who killed Amanda Palmer? Soon, maybe it will be me.
I never really paid a whole lot of attention to the Dresden Dolls/Amanda Palmer. I liked a couple of their/her songs OK, but the self-consciously kooky facade that accompanied them was so grating to me I never bothered to explore any further. (In terms of pseudo-cabaret stuff, I greatly prefer the excellent World/Inferno Friendship Society, who are also a little self-consciously kooky but accompany that with the most fun party tunes you will ever hear.) I also was greatly put off by the Who Killed Amanda Palmer? book, for the same reason I don’t like listening to Cannibal Corpse. That is: I don’t care how amazingly it’s presented, eroticized violence against women creeps me the fuck out. Yeah, Amanda, I know you’re wacky and morbid, but shots of you in your underpants with your legs splayed and your throat slit leave me cold, and a little annoyed.
So anyway, the only reason she’s come back into my consciousness is that Facebook knows I’m a Neil Gaiman fan, and he and Palmer are engaged, which means he posts updates about her projects which I sometimes make the mistake of not skimming over. Which means I now know that she and this fellow Jason Webley have a new project where they pose as conjoined multi-instrumentalist twins Evelyn and Evelyn Neville. And look, she wrote a whole backstory and everything! Here’s a couple selections from that:
…their childhood was immensely strange. they were raised by a farmer and they had almost no social contact until the age of 6, when they wound up moving to manitoba, canada.
up in manitoba, it’s pretty certain that they were being exploited by the child porn industry.
(with my support they’re looking into possibly pressing charges. life is crazy.)
when they were around 12 they joined a traveling circus called “dillard and fullerton’s”, who were based out of southern california…they’ve long since gone out of business after the law took them out (they got hit with charges of human slave trafficking and for exploiting minors, amongst other terrible accusations). they don’t talk much about that time in their life, either, but they’ve written a few songs about it on the record.
from what we can gather, it was pretty fucking awful.
Oh wow! How wacky. I don’t mind tasteless – I mean, I watch Dead Alive on a regular basis, for crying out loud. But treating child sexual abuse and slavery as just quirky, colorful background elements to your performance personas? That’s just bizarrely awful on a whole new level, and very “LOOK AT ME MOM, I AM SHOCKING.”
The entire backstory, which you can read here, could pretty much be a point-by-point presentation on what I hate about people writing about “outsider art”/disabled folks. Awww, look at these naive, sheltered little things, who we rescued through a record deal! Be careful – like certain small animals, they’re spooked by cameras! Their talent was raw, and they needed us worldly folks to help them along! I lost count of the number of times Palmer tested my gag reflex with this tale.
The worst part, however, is Palmer’s rabid fans jumping to her defense, and accusing people of Not Understanding Art, Being PC (sigh), Crushing The Delicate Flower Of Artistic Freedom with the Anvil of Judgment, and so on. Seriously? Y’all are worse than Ani DiFranco fans. I’m perfectly capable of understanding how this project fits into Palmer’s “I’m a wacky 1920s cabaret artist with a thing for circuses” schtick, and far be it from me to keep her from expressing herself. I just find this particular mode of expression to be obnoxious and stereotypical. Besides, she’s a big girl. If she can’t handle criticism of her projects, maybe she should remove herself from the public eye. I, for one, wouldn’t find that to be such a horrible thing.
(PS – come on, Neil, you can do better.)