On the 12th of July 2013, a member of the audience at Roundhouse, London uploaded footage of Amanda Palmer’s address to the Daily Mail. This address, aptly titled ‘Dear Daily Mail’ involved a song she had written in retaliation to a photo The Daily Mail had published from her performance at the Glastonbury Festival at the exact moment her breast “escaped from [her] bra like a thief on the run” (Palmer, 2013). Along with the ‘newsworthy’ photo, the Daily Mail felt it necessary to describe her usual costume choices as “provocative” and introduce her as “bisexual” as a means of implying her identity around these labels.
During ‘Dear Daily Mail’, Amanda Palmer removes her kimono, revealing her naked body in all its natural splendour to give a very clear message to the Daily Mail: it is her body; it is not a product to reinforce the sexual objectification of women in the media.
After the text was shared around different social media platforms (starting on Youtube), Amanda was interviewed by the BBC, where she pointed out that she had in fact let more than a boob ‘slip out’ in previous performances. The Daily Mail’s article clearly demonstrated that they had not considered Amanda Palmer as the singer/ performer that she was and simply saw her as a woman with her boob out, in short, they had dehumanised her.
This media text therefore reflects two things:
- Internet access allows for the consumer to become a prosumer, sharing content that media outlets would not otherwise share.
- The objectification and narrow representation of women in the media is an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed.
The original Youtube video has been viewed 785, 754 times (and counting) and shared 1,574 times. Over 10 people, including Amanda Palmer herself, uploaded her live performance to Youtube, where it was then shared across various social media platforms. This sharing of the video through prosumers led to the text being picked up by media outlets, such as Huffington Post and The Guardian, leading to Amanda Palmer’s interview with the BBC about a week after ‘Dear Daily Mail’ was posted.
As Palmer eloquently describes in ‘Dear Daily Mail’, women are dehumanised on a daily basis through various media platforms that normalise objectification by spreading this representation through advertising and cultural media (i.e. movies, celebrities, music and magazines). In fact there is a phrase ‘sex sells’, which is used as a defence for marketing agencies to continue objectifying women.
Amanda Palmer’s address to the Daily Mail reminds her viewers that the media needs to change the way it represents women and that prosumers can help make that change. Statistics from TIME published in February 2014 stated that female actors are still being paid less than men, women make up only 36.3% of newsroom staff and had just 28.4% of speaking roles in the top 100 films in 2012.
The Daily Mail has failed to respond to Amanda Palmer and seeing their current front page headlines such as this, as well as statistics from this year showing the low representation of women in the media, it looks as though we still have a long way to go.
**To see the lyrics for ‘Dear Daily Mail’, click this link.
ALTER, CHARLOTTE, 2014. 9 Depressing Facts From the Latest Women in Media Report. TIME, [Online]. Business Media, 1. Available at: http://time.com/8788/9-depressing-facts-from-the-latest-women-in-media-report/#ixzz2toG3UQrV [Accessed 16 April 2014].
BBC NEWS. (2013). Musician Amanda Palmer explains her Daily Mail riposte. [Online Video]. 23 July. Available from: http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-23420810. [Accessed: 14 April 2014].
WondrousWiebke (2013). Amanda Palmer: Dear Daily Mail. [Online Video]. 12th July. Available from:http://youtu.be/eGPDWEjjN3Q. [Accessed: 14 April 2014].
REPORTER, DAILY MAIL, 2013. Making a boob of herself! Amanda Palmer’s breast escapes her bra as she performs on stage at Glastonbury. The Daily Mail, [Online]. Available at:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2351373/Making-boob-Amanda-Palmers-breast-escapes-bra-performs-stage-Glastonbury.html [Accessed 14 April 2014].
REDFERN, CATHERINE, and AUNE, KRISTEN. (2010). Sexual Freedom and Choice. Chapter 2 in Reclaiming the F Word: The new feminist movement. London: Zed Books (pp.48-75)