Friday, February 19, 2010

remember me, I used to live for music

How serious is this? Though I will say that this sounds like a global version of the Australian plan. Is this rumor or potentiality?

There's a new Dr. Who trailer up, and okay, I am getting more willing to try out Doctor Who 90210. Because Matt Smith looks much less twelve when he's actually speaking and moving around.

"When the people that control the laws of physics and the land supply and so on also get to choose the aesthetic theme of various areas, that seems to me to unfairly advantage those Residents with similar tastes, at the expense of everyone else. Is Second Life really 'Your World, Your Imagination'? Or is it 'Our World, Our Imagination, You['re] Allowed To Participate If You Follow The Theme'?"

Good points all that Dale makes; but more than that, it goes back to my main point--I'm all for resident creativity, and I think Second Life functions best when the Lindens interfere least; but it is their world, not ours. At the end of the day all the accusations of creepy paternalism and interference rest at the Labs; because it isn't "Our World, Our Imagination".

And it hasn't been for a very long time.

And John Carter McKnight contemplates gender in Gor, and social science on SL. I'd tag on one additional comment to this, other than saying it is an interesting question, always--how much of what we choose to reflect to the world is hardwired to our personality, and how much is reflective of gender choice in virtual worlds? But what I want to pair with this is Forceme Silverspar's experience switching gender. I think it's relevant regardless of who's switching to what--though I'll agree more with Forceme that men becoming women is inherently easier, and on a certain level, more "accepted", than women becoming men. I've only personally known one female who chose to rp as a male, instead of the other way 'round; and he was ruthless, abusive, and aggressive beyond all reason. His portrayal of a male in SL would have been offensive even if the typist had matched the avatar's gender; somehow (at least to me) it was worse, knowing this was a female who should have known better.

I have been thinking about this since I read McKnight's blog entry. Apparently I have been operating under slightly less accurate information than I knew. Prior to those words, I thought I was in the 'new crowd' of SL users; those who joined during 2006, in the last big wave of new residents. As he puts it, I'm actually lumped in with "everyone before 2007"; 2007 being the start of the big, foundation-shaking changes. Or to use his terms, the switch of SL culture from "frontier" (you are who you say you are; you are what your actions make you, honorable or not honorable) to "metropolis" (you have to back up who you say you are, and you will be harshly judged if you fail; you are what your credentials say you are, and you will be mocked if your credentials don't match your words).

Personally, at least regarding gender in SL, I'm definitely more comfortable assuming the gender in front of me is the gender I'm addressing; I don't tend to engage much in "she is SO a guy behind the screen" thinking: unless it's obviously someone fetished to the max with triple-J prim breasts, perky little kitten emotes, and a name that mentions either anatomy or level of sexiness.

I could be wrong in this; I freely admit that. And that is a judgmental line to hold; but I never claimed to be fair and unbiased. And I still think anyone changing gender to deal with SL residents needs to strongly consider either an alt, that is the gender portrayed and very little else, or make no mention of gender in the profile.

But I'm not a social researcher, so.

(Also, if you want to read the first bit of McKnight's series--"The Closing of the Alt Frontier", well, there it is, you can now.)

In Nervous Doll Dancing.

Francesca Mountfort,Nervous Doll Dancing,cello,steampunk music

According to a history page found elsewhere, Nervous Doll Dancing, otherwise known as Francesca Mountfort, is a cellist born in New Zealand who graduated from the Victoria University of Wellington in 2002, studied under two symphonies local to Wellington, before deciding to relocate to Melbourne, Australia. She has a wide and eclectic diversity of music she's interested in, and she's played everything from solo-music background gigs for poetry readings to full-on punk cabaret.

Did the avant-garde wave of cellists just become co-opted into the steampunk music movement at large? Because I'm beginning to think that if a band has a cellist, and they have an interest in dark carnivals, retro-punk rhythms, and scattered Victoriana, they're in.

Nervous Doll Dancing might be in. I haven't really listened to enough yet. I found some of her work with Carousel on YouTube (she's the one with the cello on the right, natch). I also found a cover of Cohen's "Dance Me to the End of Love", by Noemi Liba, where the cello work is provided by Francesca Mountfort. But she's tipping me towards thinking overall, yes, she's steampunk--in tone and composition, if not in specific intent.

And briefly, finally, I want to touch on Evelyn Evelyn. My original intent--and what I've been waiting with breathless anticipation for--was to carry on the fiction of the twins in art and performance.

dark carnival,Amanda Palmer,AFP,Dresden Dolls,Evelyn Evelyn,music,steampunk music,conjoined twins

Even now, I feel that the pairing of Jason Webley and Amanda Palmer having to practice walking, playing instruments, and singing in concert--and having done this together, whenever they can find the time, for the past three years--was mind-blowing as a side project. They've even gotten Cynthia von Buhler on board, who will be penning-and-inking the graphic novel forthcoming from hometown favorites, Dark Horse Comics (and yay for them, they ROCK, and they always have).

And it's not as if there haven't been performing real conjoined twins in the past to the present day. The most famous case, I think, is the Hilton Sisters, Daisy and Violet, who were performers throughout much of their lives, in good fortune and bad.

sideshow,carnival,freaks,Hilton,conjoined twins
(Daisy and Violet Hilton, in addition to singing, starred in two films: Tod Browning's Freaks, shown above, and Chained for Life.)

(There are also notable additional cases, like Millie and Christine McCoy, Ronnie and Donnie Galyon, now retired, and Lori and George Schappell, where George has a singing career, and her twin does not.)

But on the heels of all the enthusiasm--and still a day or two before the official record release notification--came this: Evelyn Evelyn: Ableism Ableism?

The hell. Now, Amanda in turn responded with not one but two blog entries on the topic, but in essence, what it boils down to is this:

* Artists decide they want to collaborate in a very new way;
* Word leaks out;
* Oversensitive people get oversensitive.

I mean, seriously, that's it--and as Amanda points out, she is very glad her fans are literate and thoughtful, but at the end of the day, it's all bitching about exploitation, which isn't the case, and blogging about how insensitive it is to create a back story for the two girls that features circus oppression and a lack of socialization (and frankly, I'm still trying to figure out why people are so incensed about the child porn angle, which I can't find a direct reference of from either Webley or Palmer).

So, fine. I'm no one as far as the big blogging world goes, but damn it, I can't sit back and say nothing about this, for two very good reasons:

1. (Which I think is most important) I think the music they're doing, the dancehall-oddity performance of it, and the clever witty lyrics of the songs I've heard fits very well into what I'm developing as recognizable steampunk music.

2. How. Is this. Hurting. ANY OF YOU?!?

I'm dead serious. Anyone who's offended, who isn't:

* a conjoined twin who's feeling personally attacked;
* a disabled woman who's experienced sexual abuse and/or emotional abuse at the hands of parental figures who put you on display;
* someone who's been personally turned down for employment for more than a year because of how they look;


What is wrong with you people? It's art. It's MUSIC. Debate the issues it raises, fine. Debate the ethical angle, sure. Debate what circuses and sideshows were like, whatever. Debate the writing and the back story itself, you have that right.

Just as I have the right to say you don't have a dog in this fight if you don't fit one of the categories--or all of the categories--above.

Amanda Palmer has gotten a lot of heat for this one line sent out on Twitter:

setting aside 846 emails and removing the disabled feminists from her mental periphery, @amandapalmer sat down to plan her next record.

In case any of the gerbils in the audience missed the meaning behind that? She sent out another tweet clearing it up:

for those who didn't understand that one: i will re-translate: "time to make art. not time to argue points with people."

She was NEVER SAYING she hated feminists; she was NEVER SAYING she hated the disabled; she never said at all that she was mocking anyone. CHILL THE HELL OUT, PEOPLE.

I have to register support for the project; not because I'm resigned to people doing stupid things to wake up callous minds, but precisely because I think the time for slamming Evelyn Evelyn was three frigging years ago. More than that, they have both worked hard on this, and it's innovative, damn it. As well as being an homage to conjoined performers in the past.

America, far more than the rest of the world, is a country where we work to erase our past as we embrace it. We are a culture where "old" is "anything made before 1977". Moreover, we are a culture where children are routinely modified to pass parental, and doctoral approval.

When was the last time you saw anyone with a cleft palate? Or three eyes? Some of the war wounds that people returned home from in World War I were nothing short of horrific; to the point of masks being created to cover the most obvious, socially jarring disfigurements.

Remember, that's clear back in 1920; but now? Cosmetic surgery is routine. Extra fingers? We'll trim that one off. Not enough fingers? We'll replace one with a toe. Child not the right gender? No problem, we'll just nip that off, invert that other thing, and your child is perfect.

We are not perfect. We are a country and a planet that has genetic flaws. We cannot hide this fact in make-believe and cosmetic surgery. And the incredible arrogance in it is galling, and worse, more appalling than the actual conditions in the first place.

The real tragedy in all this controversy? Is that people are arguing the wrong damned points. You all should be up in arms and screaming about how often the choice is made to save one conjoined twin by letting the other die--where is the concept of 'sanctity of life' there? Oh, but a shared, paired life of everyday inconveniences, why, that's far worse than picking which twin lives, you're so right.

You can hear snips of the first, Webley-produced effort here, tossed up on the web, I surmise, because it was such a limited edition vinyl press. You can also see an animated video Alex de Campi made in support of Have You Seen My Sister Evelyn? Which manages to be both completely charming and scathingly adult at the same time; I'm amused. And you can see the very beginnings of the project here, where Amanda and Jason are seen playing an accordion together, standing on stage.

Support it or not, it's your choice. They'll sell records or they won't, with or without the controversy. Just stop screaming at the woman, it's undignified. And beneath all of you.


Edward Pearse said...

Your first link seems like past rumour. The video was posted in 2008. I know there were some ISPs who were discussing limited access (which I believe was something AOL tried at one point too) but I can't see it happening.

As for Evelyn Evelyn thing there are vast swathes of society, more prolific on the internet, who are ready to be offended on behalf of someone else who might be the target of possible offence. This is why Americans say "Happy Holidays" at Christmas.

Rhianon Jameson said...

The comments that I read - the vitriolic, almost hateful comments - seemed to be the fussing of people who weren't in on the joke. They finally understood: "Oh my God, there aren't actually cojoined twins?" The fact that they were had made them angry.

I'm apprehensive about the album because (a) I haven't cared for what I've heard of Jason Webley's music and (b) I don't care for Amanda Palmer's ukelele fetish - there's a good reason we don't see a lot of ukelele heroes in rock music. But we'll see, won't we?

P. S. Mr. Pearse, you're right, as a general matter. But most everyone gets a "Merry Christmas" from me.

Emilly Orr said...

Posted in 2008, yes, which would seem to suggest the death of the concept, save for a lot of current mentions of that vid, so....why the sudden surge of interest? I'm trying to run it down.

And I thought it was about 50/50, the PC crowd trying to make nice with everyone, combined with those of us who AREN'T in majority religions, who don't want to hear "Merry Christmas" everywhere when a "Happy Holidays" or "Blessings of the Season" covers more ground.

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Jameson,

While it's true we don't see a lot of ukelele rock out there, we also didn't see a lot of accordion rock before Weird Al. Now it's almost a standard for alterna-rockers.

Most of the comments I've read where the greatest anger is fall clearly into two camps:

1. I'm very stupid and thought they were real and you were exploiting poor minorities how DARE you??


2. This is a slap in the face to every powerful woman with a disability out there how DARE you??

Both are overreactions; both are sickening in their own way, especially the latter camp, who tends to group people portraying disabilities honestly, drag queens, and the transgendered/intersexed in that so-called "slap in the face". Combine them, and it's the recipe for a week of screaming on and off Twitter.

Fogwoman Gray said...

It rather reminds me of the bad old days of feminism in the 60's and 70's when the radical friends of my ex husband's late mother referred to her sons as "the rapists" simply because they were male children. Some feminists believed that to be taken seriously they had to be as shrill, tiresome and reactive as possible.
I had rather hoped we had grown UP already!
Put on your big girl panties, ladies and move along.

Astolat Dufaux said...

I'd like to think *I'm* a powerful woman with a disability, but apparently I need lots of people to come to my defense.... being so fragile and frail and broken and all.

But perhaps I haven't been disabled long enough to really understand how I'm being exploited or mocked or discriminated against.

I'm still very much of the opinion that if you can't laugh at yourself, no matter what your lot in life, it's probably time to pack it all in.

Laughter is healing. I can see the place where Amanda is coming from with the Evelyns. I like it.

Magdalena Kamenev said...

I'd heard vaguely about Evelyn Evelyn, but really didn't pay much attention.

Personally, I'm not up to forming an opinion about the project and I can truly believe that a lot of comments and criticism is trollery and Internet drama. But after reading some of the comments on Amanda's blog and Feministing, I'm willing to give some credence to those who are concerned and hurt and angry about this.

Because honestly and personally, if this project had been about blackface minstrels instead of conjoined twins, your typist would HEAR my typist's screams over it. And while Amanda is lovely and fearless and talented -- well, Al Jolson had a nice voice, and Sophie Tucker was really funny and Fred Astaire was giving tribute to Bojangles Robinson by doing blackface but some things are just too painful for some people to be written off as modern or postmodern entertainment.

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Dufaux,

That tends to be my view on it; if I need arms raised in my defense, I'm always happy for others to run in and defend me, but really, it'll still be me on the front lines.

The odd thing about all this, for me at least, is not the complaints that it is offensive or insensitive; it deals with something that most people do not have direct experience of, so the concept either strikes them as instinctively wrong, or just baffling. Fine. These are sheltered people, but okay, whatever.

What galls are the comments that they feel deceived and lied to because they thought Evelyn Evelyn were real! And that just...I can't...I mean, really--some people are just stick-stupid and shouldn't walk outside for fear they'll trip in a puddle and drown.

Especially the people--and almost invariably women--who claim to be fans. Amanda Palmer has a distinctive voice. How they missed her singing is just...baffling beyond all reason.

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Kamenev,

While I agree on the main, is that really what this is about? I know that we all have our lines in the sand, and I include myself in this; I have a touchpoint where mocking of Jewish pain, or Holocaust denying, happens. And I get strident about it, on occasion, sometimes to my detriment.

But even there--how many times did Mel Brooks mock his own religion? And many pagans make a point of mocking pagan faiths; it's almost a hobby with some of us.

I mean, toss aside the fact that I don't think they're mocking conjoined twins in the least, but let's go out on that limb and say okay, this is satire of the sideshow--so...who exactly does this offend?

Seriously. Sideshow performers? Hells, most of them would sell body parts to get that kind of advertising. Conjoined twins? While there is a history of twin performers, again--if anything, it says conjoined twins can perform, so whoo, go see your local twinset soon!

Who else? There's an elephant theme. Is there anyone out there who would literally claim that raising the plight of elephants in circuses is a bad thing? Not all circuses mistreat their animals. But some do.

Who else? Chickens? Yeah, name me ONE person on the PLANET--who isn't trying to save his ass and his job at the factory farm--who believes it's a good idea to feed chickens dead chickens. This is why we now have salmonella bacteria inside eggs.

So...I mean, I get what you're saying, but really...they're not saying people in wheelchairs suck. They're not saying, hey, look at the funny blind women! They're not saying OMG, look how funny it is, we have to use stupid sign language to speak...

No. They're just walking at the same time. Playing instruments together. Yeah, that's the disabled.

Emilly Orr said...

And Lady Fogwoman, somehow you got lost in the shuffle--I would agree that 'original' feminists, or at least the feminists that rose out of the philosophical collegiate stew between 1956 and 1978, were very reactionary. These are the same defenders of the faith who came up with "womyn", "wimmin", and--my personal favorite--"wemoon".

These were women who were told, by each other and by their idols of the day, that the only good way to treat men was as potential attackers. I like to think we've learned something; I consider it just as revolutionary to read tales of how positive, feminist women have raised strong, empowered sons, who honor their own masculinity, without feeling the need to devalue the feminine. More reactionary, even, because it's not instinctive rejection based on fear and anger.