wordplay: (Glee - Blaine + Kurt doodle)
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But I've already been taken to task for spoilers last night on Twitter (and Imma say it again - if you want to be unspoiled for something, just stay away from Twitter. It's in real time and there are no cuts possible and expecting people to control themselves in that environment is grossly unfair. It's a communal space, an absolute fucking free-for-all, and expectations need to be reasonable for them to ever stand a chance of being met.) so everything else I'm going to say is going to be under a cut. BECAUSE I AM AWESOME.


*breathes in and out*

And there is so much on this pairing, but I don't even... I have never had a fannish experience like this before, one where I was actively shipping (a) a pairing that was still coming together; and (b) had a chance in hell of ever actually being SEEN to be together. I've spent my fannish time Harry/Draco and Percy/Hermione and Weir/Zelenka and John/Rodney-ing it up, and it's been awesome, but last night was something different for me, the first time I've ever really seen the appeal of canon-shipping, and... jesus christ. I had been spoiled that a kiss was in the can (there was a .gif floating around tumblr) just minutes before the episode started, so when I saw Blaine walk into a room where Kurt had a glue bottle (which was in the forefront of the gif - I now ship Kurt/Aleene's Tacky Glue, apparently) I screamed and scared the shit out of Marc, who now thinks I'm certifiable. Ah, well. If he didn't know that already, he has nobody to blame but himself.

So let's just take it as a given that I'm absolutely over the fucking moon and carry on. Because I am.

And twitter last night and this morning has just been amazing. I feel in many ways like I've moved into this pairing alone, away from most of my flist, although everybody I've had face time with in the last month knows how obsessed I am and how hard I've been working to drag you along for the ride. So seeing people who weren't actively shipping them get excited and squee - it was an absolute delight. Thanks for that.

*breathes some more*

So, beyond that, there is some actual, like, SRSBSNS I wanted to discuss here, because I can't stop thinking about it and some of you are way, way beyond me in terms of this stuff.

There were two media pieces over the last week that got quite a bit of discussion over at the Kurt/Blaine comm, and I found myself a little out of step with fan reaction for both.

The most recent, and the least serious, was about this article in The Guardian, which really pissed a lot of people off. My response is a little, "meh, haters gotta hate", but especially coming after the other thing, it really made me think. More on that later.

The first media response that sent the fandom into a tizzy was this article, which originally had the line

“Animal” (Neon Trees) *** Nice singing. But how can having girls in the audience make these cartwheeling, foam-party fags straight-sexy?

within it. You can see from the Vanity Fair page that there was a firestorm and the article has since been edited to replace the word "fags" with "guys".

So, of course, the comm reacted (here) and there were two major sets of objections.

One revolved around the use of the word "fags". There was a lot of discussion around this, some people contextualizing it in terms of Brett Berk being all, you know, BRETT BERK-Y, which is to say, envelope-pushing and inherently confrontational. There was a lot of talk around reclamation movements, and whether Vanity Fair was an appropriate place for that rhetorical move, and a whole WHOLE lot of straightsplaining about why it was never ever ever ever appropriate to use that word. I chimed in at some point to this conversation with a "wellllll, any response to this that DOESN'T start with 'wellllllll' sort of misses the point, I think," but by and large this is a conversation that I've been in and near and around so many times that I'm just sort of done with it. There is nothing to say here that's interesting, really: either you get what's going on there and can roll with it, or you don't and you can't, or you SEE it and have some kind of quibble about "context" and that's just a matter of personal taste and opinion.

The second one, and the one I found most interesting, was a slightly more subtle argument. The idea was that, of the Warblers, Kurt and Blaine are the only ones that we know are gay, so to call the whole performance 'gay' really misses the mark. And yes, Kurt and Blaine totally gay it up in this number - at one point they are standing together behind the foam cannon, shooting it all over their fellow (male) club members. A lot of people at the comm, though, took objection to the idea that the scene itself was gay. Particularly, check this comment out, which I feel OK about lifting as (a) I've stripped the username; (b) it's a public post; (c) dude, I didn't fill out any IRB paperwork for this Lj entry.

A performance with backflips and bubbles and boys dancing is being labeled as ‘gay’. It’s perpetrating that all-boys school stereotype and slapping the queer label on a bunch of boys of thus far unlabelled sexuality based on something as petty as their hobbies, school, and a dance performance. Part of the reason those stereotypes still exist and are haunted with negative associations is because people are still just carelessly throwing them in a major publication.

And this just... so, manymany years ago I read The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture; my copy has since disappeared and I picked up another one, just because it was so important at the time of its publication and I needed to think about it again, another 10 years down the road. The idea of the book was that, as (white, middle-class, male) gay culture is assimilated by the mainstream, and as overt oppression of homosexuality subsides, the subcultural cohesion of "gayness" has to necessarily fade, which is an inherently threatening idea. It ends with the paragraph:

Is the demise of gay culture really such a tragedy after all? Certainly, it is an inevitable tragedy, and only a nostalgic fool would want to prevent it from happening in light of the fact that the flourishing of gay culture depends on the persistence of the oppression we have struggled so hard to eliminate. And yet the fact remains that we feel sentimental about things like camp, drag, and aestheticism now that they are disappearing into the oblivion of a world dominated by Coke commercials and sitcoms. The process of assimilation itself is unpleasant, and we recoil from the sight of the extreme homogenization of American culture, of a monolithically uniform melting pot gobbling up its minorities, wiping them out through television and mass marketing. It is this complex and ambivalent attitude toward assimiliation, toward both its necessity and its ultimate ruinous impact on us as a minority, that marks the pages of this book.

And, so (1) it was shocking to me, in a fucking shipping community, to see somebody say that a male foam party couldn't be called "gay" because THAT was oppressive. It's kind of a breathtaking reversal of the paradigm, even as it's familiar. I remember when Owen was born becoming very acutely aware of the narrow range of expression and personal identity for boys. It IS true, I think, at this moment in our culture, that women have a wider ranges of personal selves that are socially acceptable, at least at the very young ages, than men do. So I get what she is saying, but it also seems like she wants to nullify the existence of gay subculture so that... straight young men can be happier? Am I... reading that wrong? So I'm working through all the implications of that, and I really need an update of the book, because this has just become so much more relevant after this past decade of marriage equality work, and I am a social scientist at my core so I have an instinctive response about throwing my body over subcultures to protect their uniqueness, even as I am fully aware that that may not be good for anybody. (The special linguistics version of this is language preservation. We don't want languages to die, so we nurture them, even as we realize that people NEED a robust grasp of their local lingua franca to thrive in the world. My cognitive dissonance, let me show you it.) But now I'm also just deeply cynical of the whole idea, because who, exactly, benefits from these moves, and how, in the real world in which we live?

And (2) look back at the Guardian article, through this lens, and you can see why I was a bit o.O re this criticism of Kurt. In SO MANY WAYS, Kurt is this very old-school kind of gay boy, and it's always BEEN there but his characterization in "Sexy" really was such a potent reminder of that, and then there is this kid, this columnist in The Guardian who [livejournal.com profile] titanic_days tells me is really very young, and god, does he not even KNOW what he's nullifying? Or is he just past it, so ready to not need it any more? And that's a totally fair response, but I also kind of like the idea of Kurt as homage. So much of what comes out of Kurt's mouth is for older audiences (CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE JOAN ARMATRADING MEDLEY!? OMFG.) and the irony is that, even as people talk about Chris's performances and what Kurt's storylines mean for kids watching the show, it's becoming even more clear that, kids, Kurt is not for you. The fairest question, then, is who IS he for? He's hitting some pretty big buttons for retired hags like me, and it's been said over and over again that he's Ryan Murphy's projection into the show, but what do you guys think?

So. Anyway. Thinky thoughts about a show that is often... not so much with the thinky. TALK TO ME, FLIST. You're all so smart, and I really want to know what you think.

And, as always, ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

And this forever:

And also this:

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April 2011

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