Offensiveness Week – Exhibit A: Amanda Palmer

Welcome to Monday, and the first exhibit in this week of blogs. If you don’t know what’s going on, read this short introduction.

Today’s discussion is all about a music video that was released last week by Amanda Palmer, of Dresden Dolls and wife-of-Neil-Gaiman fame. She’s also an amazing musician in her own right, and in September she is releasing her new album “Theatre Is Evil” with her friends at The Grand Theft Orchestra; She’s been releasing a couple of tracks from the album, and this video was for one of them: Want It Back.

Here it is; I’d urge you to watch it, since it’s kind of the reason I’m blogging today.

(warning: the video contains some nudity, which is pretty much the point of this blog)

Good, innit? It’s all stop-motion, and the art is beautiful, and I fall for any kind of typography so easily, and the song is amazing, and…ahh. I like it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t, because that’s not the topic at hand today. The topic at hand is, as should now be clear, nudity. Amanda spends a great deal of this video naked, as the lyrics to the song scribble themselves all over her body.

This has caused a mild furore within the Youtube comments of the video (I won’t sensationalise it, because the nature of these taboos will escalate as the week goes on, and I guess this is the least controversial), with many people criticising her for it for various reasons. Let’s delve into the comments and pick some of the criticisms at random.

Like everything else she’s done but without the imagination and depth of the old days. I suppose they figured a bit of full frontal nudity might compensate but that’s part of [her] character, we all knew she’d get her gear off one day…I call it, The Empress clearly doesn’t have any clothes.

That comment was written by “livepuppies“, apparently. Okay then, “livepuppies”, let’s get a couple of things straight. Firstly, you lost this argument the second you said it wasn’t as good as “the old days”. But secondly, and more importantly, this is not a gimmick. And here’s why: this is not a new thing for Amanda Palmer. She gets naked pretty much all the time. However, it’s not in any way the only thing that stands her out; when someone says to me “Amanda Palmer”, I do not think “Oh, yeah, the naked woman”, I think “Oh, the incredibly talented and unique musician/singer? Yeah, I know her”.

Nobody loves Amanda Palmer because she takes off her clothes lots; it’s not porn. And speaking of which…

Those 1 million dollars were all sent to a scam in the facade of real art. You are all uneducated fools who can’t grasp the true meaning of art and thus must sit around on youtube all day looking at pornography disguised as art.

That little gem comes from the ray of sunshine that is “McGerkey”. For the sake of context; Amanda crowdsourced this album with Kickstarter, offering rewards to those that donated to it. I gave five dollars, and in the end she raised over a million dollars, which is absolutely staggering. So that’s what he means by the “scam”. He then goes on to insult every single person who watched this video and who will ever watch this video. Yaaay.

Alright then. This video is not, in any way, pornographic. Whether it’s art or not is debatable, but only because people insist on debating the validity of every single piece of art in the whole godamn world: “Can modern art be art? Is Youtube art? Are videogames art?” Yes. Shut up. Anyway, it’s pretty clearly not a pornographic film. That’s not to say Amanda Palmer’s not attractive; she’s actually quite pretty, imho. But this video is not designed in any way to be arousing, or you wouldn’t have the other random guys in it (being the other members of the Grand Theft Orchestra, that is), and you wouldn’t have the awesome spiralling flowers during the instrumental.

Finally, this last note from Youtube user “Randimony“:

Even from a simple stylistic perspective this video wouldn’t really work without nudity in some form. How do you paint and animate on skin if it is covered?

To which I can only agree. Throughout this blog I kept debunking FALSE reasons why she was nude, so I can imagine you might have been wondering “Well, what’s the real reason?”. And as well as it being a symbol of the vulnerability of the narrator of the song’s story, it just would not work stylistically.

So, that’s that covered: it’s not a gimmick, it’s not pornographic, and it’s not frivolous. What it is, though, is a really original music video for a fantastic song by an awesome artist. I would urge you to pre-order “Theatre Is Evil” before September 11, its release date, for as little as one dollar. That is sixty-five pee in pound sterling: pretty incredible, really. Here’s the link.

I hope you enjoyed Exhibit A of Offensiveness Week: tomorrow we cover language and racism in Exhibit B. I’m going to ask you a teaser question to get you thinking: What do you imagine is the sign language way to say “China”?

See you tomorrow for the answer, and more ruminations on taboo.

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4 thoughts on “Offensiveness Week – Exhibit A: Amanda Palmer

  1. Good for you! The video is nice. Pity Amanda Palmer is ableist, racist, transphobic and cissexist. Oh well, can’t have everything.

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