Would You Take Amanda Palmer in a Bottle?

Every once in a while, someone will post this Amanda Palmer TED Talk on Facebook, saying something like, "Just needed to remind myself of this," or, "I needed to watch this one again."


It's an inspiring talk.

It's an inspiring talk that has been both deepened and tainted for me with some extra knowledge I have gained about this woman.

A friend of mine actually worked with her. She spent a year touring the country with Amanda Palmer as one of her living doll statues. It is a classic, "never meet your heroes" story. According to my friend, Ms. Palmer is too busy and important to do things like learn the names of the people touring with her or, you know, be nice.

This, in and of itself, is not very remarkable. The "artistic genius so wrapped up in their own vision they can't be bothered to care about other people" persona is probably the least original storytelling trope of all time.

While going through this experience, however, my friend learned a new saying: "at least I'm not Amanda Palmer."

Apparently, from her college days on, Amanda Palmer alienated people around her to the point where they would comfort themselves when things went wrong in their own lives by saying, "At least I'm not Amanda Palmer."

Now, I have not seen any corroborating information about this on the internet, so I don't know if it is true. But how I see this talk is forever changed. It is both tainted and deepened.

Tainted, for obvious reasons. She was mean to my friend. Also, a talk about the beautiful personal connection that comes from asking for, and accepting, help becomes a little less trustworthy if it is delivered from somebody who may have been so unkind that people comforted themselves by reminding themselves that they are not her.

I now listen to it remembering that people are complicated, nobody is even close to perfect, and wonder "at what cost?", and "do people who aren't giving you money and neti pots get this treatment?"

Deepened because, well, dang. This woman is the very picture of persistence, doing your own thing, and believing in yourself even when no one else will. Her career already demonstrated this, but this additional data points to even greater strength of self. It is an almost superhuman ability to say, "I don't care what you think, I'm going to do it."

That is quite something to consider, and I could use a lot more of that quality.

I share this, not to turn anyone against Amanda Palmer. I know someone else who produced a show for her and basked in the afterglow of the experience for a month, so if the stories about her past are true, maybe she's changed. Or maybe people are weird, multi-faceted creatures with histories and feelings and blood sugar levels and reactions that make us very unpredictable. To one person we are an inspirational story, and to another we are a cautionary tale, and that interpretation depends largely on the history and feelings and blood sugar and expectations of the person on the receiving end.

I will tell you one thing: if they could bottle Amanda Palmer's confidence, drive, and "let's just do the thing" attitude, I would take it. Maybe I would cut the pill in half.

Image Source: Giphy


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