

      Eh, I have some of this. I don’t go to Neil Gaiman events anymore, because she’s always there.

      But on the other hand, he’s in love with her. Look at all the trouble Jenny and other fans are having, trying to disentangle her bad behavior from the meaning they found in her work, and multiply that by 1,000. That’s where Neil must be.

      If Neil himself behaved like this, I would have a hard time supporting his work. But he’s still his own person, producing his own art. I’m not willing to drop one of my favorite authors for the bad behavior of his spouse, regarding a tour that he’s not a part of. Love makes us stupid . . . or at least, it makes me stupid. And Neil has always been unfailingly courteous and supportive to his fans. Until he’s not, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

      Still not going to his events, though. Not until he does one without Amanda. I did not sign up for the package deal, dammit.

      November 3, 2014
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      • anon
        anon

        But remember his response to the whole Hale thing?! He kinda sorta supported her stalking a blogger.

        November 5, 2014
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    • Lisa
      Lisa

      Oh no! I cant let this trickle down and affect my love of Gaiman too! I also have stopped following Palmer on social media etc. But I am taking Gaiman at his own face value. As far as I know he hasn’t lent his support to her public statements?

      November 4, 2014
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    • MadGastronomer
      MadGastronomer

      So far I can still read Gaiman. He’s been a favorite of mine for a long time, and I would hate to give him up, although I’m side-eyeing him some for the title of his new collection. But I have a worse and more personal artist-couple to compare them to, which has helped me make my piece.

      I’ve loved Emma Bull’s work for as long as I’ve loved Gaiman’s. I got to know her through Shadow Unit fandom, and when she came to town hung out with her and had her give a reading at my restaurant. Her husband (whose name I will not mention; he vanity-googles and then makes trouble) has a couple of books and a handful of short stories I also love (all Bordertown stuff). I got to know him and hung out with him and he read with her at my restaurant. Emma is a sweet and kind person. Her husband is a horrible human being who has put on years-long campaigns of harassment against women of color for daring to disagree with him, and who has published the personal information of one of them over and over again, despite many calls for him to stop and take it down. He’s very sweet in person, but online he’s truly awful. He makes it a point to haunt spaces where he’s discussed and troll them and harass people. I do not understand why Emma continues to condone his behavior, except that she loves him.

      I won’t buy his books anymore. The ones I like are out of print and I have my copies anyway. Emma doesn’t publish very much any more, but I’m stilling willing to buy new books by her, even though I know that money supports him, too. (He seriously gloats about that in public.) I’m uneasy with it, but it’s my compromise. And if I can make it for Emma, I can make it for Gaiman.

      November 5, 2014
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  13. I’m gonna go with what Sophie said–whatever message you took from Amanda Palmer’s TED talk doesn’t make a difference without your own hard work getting The Boss and its sequels out into the world. Plus, it’s not like she invented the concept–she’s merely transmitted it and you can take in the message without investing yourself in the messenger.

    November 2, 2014
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  14. Megan M.
    Megan M.

    The more I hear about Amanda Palmer personally, the less I like her. But that TED talk she gave WAS special. It really moved me, too.

    November 2, 2014
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  15. Stephanie
    Stephanie

    She can still have a positive impact on your life due to her past actions even while you distance yourself from her present ones. People aren’t black and white- just because she’s doing sucky stuff now doesn’t make the influence she had on you back then in any way tainted. It sucks when someone you’ve respected so much lets you down, but that doesn’t make the success you had any less valid. It’s not going to make the money you earned disappear. You can look back and say ‘yes, this woman is screwing up now and isn’t the person I thought she was, but the person I thought she was really helped me out when I was in a bad place and that’s a good thing. I’ll always be grateful for that, but I have to walk away now’.

    And, besides, the success is YOUR success. She did not change your life; you did. Yes, she had a positive influence on you, but you were ready to hear it and acted on it. This just happened to be the thing that clicked for you- who’s to say something else wouldn’t have happened to make that happen?

    November 2, 2014
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  16. Ann
    Ann

    Yeah, Amanda Palmer. 🙁 She has some interesting concepts, but she has a lot of terrible ideas as well. At the end of the day, she means well. She got Ghomeshi WRONG, but she’s trying hard? I wonder if this backlash will make her reconsider her position. (I’m guessing no, but I really don’t like her much.) Anyway, she’ll always be the person to you who gave you the inspiration to do awesome things with your career.

    PS – I saw Anne Rice today (accidentally) and she was surrounded by fawning sycophants. Perhaps constant adoration makes you more sensitive to the idea of criticism than people who aren’t constantly surrounded by yes-men.

    November 2, 2014
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  17. nettle
    nettle

    Surprising piece, with much grace.

    It’s interesting that Amanda’s work has affected you so much. She is the most narcissistic person I have ever known. In person, she can be insufferable, especially after years of knowing her. On stage, however – and her stage is large – she can be incredibly charismatic, as so many know. She embodies the contradictions of the narcissist.

    I suppose for those of us who suppress our narcissistic tendencies, her embrace of “asking” can be affirming. However the same narcissistic tendencies are on display when she courts scandal, putting herself at the center of the news cycle, or refuses to take in well-honed criticism. The same entitlement that makes her insufferable to be around underwrites her success. Is it still appealing to behave like Amanda Palmer when you see her behave like such a jerk so often? Isn’t there another way, that doesn’t involve such entitlement at others’ expense?

    November 2, 2014
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  18. Jemmy
    Jemmy

    No one is pure white or pure black in their actions. It just depends how much grey you’re willing to live with. Anyone can do both wonderful things and utterly idiotic things.

    You aren’t blinded by to faults by the good you’ve found, and that is a great quality of yours. To see something clearly, with both good and bad, is not something a lot of people can manage. In my experience anyway.

    As others have said, you have put in a lot of hard work, and you have a lot of talent. The TED talk gave you a new perspective, and I’m glad that it did. But one good thing does not create an obligation in you to like everything else Amanda Palmer does and says.

    It’s harder in some ways, when someone does both the ridiculous and the sublime. Knowing that they can be much different if they chose, and knowing they chose to be the idiot is more disappointing. But that may just be me projecting personal issues there 🙂

    November 3, 2014
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  19. I talk a lot on this blog about recognizing when the art and media we consume is problematic, and that we can still enjoy flawed things as long as we didn’t make excuses for those elements, but I’m not as tolerant as I used to be of creators.

    Thank you for articulating this so clearly.

    November 3, 2014
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  20. Courtney
    Courtney

    My thoughts on Amanda Palmer are pretty complicated. I absolutely LOVE the Dresden Dolls– it’s chaotic, soulful, and provocative in a way that sets it apart from other music and I don’t think I’ll stop loving it even though AP has done some really disturbing stuff.

    On the other hand– I will never go to another Dolls show, will never see AP’s solo acts, and won’t be buying her book. She has said and done some really horrible things and like you I interpret her apologies to be insincere at best. (Plus the one DD show I went to during their reunion tour was stuffed full of pretentious asshole fans who yelled at me and my friend for dancing too closely to them. WHO DOESN’T DANCE AT A CONCERT, COME ON NOW GUYS. The hero-worship was strong at that show and it was just really weird and uncomfortable.)

    I’ma keep loving my old DD cds and leave them on my iPod, but my financial support for AP has ended. And it’s really a pity, because I think she’s done some truly awesome things on top of all the bullshit.

    November 4, 2014
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  21. Petra Newman
    Petra Newman

    I just wanted to add a ‘heck yes’ to the many posts here that celebrate what you yourself have produced Jen. I also think that there’s an interesting point to be made here about contemporary social media and the individual and how our relationship to their art has inevitably become more complex. Plenty of writers and artists throughout history have been somewhat lacking as individuals; from Fitzgerald’s alcoholism to Wagner’s Anti-Semitism. The big difference between these figures and artists of today is that in the media driven world we live in, the personality of the artist is far more front and center that it has ever been. Social media makes the contact between audience and artist an immediate thing – lacking the distance that existed historically. The result is that the separation of ‘the artist’ from their ‘creation’, is experiencing a severe case of blurred lines. It ranges from the almost silly (the ‘only say nice things about this book because the author is a lovely person’ argument we saw weeks ago in your blog post on Apolonia) to the serious and disturbing (the post about The Lost Prophets in this feed which was incredibly thoughtful and thought provoking). Though I am a huge believer in Roland Barthes and the “Death of the Author” as it basically argues for freedom of expression when it comes to works of art, to say that in today’s society we can separate the two into distinct categories, where our reaction to the product remains totally unaffected by our knowledge of behaviors by the producer, is ultimately futile. I think this is where personal judgment comes in. As other posters here have mentioned, Woody Allen is a case in point. As a teenager I loved Allen’s movies and humor. Then the scandal of his private life broke and I’ve not paid to see a Woody Allen movie since this time. That being said I can’t deny that his movies inspired me and became part of the process of my growth into the adult I’ve become. Neither is it lost on me that the adult I’ve become finds the choices Allen made abhorrent.
    Ultimately I think we’re all in a process of evolving a new type of relationship to the artists that create work we love and to the work itself; one that is both public (in that far more about the individual artist is out there and known about) and highly personal (in how we as individuals choose to respond to what becomes known) at the same time and I think your post was an amazing articulation of the struggles inherent in that evolution. I suppose the take away for me is that you were inspired to do some amazing and brilliant work that I’ve enjoyed and that’s made me think and laugh (the best combination). Whatever the sources of that inspiration, however problematic the actions by that person have been – the creation and the kudos for all of that belong to you and you alone.

    November 4, 2014
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  22. Recently I’ve been revisiting my feelings about Amanda Palmer, too. It was never really her music that got to me – it was the love she inspired in her fans. I saw her live before I knew anything about her, she played Delilah and the crowd were so supportive and so present. I’ve never seen anything like it.

    Since then I’ve learned about victim blaming and I can’t listen to Delilah the same way any more.

    November 8, 2014
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  23. punnyrabbit
    punnyrabbit

    If we can agree that it’s OK to appreciate artists for the good they have done for our lives in the past, but still boycott/drop them for doing something (or perhaps one too many things) that we seriously don’t condone, is that the end of our respect for them? Is there any way for these people to redeem themselves? Is there any way that you would potentially forgive Amanda Palmer?
    Not wanting to cause trouble, just wondering what people think 🙂

    November 9, 2014
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  24. corina
    corina

    I don’t know much about Amanda Palmer – The only thing I do know is what she said in her TED talk which I happened to watch a while back.

    I don’t know if she is a good or a bad person. I don’t know if she is a good or a bad artist. I didn’t even know her name until I read it on this post.

    But I DO know that she was right about some things. I know that she had a point. Artists deserve payment for their work. Fans want to pay for art. All we need to do is figure out how we want to make it happen. All we have to do is ask.

    Fortunately things that are true… are still true when a “bad” person says them. It’s not the person that says something that matters. It’s the message.

    THAT MESSAGE changed my life too.

    April 9, 2015
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