Is There a Spin Dr. in the house? (An Ode to Amanda Palmer)
As Anyone who knows me well might tell you, I am not the hippest kid on the block. (shocking I know)
When it comes to missing the new now next! I am practically the poster child.
Despite the fact that I work in the music industry, I am pretty much constantly missing the bus on all the coolest new shit…. only to be left flapping around in the remains of some fad or trend, or band, just as it’s migrating its way back to the land of used up, or “uncool” in the goggles of pop culture…and also usually just as I am deciding that said thing is the coolest shit ever.
It always surprises people, as I have worked as an indie songwriter and musician for the past 7 years… (which from the outside does seem to put me on the inside) though I rarely am.
I mean, what good is being a starving artist, if you don’t know who the cool bands are before they even have an official name yet. But alas I have never been “That guy”
So, that being said, I wasn’t at all surprised when I discovered the Work of Amanda Palmer 10 years late…and for the first time this year.
Then to discover that this rock goddess who is “new” to me, has been shaking shit up for a very long time.
(I wish I could blame this fact, on the fact that I was homeschooled and raised under a rock in Montana, but I have no good excuses.)
I felt an immediate kinship with Amanda, the way that artists/people sometimes do.
Not quite entering the “It rubs the lotion on its skin” territory, but certainly in the… “Thank god there are other artists out there who ‘get it’” kind of way.
I just felt that “thing”
(Or as Potter Stewart once said….”It’s hard to define, but “I’ll know it when I see it)
Lets just say, I felt a deep kinship, and instant respect for this woman.
I felt of a surge of gratitude that not only was she gaining traction, but her voice was carrying over, and cutting through all the bullshit.
In many ways, it gave me profound hope that perhaps one day my voice, and the voice of other woman would also be heard… and not because some man in an office decided I had permission.
Shortly after I “Found Amanda and her music”
I began posting about Amanda’s music on twitter, posting her songs to my facebook page, and basically telling everyone I know to buy her album… or take a copy of mine, and donate when they are impressed.
Which brings me to last week, when I was on tour in Denmark/Spain.
An acquaintance of mine, following one of my (now frequent) ”Do yourself a favor and listen to ‘The Bed Song’” lectures, responded to the viewing with what I am sure was meant as a support of my career….
“So, she is the new competition eh?”
I was deeply gut irked…followed by pissed off, and it took me more then a few minutes to sort out exactly why.
The First reason was easy.
I really, really, really, really (that’s 4 reallys) do not like that as woman we are told to compete with each other, and size each other up in order to cut each other down, and claw our way to the top.
I personally hold the belief that when someone “wins” especially someone who deserves it, that we all do. Because they are helping pave the way, and making more room for us all.
I believe that we need each other for support, inspiration and solidarity. And yes, I would love nothing more then for men and woman to take this position, and help one another succeed. (a girl can dream)
It’s a big world and it’s hard enough trying to get through the muck, without the narrative of comparison strangling us.
——— A Few years ago, I set up an internal artists collective with the unofficial slogan “Money is a bad reason to not make art” to help promote this ideology. (yes men are welcome too)
The collective was really just an agreement between anyone who wanted to be involved, that we would help each other where, and how we could for the betterment of the artists community.
For me, it often meant shooting free professional photos, videos, or anything else I am able to offer, on a “pay it forward with what you can, when you can, to whoever you can” philosophy.
It was/is incredible to see other artists working their crafts, and getting their work put out. (or as Tenacious D say’s “That’s fucking teamwork!”)
There was zero conflict, or any Tom-fuckery of any kind. Just awesome fellow humans, helping one another rock their shit.—————
The fact that I am being told to feel angry, jealous, and competitive, because a fellow artist is out there producing art, and that their art is actually being seen, and heard, is very frustrating….and ludicrous.
Isn’t that the whole god damn point!! For us to get our art out there?
It’s the same old story we gals have been fed for years, and it is absolute home spun PR Bull. (we’ll get to that in just a second)
As George Carlin once said “It’s Bullshit, and its bad for you.”
I kept reading…
(Ever notice the…. “Shhhh…you are prettier when you don’t talk” vibe? Well, I am starting to feel like this philosophy is not trapped in the archives of your madmen DVD collection.)
After reading what turned out to be 5-6 years worth of articles about Amanda, featuring strong and harsh criticism, hate, general disapproval and “Controversy” over pretty much everything she does/has done in her career, my teeth were set on edge.
(keep in mind this has all been going on for years, and I am just now catching up)
My anger from earlier in the week magically transformed itself into full blown rage, and in an instant it was clear to me why.
… I stewed.
Tonight, my stewing came to a head, as the puzzle pieces climbed together.
After reading some of the comments about this new “incident” where in Which Amanda Palmer called out big media/business….Lady Godiva style.
I climbed out of bed with my husband, and told him, “I love you, but I have to go write and angry blog about feminism now” to which he responded “I’m so sorry funny…*Pause* do it!” (he is a self declared feminist, so he understand these things)
So first things first.
Yes this article is about Feminism.
Please don’t leave.
Despite your likely pejorative take, and feelings about this word, and it’s seemingly negative associations, I encourage you to continue reading.
Because I believe tucked inside the issues, there is something menacing and threatening that should be spoken about. The Big business of PR, and Spin.
For those of you who don’t know, PR Stands for “Public Relations” and is often used as a tool by business, to help companies brand their image to the public. Its how public opinion is swayed.
I noticed many years ago, in college, that feminism had a massive PR issue.
The word itself was constantly being put down, thrown around, and used in many circles as a dirty word, a word that Symbolized something more then equal rights.
If you “believed in woman’s rights” but still wanted to be seen as “Sexy” and “Cool” or just “One of the Guys” it was exceptionally unpopular to identify as a “Feminist” and quite popular to renounce yourself as a feminist and perhaps follow up with something like…
“I am definitely not like THEM, I just believe in equal rights.” “I am just a person, I don’t like labels.”
Which was usually followed with Woman getting no closer to actual equality…. But returning instead to the model of repression most of us are so accustom to, that we barely even notice it anymore.
I have seen my friends, and many prominent celebrities intentionally and proudly declared they are NOT feminists. Considering it “progressive” to be “Above” feminism.
(Hell… there are plenty of Feminists out there, who I would NOT choose to be affiliated with. So I understand the urge.)
The PR was so heavily distributed, and wide spread, that I would hear different woman repeating the same rhetoric, over and over, and in the name of Woman’s interests…
Often following the word feminist with words like “militant” “Angry” “man hating” “lesbian” “whiney” “Demanding” “Immature” “Selfish”
It painted a picture for me of an ugly, lonely, bitter woman scorned…and not something I should aspire to.
Yet when those same woman were asked “Do you believe that woman should be treated as equal to men.” their answer is always a resounding. “Yes, Of Course, yes!”
The Word Feminist has been successfully re-branded, as “Un cool”
Just remember…Big business, PR, and spin.
Repetition also plays a big role.
“If you tell a lie loud enough, and long enough, the people will believe it”
Nothing controls the masses like a long repetitive lie, that feels like the truth, because familiarity often does.
For you to really appreciate the power of PR, and Spin on our opinions as a society, as well as our daily thoughts, I encourage you to go and watch a compelling documentary called “Hot coffee”
“Hot Coffee” covers the McDonalds “Hot coffee” lawsuit that took place in 1994
….I am sure most of you are rolling your eyes as we speak, and remembering how frivolous it was. (when I first heard what it was about, that is exactly what I did…and with a great deal of piety)
The documentary covers all the details of this case.
How the victim, was horrifically burned by McDonalds coffee, and how McDonalds spent big bucks to paint the victim, by the media as a “Whiney, money grubbing, Litigious, and an attention, fame seeking, leach, who was trying to exploit the legal system to capitalize on a ‘Minor’ incident, that was “Her fault”
The Vitim was 79, here is a photo os her “Frivolous” 3rd degree burns. (which required Skin Graphs)
McDonalds poured Thousands, upon thousands of dollars into their narrative… their fiction, their “Spin” … so that the nation would convict the victim by way of public opinion, before they had to spend BIG dollars damages in court, and damage their reputation.
(it’s noteworthy that the victim in question originally didn’t plan to Sue, just asked that the “Hot coffee” machine be replaced at that location…Her and her family were continuously dodged and ignored)
When I first saw this documentary my stomach dropped.
I had believed their bullshit.
Me…the free thinker. Hook, line and sinker.
I recall discussing the incident when it happened, and remember saying things like “Yeah, its so gross when people don’t take some personal responsibility.”
I bought it.
And after I saw how much work and money went into making SURE I bought it…I felt ashamed and disappointed in myself for being duped, just the way they wanted me to be.
Their narrative played right into my own need to be one of the good guys… my desire for superiority over others, and my desire to be a “better” and “good person”
It also made me feel I had found this opinion about the “McDonalds Coffee” incident, on my own…like I had drawn my own conclusions based on facts…when in fact, it was a story, based on “Spin”
I believed I was thinking for myself.
I was wrong.
So off we go down the rabbit hole.
When Reading about all these “Terrible” things that Amanda Palmer has “done” I couldn’t help but noticing a pattern.
Bellow are a list of the top things Amanda Palmer has been criticized for.
Anyone else noticing a pattern?
These tactics are used constantly by Media outlets, PR, and SPIN, to convince you that “this” (insert the victim of the day) is not the thing to support…and that its their fault. Hang them by public opinion.
How is it that this tried and true method of branding someone or something, as “Uncool” and “Untouchable” is so easily accepted by us? That we think its coming from us?
That so many people (sometimes myself included) just want to distance ourselves from the negative brand association?
"I am not like that" …we hear ourselves saying. “I am one of the good ones"
Another thing I noticed is that the rebranding of Amanda Palmer started shortly after she was released from her label contract, and Big business was no longer making money off of her…quite the opposite, they were very threatened by her “New model” of making music, which didn’t include them or their bottom line at all.
I feel it is important that clarify here, that I am not “Anti Label” by any means.
How you choose to acquire help, and propel your career forward is a personal choice.
The right Label help, can be, and often is the right choice for many artists.
(possibly even for myself one day…we’ll see.)
But it certainly isn’t our only choice, and it certainly isn’t for everyone.
The fact remains however, that once big business can’t profit off of you, and or sees you as competition, they want you signed, or they want you to go away.
Now, I am not a conspiracy theorist by any means…but I am also far from stupid.
When a pattern emerges…and it turns out to be a spade…I am going to call it a spade.
"Fool me twice, shame on me”
Big Business knows what buttons to push to create negative Spin about someone. (keep in mind that when I say “Big Business” what I am really talking about is a group of very smart, very talented people, ferociously protecting their own self interests)
And when you are just doing you, authentically, without trying to polish yourself for the masses, it can make you even more vulnerable to their abuses. Because context in life, is everything, and the media has a way of eliminating it.
They know how to take the truth and spin it in their favor, they have been doing it for as long as media has existed.
But as Amanda herself says “We are The media”
It’s a new era, and we can change this!
First however, we have to acknowledge the Spin as what it is…a good old fashion lie.
We have to call this out for what it is, and its doesn’t have our interests at heart.
(and yes, this method is being used to repress half of you, and make you think it is your idea)
A Yale study found that biases against woman were consistently present in both men AND woman.
“Both male and female science faculty members were more likely to rate the male candidate as very competent, were more likely to hire him and rate him as worthy of their mentorship and paid him an average of $4,000 more than the identical female applicant, the study found.”
Men who stand up for themselves, and their work, are considered confident, intelligent, and in control of the situation.
Woman who do literally the exact same thing with the exact same language are branded as Emotional, hot headed, difficult to work with, not qualified and bitchy.
What more obvious double standard could their be?
Do people hatefully, and aggressively call David Bowie, McJagger, or any other male Rock star figure,
The answer. No…and especially not on the level we see when its a woman.
We are undercut at any opportunity.
I can think of at least 10 front woman who receive every form of possible criticism from “She’s just a dumb beautiful prop” to an “Ugly, fat, man hating feminist”
The “She” figure is ripped apart for just about everything. Though often the last thing to be examined is the art itself, or content being produced.
If they stand up for themselves, they are rebranded as whiney, and Fame hungry, and ungrateful, and called loud mouthed or insecure.
Pointing out injustice, and inequality does not make you a radical, or a femnazi. It makes you perceptive, and it gives your power back. The power of Choice.
I want to see this cycle end.
I want it to end with us. (For real.)
I want people to be talking about this, with the respect of a current problem, instead of pretending that we are “cool, and over it”
Remember that Spin kept people believing that woman were not smart enough to vote…until we stood up to the lie.
I want us to start really looking at our outlooks with critical eyes.
To stop believing the spin that is fed to us.
Because the only people who really benefit from us believing the Spin is big business,(1.5%) of which are female CEOs
1.5% (just wanted that to sink in)
We may want to be at the magical place in history where equality exists for real…but we have a lot of work to do.
Until we finish the conversation that began with Woman’s lib, we are destined to keep reliving this pattern in a strange fucked up loop.
In which we as woman are held to different standards (both for beauty and intellect) in an intentional attempt to keep us believing we have a choice, their choice. The choice to play by their rules, or fail.
But we do have a choice. A real choice.
We can choose to stop playing the game.
We can support each other. We can call out the bullshit brigade without shame of rebranding, and isolation.
Even if they do call us “fat, and ugly”
We can stand up for ourselves, and call out hypocrisy, and double standards, and know that we are fighting for true choice, and true equality.
old fashion whoring
Can only effect us if we let it.
We can know in our hearts that we have control over the way this shit show ends.
That if we all choose not to play, then the game falls apart…and a new path is created. One that allows us a true choice.
To be ourselves in every possible way…
(which includes us fucking it up sometimes)
I want to get to true equality…so we can to get back to judging, criticizing, and shaming one another as people…like god intended.
last night @neilhimself and i got into a heated debate at a celebratory birthday dinner party at a friends house. i kept insisting that everything that motivates human beings stems from a deep-seated need to feel safe.
then i accidentally punched him in the nose.
it was really funny.
#PassionateGesticulating #Marriage #Humans #Irony
Possibly slightly less funny if you were the one with your nose wrapped in ice. But still funny.
I love the hell out of her.