Not your punchline, Amanda Palmer.

If you missed this week’s Good News Week, or couldn’t see it because you’re not in Australia, here are the “disabled feminists” sledges aimed at FWD/Forward from Amanda Palmer, Des Bishop, and Paul McDermott. The ones we’ve been talking about in Otterday.

* (Edited to add: For those who don’t already know, the conjoined twins that Palmer discusses are not real people – they are fictional characters for a concept album & tour where their “freakishness” is played for laughs by Palmer and co-performer dressing as the twins in conjoined costumes.)

In short: Amanda Palmer compares herself to Jesus; the panel compares disabled feminists to Osama.

I am not making this up.

I’ve edited out the rest of the show, so you’re missing out on jokes about people with albinism being the ultimate white supremacists, and cracks using people with traumatic brain injuries, hand atypicalities, incontinence, psychosis, and intellectual disabilities as punchlines. You’re also missing out on a whole pile o’ rape gags.

* Background on the show in general

* Watch the full episode, if you’re in Australia

I can’t put enough warnings on this pile of douchebaggery. Seriously, I feel absolutely ill. This is naked hatred from a bunch of hyperprivileged currently-able-bodied whitefolk on national television, culminating in a violence-against-women gag, and then the comparison at the end. If you were trying to assume good faith on Amanda Palmer’s part in the conversation? You need to watch this.

Transcript below the cut.

Transcript [emphases are mine]

Mikey Robbins: Can I have a look at the second shot again, if that’s at all possible?

[News photo of two people walking along a jetty, shot from behind. The long haired person is leaning their head on the shoulder of the other, and they are holding hands.]

Mikey: Yes, ah, is it about co-joined twins?


Mikey: Oh, that’s a social dating service.

Eddie Ifft: A dating service for conjoined twins?

Mikey: Yeah, I know!

Eddit: That would be really awkward. Because you’d have to have four people there all the time [makes hand motions] , and what if two were like, “I don’t like that one, but that one, we should have a threesome with.”

Claire Hooper: Oh, can you imagine if you were two sets of conjoined twins, that met on a dating site, went on a date, and then you realised that the left guy loved the left girl, and the right – and you couldn’t, you couldn’t – [makes awkward hand motions] kiss, they just wouldn’t match up!

Amanda Palmer: Not at the same time! Not at the same time!

Claire: Can you imagine? Cos that’s – that’s –

Eddit: [shouts] DOGGY STYLE!

Amanda Palmer puts her head on the desk, laughing, then throws her head back, still laughing.

Paul McDermott [host]: Amanda, can we talk to you for a second?

Amanda: You guys have to be really careful on the conjoined twins stuff. I’ve spent the last few days in the heat of a giant internet controversy.

Because I have an album coming out that is technically by conjoined twins. And I wrote a blog about it, and explained the whole backstory of the sisters, and they’ve had a really really tragic life. You know, their childhood was really difficult, their mother died in childbirth, their father died when they were really young, they were raised by a chicken farmer. And then they were sold to, um, the circus.

Mikey: That’s how I met Paul!


Amanda: Anyway! I wrote a whole blog about their backstory, and then I got crucified by, um, a website of disabled feminists. [smirks, waits for laughter]

[brief silence]

Des Bishop: Oookay! HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Paul: [warning tones} Des, Des…

[Amanda is laughing]

Des: I just – I just couldn’t think of any more difficult group to deal with.

[Amanda laughs uproariously, audience joins in]

Des: They’ve just got you on so many levels!

[Amanda, laughs, leans her head against Des’s shoulder.]

[applause from audience]

Paul [through applause]: I just want to know, if there’s any minority groups we haven’t hit so far, ring in now, we’ll get onto you. [gives thumbs up]


The second part of video is Paul talking to the camera about a news story they’ve just mimed and guessed, about doggy chastity belts.

Paul: The pet anti-breeding system is mad of polypropylene, with an eight-buckle locking system and a mesh pad. And quite frankly, if a dog does manage to undo eight buckles, he’s earned a root. [laughter, applause]

The slogan is: “When the heat is on, lock it and stop it.” This replaces an earlier slogan, “When your bitch is a tart, give her a good belt.” [laughter, applause] Which some people, especially – especially handicapped feminists, found offensive.

[shots of Amanda Palmer laughing longer than anyone else]

Mikey: You’re laughing because you know what you’re going to be doing for the next six weeks.

Amanda: [leans head on hands briefly] I’m going to be hiding in a cave somewhere.

Paul: Oh! Osama might be there!

Amanda: [hides head]

Des: He’s the kind one, you’ll be fine. [others on panel echo “He’s the kind one! He’s the kind one!”]

Categories: gender & feminism

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68 replies

  1. I had been wondering whether Palmer was a fun-feminist or the kind I admire. Guess I found out. *headdesk*

  2. *screams and jumps through window*
    Thank you for going through that horrendous pile of dreck to bring us this, Lauredhel. ❤

  3. TWICE. I had to watch it TWICE to get this to you. And the relevant bits, MORE.

  4. Yeah, I think I will NOT be watching this; thanks for the transcript Lauredhel.

    *sigh* I used to really like Mikey Robbins when I was a teenager listening to him on JJJ. 😦

  5. You’re amazing. I don’t know if I could have watched this enough to do a transcript. Thank you.
    I hope this sinks her fucking career.
    .-= kaninchenzero´s last blog ..Re: Trust Me =-.

  6. Wow, that’s UGLY.

  7. @ Lauredhel, I just wish I could offer you something practical like brain bleach or the sacking of the GNW team.

  8. I’m so sorry that you and the other women and men posting at FWD/Forward have been subjected to this.

  9. Wow. I am floored. I cannot believe they would be so dense and myopic. You had to watch the show twice (yuck) – I had to read the transcript twice to be sure I was reading right.
    But on the, er, bright side – publicity for the very excellent FWD? If only they’d provided the URL.

  10. Rachel: I’m myopic, and this is no myopia.
    Fans of this pile of crap coming to FWD doesn’t fill me with happythoughts, so thank fuck they didn’t say the URL. On the other hand, it’s pretty trivially googlable.

  11. OMFG, that is just appalling.

  12. Cyber-cupcakes for Lauredhel, STAT!

  13. Mikey Robbins and Paul McDermott are at least 20 years past their funny date.

  14. Ew!!!!! o_O
    I thought they were just totally ignorant, but this is just so vile, callous and cruel, I think I barfed in my mouth a little.
    .-= Kowalski´s last blog ..A Fair Warning =-.

  15. Not that I wasn’t cringing during some (er, many) parts of this show, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t compare the disabled feminists to Osama. The “kind one” gag was referring to a quote from a relative of his who said he was “the kind one” out of the Taliban dudes. So I just heard that as “out of people to be trapped in a cave with…”
    But yeah, GNW is usually a mixed bag for this sort of thing. Some of their guests, like Ifft, tend to lower the tone, many shows are relatively innocent. I say relatively because they still give off a kind of vibe that makes me count their gender ratios and la, but normally it’s subtle enough for me to keep watching on the basis that it’s a kind of replacement for The Glasshouse, which I used to love. Alas…

  16. Paul McDermott has always been a self-congratulatory twerp. Get another self-congratulatory twerp in the room and it’s twerpness squared.
    I can’t believe she’s sticking to the story that these twins are real!

  17. That’s what I get for not being able to stomach listening to all ninety bile-filled minutes. Given that other content, it wasn’t exactly a stretch.
    I don’t think it was Ifft ‘lowering the tone’ in this case.

  18. I don’t know what “lowering the tone” means, or if that remark was even aimed at me, but to clarify, I meant the show, not your post.
    .-= Kowalski´s last blog ..A Fair Warning =-.

  19. Kowalski: it’s a direct reply to MK, who talked about Ifft lowering the tone. Nacey posted in the short time I was composing the comment.

  20. Ah okay thanks for that, Lauredhel.
    .-= Kowalski´s last blog ..A Fair Warning =-.

  21. That’s the part that most gets me (sooo many parts get me…), she presented the controversy as being over a real set of OMG TRAGIC conjoined twins and that those NASTY FEMINISTS with disabilities just couldn’t understand how OMG TRAGIC their lives were before she OMG RESCUED THEM. How on earth is it “technically” by conjoined twins???

  22. Yes curiosities @ 22 and to those who haven’t heard about all this that’s exactly how it sounded. I met my partner in town for coffee and he started saying ‘I watched GNW last night…there was this woman on there…’ to which I looked furious and started ranting and he looked confused and said ‘She said that she was blogging about these twins…she said they were real…’ and it took a while for my explanation that she’s LYING and has made the whole thing up to sink in. So she’s made it sound like disabled feminists are ‘crucifying’ her for simply discussing conjoined twins.

  23. Been quiet of late, but I’ve been following the AP rubbish and I just cannot believe this latest turn. I agree with Kowalski @ 15: I thought it was ignorance (willful or not), but wow.
    Just. Wow.

  24. Long ago in a galaxy far, far away GNW used to be a 30 minute show of reasonable wit and great new music. Then it left the ABC for other pastures and it’s been all downhill since. This is some of the vilest dialogue I’ve heard on TV in a long time. How could any producer/station-executive/advertiser let them get away with it? That’s what I want to know.

  25. Deborah – just letting you know there are no men posting at FWD. “People” works fine 🙂

  26. I am literally so angry right now that I can hardly think. But I did want to thank you for transcribing this, Lauredhel, because I cannot imagine that was pleasant at all when just reading it made me want to vomit.

    I get that vileness is the name of the game on some programmes but this is beyond the pale.

  27. Thanks for this, Lauredhel *hugs* It’s so disheartening to see this sort of thing perpetuated so casually =(

  28. she’s made it sound like disabled feminists are ‘crucifying’ her for simply discussing conjoined twins
    That’s the thing that got me, too — the utter mendacity. I did watch the video, and one of the things that doesn’t come through by just reading the transcript (which is no fault of Lauredhel’s, because the transcript is awesome) is the sheer self-pity that Palmer has for herself, and the sympathy she’s trying desperately to generate for herself by outright lying. It’s as stunning as it is loathsome.
    And the way she howls at the idea of feminists with disabilities. Well. I hope she is as invincible as she assumes herself to be, because she seems to have no conception that not all disabled feminists were born with a disability, no grasp of the possibility that in the blink of an eye, or after an inalterable journey across years, she could be a member, at least in name, of the very community she now holds in such profound contempt.
    And if there were not a “more difficult group to deal with” than feminists with disabilities (there is: bigots), would it really be so hard to imagine why, given their reception here…? Irony, thy name is Des.

    • @Melissa

      And if there were not a “more difficult group to deal with” than feminists with disabilities (there is: bigots), would it really be so hard to imagine why, given their reception here…? Irony, thy name is Des.

      Yes, it’s utterly amazing the power that oppressed groups “playing the PC card” have – the power of demonstrating that the people they are challenging are being condescending bullies. That’s just so difficult to deal with.

  29. Thank you for this. I’m disgusted that Amanda Palmer is aware of the critique of her project and chooses to dismiss it with cruel mocking.

  30. Mother of… augh.
    Thank you for transcribing this.
    I don’t have words for the clips, or for what I’m feeling. Other than incoherence and a whole lot of headdesking.

  31. And funny how she thought feminism was cool as long as it served her own purposes, like protesting against the sexism from her heavy metal record label doods who told her to hide her little belly.
    .-= Kowalski´s last blog ..A Fair Warning =-.

  32. “she’s LYING and has made the whole thing up”
    Think we could get something about this in the body of the post? This doesn’t come across nearly as bad without the context, and being unfamiliar with the whole thing, I was confused until I read the comments here.

    [Good point – I’ve added a line of explanation to the post ~tigtog]

  33. That was so, so awful. She had an opportunity to show some goodwill and demonstrate that she understood, and yet she ignored all that, presented herself as horribly put upon, continued the farce that she’s not creating E.E. out of whole cloth, and just used FWD on that program in order to shill her product and herself.

  34. Amanda is more interested in the approval of the “cool” boys than she is in actual social justice – as long as sexism gets in her way, she’ll protest it, but if it doesn’t affect her personally, it isn’t important.
    I could say something hopeful about how this level of social awareness sometimes leads to a greater awareness (I went through various larval feminist stages including the “boys are cool, I can do everything they do, and girly girls aren’t cool” stage), but as long as she’s rewarded for enforcing the status quo, she won’t realize what she’s doing.
    I think now is a good time to stop buying anything of hers. She clearly does not speak for the people she’s claiming to represent.

  35. Honestly, that transcript is pretty awful about creating emotions for Amanda Palmer whether she actually had them or not. I watched the whole video and while Amanda’s behavior is ridiculous in light of what went on and she’s just doing a giant happy pile of alienating the hell out of her fans and making excuses for herself all over again… the transcript is not accurate when it comes to “smirks, waits for laughter, awkward pause, laughing longer than anyone else”, whatever. That’s just putting emotions on her face or in her voice or her posture that aren’t necessarily there.
    I suggest people watch the video, THEN read the transcript. The two together are really helpful at realizing how fucked up this was but it doesn’t help to get angry at an emotion or an expression Amanda didn’t actually make.

    • @D_S

      the transcript is not accurate when it comes to “smirks, waits for laughter, awkward pause, laughing longer than anyone else”, whatever. That’s just putting emotions on her face or in her voice or her posture that aren’t necessarily there.

      I beg to differ. The transcript is describing body-language as well as her words. Body-language is also communication, and to me the description of Palmer’s body-language appears quite accurate.

  36. Ugh! She was totally fishing for pity … and what is funny about “disabled feminists?” WTF is wrong with these people?!!

  37. fucking hell, after all of her pretending to listen, and pretending to apologize, for her to play it for laughs? and she was cruelly crucified by people going, “wait, that’s, uh kinda fucked up”

  38. hsofia:
    Best way to get pity when you piss off feminists is to go crying to the men who get a kick out of being ‘edgy’, right? Blegh. Many of my friends are huge fans of hers (or were, I should say, actually) and they’ve been hit hard with this reality bat of how nasty of a person AP is when she thinks someone is in her way.

  39. What the Hell was that? I was actaully willing to believe she was listening, but after that? Forget it.

  40. You know, right up to this point, the worst I was thinking of her (and it’s bad enough) was that, based on her ‘But you don’t understand my context/is it just a drama in their heads?’ blog, she was filling up the ableism bingo card with extraordinary speed. Now I realise she’s doing it with dedication. This disappoints me more than original problem did. Like, might-delete-her-music-because-I-don’t-kn0w-that-I-can-listen-to-her-again disappointed.

  41. This is difficult for me to be detached about, because I am acquainted with some of the GNW team socially. Being smug smartarses in a nudge-nudge-wink-wink way is part of their charm as performers, but I think this particular effort was seriously misjudged, so much so that I wonder how much Palmer disclosed to them/their writers about the twins being totally fictional.

  42. WOW that’s distasteful.
    Like Melissa says, what gets me most is her uproarious laughter at the idea of disabled feminists, as if these two populations (feminists and disabled people) aren’t sizable enough to share many members at the intersection and as if what each group is most interested in doing is ruining the real people’s fun.
    She just seems so mean, it’s really upsetting.
    .-= Gnatalby´s last blog ..BBSee I Told You It Was Awesome =-.

  43. Thank you. Not just for the transcript, which I read before watching the clips so I knew what I was going to see, but for editing out the psychosis and hand “jokes”. I watched it before I went to work today and had I seen those, probably wouldn’t have been in a very good state for dealing with the public.
    The thing that angers and hurts me the most about all of this is that I used to like her music, especially one particular song that strongly resonated with me (about a slide, if I remember correctly). As an artist and a former musician, watching people pull stunts like this for the sake of ART! (or would it really be for publicity?) both enrages and shames me.
    I’m sorry you had to go through the agony of watching that, over and over again.

  44. Thank you for plowing through this manure pile.

  45. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that body language is included in your transcripts. I have a really hard time reading that, and notice it most, when I write a transcript/or alternative text myself.
    .-= Kowalski´s last blog ..That Eyeball-Fork Feeling =-.

  46. …….wow. Just. Wow. I mean. The HELL?!
    Also, I like how her recounting of the story removes all the bits that actually offended people. Like the crip drag. Like the horrible horrible interviews. Like the fucking child pornography – the first two at least fall under “oh, she’s still pretending they’re real” but suddenly the most colourful bit of their backstory is that they joined the circus? And I can’t much respect her claims to being “edgy” if as soon as she’s on the telly she just omits all the oh-so-edgy material!
    Also, thank you for the transcript – I’m a bit worried about thanking people for transcripts normally due to the potential of constructing access as some kind of gift or perk, but in this case you really deserve it.
    Speaking of which:
    I suggest people watch the video, THEN read the transcript. The two together are really helpful at realizing how fucked up this was but it doesn’t help to get angry at an emotion or an expression Amanda didn’t actually make.
    I am trying to properly express how infuriating I find this comment, both as someone who essentially can’t watch video and as someone who is autistic and therefore would probably not even garner any extra information from it. Words are failing me.

  47. Good News Week used to be a good show. It was actually witty, and the jokes generally depended on a bit more than “pick an ‘ism’” for their punchlines. Of course, that was when it started off on the ABC (and that was back when I was still regularly watching television, so back before 1999). When it shifted to channel 10, I recall watching it once, and realising from the initial monologue that the show had lost its touch – almost the entire monologue was fat jokes aimed at Mikey Robbins.
    Now, prior to this the GNW phenomenon had been getting a bit shaky – the show had been going for about three or four years at least, had extended to a weekend show (Good News Weekend, which was a bit less “serious” than the main show) and it was clear the creative talents of the various regulars were starting to run thin. I wasn’t aware it was still running even now (over eleven years later).

    • @Meg Thornton
      GNW was actually cancelled in 2000 not long after it first moved to Channel 10. It wasn’t revived until 2008 (again on TEN), so I’m not surprised that you thought it was all over years ago.
      The show that it is based on, Have I Got News For You (HIGNFY) (BBC, 1990 onwards) has always stuck fast to its 30 minute format. (Good News Weekend was based on another BBC show format, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, (Spicks and Specks is a later adaptation of the same format)). I prefer these panel shows short and sharp myself.

  48. I join the general dismay. Two things that really struck me that I don’t see discussed in comments so far: how she says the album she’s got coming out is “technically” by conjoined twins (WTF does that mean?) and also that the twins were “sold” to the circus. I don’t remember explicit slavery as part of the fail before (and I did manage to read the entire backstory with child pornography and all before she pulled it down).
    As the descendant of good honest farmers, I’d also like to know what’s so terrible about being raised by a chicken farmer – she says it in the same tone of voice she uses to talk about the dead parents, FFS.
    So to the disability fail, the circus fail, the child sexual abuse fail, the Victorian Gothic Was Not In The 1980-90s fail, we can now add slavery fail and classism/urbanism fail. Condescending little so-and-so, isn’t she?

  49. Your post has been added to a linkspam round-up.

  50. I am baffled by this whole thing. It’s so very obvious why the Evelyn Evelyn project and Palmer’s PR for it are deeply problematic on many levels including but not limited to ableism. Jason Webley, who is supposed to be the co-creator of Evelyn Evelyn, hasn’t said much on this and Palmer herself seems to be doing her best to keep him out of the spotlight. In the Spin interview with the twins she went so far as to write, in the character of the twins, that they liked Amanda better and didn’t understand Jason because he had a beard. The whole Spin interview was deeply upsetting because the twins used language that a semi-intelligent seven year old would have found childish. Coupled with the blog posting Palmer did for the backstory this was especially creepy. I was really disappointed that when Palmer finally did response to the criticism she made it the critic’s fault for getting upset as though anyone having issues was just over sensitive. She failed to address anything and then went with the time tested defense of arguing that critics just didn’t get her art because they were interogating it from the wrong perspective. It’s also very offensive that she took down the child porn part of the twins’ backstory and replaced it with a note saying to buy the album for the whole tale.
    Also, as somebody who deals with farmers I’m getting more and more annoyed by how Palmer treats being raised by a farmer some great tragedy. The farmers I know are hard working, intelligent people who happily embrace technology. They are certainly not the backwoods luddites that Palmer seems to think they are. I do not understand why Palmer keeps refering to farmers in such disgusted tones.

  51. Did anyone who watched the full episode happen to notice Paul’s final word?
    (Transcribed from memory, so may be slightly inaccurate)
    “Monday is International Women’s Day. And the day after, we return to the rule of men.”
    It was the icing on the FAIL cake for me. It wasn’t said ironically. It wasn’t said flippantly. It was deadpan, straight-down-the-barrel-of-the-camera serious. I always thought Mikey was the misogynistic arsehole on that show. Now I’m convinced it’s just turned into a self-congratulatory wank for privilaged arseholes. Won’t be watching again.

  52. allie joy: here’s the relevant bit:
    I read it as him thinking he’s being ‘ironic’. Or funny. Or whatever. ‘Cos we’re in such a postfeminist world that such an idea would be thought ridiculous by all, amirite? Women are totally equal already! We don’t even NEED International Women’s Day! And don’t you wish those uppity feminists would shut up? Especially the crip ones? I sure do! Except then we wouldn’t have them as comedy fodder! Hahaha!
    Meloukhia’s post on Hipster Ableism says pretty much everything I want to say, only better.

  53. Thanks Lauredhel. I may have read it the way I did cos the whole show infuriated me past the point of objective analysis. Either way, there’s nothing but fail there.
    “Women are totally equal already! We don’t even NEED International Women’s Day!”

  54. He really hasn’t got clue, has he?

  55. Thanks for taking the time to post this- I wasn’t sure about her motives (I’m not familiar with her music) and read her blog post via a knitting site which mentioned her project and the controversy.
    Her smirking at feminists and disabled feminists was really cowardly and in bad taste. It gives quite a good perspective on where she comes from. I really dislike her obvious aim to make a trendy ‘freakshow’ with infantilised disabled characters while she spouts stuff about the ineffable beauty of storytelling.

  56. Smashingstars sums things up nicely on unfunnybusiness:

    ”Disabled feminists” is the classic Republican/rightwing “joke”. It’s the exact same thing as the sarcastic jokes about “black disabled lesbians” (or, more usually, black lesbian in a wheelchair as Maysoon Zayid mentions in this article). These jokes have been around since the 1980s. Stacking the 3 “negatives” on top of each other is exaggeration comedy to those who think black, disabled, and/or lesbian are each individually negative to begin with. […]

  57. “Paul [through applause]: I just want to know, if there’s any minority groups we haven’t hit so far, ring in now, we’ll get onto you. [gives thumbs up]”
    Although I am not a big fan of Paul McDermott, I do think that Paul McDermott was put on the spot by Amanda Palmer and Des whatever his name is.
    The above comment as seen on the attached screening is delivered in such a way as a cautionary warning shaded in humour.
    I have seen this type of humour used to pull people up in social situations and it is delivered in a way as to not cause any embarrassment for all parties concerned whilst giving a subtle warning that the comment is out of line.
    This works if the offenders are tuned into the signals that are being sent by the person delivering the comment which Amanda and Des obviously weren’t.

  58. As notes:
    ‘Some people are so dumb that they think they can walk around naked and argue people into believing they have clothes on. These people have made their way to the internet.’
    So have bravely gone where none have gone before, and brought together a wonderful list of examples on how to to recognise such netnitwits, complete with screenshots of the crappy poster is involved.
    One of those people is Amanda Palmer, who is currently clinging by the skin of her teeth to her ‘edgy card’ : number 11 in
    It doesn’t work because we’ve heard the video of her on Australian television, and it stinks. ..

  59. Gaye: That sort of remark is also used as a “Oh, we’re so PC, LOL, have we offended all the marginalised groups yet? Har har!” If you watch the rest of the video, you’ll see it’s Paul who then goes on to be the one cracking jokes about giving “tarts a belt” and being unable to restrain his hilarity at the thought of disabled feminists being unhappy at gags about violence against women.
    This stuff didn’t just unexpectedly happen around him without his participation.


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