Thursday, March 4, 2010

A response to the drama surrounding Evelyn Evelyn

Before reading, understand that I do believe in the core ideals of equality between the sexes and that disabled advocacy are important things. What pisses me off here is the hyperbole, proportion and drama presented.

Okay, so in my absence, some drama broke out over the existence of Evelyn Evelyn, an Amanda Palmer project. Now, I am really excited about this album but if there's anything I'm not excited about, it's the drama surrounding it. What drama, you may ask? Well check this out:

Sheesh, where do I begin?

Now personally, I hate internet drama. I had my fill of it as a younger man and have no real desire for more but you know what? As someone who creates characters  if not for a living yet then in general, I'm going to add my two cents to the swear jar here.

If you look at the hyper-offended hyperbole (yes, that's what it is), the issue is now that Amanda laughed at off colour jokes. Is it because she compared the blazing internet hatred over a story, granted a story told rather bluntly and indelicately to getting nailed to a chunk of wood, a torturous method of killing someone via slow strangulation? Considering it was once a common practice and Jesus wasn't the only one who happened to die that way, she's not comparing herself to Jesus but stating that it was torture. At least, that's how I saw it. Laughing at shocking things? Laughing at things that are taboo instead of immediately going stonefaced and angry? Oh that's a bloody crime on the internet. Actually no, it's not just a bloody crime on the internet.

I used to volunteer at the GLBT Centre at university. I have met people from many different backgrounds. I have met walking stereotypes, I have met really quiet, timid lesbian furries, I met a couple of neato guys in motorized wheelchairs. Of course, I met very angry feminists who wanted to constantly dominate the conversation, to point out every single detail that offended them. There was no reasoning, there was no placating, there was only their ego and a massive push to be constantly right, I mean correct. Personally, I felt in their quest for putting the world to rights, I couldn't say what was on my mind and have it considered a valid opinion because I am a male, a gay male, but a male. Apparently the penis has no credibility. I heard enough snarky comments about men to know that it had nothing to do with equality or championing those who could not or would not themselves, but with enforcing a specific viewpoint and only that viewpoint. This sort of behaviour is at worst demagogic and at best just being an asshole. It means fear. It's the same shit right wing pundits pull out of their asses.

These days, the words "I'm offended" pretty much get you what you want, whether that's people who agree with you, blog hits, or censorship of art. So you know what? I'm offended that you compare able bodied persons to white supremacists for no other reason that they laughed at a joke that was funny. I'm offended that people have decided to take an artist to task over her creation's existence because she was so blunt about it. Why the flying fuck shouldn't she be? Why can't the story be indelicate and blunt? Why does every disabled female character created by a woman have to be a source of strength and inspiration from the get go instead of actually building to it in a character arc? And why is context ignored?

Because someone said "I'm offended". Of course, the overuse of these words has rendered any very vocal minority an unfunny joke. It's left the current wave of feminism a comedy bit, a 'girl who cried wolf' which demeans the origins and importance of the movement. "You're constantly offended, what else is fucking new?"

If I were to create a lesbian character with a hook for a hand who has a history of sexual abuse, is blunt about it and occasionally reverts to a child when facing stressful situations, does that suddenly make me a terrible person?

No it doesn't. Would it offend people? Probably, and some of the offended can be reasoned with, some of the offended will not bother and go about their daily lives, and some will scream blue bloody murder at the injustice I've committed. It is not my job, nor is it anyone else beyond your parents and even then that's not always the case, to coddle you and make you happy. My job is to make music, to write stories and paint pictures that hopefully cause a reaction, a discussion, and ultimately a connection.

Instead of just brushing it the fuck off, the artists involved posted apologies and explanations and other things (see they shouldn't have had to do because some asshole decided to say "I'm offended" and these are, of course, not bothered with because at this point, "I'm offended" means never having to listen when someone says they are sorry and explains their motives. And now the offended train rolls again because the artist in question laughed first at an off the cuff, middle school joke about the logistics of conjoined twins fucking, by referring to this excessive drama as a means of torture which, by the way, it is, and then laughed at a play on words that was actually kind of funny. Crude? Yes but funny because they were crude, because it was taboo, because it was meant to shock and get a laugh. After the stress this put her under, I don't blame her for laughing but applaud her for it.

I'm no stranger to offensive jokes, by the way. I'm a fat, gay guy. I get the fatty-fall-down-go-boom jokes, as well as every faggot joke under the sun. However, I've learned to distinguish between insider humour and outsider humour. I find John Belushi's physical comedy absolutely hilarious. Remember when GLAAD was all up in Kevin Smith's shit because of Chasing Amy? It was the sudden shock of a hetero filmmaker making insider humour jokes. Guess what? His brother is gay, he had to learn the insider humour somewhere. Amanda Palmer is in a similar position with Evelyn Evelyn because the bluntness comes from insider humour learned from her step brother as was mentioned in her Evelyn Evelyn Drama Drama blog post which you can read at . My two best friends will refer to themselves as "cripple" and "gimpy" as is their right to do so, and I've learned some pretty awesome jokes from them. I've learned that noone has darker AIDS jokes than people living with HIV and AIDS. Finally, I've learned that sometimes it is quite allright to just fucking laugh. Music is not the only universal language, humour is another one... followed by Python.

Alo, might I add that this whole shitstorm came about as the result of an album? A fucking album. Not just that but a fucking concept album that ends with, I'll assume from other related posts, the characters of Evelyn and Evelyn finding happiness and confidence. It's a throwback to sideshow circus freaks, two part harmonies and Tin Pan Alley style songcraft from what I've heard and I think it's awesome. I think anyone who liked the show Carnivale or the book Geek Love or Todd Browning's Freaks or old vaudeville acts should give it a listen and look at it from that perspective.

And if you still want to be offended, I humbly point you to this:

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