As a fan of Amanda Palmer, I’ve noticed that it’s pretty much impossible for someone to mention her without getting a million negative comments about how she’s racist, transphobic, ableist (I didn’t even know that was a word before this), and makes rape jokes. Here’s a case in point, from Tumblr. I wrote before about the charge of racism against her, which I still don’t see as racist. I’m well aware that a lot of people would have found it not at all funny, but that’s hardly the same thing. If she ACTUALLY supported giving money to the Ku Klux Klan, then there wouldn’t be any irony, right? I do think there are a lot of punchlines she could have used that would have made the same point without bringing up racism at all. That Amanda tends to go for what she considers edgy over what has actual humor value is something I’ll totally agree with, but I don’t feel that makes her racist. The charge of transphobia relates to the lyrics of one song, and I think that can be chalked up to the unreliable narrator. And some people say she cares more about attention than anything else, which places her in the same category as EVERY CELEBRITY ON EARTH.
The Evelyn Evelyn thing is an issue I can see from multiple sides. When I first heard about the idea, I thought it sounded terrible. Other people I know said they liked the album, though, and I eventually picked it up in a used record store. I enjoyed it, and I think the story behind it came off as so absurd that I couldn’t really take it seriously on any level. This, however, is going just from the album. I didn’t see any of the live shows, in which she and Jason Webley actually dressed up as conjoined twins, which strikes me as considerably higher on the potential offense scale. There’s also at least one clip that has her laughing off disabled feminists for no apparent reason. And the rape joke is described and shown here. So, yes, I can totally see why people might find her offensive. On a personal level, I think I’m a bit inclined to defend her simply because I like her music and think she comes across as gracious to her fans. I try to separate the artist from the art, but it’s not always possible. I was thinking about this from my perspective, and how eager I was to join the people calling out John Mayer for his racism. I never liked Mayer’s music even before I had any clue what he was like as a person, so it isn’t like I had to stop liking him. That’s not to say that I don’t think there’s a big difference between Mayer’s and Palmer’s comments, just that I’ll acknowledge I might not be the most impartial judge. On a lighter note, it might be time for her to stop with the drawn-on eyebrows and the bit about her middle name being “Fucking.” Yeah, I know Ben Folds came up with that latter item, but even Ben’s jokes can get old.