jesus. regarding (my last blog link).
listen: i deeply apologize if anyone has been offended by our project.
there is and was absolutely no harm meant, and if harm was taken, it’s obviously worthy of discussion.
i am, as always, very very happy to see super-intelligent conversation cropping up about the nature of art, life, and appropriateness in the blog comments & in other sub-threads.
please keep it up, it is awesome. but please, please, please do refrain from calling each other names. that sucks.
neil also called me up slightly out of sorts, because some of HIS fans were upset about the blog.
this ties in with a slight problem i’ve been having lately, which is a whole new wave of neil’s fans coming over the fence to see what i’m about.
and when they see conjoined twins, black humor, and half-naked red carpet photos, they run screaming (and run screaming in neil’s ear. and the screams aren’t pretty to listen to.)
as i explained in my golden globes blog…a lot of amanda palmer is about context and knowing what i stand for/have stood for in the past ten years or so.
the Evelyn Evelyn project couldn’t possibly be MORE about context. it’s been in development for 3 years, and a lot of people have been watching it grow from the get-go.
our intention with this record was NEVER to hurt. it was made in a spirit of real love and fun, and follows the story of two girls who had an extremely rough life and made a record album.
our intention was not to piss people off, make fun of, or belittle anybody. that is not our style.
i do have to say, the topics of some of the more intelligent dialogue does make me rather gleeful….watching people yelling intelligently at each other about “tommy” (my favorite comment: “i don’t really know the history of tommy, did The Who try to pretend he was a real person?”), “phantom of the opera” and “the elephant man” is a lot more fun than watching people yelling UNintelligently at each other about, i don’t know, the death penalty. to my knowledge – correct me if i’m wrong – there are no musicals or concept albums about the death penalty. not YET.
the most ironic thing is that this is, process-wise, the most lighthearted and joyful project i’ve ever been involved with.
i’d hate to think that any of that has been ruined by the tone of my last blog.
if it did, i hope the record speaks more for itself, because it really was a labor of love.
something that surprised me was this: i’ve been telling the “story of evelyn evelyn” to hundreds of people over many wines and coffees for the last 2-3 years. some close friends, some mild acquaintances, some journalists, all to whom i’ve related the story exactly as i told it in that last blog.
far from getting any kind of “eeek, that’s really icky” or “wow, you heartless bigot” reaction, i’d gotten nothing but pure delight and excitement about the creativity of it all (yes, even the sordid backstory).
so why was the blog different? i tried to put my finger on it.
neil thinks the right tone of voice got lost. beth pointed out to me that people are so used to getting the classic amanda palmer shoot-very-straight-no-bullshit blog entires that this was rather a shocker, since it was a package wrapped in totally different cloth.
i think it’s a combination of both.
after scanning though hundreds of blog comments, there are a few things i’d like to address
before the shit really hit the fan, this upset blog appeared:
…jason, responding to that and the backlash to my last blog, wrote a
blog about it and posted HERE, and i’ll re-iterate what he said in a “we” statement, as he & i share the same opinion on this, to be sure:
offending or belittling disabled people or people who have a history of sexual abuse could not be farther from our intention.
we generally don’t like to offend and belittle ANYONE, but if there is anybody that we especially don’t want to alienate with this project, it is the people who might already feel marginalized and dismissed in our society. especially when that type of alienation is a major recurring theme throughout the whole Evelyn Evelyn record.
speaking as one who had a step-brother (who was a great artist and musician, and who i worshipped beyond belieif) relegated to a wheel-chair with lou gehrig’s disease (he was hilarious and used to call it “the fucking piece of furniture in which i must live”) and as one who has connected with tons of disabled fans all over the globe (many of whom wrote in via twitter and this blog showing their support for the spirit of the Evelyn Evelyn project – thank you guys) i find it really heartbreaking to think that we’d be so misunderstood.
i’ve built my life, my band, my career, and my shows and fanbase on a spirit of radical inclusiveness, and one of the reasons i’ve connected so deeply with jason, and with neil come to think of it, is that they function in the same way. love all, include all, relegate none. we all carry too much pain as it is to want to cause any more.
anyone new to the party who hasn’t picked up on this fact should stick around and watch it in action.
if you’re too turned off and would still prefer to run screaming….we’ll miss you at the party.
there was a girl who commented on neil’s facebook:
“I cried real tears while I read their story. I guess the joke is on me. Usually when a musician invents a fictional character it is all in fun. What is fun about being neglected, exploited and abused? This feels so weird, like I’m not supporting Neil Gaiman, by disapproving his finace’s career choices.”
first of all, relationships are relationships and art is art. my fans do not have to love neil’s work and his fans do not have to love mine.
hell, HIS fans don’t have to love HIS work and MY fans don’t have to love MINE. that is the beauty of art. it’s your choice, always. not ours.
secondly, for sure…there is nothing actually “fun” about being neglected, exploited and abused.
i believe this very strongly:
good art often comes from stories.
and often making art from stories is a way of not letting those stories rule and control our lives.
without the ability to do that, we’d be lost.
i remember when i found out the JT LeRoy was a “fictional” author.
i’d read all of “his” books and really felt deeply disturbed by the content (and even cried at some of the passages in “sarah”).
if Evelyn Evelyn’s story disturbs you, and you enjoy being disturbed, i suggest checking these books out. it makes the twins’ lives look positively cleaver family.
anyway, upon realizing that the novels were purely fictional, i felt….not so much duped but rather happy that i’d gotten in on the ground floor, and given a chance to feel the emotion before the curtain was lifted.
but that’s me.
after reading a lot of the blog comments, i headed over to the shadowbox, where people are less likely to leave anonymous comments (since you have to be logged in with an identity, and therefore accountable to others for your point of view). i tend to take criticism there more seriously, since people really need to stand behind their words without their masks on.
i found this (on this thread):
“….the thing about the child porn was too far in my opinion. But I also think art making people uncomfortable is all right. Also freedom of expression and everything, it’s not like Amanda and Jason are physically exploiting disability or even making a joke at it’s expense; the entertainment comes from way people’s imaginations are captured, the mystery and the confusion.”
jason had actually warned me about revealing too much of the twins’ story on that last blog.
in hindsight, since enough people have gotten ruffled about the unsettling nature of their story, i wish i’d left it for you to discover their story on the album (where the entire epic tale is presented within a much larger, and more understandable, context).
art making people uncomfortable isn’t a good thing, or a bad thing. it just is.
as far as people hurling the criticism that i am “hiding behind my art”….(this one has come up several times)
here’s what i consider hiding: producing inoffensive, corporate-penned, vanilla-bean love-story family-friendly made-for-mainstream-radio music that won’t offend a single person. and won’t make anybody laugh, won’t make anybody think, won’t make anybody wonder, won’t make anybody talk, and won’t change anybody’s life.
THAT, my friends, is hiding behind art.
i seriously fueled the fire yesterday when i tweeted THIS:
“setting aside 846 emails and removing the disabled feminists from her mental periphery, @amandapalmer sat down to plan her next record.”
i got some serious flack for that, as if i was being dismissive, waving my hand and saying “fuck em, i do not want to hear what the disabled feminists have to say”.
on the contrary, i’d been seriously distracted all morning and thinking about pretty much NOTHING ELSE for about 5 hours … and i had to finally sit down and work on something else.
i obviously DID want to hear what they had to say, otherwise i wouldn’t have been drowning in a sea of reactive blog comments, trying to figure things out.
once again, if you’re not following the whole story and you look at this out of context, it seems really awful. but that was not the way it was meant.
140 characters = subtlety sometimes lost.
6. the bigger picture.
yesterday i found myself chewing all of this upsetness like a bone in my mind.
i’m also PMSing, and that made things even lovelier.
in my life and in my work, i’ve made a lot of people angry.
people love to judge.
too feminist. not feminist enough. too outspoken. not outspoken enough. too intellectual.
too dumb. too glam. too underdressed. too funny. not funny enough. too inappropriate. too safe.
wrong kind of funny. marrying my favorite author and now i fucking hate her. fat. irritating. loud.
blah blah blah blah, etc, ad infinitum.
this is something i’ve had to learn to live with.
to get clear, i always have to stop, dig deep within myself and ask:
were my intentions good? could i really stand behind them? was anybody really harmed?
if i’ve actually harmed someone (and the harm isn’t just a drama in their heads), have i owned my responsibility?
when i quiet myself down and find the answer within myself, that’s the most important one.
it speaks louder than the voices outside my head and the anonymous voices on the internet.
it is to this voice you must listen, or you’re FUCKED.
i know a lot of younger people read this blog and i have constant contact with teenagers who are always asking me:
“how do i get brave?”
a lot of that answer lies in situations like these.
when you are forced to sit down, reckon with a situation, listen to people screaming that they hate you, take stock of what you’ve done, look everyone in the eye, tell them what your intentions are, and know that they will either hear and understand you or they will walk away.
and then your job is to not run after them.
your job is to stay calm. your job is continue on with your work.
and the hardest thing, sometimes, is to continue on with your work in a spirit of love, without letting other people’s hate and anger getting the best of you, and turning you into bitter, angry and jaded fuck.
it’s so easy to be afraid. to do nothing. to not make your art, to not follow your calling, your passion, your impulses, to not take any risks for fear of people cutting you down and misunderstanding you.
most people are CONTROLLED by fear, because they’re convinced they’ll do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, write the wrong thing, sing the wrong thing.
those fears are founded. you can see that, here, now.
shit happens, you can upset people.
and you need to do your work anyway, because the world needs you to.
that, i think, is how you get brave.
7. last but not least
for all of you writing in blog & twitter comments saying “FUCK THE HATERS”….please don’t feel like you need to say that to show your support.
please, you need to LOVE THE HATERS.
i have found, in my experience, that fucking the haters will not work.
unless it’s the loving kind of fucking, in which case, please please for the love of GOD please make sure it’s the consensual kind of loving fucking, otherwise we’re in serious shit…
the discussion = awesome as usual.
please keep it going.
p.s. as to the “real identity of the twins”, i would like to refer you to jason’s blog, in which he states….”As to rumors that Amanda and I are, in fact, the twins Evelyn and Evelyn, I’m not able to comment on that just yet – but I will point out that on the recordings that have been released so far, one of the twins has a conspicuously deep voice for a 24 year old girl.”