Amanda Palmer vs the Sidebar of Shame (NSFW. You have been warned)

The musician is not a fan of the Daily Mail, it seems.

Amanda Palmer, the former lead singer of the Dresden Dolls whose crowdfunded album made kickstarter history, performed this delightful little number at the Roundhouse in Camden last night. It's called "Dear Daily Mail. Sincerely, Amanda Palmer", and is, er, very not-safe-for-work. You have been warned.

If you have neither the permissive environment nor audio equipment to listen to the video, the lyrics are below. The point isn't quite as forceful, but it still comes across clearly enough:

 

Dear Daily Mail,
It has come to my recent attention,
That my recent appearance at Glastonbury Festival's
Kindly received a mention,
I was doing a number of things on that stage
Up to and including singing songs - like you do!
But you chose to ignore that and instead you published
A feature review of my boob
 
Dear Daily Mail,
There's a thing called a search engine - use it
If you Googled my tits in advance you'd have found
That your photos are hardly exclusive,
In addition you state that my breast had escaped
From my bra like a thief on the run,
How do you know that it wasn't attempting
To just take in the rare British sun?
 
Dear Daily Mail,
It's so sad what you tabloids are doing,
Your focus on debasing womens' appearances
Devolves our species of humans,
But a rag is a rag, and far be it from me,
To go censoring anyone-- oh no,
It appears that my entire body is currently
Trying to escape this kimono!
 
Dear Daily Mail,
You misogynist pile of twats,
I'm tired of these baby bumps, vag flashes, muffintops,
Where are the news-worthy cocks?
When Iggy, or Jagger, or Bowie, go shirtless
The news barely causes a ripple,
Blah blah blah feminist, blah blah blah gender shit,
Blah blah blah OH MY GOD NIPPLE
 
Dear Daily Mail,
You will never write about this night,
I know that because I've addressed you directly
I've made myself no fun to fight,
But thanks to the internet people all over the world
Can enjoy this discourse,
And commune with a roomful of people in London
Who aren't drinking Kool-Aid like yours
 
And though there be millions of people who accept
The cultural bar where you have it at it,
There are plenty of others who are perfectly willing
To see breasts in their natural habitat
I keenly anticipate your highly literate
Coverage of upcoming tours
Dear Daily Mail,
Up Yours.
 

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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The myth of the Entitled Fan

From abuse of Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones to the #GiveElsaAGirlfriend movement, accusations of “fan entitlement” are simplistic and wrong.

I spent the past weekend at San Diego Comic-Con, one of the largest gatherings of fans in the world. SDCC is a big, complicated scene, a vast sea of vendors and queues and what feels like all of Hollywood popping down the California coast to plug the next instalments of their franchises.

The dialogue between fans and creators varies at Comic-Con and similar conventions (SDCC, it should be noted, is a professional event for many, so the fan/creator line can get blurry). But with the biggest media properties, the general tone was best described as reverential. Actors, writers, and directors thanked fans for their dedication and their passion; fans asked creators the gentlest questions and heaped on the praise.

As the convention wore on, I was struck by how disconnected the conversations I was hearing were from the fannish world I encounter online. Every day on the internet, I watch fans critically engage with pop culture. Fans read deeply and watch closely, and they simultaneously create new works around the stuff they love while interrogating it rigorously. They squee over Marvel releases while calling out the whitewashing in Doctor Strange. They continue to celebrate Harry Potter while pushing back against the racism and appropriation of the “Magic in North America”.

Comic-Con hasn’t historically been a space for this sort direct discourse with creators – but whether it could or should be is an open question. The way fans and creators talk to each other is shifting, and these days, it’s arguably under more scrutiny than ever before.

For the past few months, people have been debating whether fandom is “broken”. The instigating article, by critic Devin Faraci, suggested that we live in an age of unparalleled fan entitlement: people who aren’t satisfied with their media, and don’t hesitate to be vocal about it.

The men who lashed out about an all-female Ghostbusters were one example; the Twitter hashtag #GiveElsaAGirlfriend – which urged Disney to consider making the Frozen protagonist its first queer princess – somehow wound up in the same breath.

He even took a bizarre swipe at fanfiction, suggesting that fans’ desires to spend time in fictional worlds, writing explicitly for other fans, was the height of entitlement.

If you spot a false equivalency here, you’re not alone – and plenty of fans and critics pushed back. Despite its messiness, the article contained some truths: threats and harassment of any kind are never OK, no matter what your cause. But it pinned the massive problem of online harassment on fan culture, and in the weeks that followed, others followed suit.

In its Comic-Con coverage, the LA Times asked filmmaker Joss Whedon – who famously left Twitter in 2015 – about interactions with fans, or what the article dubs “The Age of Entitlement”.

And in a breathtakingly irresponsible piece in the Guardian, another journalist ascribed the vile racist and misogynistic Twitter attacks on Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones – a deliberate swarm that had little, if anything, to do with the film itself, and led to the platform banning notorious conservative troll Milo Yiannopoulos – to angry “fans”.

What’s going on here? It’s true that fans on both ends of the spectrum, from hate-speech harassers to progressive activists, are speaking out using the same channels. But why do some people think they sound the same?

When I remember Comic-Con, all smiles and cheers, I can’t help but speculate that it’s down to the fact that fans are speaking at all. Fans have always talked back, but prior to social media they weren’t even a fraction as visible as they are today.

We’re witnessing the destruction of the fannish fourth wall in real-time: fans and creators are now seeing each other clearly on a massive scale, and creators are unsure how to – or if they even should – listen to fans.

To the creator, especially one who isn’t well-versed in online exchanges, any fan/creator dialogue can look like an attack. The traditional portrait of the fan as slavish consumer, treating a creator as god and cataloging their every word, was only ever one sort of fan. But for decades, it’s been the one that was easy for the entertainment industry to see.

Much has been written about the opening up of geek culture to people who aren’t straight, white, and male (not to mention the mainstream exposure of fan practices – like fanfiction – which have historically been the province of women).

In the democratised spaces of social media, marginalised fans are amplifying their voices just as marginalised non-fans are. For decades, our screens and pages have suffered from a lack of diversity, even if they didn’t actively peddle harmful stereotypes. Now that fans can talk back and potentially be heard, is it any wonder that they’re asking for more?

Elizabeth Minkel is a staff writer for The Millions, and writes a regular column on fan culture for the New Statesman. She is on Twitter @ElizabethMinkel.