Line Out Music & the City at Night

Monday, April 22, 2013

You Don't Know Either, Amanda Palmer

Posted by on Mon, Apr 22, 2013 at 12:49 PM

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:

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.


Comments (57) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Maura, where is your hashtag?
Posted by GregBem on April 22, 2013 at 1:20 PM · Report this
I have always thought she was crap but figured I was the only one. We saw here a bunch of years ago as part of a music and comedy review in Boston along with Reggie Watt - she was impressive (but then she was only on the stage for 20 minutes). We went to see her at the Showbox and left half way though when she went into her second rant about the lack of audience appreciation and people not paying artists enough. Nothing she does interests me any more.
Posted by tshicks on April 22, 2013 at 1:24 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 3
Artists are awful, and Poets are the worst of them.
Posted by MacCrocodile on April 22, 2013 at 1:33 PM · Report this
s.maxim 4
I wish I could forget knowing who she is. I also wish I could get back the time wasted watching her tedtalk.
Posted by s.maxim on April 22, 2013 at 1:51 PM · Report this
So if the entire thing is a self-serving sham, why are you getting so worked up about it? Why is anyone? I have to wonder about the people who let themselves get so angry at what this woman does - she's trying to be famous and make money, like, literally thousands upon thousands of other people are doing. If I see a bunch of mosquitoes hovering over a pond, I don't pick out one mosquito and say, 'look at that fucker, thinking he's so cool and buzzing all over the place. Fuck him.' They're mosquitoes. What else do they do but buzz?
Posted by johnjjeeves on April 22, 2013 at 2:06 PM · Report this
I always know how many Vietnamese soft rolls to order.
Posted by JTContinental on April 22, 2013 at 2:19 PM · Report this
I was excited about and a fan of Amanda Palmer for about a month. Her grating personality got that old that quickly.
Posted by treehugger on April 22, 2013 at 2:25 PM · Report this
CC-Rob 8
I am trying to figure out what is dumber: This slog/Line Out post or Palmer's poem.
Posted by CC-Rob on April 22, 2013 at 2:27 PM · Report this
Alicia 9
Polish poet/Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska wrote a poem about a bomber many years ago, and it's brilliant:…
Posted by Alicia on April 22, 2013 at 2:34 PM · Report this
Megan Seling 10
@8 If this post rubs you the wrong way, it's about more than you think it is. Read it again.
Posted by Megan Seling on April 22, 2013 at 2:38 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 11
Plenty of persons try to make sense of tragedy. I don't think she was trying to troll, and the Twitterverse apparently hates her with a passion. I'm more of a fan of her music than I am her speeches, I suppose.
Posted by undead ayn rand on April 22, 2013 at 2:40 PM · Report this
r.chops 12
The artist always has the defense, "you don't get it."

The worse defense was one an insufferable creative writing classmate of mine had, which "that's what I intended--I have therefore succeeded."

As in,
"That character was really inconsistent" -- "Good, I meant for her to be inconsistent."
"But you couldn't even keep the tense straight"--"That was a purposeful device of mine, glad you noticed"
"But it made the story not just difficult read, or to appreciate, it really made the author to come off as pretty stupid"--"Ah, excellent--that's just what I was going for. I wanted the author to be part of the experience, and if you were annoyed by the author's stupidity, I feel I have succeeded in my effort to get a visceral response out of the reader."
"Oh, for fuck's sake"--"See? There you go!"
Posted by r.chops on April 22, 2013 at 2:41 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 13
@10: ~snicker~
Posted by undead ayn rand on April 22, 2013 at 2:46 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 14
@12 - Yeah, I've met that writer in one form or another. Another favorite was the guy who literally didn't understand any kind of allusion or metaphor or... well, anything. The guy was an idiot, and he expected every writer he read to bring it down to his level.

"I didn't really get this part," he would say, underlining almost the entire piece, "Maybe you could make this clearer."
Posted by MacCrocodile on April 22, 2013 at 2:49 PM · Report this
Womyn2me 15
It's so easy to just declare 'he's evil incarnate' and by making that judgement, satisfy your desire for vengence later when he is declared guilty or executed. and with only him to punish for the crimes of his brother, I image it will be full on life for life, right out of the Old Testament.

But he once was a boy who played, he once was a student who succeeded, he once was a 19 year old guy who couldnt figure life out and by trying something that made sense in his idiot adolescent mind, led him to killing people. He was a dumbass guy who followed the wrong leader.
I do feel sorry for him. His life is ruined, probably with a specific and horrific end that people will say is justified by his crime.

I dont think he should be out of prison, but I do have compassion for the bad things that will happen to him between now and his inevitable death.

but poetry, yeah, man, I actually kind of liked that one.
Posted by Womyn2me http://http:\\ on April 22, 2013 at 3:39 PM · Report this
I like her. Just saying so in the 30 seconds I have to spare before moving on.
Posted by alion on April 22, 2013 at 3:53 PM · Report this
LEE. 17
"a deluded and opportunistic narcissist who sells rhetorical snake oil to people too full of unearned self-regard to join an actual cult."

uff da! that really cuts to the core of all this. I remember once seeing a teenage girl during the height of Dresden Dolls popularity with "PUNK CABARET IS FREEDOM!!!" boldly written on her backpack. I'm not one to sneer at the adolescent penchant for overt sloganeering as my clothes and bookbags were covered in Crass lyrics when I was 15, but what the fuck does that even mean? it's not a message, it's not even propaganda. it's more of "SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE". the statement itself is an empty non-sequitur that impressionable people somehow found empowering. how?? and the above quote finally sums up what I've felt about that moment and plenty of others since that revolved around Amanda Palmer.
Posted by LEE. on April 22, 2013 at 3:53 PM · Report this
lemonde 18
you don't know how to read a poem lightheartedly
Posted by lemonde on April 22, 2013 at 4:06 PM · Report this
Baby Blue 19
I'm going to take some deep breaths and accept that we all deal with tragedy and grief in our own ways.

Long live AFP!
Posted by Baby Blue on April 22, 2013 at 4:14 PM · Report this
Amanda Palmer is Westboro Baptist: no matter how many times or how much people are beseeched to pay no mind, someone always manages to throw a little publicity their way.

Fuck her and her insufferable eyebrows.
Posted by riot gorl on April 22, 2013 at 5:12 PM · Report this
delirian 21
So Megan Seling also joins the kneejerk reaction to this poem. My suggestion to Megan is to think about the company she keeps right now. Why does she think this poem needs not only to be disliked, but to be angrily denounced? How did Palmer's words become so harmful and dangerous that she needed someone to "calm my anger"? Did Palmer support terrorism and murder? No. Oh, wait, she humanized a person that Seling and company can only think of as a 'thing'. Everybody is supposed to hate this 'thing' and if you don't, then you are off script and need to be corrected, lest you face the mob's anger.
Posted by delirian on April 22, 2013 at 5:58 PM · Report this
And fuck her fan base.
Posted by riot gorl on April 22, 2013 at 7:05 PM · Report this
CC-Rob 23
@10 I re-read it and still think it's dumb.
Posted by CC-Rob on April 22, 2013 at 7:12 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 24
@ 21, Megan's denouncing a twee crap poem because it's twee crap. There's nothing about this post supporting your notion that she's upset at Palmer's "humanizing" of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

If you don't think it's twee crap, that's great, but beware of your own kneejerk reaction to this poem's critics.
Posted by Matt from Denver on April 22, 2013 at 7:12 PM · Report this
delirian 25
@24: Nobody gets angry or offended by crap. If the poem were just crap, the Line Out post would be at most 2 sentences, if there was a post at all. The problem is that Palmer's poem offended Megan Seling, and you are being disingenuous by trying to claim otherwise.
Posted by delirian on April 22, 2013 at 7:34 PM · Report this
sheiler 26
Neil Gaiman is the only reason why I gave Palmer 10 extra seconds of my life (ok now it's a total of 30 seconds).
Posted by sheiler on April 22, 2013 at 8:16 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 27
@ 25, Megan explains exactly what rubs her the wrong way.

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.

You're right - she's offended. I shouldn't have attributed my own reaction to this poem to Megan. But you know what's disingenuous? Claiming - without anything to support it - that you know that her reasons for being offended are, and that it's something other than what Megan said. You drew that out of thin air.

I will conclude with an aside. It is possible to be offended by crap. When said crap is being peddled by someone who is famous but not particularly talented in their field, crap is offensive because of the many talented other artists who are neglected because people are dazzled more by fame. These famous artists don't even try, and are rewarded while truly talented and original people languish in obscurity, mostly because they can't bullshit the way others can.
Posted by Matt from Denver on April 22, 2013 at 8:19 PM · Report this
I don't want to speak for Megan's outrage, but since you are asking, I'll offer my own, Delirian.

I find the poem offensive because it does *not* do the thing that you are claiming it does- it does not humanize Dzhokar- it attempts to speak for him, and in a way that is incredibly off putting, and ultimately just points the finger back at Amanda Palmer. As humans who collectively experienced (at a once or twice remove, depending on who you are on this thread) something horrific, and are still processing it, it's off putting and offensive to have a public figure (which, you know, is the sort of result of being a successful artist- she is a public figure) take all of that awfulness and then just turn the spotlight on themselves. "Wait, wait, see how provacative and risque I'm being!" is what comes across from this poem. Whether that's because of clumsy artistry or that's the intent, it's still really annoying and not really useful. And, honestly, a lot of crap is offensive because it's crap. Seriously, people devote their lives to dissecting other's artistic output based on the metric of "is this crap or not".

I agree with you that it is paramount to remember the humanity of Dzhokar. You can hold that position and also hold that this poem is crap.

Posted by Kumquat on April 22, 2013 at 8:23 PM · Report this
Or I guess what Matt from Denver said.
Posted by Kumquat on April 22, 2013 at 8:27 PM · Report this
delirian 30
@27: Fake or real empathy doesn't matter here. What matters is that empathy was shown to a person the mobs have declared doesn't deserve empathy. Calling it 'fake' is just a way of twisting the knife to make it look like she is not only a vile person for empathizing with a 'thing' but also trying to promote herself with it. Citing Gawker on this is the final blow. Megan Seling has basically cited the raving mobs and is using their justification. Citing Gawker on Amanda Palmer is like citing Fox News on Obama.
Posted by delirian on April 22, 2013 at 8:27 PM · Report this
delirian 31
@28: I agree that the poem is crap. It doesn't offend me. What does offend me is the outrage over this poem spurned on by Gawker and reddit. They are launching a witchhunt because she empathized with the enemy. And the whirlwind they have created is catching decent people with it.
Posted by delirian on April 22, 2013 at 8:30 PM · Report this
Well, again, I feel empathy for Dzhokar and I feel grossed out by Amanda's poem. Somehow, I don't feel I'm giving into mob mentality over this one, and I don't feel like I'm betraying my empathy for Dzhokar and his brother over not liking this particular poem. In fact, I'd say not liking this poem is pretty incidental to my response to anything that happened in Boston.
Posted by Kumquat on April 22, 2013 at 8:33 PM · Report this
delirian 33
Correction: not reddit. I don't know why that popped into my mind. It is Gawker and Buzzfeed.
Posted by delirian on April 22, 2013 at 8:34 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 34
It is never a bad time to point out that the far more talented and interesting member of the Dresden Dolls is not married to Neil Gaiman, does not run internet beg-a-thons for the charity of himself, and therefore could probably stand to have you attend his shows and buy his albums.

In re Amanda Palmer: don't feed the trolls.
Posted by Doctor Memory on April 22, 2013 at 8:34 PM · Report this
Megan should probably hang out w/ Laura Palmer instead, next time.

You fear becoming like her (whatever she may symbolize to you); that's why you hate her, Meggs.
Posted by hey on April 22, 2013 at 8:50 PM · Report this
I'm not going to bother reading the poem because Amanda Palmer is super boring, but the excerpted part makes it look like perpetual drama whore AFP is just trying to shock people to drum up controversy. Big fucking surprise. The only thing to be angry about here is how tiresome her schtick is and how bored I am of hearing about her controversies.
Posted by beef rallard on April 22, 2013 at 9:05 PM · Report this
sprflycat 37
Haters gonna hate.
Posted by sprflycat on April 22, 2013 at 9:42 PM · Report this
Good poetry takes time - this is a reaction to something that happened a week ago. Even good writers who have spent their lives honing their wordcraft would be hard pressed to spin out a decent poem this soon after an event that stirs up a lot of confusion and emotions. Amanda Palmer is a musician and stage artist first, not a writer.

Even if the empathy seems fake, it may be genuinely what she's feeling. You're entitled to have your own feelings. Presumably, Megan, you have written your own poem which is SO MUCH BETTER, since you feel entitled to rip Palmer's work apart?
Posted by malwae on April 22, 2013 at 11:44 PM · Report this
amanda palmer is a pathological narcissist and her fans are one step away from being hot topic customers (and they WERE 7 years ago). anybody can write a bad poem and get all defensive about it when people point out that it's bad. she just happened to be a person who wrote a bad poem who also has a well-documented history of being as obnoxious a person as her art is shallow.
Posted by A Fucking Wizard on April 23, 2013 at 1:40 AM · Report this
@38 and in defense of megan, "where's your great work of art" is a tired cliche invoked by the desperate and insecure. if i were to serve you a shit casserole, i hardly think you'd find me responding with "oh yeah, where's your casserole? obviously this is great!" to be reasonable. responding to art and creating it are by no means the same thing. this is why we have different branches of universities for "art" and "art criticism." really elementary stuff here.
Posted by A Fucking Wizard on April 23, 2013 at 1:45 AM · Report this
@ 40 - Absolutely that would be a reasonable arguement - if I can't cook I had better not rip you for not being a great cook. And I don't buy the appeal to authority fallacy. Just because universities find it lucrative to have departments for people who pick apart art doesn't give it value or legitemacy. There are people who want to feel like they are contributing to art by doing nothing but dicussing, and often tearing apart, other people's creations. It'd be dumb for a university not to take their tuition money.
Posted by malwae on April 23, 2013 at 3:21 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 42
@ 30, LOLWUT? Fake or real doesn't matter?

It matters the MOST. Genuine empathy would completely transform the poem. Good grief.

You've chosen a side in all this, and have decided that everyone else has, too. That's just not the case.
Posted by Matt from Denver on April 23, 2013 at 6:30 AM · Report this
@ 25 "Nobody gets angry or offended by crap."

I nominate this hitherto ignored gem for Most Self-Evidently Untrue Comment (Fine Arts Category).
Posted by thryn on April 23, 2013 at 6:33 AM · Report this
Sabotage 44
@41: That's a completely bullshit argument, sorry. There are people who feel like they're accomplishing something worthwhile by writing horoscopes, holding seances and reading tarot cards but the vast majority of universities do not have parapsych departments.

Unless you're also claiming that a literature major is valueless or lacks "legitemacy."
Posted by Sabotage on April 23, 2013 at 6:47 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 45
@ 41, when you challenge someone to create their own art in order to bolster their credibility as critics, that's closer to committing the appeal to authority fallacy than what you're claiming as an example of that fallacy. You're basically saying that valid criticism can only come from those you recognize to be authorities.

Anyway, you're wrong about @ 40's example. You shouldn't have to know how to cook in order to say whether food is good or bad. Similarly, you don't need to know how to make any kind of art in order to criticize it. Having such skills will make you a more informed critic, but that alone doesn't lend one authority or credibility; therefore, it's not necessary to be an authority on, or credible critic of, art.
Posted by Matt from Denver on April 23, 2013 at 8:11 AM · Report this
yos-wa 46
the reactions to this are more popcorn worthy than the actual poem. what does that tell you?

Posted by yos-wa on April 23, 2013 at 8:15 AM · Report this
Megan Seling 47
@38 I have written a poem that's so much better:…
Posted by Megan Seling on April 23, 2013 at 10:34 AM · Report this
snacktruck 48
She's asking me to read it 'get it'? The nerve of this twit to keep pushing as though it is my fault that I think she is a talentless, self-serving dick. There are so few women I would call a dick but Amanda Palmer is. Maybe she'll set up another kickstarter for her poetry book? Ugh.
Posted by snacktruck on April 23, 2013 at 10:50 AM · Report this
Keekee 49
Too true!
Posted by Keekee on April 23, 2013 at 10:53 AM · Report this
@41 i meant a casserole made out of literal human shit, for the record
Posted by A Fucking Wizard on April 23, 2013 at 11:36 AM · Report this
LEE. 51

...which is why we need a Kickstarter to pay for us to just post often hateful, occasionally hilarious comments on blogs. the world shouldn't be deprived of our wit and wisdom while we're out sucking it up in the rat race!
Posted by LEE. on April 23, 2013 at 11:38 AM · Report this
blip 52
That line about Vietnamese soft rolls really put me in his shoes. I mean, does anybody know how many of those damn things to order? You all know you've been there before. That kid tossing bombs and shooting cops could have been you.
Posted by blip on April 23, 2013 at 12:38 PM · Report this
Maybe we are all missing the point--I think this poem is so epically bad in order to punish the accused bomber. If this poem was about you, wouldn't you feel like a failure?

Also, in surprising news of her pretentiousness, she used to ask people to pronounce her name "AmAHNda" because "that's how they say it in Germany." Sometime you like the people at your college, and sometimes they are Amanda Palmer.
Posted by Trifle on April 23, 2013 at 11:24 PM · Report this
sunny dee 54
Haters gonna hate.
Posted by sunny dee on April 25, 2013 at 6:07 PM · Report this
tainte 55
poopers gonna poop
Posted by tainte on April 26, 2013 at 8:23 AM · Report this

The abysmal poem Amanda Palmer wrote is just the latest of a long list of idiocies.

Amanda Palmer faked a suicide and filmed her boyfriend's reaction, she acted out a mock rape onstage, she tweeted about giving money to the KKK, she toured as a disabled person then mocked the disabled on Australian TV, she dumped her boyfriend to jump on old man Gaiman's bones, she sexted naked pictures of herself across the web, she made a book of violent porn starring herself, she danced around in muff wigs singing about her crotch, she even worked as a dominatrix (an S&M prostitute).

None of this was art, none of it meant anything.

Finally, Amanda Palmer faked a Kickstarter campaign using her Scientology cult connections to scam her way into the charts for a day, even though her "music" is horrendous.

Amanda Palmer is an offensive human being on every level. Not only is Palmer a talentless grifter, she has cultivated in herself the worst qualities known to mankind.
Posted by beetleboy on April 26, 2013 at 9:42 PM · Report this
Amanda Palmer is a worthless human being. She worked as an S&M prostitute, then married Gaiman who makes millions a year from his Scientology family's vitamin business. Palmer seems to be histrionic personality disorder and possibly borderline. She should be in an institution.
Posted by Annabelle Lee on April 16, 2014 at 1:20 AM · Report this

Add a comment


Want great deals and a chance to win tickets to the best shows in Seattle? Join The Stranger Presents email list!

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy