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The Amanda Palmer Conspiracy

Why body politics, culture, and group dynamics make this about more than a couple of volunteer musicians.

Jack Polymath

on 18 September 2012

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Transcript of The Amanda Palmer Conspiracy

Art and Artists Money Love Record Industry Body Politics http://amandapalmer.tumblr.com/post/31502310905/an-open-letter-in-response-to-amy-re-musicians Spectacle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Society_of_the_Spectacle Hate Carnival Gender SEX http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatre_of_the_Oppressed Welcome to the Amanda Palmer Conspiracy:
why body politics, culture, and group dynamics make this about more than a couple of volunteer musicians.
Let’s take a trip through this together. Amanda Palmer’s successful Kickstarter campaign was a departure from the relationship that a lot of music consumers have with the artists they support. The record industry standard of how albums are financed and supported was eschewed and the paradigm for “Theatre is Evil” is not the same as for other albums, yet is being judged from within that framework. This often happens when people create alternative structures and mechanisms for their communication and communities. Spectacle is a passive consumer-provider relationship that serves to meet the emotional needs of an audience without a great deal of personal investment or risk involved.

It’s sort of like a one night stand when you don’t know the other person’s last name and don’t really care. It’s the Roman coliseum type of show, a record industry affair, or Hollywood blockbuster or reality television. Carnival, on the other hand, requires participation of the audience and creates a relationship that is more messy, dangerous, and deep. You enter the carnival experience as an actor in the room, leaving behind your desk job and rent and the drag of your commute for some play time. Which brings us to the naughty bits. The dangerous bits. Powerful women in control of their own bodies are really big triggers for people in our society. Women’s bodies are still a battleground and the sad truth is most people think that the gender wars are over. All of that inequality and sadness and rage are still bottled up as a result and they get triggered when people are invited to engage in the carnival, with all of their selves at the table. Even if you're super cool or even a woman. It's just part of our society and we have to work to confront it in ourselves.

Amanda Palmer is a powerful woman who writes uncomfortable and challenging, deep and ecstatic songs and plays them with a smile, a wink, and a tease. She is a force of nature and her shows are not passive.

I’m not saying that everyone who has an issue with the volunteer musician request is uncomfortable with Amanda Palmer’s projection and embodiment of femininity in the modern world. However the authors of those postings for which the emotional content of their comments does not match the proper intensity of the conversation may want to look into this possibility. I think people assume that if you’re relatively well known or famous that you are stinking rich. Even with the fantastic results of the Kickstarter campaign, Amanda Palmer is not stinking rich. If it was a pyramid scheme and if she didn’t send out the packages or hire people to get them out in time or go on tour or give a crap about the art, well then, she might be on a beach on Bora Bora by now. But she’s not. She’s on a stinking tour bus that will likely break down at least once on her tour with a ton of other people and spending most of her time trying to create community every where she goes. You should really see this film.
It would make the conversation easier to begin. Remember it's a business. Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra request that all concertgoers bring props, dress fancy and glittery, and engage in the shows as part of the carnival rather than as a passive spectator. This type of experience creates community and bonds performers to participants and makes relationships. So… in the carnival art form volunteer musicians are the norm and in spectacle they are an anomaly. People criticizing Amanda Palmer for asking for volunteers were needing more of a re-framing of their view than engaging in a conversation about money or other red herrings. So... the question is: Do we go the way of the Romans, and allow ourselves to be driven into ruin? Imparity, violence, injustice... all of these things are part and parcel of an attraction to spectacle. Or do we choose the enlightenment, the Renaissance, and find some harmony and peace in our world. Creativity, love, passion, community... these are the alpha particles of the carnival. It's actually not about money. Have the people who are writing these comments ever gone on tour?

It's ridiculously expensive. People, when they're not home, have to pay for all sorts of things that non-traveling folk take for granted. And your body takes a ridiculous beating in the process. It's challenging to keep it fun, much less stay healthy and emotionally connected to your loved ones and audience. It's REALLY not about the money, though. Normals Freaks Once a freak, always a freak. Some freaks are vulnerable. Some Normals are bullies. Each type of person has
a role in every group. We have limited control over which role we adopt when we are growing up. Some try to break out of those roles and are able to, through hard work and a lot of love.
When others let them.
Vulnerability makes people easy targets. Amanda Palmer fans are often former/current freaks. Amanda Palmer's work speaks to vulnerability. And claims freakness as power. And talks about sex and rage and power and lust and pain and
revolution and breaking out
of patterns and busting down
walls. A community of abuse
survivors, failed suicides,
lonely hearts, and rebels
is part of the
Amanda Palmer fan base. We have all thrived, are all
here to claim our victory, and
re-write the rules so that
future generations don't have
to suffer like we did. Music and art are our saviors. Amanda Palmer has identified
as one of us as well. The group that is society does not like people
to switch roles that often because it causes change. Individuals are most likely acting on behalf of the group when they reinforce the order of things and are unaware that they are re-victimizing other people. This creates cycles of violence and abuse in families, groups of subcultures, and is often why people re-play the same relationships over and over again in their personal lives. It's unclear whether or not the shifting business paradigm of Amanda Palmer's new record, the red herring of financial success in economically depressed times, the backlash against feminism, or this general meta-societal need to keep the freaks in their place that's triggering all the vitriol in this dialogue. But it can't be simply about a few volunteer musicians on a handful of tour dates. Nothing is that simple. Not when Is in the room. Luckily,
or maybe
by design,
the message
of community,
of hope,
of freedom,
and of
rock and roll
punk cabaret
has resonated
with so many
beautiful souls. And somehow we chose to come together and we're still here to cry and to dance. Our survival will tell our story. And following in our wake... A sonic boom. Dirty wet tissues. Sore throats from singing with all our breath. Sore feet from dancing. GLITTER. Bad hair. and fountains and oceans and mountains of... After all, we're all just part of something A LOT bigger than ourselves. Basically, all artists are whores, all art is owned by everyone but the artist, and the consumers of art have been herded like sheep in modern society. Our tastes have been molded to the convenience of capital and we are generally blind to the power dynamics. When we participate we know what resonates emotionally with us but it's a crap shoot if what we love is actually any good. Another excellent film about the commoditization of entertainment.
This clip is about somewhat of another thing altogether but you should really see this film, if you haven't.
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