Saturday, 27 April 2013

The Murder of Gay

             I must take this opportunity to apologize to Bert Archer. Many years ago he wrote a book called The End of Gay that very much angered me. Now, so many years later, I am ready to eat my words.
Gay is definitely over.
            I have only one quibble with Archer’s theory. He used his own burgeoning bisexuality as a symbol for the irrelevance of labels. And like the early gay liberationists, Archer believed that it was possible to transcend prejudice. And he believed essentially that such a world would soon arrive.
I completely agree that gay is dead. But it has not died a natural death because of the decline of homophobia. On the contrary, gay has been murdered. And both gays and straights are left holding the gun.
            Does this mean that men will not continue to have sex with men (and women with women)?
No, of course not.
But unfortunately ‘MSM’ is all that’s left of our identity. AIDS statistics are no longer collected using the category ‘gay.’ The CDC has decided that the term gay inclusive enough. So gay men don’t get AIDS anymore -- because gay men don’t exist. All that’s left are the ‘MSMS’ -- men who have sex with men.
            And having sex with men, is unfortunately, ALL that’s left for us. Gay was once a swishy walk, a witty remark --  it was camp, it was leather chaps, it was an ‘open’ relationship, it was a late night assignation -- perfume, performance, plush velvet curtains, fierceness, anger, and, well, dicks in a darkroom.
We’ve said goodbye to all that.
            Gay culture has gone the way of the dinosaurs. The only gay plays we like these days are ancient clinkers like Rent, The Normal Heart and  March of the Falsettos, melodramas that chronicle the lives of gay men when AIDS was not manageable, and gay men were dying like flies. There are almost no gay novels. I dare you to name me a new gay poet who has recently made a mark.
            We live in an age where gay men continue to be promiscuous, but mainly online. Gay liberation was about ‘coming out’ being openly gay IN PUBLIC, being loudly seen and deafeningly heard. The web serves men who are still ashamed of their sexuality, because they can make contact in secret.
The trans movement doesn’t seem very interested in gay liberation anymore, viewing gays and lesbians as oppressive for their attachment to gender labels. (I would respectfully argue that if we get rid of the categories male and female, we say goodbye to sex!)
And finally there’s gay and lesbian marriage -- all those sad photos of queers who have somehow figured out what outfits to wear at their weddings, filling up Facebook.
            Why do gay weddings sadden me? Because the ‘murder of gay’ does not mean that gay men have sorted out their identities, or have gained new self-esteem, or feel unashamed of cocksucking, or are proud of being effeminate. If anything, gay marriage will serve as an enormous pressure for young gays and lesbians unable to find a life partner.
            But we will go on. Just as women, and people of colour struggle go on, despite the lie that racism and sexism are over. Indeed, for some of us, in many ways, things are worse off than before. We have black president in the U.S.A., and yet we have more young black males in U.S. prisons (mostly on drug charges) than at any other time in history. More women are attending university, but an infinitesimal number have high-ranking corporate jobs. Women, like gay men, are reeling under the pressure to ‘have it all’ -- excel at both marriage and at a career. And, with all the pressure to be perfect, healthy, buff, married, middle class, and masculine, and with all the pressure to be perfectly comfortable in a culture that refuses to reflect the details of our lives -- is it any wonder that so many young gays are turning to drugs and unsafe sex?
            Who murdered gay?
Our puritanical culture just couldn’t bear the idea that men might act like women, and women might act like men, or the idea that everyone doesn’t ‘mate for life,’ or the idea that queers (god forbid!) have their own language, icons, and ribald humour.
            I will continue to be a gay writer. And as I witness my gradual erasure, I shed a tear, less for myself  (hey, I’m okay) -- than for the vision of the fierce, effeminate, sexual young man I once was
A young man who grew up in a community that affirmed his worth.


The Place Beyond the Pines
It was good and I’m not just talking about Ryan Gosling’s abs and eyes. Though it’s a bit patriarchal (father son shit, not my cup of tea!).

Molly Maxwell
Um……I liked it. Not bad for a Canadian movie. But teachers should never sleep with their students even if they are teaching at a fucking progressive school.

The Company You Keep
Too bad this is such a crappy movie about The Weatherman who by the way were not terrorists but principled left wing radicals who only killed people by accident.

Upstream Color
OMG I’ve never seen such a stupid pretentious piece of boring shit in my life! And Rotten Tomatoes is – like this is so avant-garde and profound! Give me a break emaciated yuppies in skinny jeans fondling flowers and being infested with larvae what does it all mean? IT MEANS NOTHING and I DON’T CARE! Why is it that people go to this horrible shit? Is it because they think it means they’re smart? Aren’t there a whole bunch of TV shows like this with impossible storylines that no one can follow and that actually lead nowhere like THE KILLING, and LOST? Jesus Christ I hated this piece of crap movie. Okay spoiler SHE KILLS THE PIG GUY at the end. But this garbage movie is not over (there are thousands and thousands of blank screen moments when you think and hope and dream it’s over) until the lead girl with the pouty lips and the vacant expression finally gets a new hairdo

Monday, 8 April 2013

Zombies and Why Art Matters

            The media is all a-twitter about zombies. Golly gee whiz – why do we love them so much? The Evil Dead movie doesn’t even have to be watchable, it will get 65% on Rotten Tomatoes and still be sold out. The Walking Dead is the hottest new series on TV and people are addicted. What’s going on? What can account for this mildly shocking, yet thoroughly entertaining and discussable, cultural trend?
            Well let the critical voices be silent; I am in possession of the answer.
            We love zombies because we are zombies.
            Zombies, as I understand it (and my knowledge is probably faulty) are beings that can walk around and, it seems -- according to some movies -- (Warm Bodies for instance) even fall in love, and have sex. But there is one tiny problem. Their brains are dead.
            Yeah. Just like us.
            I say this because ya know, there was a time when people read books and went to see movies (outside the house!) and attended something called ‘the theatre.’ And people were (I know it’s scary to think about, but not in a zombie way) sometimes challenged by what they read or saw.
            Once, there were things called ‘bookstores.’ Does anyone remember them? Books were things that people would read (often in the bathtub) and discussed with their friends. It was archaic, I know, people would actually say to themselves ‘Hey I’ve only got about 20 pages of Ulysses left!’ as they plowed on to the end. Also, people used to go to ‘plays.’ Yes, plays -- not megamusicals. The weird thing about ‘plays’ was that no one sang songs in them (you know, songs, where the whole cast of poor, struggling, attractive youths – usually in either Paris or New York, and usually dying of AIDS or Tuberculosis -- stand together and belt out something that makes you cry about people worse off than you?). No…a  ‘play’ had no songs. There was something called a ‘plot,’ and there were ‘ideas,’ and ‘wit’ and…I know. I know….I’m confusing you. And when it came to movies well – the movies (believe it or not) also had ‘plots’ and ‘ideas.’
            (I’m sorry, I don’t mean to stress you out with all this….)
            Nowadays it’s different. If you go to Broadway you have a number of choices. Let’s see, should I see a revival of The Lion King, or Mamma Mia? Or maybe The Phantom of the Opera? Oh dear me, which revival will it be?
            And movies are made the way capitalism and the internet have taught us to make everything: find out what the consumer is buying and sell it. There are six categories of movies these days   --
1. Horror (the zombies are attacking -- Ahhk! Eesh!)
2. Science Fiction (the aliens are attacking -- Eeesh Ork!)
3. Thriller (Will he kill her?)
4.  Romance  (Will her marry her?)  N.B. These are usually ‘women’s movies, ‘ but
            don’t worry, women have the vote now and some of them are pretty pushy:they usually can
            get their man to come!)
5. Action (Car races with another car; car crashes and burns up!)
6. ‘Tween   (Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, The Host)
            Nowadays movies are released at two times of the year: Oscar Time, which begins in December and stretches until March, and Summer Time, which begins in April and stretches until October. (Occasionally in November they accidentally release movies with characters, plots and ideas, but don’t worry cuz nobody watches them!)  And nowadays you don’t even have to look at a trailer that’s not almost identical to the movie you are seeing. If you’re at a thriller you will see nothing but thriller trailers. And no romantic trailers will ever bother you -- unless you’re trying to get a little free nookie with your girlf at a romance movie.
            Do you think I’m being sarcastic here?
            Stupid, pessimistic old movies and books like Farenheit 451 and Brave New World predicted book burnings and federally injected drugs and a Fascist government that forces people to stop thinking.
            But that’s not how it happened. We live in a free country. But the ‘free’ internet won’t publish certain books (Thomas Waugh’s Lust Unearthed was recently censored by Apple) and most of us are on some form of prozac or other, and we just want more Iproducts -- more, more, more! And we would rather not think about something called ‘art’ because it might make us uncomfortable!
            Me, me, me! I want! I want stuff that will make me feel good -- not think!
            Welcome to our Zombie World!


Thursday, 4 April 2013

Why Gay Civil Rights Don’t Matter! (as much as you think they do….)

        I learned this from Angela Davis.
        I wish I could say we are great friends but I'm afraid we've never met.
        Recently Angela Davis, the famous 60's black activist, came to Hamilton to deliver a speech: "150 Years Later: Abolition in the 21st  Century." I was very excited. And the city of Hamilton, true to working class form, came out to see her with bells on! Beautiful old LIUNA Station was packed; I'm sure there were more than 1000 people there.  Davis spoke eloquently -- and with visible passion -- about the modern prison system in the United States, which she thinks has perpetuated slavery. The facts, unfortunately, support her thesis. The U.S. has more prisoners, (and prisons) than any other country in the world. And this is a new phenomenom. In 1980 there were only 160 people in prison for every 100,000 in the USA; today there are 760 per 100,000. A disproportionate majority of those serving time in U.S. prison are there for possession of illegal drugs, and approximately 60% of the prison population is black.
        Davis's discussion of the relationship between racism and the prison system was fascinating. But what interested me most was her deconstruction of the myths surrounding Martin Luther  King and Barack Obama. Davis told us our contemporary image of the Martin Luther King doesn't match the real man. Apparently, near the end of his life, King stressed that the issue of civil rights was not the ultimate answer in the battle against racism. Davis quoted one of King's last speeches in which the great man spoke of challenging the inequities of the capitalist system. The jist of King's message -- and the heart of Davis's ideas -- is that in order to rid our culture of racism we must make fundamental changes in the structure of society. Davis was pleased to see Barack Obama elected president, but she took the opportunity on March 27 in Hamilton to remind us that Obama is the black president of a racist and imperialist nation.
            So what does all this have to do with us queers?
             Well I would remind you of one thing.  The same day that all those nice gays and lesbians were celebrating the possibility gay marriage might become legal on the steps of the Supreme Court, Governor Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota was drafting legislation specifically calculated to offer a constitutional challenge to Roe vs. Wade. In other words, while queers were celebrating civil rights as the ultimate answer to homophobia, Governor Dalrymple was proving to us all that, unfortunately, you can't legislate away hate and prejudice, no matter how many laws you pass. It's one thing to make it illegal to discriminate against blacks or queers, its quite another to eliminate racism and homophobia from the human heart.
            Don't get me wrong. I'm not against civil rights. But the danger is that we become so hypnotized by civil rights that we forget that new laws are ultimately a rather tiny, embryonic step for man, not the giant step we need for all mankind. It really saddens me to see those conservative gays and lesbians rallying on the steps of the Supreme Court with their cute little kids, looking like they are on their way to PTA meetings. They too closely resemble the middle-of-the-road gay civil rights crusaders from the 60’s – the ones who ousted the Communist founder of the Mattachine Society (Harry Hay) in order to establish a new, more acceptable face of gay activism (focused on the law). Hippies and the summer of love intervened -- and we all got very sexy and sexual for awhile -- but no. We’re back to civil rights again. Civil rights are far easier for people to accept than the radical alternatives that might make real change possible.
            Those who support undiluted capitalism oppose affirmative action, or any government intervention that would help to mitigate racism and homophobia. And when – as is happening today – certain people of colour and some queers gain access to middle class jobs -- the only value they learn from capitalism is greed. The capitalist system teaches us happiness can only be found by families who work hard, bring home the bacon, and then consume endlessly, with mindless dedication.
            Remember -- Rosa Parks wasn't just a nice little lady who was too tired to stand at the back of the bus. She was a radical socialist activist. And in the later part of her life she enjoyed chilling out with the likes of -- The Black Panthers!
            It's not just about civil rights. It's about resisting an unfair economic system and seeking to change our deepest, most fundamental notions that too often remain unchallenged.
            Rosa, knew!
            Angela knows!
            And I sure know.
            Does anybody else know?


Three Recent Feminist Films ranked in order of Bestness!

1. Spring Breakers
            How can you not like a movie where James Franco goes down on a gun and
            has so much fun?????

2. Ginger and Rosa
            And it even has Annette Bening as a (probably) lesbian poet being old and
            wearing glasses. So what more do you want?

3. The Call
            The only reason this very suspenseful movie is getting lousy reviews is that
            (spoiler!) the girls win and give it to the guy at the end.  No, really.

(There is however one very un-feminist movie around – GI Joe Retaliation. It has its charm until Channing Tatum gets killed.  I tried to like this one, I really did. But even with the superior popcorn they serve at Empire Theatres (Orville Redenbacher rules!)  it was impossible. I do have one thing to say though. The absolutely scariest 3-D effect I’ve ever seen is when they ask you to recycle your glasses before every 3-D movie! It’s like the recycling symbol is going to leap off the screen and kill you! I find that very scary and thrilling! I nearly jump out of my seat every time I see it!)