Monday, March 29, 2010

In Thanks To Amanda Palmer (here we go again)

Disclaimer: More Rage! More Swearing! Lots of it! Heads up!
The sick thing is, this is not the post I was writing. I was about to write a post about positive thinking, when I found this. Because I found this when following a link, because someone had posted a link to this blog on another site and not told me, and I just stumbled on it accidentally, and was so damn excited omg you guys! Because that is still really cool, when it happens. And then. This. and I really. I don't know what to think. And I am angry. So. I'm writing a letter. Because that is what I do when I get angry. She won't read it, and I don't care. I just want to be able to be clear. I just want the distracting rage to dissipate so that I can think like a normal human person again.

I would also like to apologize in advance for any form of RACE!FAIL I am about to commit. I am a white person living in predominantly white area. Pretty much all I know of racism is that it is wrong, and that there is a whole lot about it that I don't know about. I can, however, point you in the direction of people who say it much better, (and probably more succinctly) than I. Any corrections or additions I need to make, please feel free to mention them in the comments - I like to learn things. So. Here are people smarter and more articulate and knowledgeable explaining and extolling on this latest WTF-ery.

In addition, I almost didn't post this. Because I knew it would degenerate into all the many reasons I am angry, and what the fuck is so wrong with Amanda Palmer, and not just focus on what needs to be focused on right now. And it did, a little. Stuff spins around in my head sometimes, and this is what happens to it. Feel free to help yourself to some rage, and we'll play some catch-up. 'Cause on top of THAT, there was this:
and of course THIS:
And it's just. Exhausting. So now, you get to hear what I think. Yay.

Dear Amanda Palmer,
I would like to thank you. I would like to thank you because I hate you. I have never truly hated another human being. My hatred has always been tinged with self-pity, or a sense of despair. I never believed it was truly possible to hate someone so purely and venomously, and I never approved of hating someone you didn't know. I still don't approve. I am actually very conflicted about all this. But I understand, now, how it can happen. I hate you. I want nothing but horrible and terrible things for you. And I'm very sorry for that. I dislike what that makes me. I dislike that I feel this way. And that is why I am grateful to you, too, because, as much as it is knowledge I wish I didn't have, it is knowledge. It is knowledge that tells me that I must find a way to centre myself and calm down and not be prejudiced towards you, however you might deserve it. Because as much as I believe you know exactly the shit-pot you are stirring, I don't think many of your fans know, or know how they are helping you. And I cannot help to explain that to people if I am coming from a place of absolute hate. So, I apologize for my mindless, shrieking rage. I am doing my best. Not for your sake, but for the sake of the people who admire you, and for the sake of my own happiness and sense of myself. Because I really, really like the me that doesn't hate people, and doesn't spout mindless hate propaganda for the sake of getting attention or being 'interesting.'

Firstly, so you're aware, Amanda, you don't get to throw around words like 'metaphor' and 'irony' squeezed in with, racist or ableist or sexist statements. You certainly don't get to think that those are 'art' words, and thus, everything you say when you put those words in is about art, and therefore only has value in the most abstract terms, and should not be taken out of context to mean, oh, say, what you think about various marginalized groups or the treatment of these marginalized groups by... people like you. Who are not part of them. You just don't get to do that. Because you live in a world where you had the opportunity to do a great many things with your life, and what you chose to do is put yourself out into the world, and be seen, and admired, and most especially to be seen and admired by people who are maybe a little bit weird, and a little bit misfit. You chose to speak up in ways and about things that other people wouldn't, couldn't, or didn't. And you enjoy that. And that's okay. Having that job and liking that job, and even succeeding at that job, are not bad things. But you're not allowed to only bear the responsibility of the parts of that you like.

Please don't misunderstand me. It makes me sick to my stomach when I see a famous person who has really been screwed up, and people won't leave zir alone. Or a famous person, say, taking zir kids out for a walk who gets into trouble while protecting zir kids, and people who are not celebrities go, "Oh well, they shouldn't have got famous if they didn't want that to happen." I despise that. It's tantamount to, "She shouldn't have been wearing that in that neighborhood, it's no wonder she got raped," or, "Listen, if you don't want people to see you as your disability, you should stop expecting special treatment." That's not what I'm saying. That's not what you did. You have made a career out of getting attention by shocking and startling people with your 'honesty.' and that also turns my stomach, because it becomes clearer and clearer to me that you did that purely so that now you can say this crap and people will go, "Of course she's going to say it. She's Amanda Palmer. She's just weird. She's different. Everyone knows she's not racist." No. You know what? You're not weird. You're not special. You're not unique or edgy. And, shocker, not everybody knows or cares anything about you, except when they have to care because you add to the crap they have to put up with. You are doing the exact same thing people have been doing for centuries, when you participate, even in a small way, in the marginalization or outright hatred of a group of people who suffer at the hands of another group. So for all that you're trying to be edgy and different, you are just like everyone else. You are just a typical racist in denial.

And it's gross, because as much as I hate it, because I hate you, and now I have to spend energy thinking about this, and getting a nasty case of the rages, you have value. You have value to a good many people, and there are people who will defend the nonsense you say purely because you said it. People who are willing to forgive you because you helped them. So you're teaching them that it's okay to only think about themselves, and how they have been hurt. Which will not only continue an escalating cycle of hate, but will actually isolate those people from other people who have also felt the sting of some kind of marginalization because it's either them, or it's me. And Amanda said it's okay if it's them. You wanted people to listen to you, but you don't want the things you say to be taken at face value? What's even worse is that you have alienated your fans with this ridiculous noise, and you don't care. You have styled yourself to speak for the 'misunderstood masses', and then, carefully and methodically, pointed out which misunderstood masses you don't care about. Only, of course, when you absolutely had to. Because product placement is the devil, but asking people to buy a CD because you're totally a voice for the people... (just not those people) Now that has artistic merit.

Then I hate you again, for being ungrateful and spoiled enough that it doesn't matter. It matters to me, even when I can do small things, contribute to a discussion, or inspire someone to do the same. And it will matter to me, if I happen to hurt someone with this post, in my clueless and bumbling way. I know, Amanda, I know. You have a great deal more fans than I have readers. You have more people on either side, and I get that it's important not to compromise who you are and what you want to say for the sake of people who may not like it. I really do understand that, artist to artist. But what you have done is absolute cowardice. If you had said something like that, and then said, "Okay, my bad. Supporting the KKK is racist, and I shouldn't have said that," instead of, "Lookit who ELSE is doing it, so there!" If there had been any kind of humility, we could walk away. Shaking our heads, yes, but still. If you had said, "I'm sorry for the people who don't like it, but I truly believe it's better to support/comparable to supporting things like the KKK when you support Big Nasty Corporations," at least then, people would know where you stood. We'd still call you racist, and we'd still hate you, but we wouldn't have to listen to you, or the legions of mindless masses who follow you going, "Oh, come on, I didn't mean it that way!" Because, and here's the important thing I think you really need to understand: You don't get to decide what it means, when you say something like that because it means nothing to you. You know the power of your words. You know exactly what you're doing, and exactly how vague to be to get away with your nonsense. But it means what it means. It means what it means to people who have a stake in that kind of talk. And just because you don't, doesn't mean you get to use words like 'irony' and 'metaphor' to mean "That's not what I meant" whenever it suits you. It just means you should be listening to those people who do have a stake in it. And how you can just decide not to care about an entire group(s) of people who may care about you, either because they truly admire you, or because they have to pay for the damage you cause when you open your mouth, that, Amanda Palmer, is revolting, childish and cowardly. Especially when the exact second you decide you don't care is when you realize you may have taken things a step too far, and are forced to be something other than ARTIST, for once.

And by the way, words like 'irony' have real meanings too. Where you find the irony in giving money to a group of people who would gladly see large portions of the population meticulously, viciously, and publicly killed, I would really like to know. That's not ironic. That's not even cruel irony. Y'know what is, though? There are people in this world who spent money on you, so that you could get the stuff you have now, (and you already said you're not ashamed to take their money) so that you could have the following and the opportunities and the ability to say this shit and have people not think you're a disgusting racist. There are people in this world who thought you were worth defending. And they are now being slapped in the face with the realization that someone they looked up to and supported doesn't give a flying fuck about people like them. They cared about you, and you delight in reminding them they were suckers. If they disagree with you, it's because they're outside of you, they are not of you, and you weren't talking to them, anyway. You don't have to care about them. You have the right to hurt people, to encourage the hurt of people, and it's okay, because if the words are 'ironic' and 'metaphorical', so's the hurt. Right? You're not actually racist, (and people should know that, omg, and if they don't, it's so not your fault,) so you can give money in support of racism and that's irony. I'm sure, in your own head, it's a totally ironic support of racism. But, y'know that thing, about the tree falling in the forest? If a person who isn't racist gives money to someone who uses it to support their violent racist agenda, does the violence still hurt someone?

It's not like you don't fucking know what they are, or what they do. It's not like you don't know that people listen to you when you talk. I mean, that's the whole point, isn't it? Racism or any other kind of ism is not like your gender identity, sexuality, or sense of personal space. You don't get to self-identify. Your actions and your attitudes speak for you. And you have made a point to try and nullify your actions, not by apologizing, or attempting to do better, but by saying you have a right to say this, because people who have a problem with it don't know what it means! I'm white. I'm a person with a disability. I make fun of my disability. Because it's not a bad thing, to be in this body, not all the time. And sometimes, weird stuff happens to me, or around me, purely because I was born in this body. And sometimes, I have to find that shit funny, or I might possibly go mad. So sometimes, I forget myself. I make fun of my friends, the same way I make fun of me, because they know me, and I know them, and life is funny. I say or do things, jokingly, or unknowingly, and after, someone pulls me aside and says something like, "That was racist back there. There's stuff you don't know, there's stuff you don't understand, there's stuff that isn't yours to claim." And I feel horrible about it. Because I'm  not so up on the socialization skills, and I need people to tell me some things. Sometimes, I don't get an opportunity to apologize. And when I can't apologize, I can only promise myself to do better, and keep trying. I didn't always do that, but I do now, because I had people stopping me to tell me that it is the right thing to do.

You have people asking you to do better. And some of them even believe you can. And you're saying no. Not only are you saying no, but you insult their intelligence while you're at it. Which is a bit much for someone who doesn't know the meaning of the words she uses as a get-out-of-jail-free card. The KKK is not ironic. They don't kill each other or themselves and take pictures to comment on the irony of it all. They kill other people because they hate otherness. Nothing ironic. They just hate. Because they can. And I don't care that you've never actually given money to the KKK (If you haven't, that is, I really don't want to know what you do with your ill-gotten gains) and I don't care if you didn't actually mean that other people do, or that they should. All I care about is that you said it. You said it, and you defended it after you'd said it, and now people will defend you for saying it because oh, you've just been picked on so much lately, haven't you? And then they will say it, and defend themselves, and each other, because you said it. And you're important. And agreeing with you means you're on their side. And they are one of you, and that's what they want. And it was wrong to say, not only because it's not funny, it's racist, or because it hurt people, but because the mere fact that you said something you knew was going to be hurtful, again, and you act like you don't care that it was, that that's what you meant to do, again makes me wonder if even you know what you really meant by it.

I had the unfortunate task of explaining privilege, and lack of it, to someone, a few weeks ago. She is physically disabled, and believes what she is taught to believe, that it is in her best interests to let people do things for her, and think what they will of her, regardless if what they're doing actually helps her, or if their assessment of her is accurate. So I really had to go over things with her, and at one point, she said, "Why bother explaining things to people? Why bother forcing them to think a certain way, or try to change them? They probably won't care." And I was flabbergasted. So I said that the truth is, most of them do care, but they make mistakes, they do what they're taught and what they're told to do, and they think it must be right, because otherwise, why would so many people do it? And, from my own experience, I want to know when I'm being a jackass. And most of the people I have met, who treat me this or that way because of my disability, are deeply relieved when I tell them they are doing wrong. Because then I tell them how to do right. And there are some people I know who are still stubbornly ableist in some way, and still say that I am 'different' from other people with disabilities, or that I 'think about it too much' etc. But they are fewer. Because people don't want to be that kind of asshole. For the most part.

Only now, I don't know if I believe that. And by the way, I blame you for that unwanted knowledge too. So, thanks.

In Sincerity and Anger,
Another Judgmental Person With No Sense Of Humor Who Doesn't Get You

There. I feel better now. Moving right along.


  1. There are no words for how much I utterly LOVE this post. You rule!

  2. Thank you for articulating precisely why this woman infuriates me! I struggled to pin point exactly why, but I think you've hit the nail on the head. Therapeautic reading!