Dear Amanda Palmer,
Hi. I’m someone who was only very recently exposed to your music (in the form of “Who Killed Amanda Palmer”, on the recommendation of several friends). I liked the album a lot, and it was actually kind of taking over my listening rotation for a while there.
Unfortunately, then came this Evelyn Evelyn thing. And now I am, quite frankly, a little uncomfortable about supporting you. (I was leery about the Katy Perry thing a while back, but I–foolishly, perhaps–thought it may have been a one-off miscalculation on your part).
First thing’s first. Evelyn Evelyn is definitely an ableist project. I know you’ve heard that from a million people already and seem to have been able to dismiss it, but on the off chance I might get through, I’ll reiterate: Evelyn Evelyn is you and Jason Webley appropriating the lived experience of people with disabilities. It is you exploiting tropes of PWD as childlike or alien. It is you making light of childhood sexual assault, by including it as incidental detail in a backstory, without (it appears to me) any effort to actually engage with the larger issues surrounding it. All of this is problematic.
But you know? Maybe I could have still liked your music. The death knell for me wasn’t the ableism (although that was a huge blow). It was how you responded to criticism of the same. Look, we all make mistakes–I’ve fucked up in some pretty ableist ways, and I’m pretty sure everyone else on the planet has too, including people with disabilities. We’re only human.
But you know what you do when you make a mistake? You own up to it. You say “something I did hurt people, and I need to set that right”, and you actually make an effort to do so.
You do not ignore your critics. You do not make light of their lived experience. You especially do not do these things and then turn around and say you “love thoughtful criticism“, because that is exactly what a great number of people have been offering, and what you have refused to respect.
Yes, some of those people have been angry. But you know what? They have a right to be. You have made a big mistake, and you have refused to own up to that fact. Their anger does not dismiss the validity of their arguments, which is significant. Perhaps some people are “screaming ‘FUCK YOU’ on repeat“, as you accuse us all of doing. But that’s not what I’ve seen. I’ve seen justifiably angry people objecting to something they feel is wrong, clearly and articulately. Many of these people are or were fans of yours, and you’ve let them down. Not by the Evelyn Evelyn project itself–it is your right to create the art you wish to create, regardless of what other people say–but by your refusal to engage with legitimate criticisms of it. These criticisms are offered by people who respect(ed) you. And they don’t deserve to be shoved aside.