In 1992, Shocked announced that she would be appearing on the cover of her third album, Arkansas Traveler, in blackface. The idea, she said, was to make a point about the mixed-race roots of American folk music. But the point was lost. At worst Shocked looked like a racist, and at best she seemed to have no ability to understand how her words and actions would be received by the world at large.

Unhappy with her relationship with her record company, PolyGram, Shocked fought a bitter, two-year legal battle to gain control of her own music. She emerged, emotionally scarred but victorious, in 1996. Then she disappeared for a while.

When Shocked reemerged in the early 2000s, it was as a born-again Christian. Her longstanding interest in gospel music inspired her to sing in church choirs, and eventually the religion won her over, too. But while Shocked embraced a new faith, she never disavowed her old politics or activism. "It's just a real garden-variety, born-again, Evangelical Christianity," she told New York magazine in 2005. "But it does have the twist of my being a radical skateboard punk-rock anarchist."

Shocked, now divorced from her husband of 11 years, also seemed to deny that she was ever gay. She's given several explanations, including that the image of her as a lesbian was shaped by her former manager, who decided to brand her as such after his come-ons were rejected. In a 2008 interview, Shocked gladly accepted the title of "honorary lesbian," but provides a rather convoluted account of her own sexuality. "According to my Bible, which I didn't write, homosexuality is immoral," Shocked told the Dallas Voice. "But homosexuality is no more [or] less a sin than fornication. And I'm a fornicator with a capital F."

It wasn't the first of Shocked's confusing statements on homosexuality. And it certainly wouldn't be the last.


Vogt came back to us at SF Weekly a few days after initially floating the idea. Shocked had agreed to the S.F. concert over Pride weekend for free — and she'd agreed to my terms for the interview, Vogt said. The plan was for the two of us to meet in L.A., so I booked a flight to Burbank for June 18.

Soon, though, it became clear that Shocked hadn't agreed to my terms for the interview at all. I'd tried being firm with her. Next I tried to be conciliatory, and explained why recording this was important. Nothing worked. "Homes, if I'm gonna be recorded I'm gonna be scripted," she wrote at one point. "If I'm gonna be scripted I'm gonna need the plot. Send the Qs and you'll have The Record. My head. My plate."

Shocked was terrified of being exposed in any position besides a defensive crouch. I could get her in 140-character bursts, or I could get her in rehearsed answers. Either way, she insisted on keeping as much control over the story as she could. If the Yoshi's experience had taught her one thing, it was to fear the way that the media could take any part of her that had been exposed, any revelation she offered, strip it of nuance, and send it out to the world to be digested and regurgitated even further. Essentially, she wanted to do to our pending interview what she thought the media had done to her.

A day later, on June 14, Shocked tried to take control in another way: She started Tweeting about her deal for the show, the SF Weekly story, and an Examiner op-ed she was supposedly writing. The woman has a strange obsession with Twitter: She claims that social media are distorting our image of the world and each other, obscuring "Truth" into "Reality," yet she holds a three-hour conference on Twitter every weekday. Mostly it's a handful of sycophants and trolls exchanging barbs or back-pats, to which Shocked responds in typically loopy fashion. After Shocked mentioned the SF Weekly interview on Twitter, Vogt tagged me explicitly in his Tweets, ensuring a stream of flames and nonsense in my usually quiet column of mentions and replies. Meanwhile, the day of our interview was coming close, and Shocked and I still hadn't agreed on conditions. I decided to just ignore it and see what happened. What would Shocked do — not show up? I gave her my cell number and said I'd be at our designated meeting place at 2 p.m.

One of her conditions I did meet, by speaking in advance with Roger Trilling, a former magazine editor, music producer, and old friend of Shocked's. While he defended Shocked's explanation for the March 17 comments, and tried to get me to empathize with her fear of being recorded, he agreed that she'd said awful-sounding things. In an email to myself and Trilling, Shocked had said that "I interview like a poet, not a politician." Trilling agreed: "She often talks that way, and she is often confounding — like, 'Michelle, what does that mean?'"

I asked Trilling if it was unfair to question Shocked's mental health, which, given her history, many have. "Of course it is," he said. "It is almost impossible for some people, many people, to embrace simultaneous contradiction. How can you be a born-again Christian and a progressive activist?... It's a contradiction, but does that make her crazy? I think it only makes her crazy if the person who's calling her crazy thinks that to be a Christian and to be a progressive activist is impossible."

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
20 comments
bluedye33139
bluedye33139

The psychoanalytic term for Shocked's paranoid behavior is "projective identification," in which a person's personality functioning requires certain things from people around him or her, so the person behaves in such a way that pushes people into oppositional or condemnatory behaviour so that the person can explode into a self-defensive meltdown and shriek "You are persecuting me! You are attacking me! See! See!"

Vernet
Vernet

wow.... much worse than anything ms might have said or thought is how various people in this forum argue that not being mainstream makes you irrelevant artistically... citing zeppelin as a counter-example, as if there was any basis for comparison, as if zeppelin would have played yoshi's. these people actually believe that fame is some sort of quality approval seal. they probably own spice girls records and are swayed by catch phrases on special k and toothpaste. so much for the idea that the SF Bay is a place slightly less stupid than others. sad world we live in.

Vernet
Vernet

understandable that the journalist would want to record it and that she wouldn't, given the fray. it's a tough one. interesting how long this article was while mostly talking other written material. it's basically controversy analysis.  michelle shocked is still cool whatever she said, believes. she's eloquent and rambles on, she can confuse you and maybe herself sometimes, who cares? she's not only about making sense. her music gets to be really groovy like some songs on texas campfire tapes and kind hearted woman.  it was just a moment, a single aspect of her life that has little to do with her music overall. the public's feeding frenzy reminds you of the clinton-monica lewinsky scandal. americans are obsessed with sex and religion.  prince, and d'angelo are bonkers because of the sex & religion. jj rousseau supposedly was a wife beater. no need to condone that but no need to focus on it either. just like you don't focus on prince's megalomaniac born again ways or how he and d'angelo make a show of their typically christian ambivalence about sex in their music. shocked's music is not only dear to the homosexual community, the whole thing can be treated as a nonissue unless you've got (like me, obviously) lots of spare time. maybe she'll want to experience some general silence, a paradigm shift, get the verbal communication out of her head, focus on the music. be like the black keys, those guys seem to not get involved with too much analysis. and they're discreet, they don't spill out their guts too much, at least that's the impression they give. it's just a different style, it's not all bad to be a jello biafra or michelle shocked, in fact it's very cool too but it must be draining. maybe she could switch to the understated style of her country blues heroes, simple lyrics, simple metaphors for a while. communicate just through music. in her defense michelle shocked is liable to answer a listener's letter, albeit by hand. i once wrote to her asking something specific about kind hearted woman and she actually sent a postcard back in the mail, how cool is that?  hope this thing blows over eventually and she gets back to touring. she could put new music and videos on patreon.com,  reinvent herself to a new crowd for a while, and see what happens. 

JackJett
JackJett

I always wonder how much $$ a cult level artist like Shocked makes.  I found the story interesting since I have been fascinated with the relationship between media and their subjects since we were all lead to a war with chatter heads from all walks of media.  While in the world of Celebrity, Shocked is not even as relevant as the inventor of the Mood Ring, I found this story interesting as to how the media is even interested in getting in bed with another sexually confused homophobic christian.  Here in Texas, they are a dime a dozen and can be found often 1/2 off....their fucking rocker.

anon
anon

I saw another story about this when it happened, someone claimed that the secret recording of her around a campfire was not not done in that fashion - which if true, seems to fit with her apparent desire to be at the center of controversy


Rojotoro
Rojotoro

Apropos of nothing perhaps, but I remember reading a story about Siouxsie once, and how she said when she was a young English punk she and a bunch of friends had gone over to France I believe, and it was to protest something. Symbolizing her disgust with whatever they were protesting she had decided to dress or don in some form clothing, or a hat with Nazi symbols on it. 

Message being, the people or entity she was protesting were behaving like Nazi's.

But when she got to the protest, a large crowd had gathered and somehow people misinterpreted her reasons for the Nazi symbolism and she ended up getting her ass kicked.

Lesson, if there is one, is to always be careful when reaching for that third rail, what you say, and what you mean can get misunderstood and quickly result in unintended consequences.

All that said M.S. is an also ran, never was, third rate no one. This whole thing reminds me of Pelosi's response yesterday when asked to respond to Michelle Bachman's comments regarding DOMA:

She said "Who cares ?"

Indeed.




Wilson Ww
Wilson Ww

i read the whole article to try and understand the situation better. unfortunately, she still seems like a (difficult) nutter. as a good friend said about her (when the Yoshi's scandal broke) "I never liked that fucktard".

Dean Jones
Dean Jones

It's sad to see the trend of people being stupid and then claiming that their free speech is being impinged or that they are misunderstood. If people remember, Socked went through this back in the 80's when she tried to wear blackface on the cover of her album Arkansas traveler and then wrote a rambling letter included in her CD about the significance of Minstrel Music in the U.S. she's just a nut, and needs help.

Robert la Bohème
Robert la Bohème

Is anyone clicking through five pages of this nonsense? I'm not.

塞繆塞繆
塞繆塞繆

Blah blah! Fuck her! She want us to say it ok! She can screw her self!!!!!

Glen Jasper
Glen Jasper

Short, sharp, shockingly irrelevant.

studiesincrap
studiesincrap

Is it really Twitter's character limit that's the problem? Or is that Michelle Shocked and Todd Vogt, both professional communicators, somehow have no ability to understand how their words will be received by other human brains?

commun5
commun5

Njudah and Chipper:  Check out MShocked's Twitter page and you will see why such an article is necessary to convey the Byzantine qualities of this situation.

Chipper
Chipper

I agree with NJudah, "wow" is about that all that can be said in response to such a self-indulgent and self-referential piece.

Mr. Port should be writing academic semiotic analysis instead of attempting to be a journalist.

njudah
njudah topcommenter

Wow, first the Guardian has their writers writing about themselves, now the Weekly? What happened? When do we get back Actual Journalism?

emily577
emily577

As upsetting and frustrating as this sad chapter has been for myriad reasons, it's important for everyone commenting on it to stick to the facts. It's simply not true that Shocked was "an also ran, never was, third rate no one." You can call her third-rate if you want--that's your opinion. But she was not a "no one." She was big news for being a big talent, and she mattered.

Rojotoro
Rojotoro

@emily577 I guess my response would be relative to what, or whom ?She's hardly a household name, and likely generated the most publicity of her career only as it evaporated for something other than her music. 

I think Led Zeppelin was a musical act that was big, and mattered.

Michelle Shocked ? Not so much.



 

Concert Calendar

  • April
  • Mon
    21
  • Tue
    22
  • Wed
    23
  • Thu
    24
  • Fri
    25
  • Sat
    26
  • Sun
    27
San Francisco Event Tickets
©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...