Like our own radio shouters, the almost permanently outraged UK tabloid the Daily Mail is used to bullying its victims with mock shock, righteous abuse or just plain hyperbole. All in the name of middle England.
However, the aspiring-to-middlebrow newspaper picked the wrong target recently when it couldn’t help but snigger at the discovery that art rocker, writer and online innovator Amanda Palmer has breasts.
In what purported to be a review of her performance at the Glastonbury Festival, the Mail used a photo of Palmer which showed, in their language, that one breast had “escaped her bra”, as the basis of the article. In this case “the basis of” meaning pretty much all they talked about, to the exclusion of the songs. And yes, we are talking about a newspaper here not a lad’s mag.
Palmer, who was an early adopter of social media, crowd sourced funding, political and social activism and was one of the thoughtful and witty contributors to Australian Marieke Hardy’s internationally successful Women Of Letters productions, didn’t waste time writing a letter to the editor. Instead she took to the stage at London’s Roundhouse at the weekend and played the tabloid at its own game.
Wearing a kimono while playing a keyboard, Palmer began by pointing out that if the newspaper had searched online it would have found that its flash of Palmer nipple was hardly exclusive given she’s no stranger to nudity. This is someone who once performed asking the audience to write on her naked body after all.
She then added: “It’s so sad what you tabloids are doing/Your focus on debasing women’s appearances/Devolves our species of humans” before asking a perfectly reasonable question of “you misogynist pile of twats”. Declaring herself tired of “these baby bumps, vaj flashes, muffin tops”, she asks: “Where are the newsworthy cocks”
Better yet, having advised anyone with a camera to be prepared, this last verse was delivered sans kimono: yes, stark bollocky naked vicar! “And though there be millions of people who’ll accept the cultural bar where you have it at/There are plenty of others who’re perfectly willing to see breasts in their natural habitat.”
On phone camera footage already bouncing around the world the audience can be heard laughing uproariously through this, reminding us that sometimes the easiest way to undercut a bully is to laugh at him and his ridiculous pretensions to power.
Not that Palmer has entirely given up the pungent riposte in language all tabloids, and their radio counterparts, can understand. Her song ends “Dear Daily Mail, up yours”.
– Sydney Morning Herald