[This was the kickoff. Before and after that, there were two thoughtful posts on FWD about it: post the first, post the second. This was the "I'm sorry you're offended, my intentions were pure" follow up.]
[Sparknotes version: Evelyn Evelyn is a fake set of conjoined twins allegedly "discovered" by Amanda and Jason Webley, who are producing their forthcoming album; in reality, Evelyn Evelyn is Amanda and Jason wearing a conjoined-twin costume to play shows. See the first blog post linked above for the full fake story.]
It's been making me very sad as I have, however reluctantly, come to be quite a fan of Amanda's work over the past year or so. I wouldn't say I was looking forward to the Evelyn Evelyn project, necessarily -- I found the fiction of it irritating, though I understand part of it is due to Amanda's ongoing conflict with her record company -- but eh, I'd probably give it a listen. Unfortunately, from the moment I read her first blog post "revealing" the backstory of the fake performers, I was skeeved. I got skeeved right around the point where she mentions that the fake performers were victims of child porn. No, seriously. Have you read that link yet? Then, when I realized, finally, that if they were taking the concept this far, it would mean performing in cripdrag (I don't know, I guess I had thought the live performance would be less.... cringe-inducing) I got really, really skeeved. There are examples of this on YouTube, if you search; I've closed those tabs and ain't opening them again.
I've had a rough time pinpointing the source of my skeeve. Amanda's no stranger to touchy issues, but typically in the past she's represented based on her own experiences, and even if her opinions are unpopular, she's only speaking for herself. This squicks me because it is, however unintentionally, representing for certain marginalized group(s) that Amanda herself is not a part of (unless, mayhap, Amanda is in fact a former conjoined twin who escaped from both child porn and a circus that sidelines in human trafficking). Though I've little doubt she meant it this way, but it comes across as insensitive and exploitative, like, ha, look what FREAKS we made these fake people we're dressing up as and pretending to be! O HO! For fun!
For me, the presentation thus far is crossing the line between laughing WITH someone, and laughing AT them. Though I am neither disabled nor a sexual abuse survivor, as a lifelong deathfat I've had many brushes with being treated like a freak, or something less than human, and even I felt a little uncomfortable, given my own investment in a freak identity. I frankly can't imagine how folks with keener connections to this imaginary story may feel.
Amanda's follow up post attempts to argue that, in context, it will all make sense. And it might have. But I'm no longer interested in the context, because SKEEVED. I mean, honestly, who thought it would be wise to throw up a first-draft blog post with this information, ostensibly knowing these might be sensitive issues for some folks? Why not let the album and the lyrics just speak for themselves, and leave the rest a mystery? It's a bit late to be arguing authorial intent, even if I had the patience to listen. If ONLY she had a successful author in her life to explain how these things can go if you don't tread carefully.
So this has been bothering me, not least because a lot of the comment threads read like a syllabus for Derailing 101, and because I don't like feeling let down by an artist whose work I really enjoyed (and whose non-Evelyn Evelyn work I may continue to enjoy, once I get some time between me and this cock-up). It's a sad, icky, disappointed sensation. But then today I found the sf_drama post on the subject, and finally achieved some desperately needed Relief LOLs.
People can talk about the demise of Livejournal all they want -- but clever social-justice snark will never find another environment so well populated with folks who know just what to say to make us laugh so we don't cry.