Questions of entitlement and quasi-celebritydom

Hey pumpkins,

A lot of posts have been about promo, which is super important, because I want to tell you what I’ve been up to and how we can connect with each other. Connection is so cool and great and I want to hug everyone!

kitten hugging a bear

If you google animals hugging each other you will cry.

This post is not promo- though I’m GOING ON TOUR and HAVE A RECORD COMING OUT AND MY SINGLE IS BANGING
. I’ve been processing a lot about what it means to be quasi-famous. I wrote a little blurb for buzzfeed that kind of talks about it too. I’ve mostly been thinking about the idea of entitlement, and as one becomes more saturated in the media, the more people may feel entitled to them or their story. For instance, after I perform, I need need need at least 5 minutes to myself in silence to recollect all of my emotions and reclaim my sanity. I go to some pretty real places in my shows, which is important to me because my performances are about vulnerability and showing your true self which can sometimes be scary. Show days usually consist of a 6am flight, a radio visit or promo, a soundcheck, a meet and greet, a performance, and then pack-up. I love what I do, even if it can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Recently, a group of girls snuck into my green room right after the show. I had a flood of emotions- flattery, fear, anger, shock, among the idea that I also felt it was endearing. I’ve never been in a situation where my privacy was so deliberately challenged, although I know the intention was positive and flattering. What was I supposed to do? I smiled, was nice and took photos, signed autographs, though feeling quietly frustrated. In addition, one of the girls wanted my advice about performing. I gave everything I had the entire day, and it wasn’t enough for them. They wanted more. It’s clear to me that the feelings that they had, though rooted in positive intention, are felt not just by them. It’s kind of the nature of celebrity culture; the entitlement. After the exchange I had with them, I had a panic attack.
Of course there are a lot of things at play here- security will now be better and more aware, my team knows to be more firm, even if I appear friendly.

In a similar sense, I’ve been experiencing entitlement from interviewers. Because I speak openly about my traumas in my music and poetry, it often appears as fair game to interviewers. And there’s nothing that gets ratings like a shocking story, right? The problem with prying about trauma details is that it has the potential to re-traumatize a survivor. Again, like the fans breaking into the green room, I believe the intention is positive. Most often what sends me into panic attacks is the interviewer citing specific examples of my traumas. Here I’ll disclose, because I’m in control (I’m unicorn

Self portrait

Self portrait

queen of my website) The question that frequently pops up is “You suffered a gang rape in an army barracks and were molested by your father. How did you get through that?” The question is so abrupt, unkind, and insensitive. I am happy to talk about trauma in a general sense- I think dismantling stigmas is an important part of what I do. A much kinder question to ask is, “You have experienced a lot of trauma in your childhood, how did you get through that?”

Again, I also feel as though I’ve invited these questions because of my vulnerability. Can I fault people for asking? Is this the negative implications of vulnerability? I’m not sure. I question whether this re-traumatization is self-inflicted in some way. Talking openly about being a survivor is something I value, and maybe part of my job as a vulnerable artist is to educate in some way. I’m still figuring it out. I think there is a clear difference between “telling” the story of trauma and “processing” through the trauma. I have done a lot of the processing in therapy and in

kindness2

You know, the next time you’re in a field full of sunflowers, hug a baby.

my personal life. In my music, I tell the story of my trauma. Is there more work to do after that? Perhaps in the public eye, the next step is to educate. Still seeking the answers for these questions in my personal and public life.
Until then, on behalf of your friends that have survived traumas, be respectful, sensitive, and kind when bringing up those topics. Remember: Is it relevant? Is it kind?

In response to the interviewers who speak about trauma callously, I wrote a poem. It felt really good to write, since the better part of my life now is about business and strategy and town cars. Poetry is so grounding and connecting.

HOW TO BE A TALK SHOW HOST
“are you better than how you started is it everything you dreamed of
also we heard about what you went through and we have concerned eyebrows”
I don’t know. I feel the same. I feel love all the time. I feel invaded sometimes. I feel happy tears when I see people holding hands. I am still many pages in a fucked up book, illustrating all the ways that trauma creates art 
I feel powerful. I feel seven years old. 
I am so hungry for their tan faced questions to be genuine- for eye contact on a red carpet instead of glancing at the evening sheen of other more important people
“Mary! How different is the world now that you’re a star, not just a bartender anymore, right sweetheart, how much does the sun glitter 
when you shit, 
cupcake?
and 
can you believe you got raped
pumpkin?”
During the week I performed at the Grammys, an interviewer on a celebrity gossip show asked me on live television, without warning to talk about my rape. I will not tell you what I said. I will tell you what I should have said:
Do you have a daughter
Does she smell like christmas morning
When she gets excited, does she cyclone out of herself like balloons in the wind
Is it beautiful
Are you proud like a gold bird
When people hurt her, do you want to decapitate them limb from limb
slowly with hawklike precision and burn their eyeballs out with acid 
Good
because that is what love is
so when you ask me about how I got over my rape in the same breath as asking what Madonna wore to rehearsal, I have to wonder what is your concept of human kindness
In a parallel world, I am your daughter
And if you asked me about the night I was raped,
you would give me sad stars in your eyes, not a vacant cell 
of two strangers oblivious, detached
you would hold my hands like fucking churches,  
you would let me tell you about the teeth of the wolves at my thighs
You would want to kill them with your bare hands
and without question
you would let me cry oceans
into your crisp white shirt
for far more than 2 minutes and 30 seconds before commercial.
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19 Responses to Questions of entitlement and quasi-celebritydom

  1. Cornelia says:

    Awesome and insiteful

  2. My Dear Sister,

    Figuratively speaking, you are my sister – in case someone would think otherwise. In my 42 years on this planet, I’ve written to a celebrity twice (including this one). I say that because your lyrics pissed me off when I heard you beautifully belting that you are Bipolar. You halted me. You made me so angry that I picked up my iPhone and said to myself ‘who is this great singer & why the hell is she claiming to be Bipolar in her song SECRETS?’

    Honestly, I’ve heard your name mentioned, but wasn’t aware of your music or your story. So, I did what we do now days: I Googled your name and chose the link to this blog. I read about you new album and your extreme excitement at an incredible accomplishment!

    Then, I read your comments about the interviewers and the teens who wanted more of your light than you had already given during your performance. That may be the price of celebrity, but you most definitely have the obligation to yourself and those who are fans or in the business to place clearly defined boundaries. Only YOU get to break those rules when YOU want to; when YOU have enough supply left to give – not have taken.

    Anyway, I’m already ahead of myself. Reading your poem left me crying. Celebrity or not, we are all the same bone, skin, blood, and breath. I applaud your bravery! As one who experienced sexual, physical, and emotional abuse growing up and one who has Bipolar with all of its bells & whistles, I freely give you my energy this evening to say one thing:

    THANK YOU MARY!

    Give them hell whenever they disrespect you or your story. You can do it diplomatically if you choose, which may be rewarded by a long career in the industry. BUT you don’t have to be diplomatic every time. They don’t deserve respect and gentleness or even the remainder of your time by finishing the interview. Those who matter most and who have the power to affect their ratings will stand shoulder to shoulder; arms locked. Enough of the sensationalism at the expense of the survivor.

    You may have a new fan after declaring lyrically you are Bipolar.

    Light & Love Always

  3. Coriana says:

    Thank you so much for all that you share, including sharing the importance of setting limits and boundaries what is shareable and how. You are putting so much good into the world.

  4. Laura N. says:

    I love you and want to give you a hug, but instead would hold your hands or whatever would be acceptable to you, because when you have been through trauma sometimes you do not really want to be touched or for someone to come up behind you and surprise hug you. Sometimes loud noises are not okay and sometimes they are. When you have been through trauma 100 different things could be a trigger for a re traumatization.

    You are coming to Buffalo in a few days and I so want to see you for the benefit, but I don’t know if I really have the money or if my emotional abuser will let me out of the house. I have secrets and he tries to use them against me and has threatened me for years. I hope I get to hear you perform, but even if I do not I want you to know I am also a survivor and though my trauma is different and my secrets are different your music is so right on! Your voice, music, and dancing is what is needed! Thank you for your poem, thank you for your art and lyrics and thank you for sticking up for yourself and by doing so standing up for all women everywhere.

    Much respect and love,

    Laura

  5. Dmh says:

    Reblogged this on Dmh and commented:
    Beautiful Thoughts by Mary Lambert

  6. Barbara says:

    Your courage and authenticity and truth speaking are so refreshing. I love your music and your beautiful spirit and wish you all that you aspire to. I do hope you have good people around who can help you maintain your balance and security. thanks for your honesty Mary. take care.

  7. Mickey says:

    That poem though…got to tell it like it is sometimes. Media today just doesn’t care about what their questions do to a person, no matter how invasive they may be. Honestly reporters need to go to a sensitivity training because instances like so happen all of the time and it truly is a terrible thing. Kudos to you Mary for feigning willingness when those girls snuck into your green room because I don’t know if I would’ve been able to do it. I love you!! Keep on keeping on

  8. Katie says:

    I’m not sure you will read this but I wanted to take the chance that you might and thank you for your honesty in interviews and outside of them.

    I’ve followed your career for over a year now, and every interview where a trauma you survived is so thoughtlessly thrown back in your face has felt like a slap in my own. It’s worth the risk of being triggered into my own panic attacks and setbacks though because I do always feel a little more empowered after listening to you sing and talk and smile and succeed.

    But I wish that you were not constantly being forced to relive those experiences for the sake of entertainment, and I wish that I didn’t have to relive my own experiences every time I want to hear you gush about how happy you are with your girlfriend and your step-cat and getting to make your dream album. I wish that you were more than just that gorgeously curvy, body-positivity chick who also suffered some unspeakable traumas and, oh yeah, can sing too.

    But Mary, please know that your music is so inspiring and relatable to so many of us and we want you to put your mental and emotional health first. I’m glad that you have good people around you to support you and protect you and that you are setting more boundaries for yourself. Take care of yourself, ok?

    This poem was beautiful and much needed and I hope that it helps. I really, really do. ❤

  9. Tina says:

    Mary,

    I was so moved by your performance in Berkeley. Honestly this is my first time reading about these events in your life. We can’t know what road a person has been down but we can act with decency & compassion. You are a bright light

  10. Nina Schuessler says:

    Your poetry says it all. Keep something to yourself. We all have borders that can’t be crossed. You don’t have to let everyone in. You can say I’m not in the mood to talk now. You are an artist and you don’t always have to be an open book. You gave your music. It’s there!

  11. Dustin Vincent says:

    I just recently discovered you and I think you have the greatest voice and your lyrics are very similar to the poetry I used to write. I am proud of your success and wish you luck. Continue your ability to touch millions of women and men too. I have had depression since 2002 and your words help pull me out of it. Thank you for being wicked smart.

  12. Suzanne says:

    Educate is what you’ve done here. Probably not everyone is going to read this and people will probably still bombard you in person and online which is probably what I’m doing right now. Honestly, I think you are right about the pain from re-living that trauma being partially self-inflicted. People think you are public property now, but at the same time I cannot imagine the number of people you must be helping (including myself), people who have had similar traumatic experiences and people like me who have serious body image issues. You have given us all confidence to be unafraid in being ourselves and to love ourselves, however, you need to weigh the toll that this takes on you. Don’t forget to love Yourself and take care of You first. I want to continue to enjoy new music from you. You’re just getting started.

  13. darian2515 says:

    Reblogged this on #Courageous and commented:
    The venerable Ms. Mary Lambert never fails to be both beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. This is wonderful.

  14. travellingpoetsunion says:

    Hold on Mary
    Be Strong Mary
    Outline Yourself with Light
    We Stand Behind You
    We Stand With You
    We pummel all with Light

  15. Riki says:

    You are incredible! And your words are ever punctuated with everything raw and real and filled with humility.

  16. Emilie says:

    Oh my god, I just finished reading this article and I have tears in my eyes. I will never understand the television hosts, asking personal questions as if they were talking about the dress that Kate Middleton had on her wedding day.

    I think you clear something that gives the impression that you are only joy and happiness, and it’s a very good thing, because you give smiles and hope to many people, myself included. But some forget that behind every smile hides history and injuries. And sometimes you can’t talk about anything with lightness and joy. Sometimes, some wounds have not healed. It is a long process that the business doesn’t understand.

    I am pleased to read your words, because I feel like someone understands me. No one talked to me like that before, with this intensity and this truth. I can’t wait to the album release (and I hope it will be released in France cause I’m gonna be on the store at like 6am). Everyone thinks it’s because I’m a groupie (okay, maybe just a little). But the truth is that when this album comes out, I will have the words given to each of my days. Secrets for hope and happiness, When you sleep when the shutters closed and my bed will be my only friend of the day. I have words to accompany me and make me smile and make me fell bad (but in a good way). Living words that don’t stink the business of the music industry. And I am proud to had discovered you next year, my life has something more beautiful since. Faith in life and who I am. Hope I’ll see you in concert one day, and mostly that there won’t be no asshole anymore for asking fuckin questions.

    Sorry for my english, I’m french.

    Send you the best, and thank you for all of that.

    Emilie.

  17. Tara says:

    Thank you for writing this. Yes, there has been a media haze around you which is wonderful because we all want the gift of your music and the amazing openness you project but it is also dehumanizing. What I love about you Mary is that you are real. Your tears and joy, your strong opinions and softhearted tendencies- they all connect.

    The media is a machine, as is the structuring of your fan base. As Individuals We are all people but as crowd we have been gathered methodically, with the intent of industrializing and capitalizing on our wants. In this case we want you.

    I am so glad to see that you are gaining your footing, not letting people bulldoze what you need just because there is a camera. I’m sure all of us would love to spend an afternoon able to connect and talk with you one on one but if you don’t feel safe in your space it wouldn’t be real. By protecting yourself and setting boundaries you protect that realness and vulnerability in the most honest way possible. The alternative to boundaries is pretty lies and I think we all get enough of that. If for some reason thinking of yourself is not strong enough to dissipate any guilt consider this- you are a role model now for millions people. Many of those people are young girls with the potential to follow in your footsteps. I wish when I was 14,15,16 years old someone had shown me that it’s ok to say no even when it’s inportant to the other person. Instead it took years of struggle to reach that conclusion, that I am worth saying no. So are you.

  18. maryann says:

    Awesomeness…thank you speaking your truth so eloquently.

  19. Katie Gribbon says:

    You are to put far to simply…. Amazing …. Thank you for your powerful words and courage even though the insensitivity of society to get information can be ever so hurtful

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