On stage Friday night in London, the singer Amanda Palmer delivered an open – very open – letter to the Daily Mail after it gasped at her breast escaping its bra during a performance at Glastonbury.
The Daily Mail reported nothing else about her performance, but made sure to include a high-resolution image of said errant nipple and many more of said malfunctioning bra. In the interests of an informed public, of course. And of a punny headline: “Making a boob of herself!”
In response, Palmer wrote a letter in 3/4 time and performed it at London’s Roundhouse Friday night. The next morning, video of it spread via Twitter, by the likes of Imogen Heap, Bianca Jagger, and Emma Freud. So far, I count nine versions on YouTube and in each, one can see many lenses pointed her way, “record” on. On Twitter, I asked Palmer whether she had urged her audience to record and spread the video, copyright be damned. “Indeed,” she replied. She understands the value of sharing.
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.
She also understands the value of openness.
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!
And sure enough, she opens her kimono, lets it drop, and continues singing. No big. As Palmer instructs the Daily Mail, if only it had Googled her body, it would have found many more naked body parts. Famously, in a grand gesture of trust in her audience, she has stripped and let them write on her flesh.
Palmer talked about that moment in another viral video she made: a TED talk viewed well more than a million times, about the art of asking the public for support. She received such support on Kickstarter, raising almost $1.2m from almost 25,000 fans to underwrite her latest album (causing some controversy, and not for the first or last time). I’ve also sent this video to journalists – Guardian included – suggesting it could be a model of public support of its work. The video is a tribute to the public and trust in its generosity.
Here is Palmer’s missive to the Daily Mail – the longer version with background for the audience. She says she’ll probably never perform it again, so it will live only on YouTube (hoping that YouTube doesn’t censor the flesh):
And here is that TED video, where Palmer bares her soul more than her body:
Amanda Palmer is my heroine of the post-media age, my model of transparency, and a damned fine ukulele player, too.