Just the other day – after having already read “The Art of Asking”, which I had proudly pre-ordered and eagerly waited for about two months to arrive, and after having listened to, and identified with, tons and tons of Amanda Palmer’s songs – news arrived that her book got its Portuguese version for its own right. And merit, of course. She’s good with words, and such skill pays for a good part of her success. Maybe the other is the ability to be in many places at once, busting all over, and yet surely another part of the success is due to her outspoken, attention-grabbing character, and the ability to connect people she so much preaches about. All under the bright spotlights where Palmer belongs and deserves.
I have been a fan for a few years now myself: following her chirps on Twitter, the avalanche of comments and thousands of exchanges on Facebook – and, eventually, some whimsical moments on Instagram, whenever I remember to log it in – and thought to myself I should be glad more people around here will have access to the crowdfunding-giving-loving-sharing gospel she preaches. Curiously, however, I’m not as enthusiastic as I would or could or should be. The fact is it seems like these connections AFP so much preaches have very delimited and certain places to happen: Australia, Iceland, Germany, any other European country or hidden city in the US of A., you name it, but it seems Brazil and Latin America are nothing more than mere editorial and business markets where she can not only spread the word but also profit from. And it’s not fundamentally a problem weren’t it so disconnected to the philosophy I once believed would change the music industry and break the internet, all at once – and Amanda Palmer looked like the right person to do that. I still think she’s a kick-ass figure and really bold woman, and her boldness lays a lot in not being afraid of her frailty. That’s human and humane. And it’s beautiful. But lately the whole thing has tasted like Vegemite to me – especially this Portuguese version of her book. The thing is selling already and nobody who’s already reading it could thank her in person or throw a flower back at her.
Obviously, one can’t be everywhere at once, like I wanted it to be in the first paragraphs (it’s not possible even if you dilute ‘once’ into ‘dozens of times’). Everywhere is just too many places for a person to even try to get to in a lifetime. But I’m sure a place the size of Brazil, with its around 200 million people (unfortunately, not all of them literate – not even a satisfactory fraction of them) and, so to say again, a potentially good editorial market (of course it’s controversial, but a book with the appeal of Palmer’s can potentially sell pretty well to our standards) is not exactly a insignificant place. “Brazil as an insignificant place” is, of course, also very controversial depending on the point of view. Just ask to the thousands of Brazilians who live in Miami, glad to have survived and escaped “the havoc”. Oh, and of course, it might be especially hard to be on the move when you’re pregnant.
But then I ask myself why the pre-pregnant AFP wouldn’t tour down here and why the pregnant AFP would want Brazilians who never heard of her read her book. Not that a person should just preach to the choir, or the thing becomes a cult (and I wonder if it hasn’t become already). But the point is: is it just up for us fans to start a crowdfunding campaign and “beg” her to come? Is it just because independent artists REALLY don’t get enough funds to it? There are a bunch of other artists with way less than +1 million fans on Twitter or causing less buzz on Facebook who did it – just by seeing lots of comments from Brazilian fans in social media saying we’d really love them to come – not exactly backed by Virgin or Sony.
Anyways, rants are rants, and this one is no different. It’s good to have yet another positive-sounding tree-hugging life-loving title on our bookshelves (Portugal, I do love you, a lot, but don’t think just too many books out there are translated into Camões’ language because of you. Quantity matters and Amanda Palmer knows it). Of course I was truly moved by her book, and am still moved by most of her songs. But it doesn’t feel like a fair game when someone advocates towards deep connections and treats a parcel of his or her fans like a profitable market. And this is exactly what it feels like. If I were to cheer about the fact that, as an American, Amanda knows we speak Portuguese in Brazil, I’d probably turn to some other pop divas – possibly with the wits of Miley Cirus (no, I wouldn’t. That was just to make a point). “Heeey! Good you know we don’t speak Spanish! Hooray!” would be too little of an expectation towards a badass smart feminist such as Palmer. And that’s why feeling like we’re being treated like a market upsets me so much, coming from her. I wouldn’t bother if anyone else in the showbiz did it (like they do). It’s part of the script. But one of the potential shakers of the music industry – who claims to use love and human connections as tools? Well, that hurts a bit.