1. The Twin Thing
For her latest project, singer/songwriter Palmer has teamed up with folk musician Jason Webley to form "Evelyn Evelyn." The conceit: they pretend to be conjoined twins. A press release claims the "twins" are "conjoined at the side and sharing between them three legs, two arms, two hearts, three lungs, and a single liver," and that Webley and Palmer "discovered" them on MySpace. Disability advocates are not amused. Writes Annaham of FWD/Forward,
The stereotypes about disability here are pretty well-worn: according to this (fictional) backstory, the twins were "discovered by" and need "help" from two abled individuals, Palmer and Webley, to realize their musical potential. Add to this their "inspiring" origin story - which is fodder for a graphic novel tie-in - and you've got yourself one hell of a three-ring circus of disability stereotypes.
Of course, it's possible to play on stereotypes without buying into them, and it would be pretty restrictive to say that abled people should never make art about disabled ones (this would, for instance, rule out the interesting film Twin Falls Idaho). But Annaham makes the pretty compelling point that although Palmer may think her twin project is edgy, "Evelyn Evelyn seems like a project that is far from actually being transgressive, even given the initial appearance of said transgression (because what's more shocking and weird than conjoined twins, at least according to abled culture?)" Which false appearance of edge brings us to ...
2. The Klan Thing
Palmer also raised hackles recently by tweeting (apparently in criticism of Lady Gaga): "ironic product placement is only ok if you take no money & beyond that give all the income to something ironic. like the Klan." Here again the attempt at edgy humor, to which Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown responds better than we could:
I know you're reaching for "outrageous," Amanda, and I know that you're like, "could anything be more outrageous than a group that is responsible for lots of domestic terrorism and also killing folks of color and/or contributing to a cultural context in which folks of color can easily be killed, for funsies? Nope, probably not. SOLID TWEET THERE, AMANDA. GOOD JOB." But, like, you really have to be careful, especially when so many people are listening to you and framing you as some sort of "feminist" "role" "model" because there's a thin line between making a cutting and insightful comment which relies on using offensive language, often to point out the offensiveness of the language itself, and just like BEING OFFENSIVE and trivializing things that ARE ACTUALLY IMPORTANT, and it's a lot easier to cross that line when you're not really FUNNY at all
Lots of people shoot for "provocative" and end up hitting "obnoxious," but here's the final straw:
3. She Pissed Off Courtney Love
Palmer allegedly features Frances Bean Cobain (along with such luminaries as Weird Al Yankovic) on Evelyn Evelyn's self-titled debut album. Palmer says those listening for Cobain's voice will be disappointed: "everybody was just having fun, and there's almost no way to distinguish who's singing what." But Courtney Love is still mad, tweeting, "my daughter has a voice like a unicorn in a dewy dell this isnt it" and "if your not ruthlessly exploiting my child you need to blog NOW." As Wears the Trousers points out, Palmer has actually been pretty gracious about the whole thing. Love may not be the best judge of what her daughter needs (as an actual judge confirmed by issuing a restraining order against Love), and the idea that Palmer was exploiting Cobain just seems paranoid. But if there's going to be a feud here, I'm still Team Courtney, if only because Love's batshittery seems totally genuine. That said, maybe the two could bury the hatchet and form a supergroup (the Dresden Holes?). Palmer might calm Love down a bit, and Love could teach her how outrageousness is really done.
Courtney Slams Palmer For Daughter's "Vocal Debut" [Gothamist]
She Said, She Said: Courtney Love Vs. Amanda Palmer [Wears The Trousers]
Amanda Palmer Freaks Out With Evelyn Evelyn [Wired]
Courtney Love: Damage Limitation [Telegraph]
Your Daily Amanda Palmer Outrage [Tiger Beatdown]
Evelyn Evelyn: Ableism Ableism? [FWD/Forward]
Critics And Hipsters! We Are Proud To Introduce 'Evelyn Evelyn' [Top 40 Charts]
WTF Amanda Palmer? [Pai]