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Two days ago, Amanda Palmer, in a Twitter conversation about Lady…

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Two days ago, Amanda Palmer, in a Twitter conversation about Lady Gaga, wrote, "ironic product placement is only ok if you take no money & beyond that give all the income to something ironic. like the Klan."

My response on reading seeing this on my friends page was that she was obviously facetiously using the Godwin tactic on the concept of product placement, using the Klan instead of Hitler. It was not that obvious to everyone, though, and I have been watching the ripples of outrage spread ever since.

The top relevant hits on Google at 9am, 3/26/10 (because this is going to take a while to write, I'm going to go with the snapshot moment there):

Random "WTF?" #1

repost of the tweet by sparkymonster, who also posted images of Lady Gaga's product placement juxtaposed with photos of Klan atrocities.

blogpost saying Palmer is exhibiting white privelege in using the Klan as a punchline; it is not ok for white people to do that.

A Twitter-following page with a link to Palmer's followup comment, which was a link to a Klan segment from Jerry Springer: The Opera, a thing I did not know existed.

Palmer was just speaking for shock value, and also she is annoying.

A link to sparkymonster's post.

a link to sparkymonster's post, along with a quick note about "my disdain for cruel humor under the guise of 'edginess' or 'irony.'"

"I can't think of anything that wouls ever make the Klan ironic, or make it ok to give money to them."

Some other Twitter user saying the Klan is not ironic.

The Klan is horrible, therefore Palmer is a horrible person, and I shall castigate her roundly.

a link to sparkymonster's post.

my LJ friend at her other blog, with a link to sparkymonster's post, also saying the Klan is not ironic, and this is hipster racism.

a link to Palmer's followup comment.

a quote from sparkymonster's post, along with the link.

Not very far into all this reading, I wanted to write the whole thing off as a tempest in a teapot. That's what I usually do, because it's too hard to pull it all apart and break it down, but I don't want to this time. I keep seeing events unfold this way, and it BOTHERS me.

What's interesting about all this is that very little of that contains any kind of actual refutation. The clearest criticism I saw levelled was, "The Klan is not ironic!" and "Giving them money is bad!" But "The Klan is ironic" makes no sense, and it isn't what she said. She's not advocating donations to the Klan, either. I know because I looked.

In one of the posts in the mess of links above, the writer said, "What the fuckity fuck? I'm trying to work out if there could possibly be some background to this, or a long conversation that would somehow make the above make sense." Um, yeah, it's called Twitter, and it's basically a chatroom to which the entire world is invited. This is one of the reasons I find Twitter so fucking annoying, because in my experience having any more than ten people in a chatroom devolves into cacaphony, and this is worse, because every log is separate. However, it also makes finding the context extremely simple. It's not even real research, it's just a series of clicks away. I realize that this is the internet, and anything requiring more than two clicks might as well not exist, so I have tracked down the whole conversation, because that's exactly how much all this irritated me.

amandapalmer: finally just watched the gaga/beyonce telephone video. painful product endorsement. amazing colors, visuals & production. terrible song.

olganunes: What's terrible about it?”

amandapalmer: it has that xerox dance-club feel and no discernible hook or depth. dance music is hard to make actually good. it's an art.

collectdust: the product placement was painful on purpose. some of them are even unpaid. metacommentary, and all that jazz.

amandapalmer: you can't cash in on irony. it negates it.

chillibbz ...what the song is about. trying to get on with your life but being bombarded with information and advertising.

amandapalmer: but this is the whole problem with gaga. you can't cash in on your irony and cry art. (however, warhol would so disagree.)

olganunes: Ah-- I assumed you were being down on it for being empty dance music. Do you know any GOOD dance club song? (Pokerface? ;) )

amandapalmer: i think taste in dance music is tied specifically to personal teen nostalgia. if i were 33 in 2030, i'd be sighing "lady gaga".

JoanArkham: Weird, I just watched it for the first time too and had the same reaction. But if it's ironic product placement is it ok?

amandapalmer: ironic product placement is only ok if you take no money & beyond that give all the income to something ironic. like the Klan.

Look at that, I was right. She is not saying that the Klan is ironic. She is saying that ironic product placement is an oxymoron, and after saying it clearly, twice, she went for the hyperbole. It turns out that context does matter.

Now, was it wise for her to reference the Klan? Not particularly. Is it reasonable to expect everything she says to BE wise? Not remotely. Her failing is that she didn't take the extra step of pairing what she said with a clear condemnation of the Klan in the same sentence. No one does that, though, NO ONE, and it's not her fault that the context was lost because everything said on Twitter is an individual link. I would even go further and say that even if she'd said this in a vacuum, using that lapse as an opening for censure strikes me as reactionary and disingenuous.

This level of outrage would make sense if she came out as pro-Klan, and I could still see if the issue was "people might misinterpret this as a pro-Klan statement," or "This is trivializing the inherent seriousness of the atrocities perpetrated by the Klan." There are reasonable arguments that could be made, but so far, no one has said any of that. A lot of it strikes me as the grownup equivalent of pointing and saying, "You said a bad word!" I do think the activists here have missed what could have been a good opportunity for discourse by getting all het up instead. I don't blame Amanda Palmer one bit for blowing it off.

In closing, I wish everyone would shut up. And you can quote that out of context all you like.
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