The singer Amanda Palmer has weighed in on the debate over Macklemore's performance and wins at the Grammy Awards on Sunday. She had recently seen "12 Years a Slave," the Oscar-nominated film about the horrors of slavery that concludes with producer Brad Pitt playing a cameo role as an emancipator figure.
To wit: In the era of slavery in America, white anti-slavery crusaders played the role that Macklemore does today, which is why it's a travesty when people criticize him for winning an industry award or for performing at the ceremony in a certain way? Except that Brad Pitt's character actually did free a slave, while Macklemore's moves toward equality have been far more conceptual, encouraging general acceptance of gay people in an industry he's hazily alleged to be anti-gay. Also, slavery was slavery.
Much of the criticism around Macklemore is not about what Palmer frames as racial animus, but instead is about his perceived classlessness in making public an apology to his fellow nominee, and about his perceived distancing himself from gay people while riding the marriage-equality cause to greater fame. That criticism that is racialized is far too complicated and bound up in the concepts of appropriation and privilege for a tweet -- or for a comparison to slavery.
Maybe the criticism of Macklemore is overkill! That's the point made in a post by Dan Savage that Palmer tweeted out, which managed to make the easily understood, fair point that Macklemore is an imperfect but valuable ally to the gay community without comparing him once to someone who freed actual slaves.
But the woman who seized upon the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev arrest in order to promote her poetry could be accused of missing nuance in the heat of the SEO-driven moment.