Also: Link (=his most recent interview with Terry Gross, the last minute of which is heartbreakingly heartfelt).
I get to the main office/occasional-impromptu-bookstore around half past one. Rose is in the back room, consolidating tattered mass market paper backs into those cardboard trays beer sometimes comes in. You know the ones. The book sale we hosted last weekend kind of went bananas, and the three rooms we’ve taken over on the first floor, to flood with shelves and boxes and tables full of books, are a mess. Rose is a volunteer, probably in her 70′s, five foot nothing, round but nimble — an avid walker. I don’t really need her to be sorting through mass market paperbacks. I’d just as soon throw them all away — there’s certainly no dearth of them. But she’s restoring a semblance of order to the place, which is appreciated. And when I get to the point where I do need her to do something, she’ll do it. I couldn’t really ask for much more from a volunteer.
Rose once called me on a Friday night at around eight o’clock, just around dinnertime. I was in New York City for the weekend. I was, if you can believe it, eating dinner because, as mentioned, it was just around dinnertime. I was, moreover, eating a dinner that my, um, “friend” had prepared for me — the very first meal she had ever cooked for me, as a matter of fact. So, of course: phone number I don’t recognize from an area code in Massachusetts while I’m on a date? I better answer that call!
“Hi, Tom, it’s Rose.”
Rose, Rose… who on earth is Rose? Ohhh. Rose. ”Um, hi… Rose? What’s, uhm, up?” Waving to pretty lady across table, This will only be a second, promise.
“Well, I was thinking, I can get you all the leftover books from the library sale in Marblehead. Do you have a minute? You aren’t eating dinner or anything, are you?”
“No, yeah, no, it’s fine. I ju–”
“Well, what we could do is…”
It was only a couple minutes later, when Rose said something about how we could discuss her plan to get books “tomorrow” since I was “going to be at work” (she was thinking about stopping by the office to help set up the book sale, anyway, and why not kill two birds with one stone, right?), that I realized she probably didn’t really keep track of her weekdays all that well.
“I’m actually in New York City this weekend, Rose.” I made sure to emphasize how very weekend it was. “I probably won’t be back at work until Tuesday. But we can definitely talk about it then.”
“Oh, is today Friday already? Well, how about that, you’re right.”.
In the end the two of us did end up making the NYC-dinner-date-interrupting trip to Marblehead to salvage thirty boxes of unwanted books. I chauffeured in the company dump truck. “When you said you had a truck, you really meant it,” Rose said as she opened the door. I have rarely feared more for a person’s life than watching Rose try to climb into the passenger seat that day. It was like watching a grape trying to do the monkey bars. My plan was that if she let go of the oh-shit handle and started to fall, I’d grab her arm and hold her up. It’s only now that I realize I probably just would have dislocated her shoulder if that’d happened. Or, like, ripped the entire arm right off. You can pluck a stem from a grape pretty easily, after all.
So today, when I’ve finally finished sifting through a giant blue laundry hamper full of books and magazines books and three ring binders and books and video tapes and CDs and books, I ask Rose if she can give the mass-markets a rest and put all the non-fiction books I’ve boxed up onto the appropriate shelves in the non-fiction room. “I’ll wheel them in on the dolly and put the boxes on the tables. Can you just go through them and plop the books down where they belong?” (The volunteers have established a weird genre-bending, pseudo-Dewey decimal shelving system for the non-fiction room. I let them roll with it because it’s less work for me, and because it seems to make them happy. It’s all about the illusion of control, I guess.)
“Sure, yep. I can do that,” Rose says. And that’s exactly what we do.
I pull into the parking lot of Marc’s condominium complex at quarter past five, turn the car off in front of the handicapped ramp, and phone him. I let the phone ring two times and hang up. This is our system. When the phone only rings twice, he knows I’m downstairs waiting for him. I see him through the double doors in his little lobby — a cane, weathered ball cap, untucked, unkempt shirt, full white beard. As he gets closer I can make out the slightly curled upper lip, and his twitchy left eye. I unlock the door. He gets inside the car.
“Here,” he says, “I brought you something.” He hands me a 50th Anniversary edition DVD box set of some old sci-fi series I’ve never heard of, and two CDs by musicians I’ve never heard of either. “I’m telling ya, there’s always something on that bench,” Marc says, referring to the bench inside the lobby where, apparently, there is always something. “It’s a great place to pick up free books and stuff. People move out and they just leave it there.” Marc smiles at me: proof.
“Trisha Yearwood?” I say, glancing at the titles and starting my car.
“Oh, Trisha Yearwood. The country singer. I used to like her.”
I’m taking Marc grocery shopping because Marc can’t drive anymore. He fell into a diabetic coma a few months ago, and collapsed on the floor of his little condo. Marc is a lifetime bachelor who mostly keeps to himself: he laid there on his floor alone and unconscious for six days before anyone finally found him. His blood sugar was in “you should be dead” territory. It’s pretty amazing that he’s not.
Before all of that mess, he finagled his way into my life by way of my current career in books. He met my boss at a farmer’s market, told her that he used to own a bookstore in Cambridge, and said that he would love to talk to us about our book business. She agreed.
When Marc and I first met, it was at a tête-à-tête with my boss and our executive director. My first impression of him was that he was insane. But despite vague pronouncements about how, “What you should be doing is turning this [holding a book] into this [pulling a dollar bill out of his pocket],” I could tell that deep down he knew what he was talking about. I liked him. I thought he could be an asset. My executive director disagreed.
“So, what the hell was that all about?” he said after Marc had left. And it’s true: Marc’s a chatterbox and he occasionally takes a very, very long time to get around to making a point; but he’s also a guy who ran a bookstore in Harvard Square for most of his life. He knows the business, inside and out. He knows Robert Pinsky, for Christ’s sake, he went drinking with John Updike. Frank Bidart still owes him money from back in the days when he still collected books. (Bidart’s since gotten into collecting CDs, Marc tells me, showing his age.)
Marc was the guy who would stumble into my basement office once or twice a week to shoot the breeze or drop off boxes and boxes and boxes of books. I’d hear his familiar slow shuffle down the ramp to my loading area — these waltz-like, deliberate steps, pretending so badly to be reluctant — from around the corner at my desk. Then into view comes Marc. “I brought you something,” he’d say, leading me up to his van with a dolly to cart 1500 free books into the basement. He must have done this two dozen times.
He maintained that he hated books — he literally said this every second or third time I talked to him — but he didn’t hide his hypocrisy very well. Few addicts do. Marc is an old man who spent his whole life with books. Of course he hated them. Of course he couldn’t give them up.
Then one day, I suppose, Marc stopped showing up to my basement office, and that was fine, because Marc can come and go as he pleases. And then one day it became a month, by which time I’d already called our only mutual contact asking about him. He also hadn’t heard from Marc and was a bit concerned. I Googled obituaries. My bosses and I discussed sending the police to his condo to check on him. But we didn’t. I sent him a letter, telling him I hoped everything was okay. It was returned unopened.
During this time, Marc was in a coma on his living room floor, then in a hospital, and then in a rehabilitation center. He was told he might never walk again, so he walked miles and miles of laps around the hallways in the rehab facility. He was told he wouldn’t be able to eat real food again, so he worked with a speech therapist and on his own until he could. He was told he’d have to inject himself with insulin every day for the rest of his life. His doctors are now considering switching him over to a pill instead of shots.
There is the unfortunate matter of the catheter, though, and, if you’ll excuse the pun, Marc’s still pretty pissed off about that whole damn mess. We’re walking around in the grocery store. I’m putting O’Doul’s into my shopping basket.
“I wonder, if you can’t drink alcohol, if you can have O’Doul’s instead,” I say, to no one in particular.
“Nah,” Marc says. “I don’t want to drink anything that makes me have to go pee.” He squints his eyes, kicks his head left, and raises his eyebrows: You know what I mean?
“Still, you should try to stay hydrated,” I reply.
The Jesus of the gospels was a bit of a hippie. Not totally or always (Matt 10:34-35, not so hippie-ish), but more often than not. Mike Lux over at the HuffPo put together some numbers (always a dubious game, but it has its uses). Money quote:
In fact, as I noted in my piece about Todd Akin, Jesus talks about mercy to those in trouble in 24 verses of the Gospels, tells people not to judge in 34 verses, tells people to love and forgive even their enemies in 53 verses, tells people to love their neighbors as themselves and treat others as they would want to be treated in 19 verses, and specifically tells people to help the poor and/or spurn riches and the wealthy in 128 verses.
That is a lot of verses, 258 by my count, where Rick Santorum’s savior and George W. Bush’s favorite philosopher sounds like a tried and true, solid to the core, far-out, lefty liberal. And all those where Jesus sounds like a conservative? I couldn’t find a single one. He never once condemns abortion, even though it was very common in ancient times.
That last bit really struck me. Maybe partially because I’m chin deep in the Game of Thrones books (crack, but really, really good crack), and there’s a kindof morning-after pill called “Moon Tea” that almost all of the adult female characters casually reference having taken at some point or another, and in at least one instance a character (Queen Cercei) references a more dramatic procedure she underwent when she actually did become pregnant. (The books are set in a feudal fantasy universe.)
All this is to say that I was primed, when I read the bolded sentence above, to smack myself on the forehead because OF COURSE people have been getting abortions forever, and OF COURSE forever includes 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem and surrounding areas.
What I’m saying is, dude is right, it’s pretty ridiculous that THE locus of religious political identity for what seems like the vast majority of the most politically vocal Catholics and Protestants in North America is abortion when Jesus didn’t care enough to say anything even close to explicit about it.
(For your interest, here’s the best Biblical case for abortion opposition I was able to turn up in a lazy Google search — lemme know if you find a better one. This one makes A LOT of interpretive leaps.)
It occurs to me that one might argue that Jesus didn’t talk about abortion because, as a man, he may not have known about it. I call BS on that line for two reasons: (1) He hung out with prostitutes. (2) He’s supposed to be God.
So why is abortion THE issue for so many of these folks?
In addition to Game of Thrones, I’ve been reading this book called “Faces of the Enemy” — a psychoanalytic investigation of propaganda cartoons portraying, you guessed it, the faces of whatever enemy the propaganda was out to monsterrify (<3 making up words). One motif the book identifies as almost always coming into propaganda campaigns is “enemy as baby-killer.” Everyone has used it, and they’ve used it because it works. It’s in our brain stems that babies are for protecting, and few things are harder wired (breathing, maybe).
This is exactly the rhetoric the abortion issue opens up for political Christians of a certain rightward bent — a very powerful one (not like that “love your enemy” broth Jesus kept ladling), as far as provoking emotion-driven responses in people, and action that serves your ineterest. Political people like power more than almost anything. Therefore, political Christians of a certain rightward bent love the abortion issue. Q.E.D.
(Hat-tip to TMM for posting the article on fb)
PS – Here’s a Wikipedia entry on “The History of Abortion.” Teaser:
The first recorded evidence of induced abortion, is from the Egyptian Ebers Papyrus in 1550 BCE. A Chinese record documents the number of royal concubines who had abortions in China between the years 515 and 500 BCE. According to Chinese folklore, the legendary Emperor Shennong prescribed the use of mercury to induce abortions nearly 5000 years ago. Many of the methods employed in early and primitive cultures were non-surgical. Physical activities like strenuous labor, climbing,paddling, weightlifting, or diving were a common technique. Others included the use of irritant leaves, fasting, bloodletting, pouring hot water onto the abdomen, and lying on a heated coconut shell. In primitive cultures, techniques developed through observation, adaptation of obstetrical methods, and transculturation.Archaeological discoveries indicate early surgical attempts at the extraction of a fetus; however, such methods are not believed to have been common, given the infrequency with which they are mentioned in ancient medical texts.
Interestingly, while Jesus didn’t seem to care about it, the Romans apparently did, though they didn’t see it as baby killing:
Paulus wrote in his Sentences that “those who administer a beverage for the purpose of producing abortion, or of causing affection, although they may not do so with malicious intent, still, because the act offers a bad example, shall, if of humble rank, be sent to the mines; or, if higher in degree, shall be relegated to an island, with the loss of a portion of their property. If a man or a woman should lose his or her life through such an act, the guilty party shall undergo the extreme penalty.” And also Ulpian, as it appears in the Digest regarding to the instutition of curator ventris (protector of the womb): “An unborn child is considered being born, as far as it concerns his profits”.
Suzanne Dixon, a senior lecturer in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Queensland, writes that abortion was a threat to traditional power structures in the classical Roman world. A husband had power over his wife, her body, and their children. She explains that writings from the classical world portray abortion as expressions of an ideological agenda where men maintain or reestablish patterns of power between the sexes, not as information about historical realities.:27Punishment for abortion in the Roman Republic was inflicted as a violation of the father’s right to dispose of his offspring.:3Because of the influence of Stoicism, which did not view the fetus as a person, the Romans did not punish abortion as homicide.
So says show-runner Dan Harmon on Twitter — “What you call 8:00, we call home. Community returns to Thursday nights on March 15th.”
In case you’re not aware of the show’s brilliance, here are a couple-a clips from their last episode (the Christmas special) (the joke at 0:40 might be my favourite in sitcom history):
Boo boo-boo boo-boo boop… SEX!
Also, this extended interview with Harmon from this summer, going episode-by-episode through season 2…. dude’s mindblowingly insightful/brilliant. Reward him by watching!
The Global Occupy Movement has spread to over 1,000 cities. As days turn into months, the number of people on the street steadily increases. Momentum seems to be building, not waning. The Occupation has arrived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I think that what we are witnessing with this movement, and the corporate media reaction to it, is the cultural retirement party for an old social map printed in black and white, lacking the interactive apps of the new maps — whereas the Occupiers serve as a welcoming committee for the arrival of options, of other ways to be in this world. It would serve us well, we human types, to address this cognitive gap. I believe that it is not only possible to communicate with the cognitively impaired, but, as we have allowed them to run amok through the halls of power, it is now imperative that we do.
I googled “They made their point,” and “They should go,” and “Occupy.” This is some of what came up;
“They made their point—only I’m not sure if they knew what that point was—no one else did. Apparently, it wasn’t all that important at the time of the start of the movement .” – Steve Rose, blogger/cop
“They made their point. Probably about time to go home.” – Otto Maddox, self described dork
“Maybe it’s time for the children to go home. They made their point, and they can continue their protests and activism, but the time for the campout is over.” – Rob Port, angry person
“They made their point, people acknowledged it, now why don’t they go do something useful?” – some forum commenter, being useless.
“That’s the great thing about this country, you can stand up and say what you want, but I think they made their point,” – Asian businessman that joked to a cop, “Bring out the tear gas and call it a day.”
“They made their point now get out and get back to living. Lets stop this NOW.” – Rosie
“They made their point, but now, they are overstaying their welcome.” – Larry
“They made their point…Which is they have none…Why the press covers this story is beyond me…Just kill ‘em.Time to move on…” – LiberalsRDopes, angry person
“They made their point,” – Sgt. Limbert of the Mission Police Station
“They made their point but are now becoming irrelevant, ok….got your message, now go back to work, school or your bong, but stop costing taxpayers money that has to be diverted from other programs to police these love-ins.” – rjag, Angry Canadian
I’ll venture to say that “their point” has not been made, nor will it be for some time, because of the difference in the way in which one interprets what a “point” is. On the one hand, the occupiers come from a place of realizing the wisdom of sustainable growth. Conversely, the naysayers, rather than admitting an inability to grasp the meaning or implications of something new and different emerging in the political environment, invoke a cultural banishment spell (such as “They made their point”) to put it out of their minds. It’s a recusal from the dialogue under the premise of some higher cultural authority, or sense of “normalcy.” I think that is my favorite response to the Occupations, and I hear it often. It’s that irony thing that I like so much. It reveals a lot about the person that utters it, and the cognitive maps in play. The purpose of slogans like “They’ve made their point” is to reduce and marginalize anything seen as a threat to the status quo or their bourgeois personal identity — which often, in these types of cases, are one in the same. “You’ve made your point” used in the examples above, translates roughly into “I’m tired of hearing your nonsense, and/or I’m ill-equipped to respond intelligently.” It can be seen as a self-defense mechanism employed by a threatened creature. If seen this way, compassion for the opposition comes more easily.
The rhetoric of 99% vs. 1% has a use. Of course, a Movement of 100% would be really nifty for a bit, but not possible, nor desirable. For those “We’re-All-One” purists that have a problem with the divisive function of the 99% slogan, may I remind you of the Red Vs. Blue wedgie that has had us on our toes for the past decade? I’d say surgically cutting out a 1% cancerous tumor is a big improvement over chainsawing the country down the middle. There’s magic in taking out and isolating just one percentage point. For a moment, the 99% have an opportunity to imagine that their individual causes can be joined with a greater cause. I see the 99% icon as symbolic of dethroning a monarchy, or aristocracy. We are “in the meantime” now. This is the moment when power shifts.
This is not a protest, and the people are not protesters. This is, as the name implies, an Occupation. The Occupiers are not there to do anything as much as they are there because of what has been done. This is a direct consequence of unchecked greedy causes. The people that just want this to go away are afraid. Of course, there is the fear of the “1%,” the CorportateBankerLobbyistMedia cabal and the authorities that serve them. That fear says Mission Accomplished. But there is another fear, on the other end of the spectrum, a fear and anxiety around daring to hope that real, meaningful change in the consciousness of the human endeavor is possible. Maybe not everyone would describe it that way. Here’s another way: who doesn’t want to live a more authentic existence? If given a choice between surviving and thriving, what would you pick? We can have this discussion now, and those choices are available. Endeavoring to understand how we live in the world together is the new sexy. “OMG, did you see how huge her ethnobotanical-socioeconomic comprehension was? That was hot.”
There are a large number of Americans that want what we all want, they just don’t want it to be complex. This condition of narrowness, which manifests as various forms of fundamentalism, has little to no capacity for irony, metaphor, or a spectrum of possibilities. Yes or no, good or bad, black or white. Think binary. The neocon revolution was only made possible by the crass manipulation of the fundamentalist mindset. The spectrum of possibilities that color the Occupy movement gets lost in the monolithic shadow of Good and Bad.
It might be helpful to imagine a kind of cultural deafness that monotheists, fundamentalists, and the like, suffer from, and like many that suffer a diminishing of one capability, another capability is enhanced. Those that seem the most resistant and/or uninformed about our socioeconomic/sociopolitical situation, will be the ones that muscle the corrections through, once it becomes clear that that is what MUST be done. Meanwhile, they will defend what they “know,” right or wrong. They want no part in “maybe” or “perhaps.”
Some people can change their mind easily. Some can try on a philosophy and take it for a test drive, and then just as easily step out of it. For people like this, it may be hard to imagine how a fundamentalist operating system works. But it’s really pretty simple: fundamentalists identify themselves with their beliefs and ideas, which are defended as a part of the self. Asking a fundamentalist to see something from someone else’s perspective is like asking them to exchange their eyeballs. But what they lack in adaptive facility, they more than make up for in manual effectiveness. They get’er done. Finding an appreciation for the form and function of the fundamentalist portion of the 99% serves everyone.
If the intellectual elite and and the progressive left are the brains and heart of the country, then the fundamentalists and their kind are the muscle and bones. The muscle and bones want to respond to correct impulses that lead to their strengthening and growth. They are not concerned with why or how. The neocons led them along by dangling a bible on a stick for thirty years. I think the muscle and bones need to be treated better than that (and that doesn’t mean taunting them by dangling Dawkins instead). Like we have provided handicapped spaces for the infirm, and braille on the elevators and ATMs to accommodate the blind, let us endeavor to translate the complexity and beauty of this Occupation into a simple binary message for the cognitively impaired.
For those planning to become more directly involved in the overhaul of American representative government, as well as any other cultural overhaul that might be timely, might I suggest learning to speak Fundamentalist, as translators are desperately needed at this time. Many Americans suffer the same cultural ills but cannot coordinate to correct them due to cognitive incompatibilities. I don’t think we can expect our frightened dichotomous brothers and sisters to be the ones to initiate a broader understanding of our condition. Do you?
So EM-EYE-ESS-ESS-EYE-ESS-ESS-EYE-PEE-PEE-EYE wants to call fertilized human eggs (aka, Denny’s Cannibal Slam Breakfast®) “people.”
From yesterday’s NYT editorial:
A ballot measure going before voters in Mississippi on Nov. 8 would define the term “person” in the State Constitution to include fertilized human eggs and grant to fertilized eggs the legal rights and protections that apply to people.
The rest of the piece goes into detail about why this is a terrible, ridiculous idea –convenient, since I don’t have any desire to delve into the more highfalutin ethical and legal ramifications anyway. However, I worry about some of the lesser absurdities that such a ruling might lead to.
For example, if life truly begins at conception, then age must also logically begin at conception, which means that someone’s day of birth (what some people call a “birth day”) is no longer a valid indicator of how old he or she is. Furthermore, since life is life no matter how far along in it you already are, presumably any such ruling would have to apply retroactively. Which means that, if Missippians really believe in the new law, they’ll have to start giving 17-and-three-month-year-olds (give or take) the right to vote and 14-and-whatever-year-olds the ability to earn their learner’s permit and on and on and on. Because age is merely a reflection of how long someone has been a person, right? And if personhood is applied at conception to a gloopy dribble of non-sentient cells, then that’s when the clock starts ticking. To argue otherwise would be to deprive your citizens of their sperm-given humanity.
(And yeah, I know that, as a nation, we’ve already complicitly — if tacitly — agreed to compromise on the birthday convention for purposes of convenience, but we’re talking about a single state here, so if this law passes, they better be prepared to put their
penis where their vagina money where their mouth is.)
[Editor's note: I'm not sure if the parodic title of this post makes any sense, but I'm a little punch drunk this week. My thinking was: it's almost Halloween, "Flying Purple People Eater" is one of the few well-known Halloween-type songs, babies don't fly but they cry, they're a little purplish looking in the womb, this story is about the legal definition of "people," and classifying them as such at conception is cheating. So we cool?]
Hitting up a seminar tonight (and hopefully every Thursday night, if it’s cool) with Gad Horowitz, U of Toronto’s resident Marxist scholar, on something called “Radical General Semantics.”
I was on the waiting list until yesterday and now I need to figure out how to cram three lectures around a workday before 7 tonight. I’ll figure it out. I’m already halfway through the first one (below), which seems pretty interesting. Check it:
RuPaul’s Drag Race will not get you through the winter, but that’s not to say it’s not really really good
It was freezing in my apartment yesterday and my landlord (who lives downstairs and controls the radiator) was up in cottage country, so the situation was not being rectified. It was Antarctica in my apartment, but it was the coziest alpine lodge under my comforter in bed. I think my plan was to wait there for Spring or something, and my strategy was to marathon a show I’d never watched before, and I’d just been listening to the AV Club’s weekly podcast and one of the people was like “RuPaul’s Drag Race is the full realization of the reality genre,” or something, and I’d heard similar things from elsewhere (I think someone on the Slate Culture Gabfest at one point kvelled pretty hard about it).
The point is that this is the show I watched. Specifically Season 2. More specicifically, the first like five or six episodes (which left me feeling that sick kindof heavy-headed you feel when you’ve been awake and horizontally passive for way the fuck too long). At no point did Spring come.
Anyway, they were right and it’s amazing. The contestants are preposterously versatile as talents — able to sew, do makeup, hair, dance, in some cases sing, create and learn choreography, impersonate celebrities, read a bitch (see below), and a lot more. They’re also hilarious. And the challenges the producers come up with put the producers of Project Runway, Top Chef, whatever else to fucking shame. Again, e.g.:
In one of the episodes the challenge is to do a TV interview in which the contestants were supposed to promote three things — themselves, their “book” whose title and cover they’ve just designed, and this weird brand of Absolut Vodka. The Puerto Rican with bad English — Jessica something — pushes the vodka like your creepiest drunk aunt might have promoted it to you when you were nine and she wanted to get in your pants.
Another thing: These are people to whom real shit has happened (many of them have no relationships with their family, which they talk about; one confesses to having attempted suicide a few times before discovering drag; another has a young child who he (I think to his son he’s a he) hasn’t been able to support but clearly loves dearly and who’s been living in his drag mother’s living room; one says that he used to just answer to “faggot”). All this is handled with a directness that might seem clumsy, but is itself sobering as a contrast to the more or less self-reflexive artifice / fantasy they’ve embraced and are so much more comfortable existing from.
I also really like that instead of being directly eliminated on the basis of the challenge, the two worst performers have a chance to “Lip-sync…. for your LIFE!” which ballasts the show towards what seems to ultimately be the most important thing in the craft it’s built around: putting on a performance. It’s always a pissoff when a really strong performer who’s work still has you curious in Top Chef, Work of Art or Project Runway tries something, fucks up, and is gone while a clearly far shittier contestant coasts through. This mechanism provides a nicely non-bullshitty failsafe against that.
Finally, it made me think a lot. Judging from the show, there are a lot of things that are pretty problematic about drag culture from a feminist perspective. Is there an aspect of gender colonization? There is an aspect (or at least awareness) of ridicule to the whole thing, but what is the culture’s relationship to it? Who is being ridiculed? Who all is ridiculing? Is it feminine men embracing the ridicule they’ve been subjected to, amplifying it and turning it back on the culture from a position of power? If so, is it really improving the larger social picture? They’re certainly committed to achieving a position from which they can shill hyper-gendering commodities, and what are they doing if not totally ambandoning themselves to the purest commodification of gender identity. Is it satire? If so, who’s in and who’s not in on the joke? They’re doing it because it feels right, and that what it is feels right I think is telling, but where does it leave them? I’ve never seen anyone so infatuated with anything as Tyra seemed infatuated to a point of paralysis with Beyonce. And why are they such assholes to each other (not all of them, but I was shocked by how mean many of them were)?
It’s a really great show.
And RuPaul > Tyra Banks by like a factor of something approaching infinity.