By now you all know the story of the tragic breakdown of the once-promising alt-folk singer Michelle Shocked, who made a name for herself in the late 80's and early 90's. In the mid-90's (while gaining her greatest success with a song -- "Quality of Mercy" -- for the soundtrack to the Sean Penn/Susan Sarandon film Dead Man Walking), Shocked joined the choir of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ, a Pentecostal church in L.A. and subsequently became "Born Again." Honestly, I thought she'd given up performing, as I hadn't even heard her name in many, many years.
Of course, she got her name back in the press with her horrific homophobic rant this past Sunday at Yoshi, a club in San Francisco, where she declared that she was afraid that Marriage Equality would trigger the return of Jesus and the end of world, telling the audience (who walked out after) to "Go on Twitter and say that 'Michelle Shocked hates fags!'" Since then, 10 out of the 11 remaining venues where she had been scheduled to perform have cancelled her shows and LGBT groups have decried her statement all over the Internet.
Today, Shocked issued an apology of sorts, stating she was merely expressing the worries of other Right-leaning Christians and the she (like Jesus) loves everyone.
Hmm. Too little, too late, Michelle. Or is it? Before this week, when is the last time you heard her name in the press (if ever)? I'd venture to say that no one born after 1985 had ever heard of her before this week. So I have to wonder... They say "There's no such thing as bad publicity." And Oscar Wilde famously said "The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about." So, my question is, was this a true melt-down or just a publicity stunt? I'm guessing it's probably a little bit of both. The gigs she lost will likely be replaced with invitations to perform at anti-gay rallies for groups like NOM and Focus on the Family, regardless of what she actually believes about gays and Marriage Equality. And she'll be fine with taking their blood money.
Take it from the voice of experience - performers are whores. Each and every one of us. Most of us are just a little bit classier about it. If this is a publicity stunt, I hope it backfires on her. If it isn't, she's already lost her credibility as an indie folk performer and sent herself on the same path as anti-gay nut-job Victoria Jackson - another has-been, desperately trying to stay relevant in a world that has mostly forgotten her.
I actually sort of feel sorry for both women. Their careers shut down at their peaks; misguided by right-wing religion and desperate for attention, what recourse did they have but to make outrageous statements about marginalized people who are finally coming into their own? In the 1960's, they both would have come out against desegregation and mixed-raced marriage. Sad, sad, sad, no matter how one spins it.
I can only hope that smart folks will see through the hate these women espouse.