The mysterious, mean-spirited, self-proclaimed “strumpette” Amanda Chapel is the most divisive personality in the social media movement. She relentlessly shoots poison darts at nearly every voice of authority on the social web. It’s typical for her to characterize many of her A-List blogger targets as:
- “Baby babble”
- “Full-on non-stop shameless surreptitious sleaze”
- “The cacophony of dopes”
- “Sacs de douche”
- “Self-important fatuous boobs”
… and worse. But her commentary can also be positively brilliant, insightful, and hilarious. There is no humor so sublime as pomposity pricked.
All this venom sometimes leaves me wondering if she’s a just a pesky mosquito annoying everyone at the social media picnic or if she is having a meaningful impact on the evolution of the social web. Does Amanda Chapel even really exist? Does she matter?
I decided to ask her these questions myself. Here is my interview with Amanda Chapel, which was conducted last week via email (I added the hyperlinks):
MWS: You are one of the most reviled personalities on the blogosphere. Why are you so mean?
AC: Actually, that’s two separate questions. With regard to “reviled,” I am/we are anti the general Web2 Cluetrain commie crap. We poke at the movement’s weakest links. We show their Golden Calves for what they actually are, i.e. self-serving buffoons. That said, we also take no prisoners. As such, we lay claim to, and inspire, the inverse of the movement’s immature passions … as does anyone who thinks critically … as does any skeptic who refutes a bogus pseudo religion.
As to “mean,” I am cutting. Satire and mockery are biting at their best. Poignant is poignant. It’s smart and often cuts through the clutter. I also believe that the “David Letterman Beat It To Death School of Comedy” is VERY effective and resonates.
MWS: So you refer to yourself as “we.” This begs the question, are you real? Are you even a woman?
AC: The identity issue is so old and tedious frankly. It’s been asked and answered SOOOO many times. Sadly, it keeps coming up because the nature of the SMedia crowd tends to be literal minded. Brian’s interviews with Bill were pretty explicit.*
“We” means a group represented by a single brand. Asked and answered.
All to say, you can call me Amanda Chapel. That’s what we are.
MWS: One of your biggest criticisms is that many of the A-List bloggers don’t have the business experience or credentials to have a voice of authority in this space. Why are you different? Why should we listen to you?
AC: I’m not selling anything. I’m questioning. Those two things are NOT on equal footing. “Doubt” is not about credentials, per se; it is about the strength of the argument. That said, we stand on what already exists. The core of our system/Union is NOT enthusiasm; it’s rationalism.
MWS: What is pissing you off the most these days?
AC: Most? That’d be Liz Strauss, Brian Solis, and Deepak Chopra. Ironically, as more light has been shed on the ethereal emptiness of the movement, its “evangelists” have gotten bolder and strident. They’ve become irrepressible caricature. It’s like watching amateur Benny Hinns whistle on the way to the bank, having only increased their flocks after being busted on 60 Minutes. Arrrgh.
MWS: You have been one of the most visible voices of dissent for several years. Have you made a difference?
AC: Many say I have made a significant difference. Frankly, I’m not so sure. I think I’m more of a catalyst than a direct agent for change. Our outrageousness with Strumpette,** etc. made it safe for critical thinkers like you, Bill Sledzik, Sean Williams, Joel Postman, Ike Pigott, et al. to occupy the middle.
MWS: Do you have plans to ever shed the Amanda Chapel character or are you in it for the long-haul?
AC: I think the character is only good as long as our argument is relevant. Let’s put it this way: most of the failure of Cluetrain, etc. is pretty basic. But it is a bubble that sadly continues to grow. However, the FTC, Congress and business are waking up. I’m certain when the bubble breaks a new canvas will present itself. I’m pretty excited about that actually. It’s long overdue.
MWS: So far I have not been the target of your fury. What would I have to do to have you take a crack at me?
AC: We’ve seen you slip on occasion. But that’s rare. To REALLY get our attention, I’d think you’d have to have had a serious head injury.
The title of this post is “Does Amanda Chapel Matter?” so I’ll offer an opinion.
One of the most disturbing aspects of power and the social web is the herd mentality. You’ve seen it. If Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki or Jeremiah Oywang burps, it is tweeted 900 times. That burp gets repeated and codified by other bloggers and soon, it becomes a marketing tenet, a “rule” for social media marketing. That’s called “group think” and it is DANGEROUS. Maybe we should call it “burp think.”
It is difficult to have an impactful, dissenting voice in this arena. It’s like yelling for the opposing team at a home Steeler game — You won’t be heard and you’ll probably be squashed.
But Amanda gets through. She often pisses me off. She’s shrill, offensive and sometimes even flat-out wrong … but her message GETS THROUGH. We need that dissent. Even her detractors should admit we need it. Some of the most important and effective dissenters in history have been anonymous “characters” and maybe that’s what we need to rise above social media’s sycophantic mind muck — a voice who doesn’t play nicey-nice all the time.
I think Amanda matters. What about you?
* This refers to a 2008 series of interviews of Brian Connolly by Bill Sledzik. In this interview, Connolly disclosed that the idea for the Amanda Chapel character started while his friends were watching a basketball game. The idea for the “blog of naked PR” was born, complete with an Amanda Chapel backstory. Between 4-7 people have sustained the Chapel character and signed a non-disclosure agreement. “Amanda” would not disclose the identity of the person or persons who answered these questions.
**Strumpette was the Amanda Chapel blog which was discontinued in 2008.