Amanda Palmer On Abortion, Cancel Culture, And Australia’s Bushfires


– 35 was the magical age. I was like, when I’m really old, when I’m 35 and like a total grownup, I’m sure I’ll figure this out, and then I turned 35 and guess what? Like I woke up on my 35th
birthday and was like. (pops finger in mouth) (upbeat music) I am Amanda Palmer, sometimes known as Amanda Fucking Palmar and I am going to help you
get to know my insights. (upbeat music) I am on a world tour right now. It’s four hour solo piano stage show and a lot of the show is taken
up talking about abortion. But I talk a lot about how
hard it is to write music, about something like abortion, not just because it’s such a taboo topic but because it’s such an awkward topic. I had my first abortion
when I was 17 years old, and I spent like a good chunk of my 20s really, really
trying to write a song that would do it justice. When my band, The Dresden Dolls, put out our second record, I kind of tried to write a song about it, but I didn’t quite get it right and it was like dripping with irony and sarcasm, and then finally last year with all that was happening in America with reproductive rights being taken away and away and away and away, never illegalized, just like if you’re poor you can’t get an abortion ’cause you just can’t access one. We’re just gonna make sure that you can’t actually drive to a clinic, and I was in Ireland in Dublin right when the referendum vote happened. Like I had a show there by accident. I landed there the day of the vote and I wound up hanging out
with all of these activists and woman who had fought for decades to just even get this
legislation in front of people and I went home about a
week later and I finally, I finally found the song and I went out to my whole fan base. I wrote a post on my blog and I said if you could say
anything to a person who was going to get an abortion tomorrow,
what would you tell them? And it’s not like I cut and pasted those comments
into a song literally, but I read all of that, I went into the studio, I
tried to carry it into a song and I finally, finally
think I got it right, not that you ever can with art. (upbeat music) So one of the other things I talk about in my show is, as an artist, as a person, just like the crazy ambivalence then you
can feel about whether or not to have kids, and especially when you’re a professional and you’re in your 20s
and all of a sudden, like me, at 27, picked up by a major label and massive success and world tours and this and that and the other thing, and like, 35 was the magical age. I was like, when I’m really old, when I’m 35, and like a total grown up, I’m sure I’ll figure this out, and then I turned 35 and guess what? Like I woke up on my 35th
birthday and was like. (pops finger in mouth) Like I just did not fucking know. I had friends who were
like desperately trying to get pregnant IVF with
or without partners. They were just like must have babies and then there were the
friends who were like, no way, no kids, very
nice for other people but I am so not fucking interested, and I just was like I’m in this
weird middle gray vague area where I don’t even know what I think. I would call up a friend
who just had just children and they would be like Amanda, do you understand how much
work it is to have a child? It’s really hard. And I felt like okay,
you’re probably right. And if like you’re not sure you want to have a kid, don’t have a kid. On the other hand, children
are really wonderful creative imaginative little beings, they will bring all this magic into your life, so if you do it, you will never regret it, and I was like, fuck you,
that’s not an answer. I need an answer. And that, the more and
more I talked to people, the more disoriented I got. One day I decided, fuck, I’m 38, I have like done
all the rock ‘n roll, all of the drugs, had all of the sex, gone to all of the places, but there is this one
thing I haven’t done. So I had a kid, and it’s
actually been pretty awesome. Not what I was expecting,
but you know what? I was really careful
not to expect anything, so I haven’t been disappointed. And if you want to talk about it, just come find me on, just come, well, I was gonna say find me on Twitter but fuck Twitter lately. I’m thinking of leaving Twitter. Just find me. I’ll talk to you. (upbeat music) One of the things that’s
making it really hard to be on the Internet nowadays is that everything’s so extreme and so binary and so many people I know, even just like in the
last couple of months are like, I can’t anymore. It’s just too hot in there. People are yelling too loudly. There’s just too much anger and even, even from the places that are supposed to be the most compassionate and the most pure of heart and the most woke and the most wonderful, like it’s just all too
punishing and I just feel like I can’t say the
right thing, so I’m out. And this is one of the things
that’s killing us right now. And one of the things that I have been discussing a lot while I tour and talking about it on stage is the idea of totally radical compassion, and that means even in the moment when you really strongly
disagree with someone, especially if they’re in your group and they’re in your little bubble, you have to approach
every last motherfucker with a massive dose of compassion, knowing that they are just as human as you and just as afraid with traumas and past and history that
you have no clue about. Pointing the finger at people and punishing them for being messy or getting it wrong is dragging us down. And it’s frightening
especially right now because it is really in vogue to cancel people, and while there are
definitely terrible people that have done terrible things who need to be put into perspective
and often put into jail, the instinct to immediately cancel out and block and ignore good people with slightly differing opinions
because we are so the same and you and your friend are
both having an avocado toast but that one is more vegan, so fuck you is not getting us anywhere. It’s just drowning everyone in a sort of a hellfire of petty differences. Why are we being so selective about who gets taken care of and who doesn’t? Why can’t we just agree that like everyone deserves to be taken care of and that we are actually able, if we work together, to
take care of everyone? As you find yourself like in these moments of global catastrophe,
don’t forget to save some of your activism and your compassion and your generosity and your empathy for the difficult people
standing right beside you, because they need it sometimes
more than the strangers to whom it is easy to give that shit. (upbeat music) One of the things that is really hard to grapple
with when you’re an artist and things feel like they are collapsing which they sort of do right now, like, I mean right now it just feels like everyone is freaking out about the immediate state of things. Politics, climate crisis. It can feel like making art is vain or a luxury or surplus to requirements, because there are real people
out there doing real things like making computers and medicine and shoes and bridges and toilets and architecture and rebuilding houses and doing real shit that
people really need right now, fighting fires, and you’re
standing there going like, what right do I have to
actually make a painting or dance a dance or write a song or make a film when there’s so much critically important shit that really has to be done right now? The hardest thing about being
in an artist confronting that moment is knowing that
you have to live in a paradox of faith, that while all
of that is happening, it is still really important for the world to have artistic expression and creativity and stories and an expression and a
refraction of the mess that is happening back to
us, for us, for ourselves. I tweeted this thing a couple days ago, because Lizzo was touring
in Australia and I was like, yes, like, I know the fires are raging but this is exactly what
Australia fucking needs right now it’s like this kind of energy, this kind of like bold
unapologetic beautiful love force of music to come to the country and be like let’s be together and dance
together and sing together, and I couldn’t believe it when
I got shit back about saying that from people saying like you’re really gonna say that when there are important
things to focus on and you should just be
talking about how you can help and I was just like, you
guys are missing the point. Art is an essential part of who we are, and after 20 years of
touring and going like, why should I be allowed to do this when these
people have real jobs and are making real things? All you need to do is hang out after your shows with those
people coming up to you saying, like, hey, I’m the person
who makes the computers. Hey, I’m the person who
designs the bridges. I didn’t kill myself last
week because of your music, so I can still make bridges, thanks. Please keep making music, so that I can still make bridges, and then you realize that the
world really is an ecosystem and if you’re called to make art and you know that that’s your passion and you know that that’s your talent and you know that that’s your skill set, don’t be afraid of it. You still have so much to contribute. We can’t just have bridges or just firefighters or just computers. We need everything to survive
and hold each other up. So as dark as things
get, do not forget that. I am Amanda Palmer and I fucking love you. Fuck. (laughs) (upbeat music)

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