Michelle Shocked: ‘Hatemonger’ Or Misunderstood Provocateur?
First: "I'm abiding, letting everyone's true colors show before I undertake a personal response to each & every tweet." Which is a novel and relaxed twist on crisis management, when seemingly your entire fan base is turning against you, but Shocked has certainly always done things her way.
But, more to the point amid all the abiding, there was this statement of where Shocked really stands on religious and social issues: "Am neither against a woman's right to choose nor gay marriage. Am a fundamentalist tho" (sic).
Needless to say, this intriguing but not altogether clear declaration did not cause all the venues that'd canceled her gigs in the preceding 48 hours to suddenly rush to re-book her.
You've heard of of those rare flop Broadway shows that open and close the same night? That seems to be the status of the folk-rock singer's current tour, which was in its opening hours on Sunday night when Shocked launched into a rambling speech about homosexuality and the Bible that led most of the audience to walk out and the venue operator to literally pull the plug. The firestorm grew so quickly that, less than 24 hours after the debacle, nearly every club that had her booked in the coming weeks had canceled her appearance.
The road trek is beyond salvaging. But how about the rest of her career?
Shocked has certainly been more into abiding than doing explanatory interviews. She did use her Twitter account to promise her first post-fracas chat to progressive talk show host Nicole Sandler, this coming Thursday morning. When Yahoo! publicly and privately offered her a platform to explain what really went down, however, she mocked the request: "Well thank God, a hack for hire at Yahoo News is here to save the day," she tweeted. (We took that as a no.)
Club bookers weren't having any better luck getting Shocked to offer her side of the story, and so had to rely on the first-hand accounts from Yoshi's and its attendees, which were almost uniformly damning. Left with the possibility that Shocked might be planning to use the entire tour as a platform for what many San Francisco concertgoers had characterized as hate speech, without any contrary assurances from the MIA artist, venues across the country pulled the plug, one after another, in short order Monday.
McCabe's in L.A. was one of the last to officially un-book Shocked, after concert manager Lincoln Myerson arrived back in town after flying back from South by Southwest. At a stop along the way, he'd opened his phone to hundreds of emails and phone messages demanding that the show not go on.
"We are always an advocate for the artist. That's why I held out this long," Myerson said sadly, by phone from the airport. "As a friend, I would like to hear whatever she has to say. But I don't want to charge an admission price for that"—meaning, the kind of contentious talk that drove nearly an entire audience out of a club the night before. He didn't want to be seen as caving in to all the calls and even threats that had been coming in from gay rights supporters all day, but neither did he want to provide a platform if Shocked planned to make anti-gay sermons the centerpiece of her entire tour. After spending the day waiting in vain to hear something, anything, from Shocked herself, he reluctantly issued the cancel order and, like bookers around the country, was looking at the painful process of refunding money for a sold-out show.