We are all slurs

An advisory: This particular post contains use of racial epithets and homophobic language. My hope is that this will engender some discussion, and perhaps any discomfort will be, in the long run, brief.

Words have a power all their own

Words have a power all their own (Photo credit: Lynne Hand)

I had an interesting exchange in a cab here in Melbourne some time ago. The driver told me that he was glad that I was a Black American, as opposed to a Somali immigrant, because in his mind and/or experience Somalis are “violent thugs.”

Cowardly, I did not call him on that. In fact, I didn’t think about that incident until today when I told someone that journalists and others should call out a performer for calling someone a “faggot.”

My response was that it’s a point of respect: how can you be a fan of someone who will gladly take your money but not respect who you are intrinsically?

I feel the same way about the use of the word “faggot” as I do about “nigger.”

They are slurs. Period.

I do not understand the purpose in reclaiming them. Is it a lack of creativity? Or is it a sense of saying “I’m not like those people, so please don’t be prejudiced against me?”

Living here in Australia, often times I come across social media where two Australians will refer to each other as “nigga,” under the belief that it’s a term of endearment.

The funny thing about social media is that it’s public.

On a completely emotional level, I would like to go to every house in this nation and tell them the history of this word. This word was used to dehumanise, demean, and sell people. This word was the last thing some people heard before they were lashed by whips or hung by a tree.

And some might say, well that was years ago, it has no impact on the present.

ABSOLUTELY NOT!

This word and its history exist as long as we continue to have racial discord in this world, and I mean racial discord between any races.

The second that you fail to see how a slur against someone else affects you, you become the next likely target.

This is also a matter of self-respect. If you don’t love yourself, then how can you expect others to love you, or even respect you?

By using these terms or even accepting these terms in the public sphere, you are allowing them to breathe.

Most likely, the reason why these words exist is because of lyrics: People want to emulate celebrities that they respect. If they feel that they get a better sense of who they are and what they want to be, then that is totally fine. The real problem comes from wanting to emulate without thinking.

Here’s a three letter word that isn’t used as much as it used to be: Why?

Why are these celebrities the way they are? What struggles have they gone through? What have they seen that perhaps you have and perhaps you haven’t?

Love the music. Love the film. Love the show, but don’t think that for one second playing verbal dressup will bring you closer to understanding your role models.

Listening will. Listening to what they have to say and why they said it will. Reading will. And here’s the tough bit: You can’t skip the listening, no matter how much you want to.

Otherwise, you’re just front.

I’m not trying to clamp down on expression, far from it. I’m just wondering at what point does personal responsiblity for that expression kick in?

Saying that you heard XYZ celeb say something and therefore by extension you can say it too, is a cop out. It places you on the level of a parrot. And the parrot has an excuse, you as a human being don’t, because you have a brain that is capable of complex thought and get a load of this:  Capable of compassion towards others both animal and human.

Compassion and listening will break down more walls than downloads and blog posts.

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Vivre Hikaru Libre

Am now in Canada, Montreal, to be exact.

Canada has always had a special place in my head and heart. Were it not for the quirk of romance, I’d certainly be on my way towards being a Canadian.

I feel free here, way more than in my actual home country.

So, avec l’esprit de la liberte Canadienne, I’m going to admit something: I have a crush on Joe O’Brien.

Yes, that Joe O’Brien.

I have never met the man, but bloody hell, I did watch ABC Breakfast just for him.

Another admission: I am shitting sunshine over the fact that I will be here in Canada to see Being Erica’s [final] season premiere.

Vivre Hikaru [Homme] Libre.

The Dorian Gray Decade Needs To Die

Kim Kardashian, taken at the unveiling of her ...

Image via Wikipedia

It might seem a bit odd with this year nearly being over, and the first decade of the 21st Century already past, but I’m calling  the period of 2000-2010, the Dorian Gray Decade. Somehow, the zeitgeist was all about wanting to be good-looking and desired regardless of the cost. Interestingly, it was only during this time that Dorian Gray syndrome was identified.

The past decade saw the birth of the super celebrity without merit (Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton), the attending networks that cater to them (Bravo/Arena, MTV, both of which are the Dorian Gray networks themselves for those who know their history) , and the rise of such social problems as young girls intentionally getting pregnant so as to be featured on Teen Mom, and perhaps the most obvious example, the recent UK riots.

It would be easy for me to take the Socialist view that this is all due to lack of government oversight in media, but that is neither here nor there. See, at some point, we just stopped caring and wanted to consume. It’s hard to say when exactly this kicked in, probably because I’m talking about this in 2011 and not 2021. On one hand, you could say it began with the plethora of terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda and its sympathisers, which pretty much traded on young and horny disaffected and disenfranchised youth telling them that by trading their mortality they could have a morally right sex comedy existence in the hereafter.  That led to the Iraq & Afghanistan wars (the latter still going on) wherein the West did pretty much the same (although swap the sex comedy for perpetual veneration by those too terrified to actually serve themselves).

Then Saddam Hussein was located and the American public realised that we pretty much had been duped into signing away our freedoms and locked into a cult of personality so that an errant son could prove himself worthy to his distant father. Oddly enough not all that dissimilar to North Korea. Meanwhile, because said son and his party demolished so much of the home-grown industry, all we were left with was finance and entertainment. Boy, did we export those two. We literally made a killing telling the world that debt was a valuable commodity. (We have only just begun to pay the price for that hubris.)

On the entertainment side,  we had bored rich girls making money off of sex tapes and using to launch careers as…well…bored rich socialites with influence. Granted the influence came solely because they were marketed as so. Once upon time, you could see that as turning lemons into lemonade, but there was one key thing missing: humility. Why did neither the male nor female parties express any sort of anger at having their private moments being made public? Why did the media go along with the PR and not press them on what their new “celebrity” would be built upon, namely their total unknowing exploitation? Those who willing get involved with porn, are rarely so naive not to realise that they are there for sheer physicality and that it is a short shelf life. This lot, conversely wants to have the notoriety without truly accepting the consequences. Despite or regardless of any self-examination, the American entertainment industry exported this new celebrity archetype worldwide, and since no other nation has been able to match the sheer dominance of the American entertainment industry, it was lapped up and taken as valid from Helsinki to Hong Kong, from Madrid to Melbourne.

There is another aspect of this Dorian Gray decade that hits very close to home for me: the gay community. We have made great progress over the past decade: Same-sex marriage has been passed in 6 US states and districts, not to mention the amount of countries allowing Same-sex marriage or civil unions is up to 26. Yet, where we have massively failed is in HIV/AIDS. I am truly lucky to make it out of the last decade still HIV-, and it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m in a sero-discordant relationship (which I’ve only been in for the past 4). It has to do with the fact that we have seen companies glorify and profit off of unprotected sex. Granted there are brief, almost discreet disclaimers all over, which are pretty much rendered irrelevant when bombarded with images of muscular, seemingly “virile” and “healthy” men living a life of constant sexual gratification with no consequence. These images play on the minds of young men, who aren’t getting the best sexual education (whether it’s due to homophobia or general prudishness), and you wonder why the sero-conversion rates are going up.  (And if this makes you remember the disenfranchised youth who became Islamist terrorists…)

Why are we afraid to admit there are consequences to our actions? We cannot continue to glamourise what hurts us. We cannot continue to redefine what is beyond the pale, nor should we accept a media that will do so for us for the sake of a slick marketing campaign. Why do we continue to talk and yet never. do. a. damn. thing?

 

The Charlie Sheen Complex

Is Charlie Sheen crazy? Or is he just so media savvy that we just think (or thought–since he has pretty much disappeared off of Australian news) he is.

Actually, I think he is media savvy and so insulated in media that he can’t think straight. There’s media symbolism in his “goddesses,” (women of “ill repute,” a Marijuana pin-up model and a porn actress), his past drug use, present alleged “non-drug use,” and even his rambling–which, remember the man is not just a decent actor, but quite a good one–which is so over-the-top clichéd, you can hear him winking.

I think he really knows what he’s doing–hell, anyone who’s seen Network can see the likely Howard Beale ending, but he’s completely unaware of the Pandora’s box he’s opened.

It’s interesting viewing, but it also points towards something that I find disturbing in modern society: living one’s life purely for media dissemination. It’s the ultimate result of a world where every other day there is a new YouTube baby/pet clip, a new meme which becomes another ironic reference for the 18-34 hipster crowd. We want to live our lives where everything we do is worth comment by the thousands.

And yet ultimately we become footnotes, even Charlie Sheen.