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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
The "Hey, Amanda Palmer, child porn is not a plot coupon" post is… 
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19th-Feb-2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
Awesome post.

Here are a couple of hypotheticals that occurred to me in the shower.

1. Neil's Sandman story 'Calliope' made a lot of us go 'Whoa, that's harsh,' even if Richard Madoc did get his comeuppance. I was surprised later to read Tori's take on it — not only did she love the story, she said she identified with Richard!

So, here's hypothetical #1: What if Tori were to say that she supports Palmer's project and is eager to see what she does with it? Would we be like 'OH TORI AMOS NO,' or would we be like 'Hm. Well, it is Tori saying that...'

2. What if this weren't Palmer's project, but Tori's? Would that change the way we look at it?

— Then again, Tori wouldn't be as obnoxious about it as Palmer has been, she doesn't have that 'look how cute and shocking I am' thing that mars Palmer's work for many people, and she's got enough of a solid, irreproachable body of work behind her that, I imagine, people would be more likely to take a wait-and-see attitude, to see what Tori intended to do with the concept. People would be more likely to trust her.

And that's the thing: people trust Tori. At the very least, she's a known quantity, she seems to be consistently on the side of the angels. People, even some of the bloggers who lead with 'I love Amanda Palmer, but...', do not seem to trust Amanda Palmer.

And this is why the 'Neil, get a pre-nup' remark in my previous comment. Love her or hate her, she doesn't seem trustworthy. She doesn't look trustworthy, even — in the photos and footage I've seen, she gives off that weird vibe that makes you put your shields up. (This is hardly scientific, but, yeah, she just sets off that Berserk INTRUDER ALERT INTRUDER ALERT klaxon in my head.) And people who are disabled or who have been sexually abused or both don't trust her with their story, even though she herself has been sexually abused.

And this is what she is seeing now. When she was plumbing her own experiences for Teh Shocking, that was one thing. When she plays with other people's experiences? INTRUDER ALERT INTRUDER ALERT.
19th-Feb-2010 04:49 pm (UTC)
As you know, Bob Robyn, I am a huge Tori fan. So. Yes.

The difference right at the outset is Tori's history in dealing with these issues as opposed to Amanda's. Tori has always been straightforward, has always treated these issues with respect, et cetera; hell, she started a nationwide hotline.

On the other side, we have a woman who play-rapes people onstage.

So I think that just based on their past actions, I'd have a hard time seeing Tori as being potentially exploitative. She has almost two decades of really solid behavior regarding this stuff to back her up, and I've never seen Palmer handle it in a way that's *not* exploitative. So I'd give Tori the benefit of the doubt even more than I'd give it to pretty much anyone else, just because of that history.

I'd still be watching like a hawk, mind, as no one is infallible.

And this is why the 'Neil, get a pre-nup' remark in my previous comment. Love her or hate her, she doesn't seem trustworthy. She doesn't look trustworthy, even — in the photos and footage I've seen, she gives off that weird vibe that makes you put your shields up. (This is hardly scientific, but, yeah, she just sets off that Berserk INTRUDER ALERT INTRUDER ALERT klaxon in my head.)

Yes. This.

And people who are disabled or who have been sexually abused or both don't trust her with their story, even though she herself has been sexually abused.

And this is what she is seeing now. When she was plumbing her own experiences for Teh Shocking, that was one thing. When she plays with other people's experiences? INTRUDER ALERT INTRUDER ALERT.


Yes yes yes.

And when it's her own experience? Y'know, I can disagree with how she goes about it, but it's *her* life* and *her* experience. It's when she starts co-opting mine, and that of other disabled feminists, and survivors of childhood sexual asault, and basically tells us all to fuck off because we're spoiling her fun, that I start to say "UmmNO."
19th-Feb-2010 05:04 pm (UTC)
There's only one part of this I vehemently disagree with:

[Tori] has almost two decades

NO NO NO because that would mean I'm old. But yes, eighteen years since Little Earthquakes dropped. A whole legal adult since Little Earthquakes dropped. There are now people old enough to go into the armed forces who were babies when Little Earthquakes dropped.

AGH almost two decades AGH.

...can you tell I'm turning 40 this year?

Edited at 2010-02-19 05:04 pm (UTC)
19th-Feb-2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
People who were born when Little Earthquakes dropped can VOTE now.

WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN.

Yeah, we're old.
19th-Feb-2010 08:40 pm (UTC)
Does the math. I think I was 15.

I actually got Little Earthquakes for free. It came in a sampler of music sent to my mom's out-of-the-house CD store.
20th-Feb-2010 10:10 pm (UTC)
I just turned 40 yesterday. I have officially declared my age to be Over 21 in perpetuity, now.
19th-Feb-2010 07:44 pm (UTC) - maybe I'm reading into this, but...
Anonymous
"On the other side, we have a woman who play-rapes people onstage."

Just saw that. I'm sickened. I generally like Margaret Cho, but this was disturbing.

As is pimping the Evelyn Evelyn story as an uplifting tale of overcoming disability and childhood sexual abuse. Artistically, I saw it as further victimization of the fictional conjoined twins by the music industry and the exploitation and sensationalism of their backstory. If that is what Palmer was going for, I get the concept, but I don't feel that this is art and don't care how many celebs chime in on the project, it's not "edgy"; it's disgusting. Frankly, I think that she doesn't have the ovaries to lay it on the line and make a real statement about these topics, so she uses this backstory as a poor excuse for character development without actually developing the characters.

On a personal note, I had difficulty with the novel I'm working on until recently for a similar reason. I didn't want my character's rape to have been a poorly disguised substitute for character development. If there was no reason for me to include this backstory, if the plot could stand on its own without this aspect, then it wasn't necessary and only made for a sensational sidebar. If I could find a valid reason to bring this up, such as dealing with the emotional impact of carrying a child conceived during sexual assault, then I'd keep it in, but otherwise, it was seriously gumming up the works. I didn't want to use this concept as a cop-out.
19th-Feb-2010 08:39 pm (UTC) - Re: maybe I'm reading into this, but...
BTW, as an artist, I think statements about what is and isn't art, aren't overly helpful and can devolve into derailment when people try to define art. But I DO think it's fair to critique the art on social grounds and context. Kind of similar to saying that one's actions are racist/ablist/sexist....art can be racist/ablist/sexist.
22nd-Feb-2010 05:34 pm (UTC) - Re: maybe I'm reading into this, but...
*AGREE*

20th-Feb-2010 06:39 am (UTC) - Re: maybe I'm reading into this, but...
"Frankly, I think that she doesn't have the ovaries to lay it on the line and make a real statement about these topics, so she uses this backstory as a poor excuse for character development without actually developing the characters."

Yes, this.

Oh, Arisia panels... how I do love when you crop up in the right places.
20th-Feb-2010 12:59 pm (UTC) - Re: maybe I'm reading into this, but...
Indeed!
19th-Feb-2010 11:39 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
"Neil, get a pre-nup" - what an awesome feminist statement. Glad you keep repeating it.

At least 50% of the comments I saw about this whole thing mentioned NG in some way. Comes off as either bitter fan girl or "Man, get your woman under control!" - neither is very flattering.
19th-Feb-2010 11:42 pm (UTC)
Charming to focus on that to the exclusion of the actual, and very relevant, content, Mr/s. Anonymous.

The bitter fangirls/control your woman types are focused entirely on that aspect and aren't discussing the actual issue (yes, I read hundreds of comments on this thing); Robyn *is* discussing the issue at hand, and that was only a small part of her statement. We are allowed to have opinions, you know.

Have any commentary on the actual issue?
20th-Feb-2010 12:00 am (UTC)
And who might you be?

For the record, if it were a female artist who made gobs more money, and whom I respected, engaged to a male artist who made gobs less money, and about whom I had the sense that he wasn't trustworthy, I would say '[Female artist], get a pre-nup.' Gender didn't enter into that.

Also for the record? I do respect Gaiman, but I'm not 100% batshit over everything he's ever done. Had little use for MirrorMask, for instance, to cite one example. So, no bitter fangirl here. And the fact that he's promoting and contributing to this thing could either speak well of the project or speak badly of his judgment in this case; we shall see.
19th-Feb-2010 08:32 pm (UTC)
I actually enjoyed some of AFP's works prior to this BUT I try not to give my artists passes for new stuff just because I enjoyed their work in the past.

Oasis, I like in part because it kicks the ass of the Every Woman Who Gets An Abortion Should Be Sad and Penitent trope. But Evelyn Evelyn does not upend any stereotypes or puncture them, at least in the interviews they gave. (And while Neil suggests we wait for the stage show, the interview reads as an extension of the performance art. So I'm judging it too.) It reinforces the freakish stereotypes, and piles it high with things to make you pity the characters. (If EE were real, I would regard Amanda's and Jason's production and shepharding of them as potentially exploitive if it was executed in the same way she's been handling the fiction.)

What I personally find objectionable:

+ Infantilisation of the characters. There is a difference between sheltered and infantilised, and they really come off as infantilised.

+ Less-than-respectful way of dealing with the child porn aspect. I'm not saying you couldn't have an abusive background for a character in fiction. But you have to treat that character with respect. How would they come out about it? I'm betting most people wouldn't drop it in as a bullet point next to for-the-lulz items.

+ The cripdrag. Reads as a gimmick.

+ The framing of this "discovery" with the able-bodied saviours coming to the rescue. (However, I did grasp right away that EE were fictional, and meant to be fictional and I think AFP and Webley misjudged the pitch to which they were playing that. Sub-par execution perhaps, as a lot of people feel really taken in and pissed off about that.)

+ The consistent hits for all the stereotypes about conjoined twins: the circus life, the lost mother, the abuse, the shyness....not original, not bringing anything new, not "edgy".

.....

I mostly agree with Robyn Ma's comments, but after a life time of living in Homogenityville, Utah, any statement about how somebody LOOKS tripping triggers kinda bugs me. I agree that how somebody BEHAVES can justify those triggers tripping. My personal experiences bias me though.
20th-Feb-2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
Maybe not so much how she looks, as in the face/physique she was born with or her clothes or whatever, but the way she comes off visually: body language, expressions, etc. Again, not scientific, she just comes off as the kind of girl I used to steer clear of in high school.
19th-Feb-2010 08:35 pm (UTC)
Forgot to add, that as the result of much reading yesterday, I did learn about the Schappell sisters and found their lives to be interesting. Not carnival fodder though, not the stuff of stereotypes. The contrast between their life and realities seems pretty sharp next to the AFP/WEbley caricature.
19th-Feb-2010 08:47 pm (UTC)
Wow, I can't even wrap my head around this it is so bizarre. I'm going to read the blogs now.
22nd-Feb-2010 09:00 pm (UTC)
Ugh, I hate that Amanda Palmer doesn't seem to stop and think before doing sometimes.

I'm seriously torn about wanting to go to her show in Cambridge anyway, even as I'm upset about this whole controversy, and the way she's handled it. :/ I want to see one of the opening acts.
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