Amanda Palmer doesn't impress me. She never has. And while I've never bought into her exhaustingly whimsical pro-artist nonsense that's actually really self-serving and obnoxious, I've also never felt the need to physically recoil at anything she's done. Until now. Until reading her "A Poem of Dzhokhar," where she writes:
you don’t know how many vietnamese soft rolls to order.
you don’t know how convinced your parents were that having children would be, absolutely, without question, the correct thing to do.
you don’t know how precious your iphone battery time was until you’re hiding in the bottom of the boat.
you don’t know how to get away from your fucking parents.
you don’t know how it’s possible to feel total compassion in one moment and total disconnection in the next moment.
you don’t know how things could change so incredibly fast.
you don’t know how to make something, but the instructions are on the internet.
You can read the whole thing here. But, be warned—if you don't like it (and many people don't) that's not Palmer's fault. That's your own inability to see what the poem is really about. And her response to that criticism is what makes it all the more awful:
now that everybody's panties are in a twist, i'd like to say: the poem is actually about more than you think it is. read it again. — Amanda Palmer (@amandapalmer) April 21, 2013
Why is this poem so terrible? Besides the fact that is just really bad? Gawker sums it up pretty well (for once):
"A Poem for Dzhokhar" is not, really, "for" Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old college kid who, along with his older brother, allegedly detonated a bomb at the Boston Marathon last week. It's for Palmer, a deluded and opportunistic narcissist who sells rhetorical snake oil to people too full of unearned self-regard to join an actual cult.
It's fake empathy. It's shallow and insulting and, it reads with an air of ego that insinuates that Amanda Palmer does know these things, or, at the very least she understands and empathizes with Dzhokhar for not knowing. But she doesn't. She knows shit about Dzhokhar and his parents and why he was born or why he did what he did and how he was feeling through even the most mundane points of his life. It's just gross.
Thank god for Maura Johnston, though, who calmed my anger when she started the "You Don't Know" Twitter trend last night, keeping me entertained for hours. Silver lining, I guess.
you don't know how to trust a big butt and a smile. — maura johnston (@maura) April 22, 2013