A Comprehensive History of Amanda Palmer Pissing Off Everyone

Amanda “Fucking” Palmer has a book out this month. It’s called The Art of Asking, and it sets out madam’s philosophy on life, which pretty much amounts to taking the stuff that people just keep on offering you! Because of course they do! Palmer has an unparalleled ability to inspire rage in people; sometimes it’s justified, sometimes less so. This ability has prompted some thoughtful writing over the years, but hey, before you read that, why not brush up on exactly why she upsets people so much in the first place? Here, then, is a definitive history of Palmer’s foot-in-mouth moments and flights of self-absorption.

The fake conjoined twins band

Look, if you’re a fan, you can probably construct arguments that, in some cases, Palmer is more sinned against than sinning, or at least has been misunderstood and/or not given the benefit of the doubt. This, though… if you can argue that a band comprised of fake conjoined twins is in any way a good idea, then congratulations, a future in politics awaits you. If you go by their bio, Evelyn Evelyn are “dicephalus conjoined twins, sharing between them three legs, two arms, three lungs, two hearts, and a single liver.” In fact, they are Amanda Palmer and Some Bro in a sort of pantomime horse outfit, because art. Above, you can see them covering, wait for it, “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” You honestly couldn’t make this shit up.


The Radiohead ukulele covers

Did the world need a whole album of novelty Radiohead covers by Amanda Palmer and her ukulele? I’m gonna say: no.


The Kickstarter campaign and the TED talk

Best known as “where the trouble really started.” There’s nothing wrong with deciding to fund a record through Kickstarter, and there’s nothing wrong with the fact that your loving fans decide to shower you with Benjamins. As has been well-documented, Palmer asked for $100k, ending up with $1 million and a load of free publicity. Great. This is when you say, “Gee, thanks everyone!” This is not when you give an hour-long self-congratulatory TED talk about how you’ve discovered some revolutionary new concept in the commercial side of the music business. “I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question, which is, ‘How do we make people pay for music?’ What if we started asking, ‘How do we let people pay for music?’” she concluded. What does that even mean?


 

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The unpaid musicians

And if you do make $1 million via the largesse of your fans, don’t go out on tour and offer the same lucky fans the chance to be one of Amanda’s backing band! To play onstage, with Amanda! For free! This has been covered ad infinitum — suffice it to say here that it was ill-conceived, exploitative, and all too reminiscent of the “Hey, do it for fun/exposure/your folio” hustle so beloved of the “new” economy. Don’t fall for it, kids.


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The potato salad

Remember the potato salad Kickstarter? Well, according to Amanda, it wasn’t a brattish kid striking it rich via a sort of Internet hive-mind act of absurdism — it was the Art of Asking philosophy manifesting in all its self-justifying glory! “i think i have been spending the last five months writing about this topic and if my book has taught me what i believe, it is this: ANYONE IS ALLOWED TO ASK FOR ANYTHING. THAT’S THE DEAL… andy warhol would be so fucking proud. so would the dadaists, she wrote.” For the record, Andy Warhol would be bored and the Dadaists would probably sniff and go back to Dada-ing, but as far as the rest of us go: yes, anyone is allowed to ask for anything. No, not all of us get indulged like Amanda does. Her philosophy, such as it is, comes from a place of profound privilege: if you’re someone who has to struggle and scrap to just survive (like at least 45 million people in America and billions around the world), the idea that people should just ask for what they want and they’ll surely get it is at best naïve and at worst actively obnoxious.


The Wayne Coyne video

If you’re a walking midlife crisis whose career has descended into one big ongoing publicity stunt, and you’re putting in your own bid to be the worst, and you’ve just had a big public scrap with Erykah Badu for leaking a video that shows her naked in a bathtub of faux-semen, and you need someone to replace her in said video, who you gonna call? Hey, Amanda!


The Ku Klux Klan joke

Most people do not joke about giving money to the Ku Klux Klan. But then again, most people are not Amanda Palmer.


The Macklemore /12 Years a Slave tweets

No one really wanted to know what Amanda Palmer thought about Macklemore’s Grammy victory, but she told us anyway: it meant, apparently, that white people should be “allowed” to fight for social justice. Nope, it didn’t make any sense then, either.


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The Woody Allen Facebook post

Of course Amanda Palmer has an opinion on Woody Allen! Of course it’s thoroughly asinine! Dylan Farrow would no doubt argue with Palmer’s contention that the issue is “complicated,” but hey, who cares what she thinks, right?


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The Dzhokhar Tsarnaev poem

Where even to begin with this? The fact that Amanda Palmer thought that a great response to a bunch of people being killed was to publish a “look at me!” poem? The fact that the poem itself was so patently godawful? The self-justifying blog post? Yeah, OK, probably the poem itself, because the English language never did anything to deserve this.


The Jian Ghomeshi tweets

Here’s a study in contrasts: Amanda Palmer is a friend of Jian Ghomeshi. So is Owen Pallett. The latter responded to the accusations against Ghomeshi with a thoughtful, measured Facebook post, concluding, “Jian Ghomeshi is my friend, and Jian Ghomeshi beats women. How our friendship will continue remains to be seen.” Amanda Palmer responded by waffling that “what happens behind closed doors is never knowable” and insisting that he would remain as a guest on her book tour, arguing that “i don’t kick guests out of my house, or off my stage, because of what they’re going through.” (Two days later, she dropped him.)


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The miscellaneous and interminable “Hey, look at me!” moments

Who made a high school musical based on Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea? Amanda! Who pretended to rape a Katy Perry lookalike on stage for no apparent reason? Amanda! Who auctioned a date with her husband’s daughter online? Amanda! Who wrote an open letter to Sinéad O’Connor regarding something that didn’t concern her in the least? Amanda! Who decided to strip off her underwear on the red carpet at the Golden Globes? Amanda! Who claimed to have faked her own suicide? Amanda! Who — *writer loses will to live*