My Complex Feelings On Gal Gadot and Kate McKinnon’s SNL Make-Out Session.

You would not believe how many GIFs there are of just this one scene.
Source: Buzzfeed

People dress up as superheroes for Halloween, Right? This is TOTALLY a Halloween post!

Sorry, I promise I’ll get to the spooky stuff eventually. But October has been super eventful and I want to talk on this now while it’s still relevant.

So, recently on SNL, Gal Godot got to host the show and did a whole skit reprising her now iconic role as Princess Diana of Themyscira, AKA; Diana Prince, AKA; Wonder Woman. In it, SNL regulars Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon play a lesbian couple who set out for Themyscaira – the island home of the Amazons – believing it to be a lesbian utopia only to be quickly disappointed when they find that the Amazons just aren’t that into it. The skit ends with Diana and McKinnon’s character making-out just to reassure themselves that there are no feelings between them.

I have A LOT of feelings on this skit; most of them contradictory.

Starting with the negatives, I was a little off-put at the stereotypical butch lesbian characters (apologies if these are recurring characters; I typically don’t watch this show). I logically get WHY they made them this way; sketch comedy doesn’t provide time to flesh out characters very well and so writers have to rely on visual stereotypes to get the point across as quickly as possible. Still, I can’t help but wonder how many LGBT women were as uncomfortable with the archetype as I was. Not to mention that the big Godot/McKinnon kiss smacks of pandering to the surprisingly massive overlap between DC Comics fans and lesbian fetishists (seriously, almost every woman in the DC Universe is written as at least bi-curious these days).

But the more I looked at it and the more I thought about Wonder Woman’s lore, the more sense it made to me.

The initial reaction of the Amazons not knowing what Bryant and McKinnon were talking about almost makes too much sense. These are a race of ageless, immortal Demigoddesses that have lived apart from men since they escaped from the clutches of Hercules (the armbands Diana wears are actually their old iron shackles that the wear as a reminder of why they distrust men) that don’t need to have intercourse to maintain their population (depending on the continuity, Diana was literally made from the clay of the earth). They probably have a limited concept of sexuality PERIOD, let alone heterosexuality v. homosexuality.

What really gets me though is how Diana acknowledges, “… I love all my sisters,” and how the Amazons clearly understand the idea of romantic attraction. This means that they, and the scriptwriters by extension, recognize one of the things I’ve been preaching since I came out as asexual; the divide between sexual orientation and romantic orientation. In all reality, it’s quite likely that the norm for the Amazons is not homosexual like many imagine, but asexual homoromantic. In fact, Diana would be the outlier here as the only biromantic Amazon.

Oh, and I would be remised to forget that the actresses all did fine jobs with their roles (was it just me or were McKinnon and Godot REALLY good at performing a genuinely sensual make-out scene?).

Anyway, I’m just having fun overthinking entertainment. I feel that, despite a few missed steps, this skit did its job of providing visibility to the LGBT+ spectrum while being legitimately funny. In fact, I may actually start watching the show to see what else I’ve been missing should my schedule allow it.

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The Agent on YouTube’s Restricted Mode and The Value Of Uncensored Debate

“This video is restricted because some people can’t handle a mature critical discussion on some topics. Sorry about that.”
Source: The Independent

What is this; the third – maybe fourth time I’ve had to weigh in on a YouTube policy change? You guys could circumvent a lot of this bulls*** if you just gave us some details before you made the change.

Anyway, for those of you not keeping up with the new media, YouTube recently went live with a new ‘Restricted Mode’ feature that had some, shall we call it, unforeseen effects.

The goal of Restricted Mode is to give viewers the option to hide content that some may deem as questionable such as violence, profanity or sexual situations. And believe it or not, I totally understand why they would want to do this.

Let’s not forget, YouTube is a business first and foremost. Their first priority is to placate their advertisers, shareholders, and viewers. So, anything that might be counter-intuitive to an advertiser/viewer’s interests – say having their ad for a new children’s movie just before a video of a particularly foul-mouthed Let’s Player who uses f-bombs like vocal punctuation or having their five-year-old stumble upon the same – might scare them away.

But, the problem arises from what kind of content gets blocked when Restricted Mode is active; namely people weighing in on LGBT politics. Most of them are not even talking about gay sex, mind you; They’re just chiming in on the politics of queer culture.

I think the problem is pretty obvious and it’s a problem that asexuals like myself encounter routinely – people conflating relationships with sex. YouTube saw the phrase ‘LGBT’ show up and just ASSUMED it was about sex without actually checking the content. I assure you, talking about romance or being in love doesn’t AUTOMATICLY imply someone is bumping uglies and we need to stop think like it does.

Of course, this wave of (very likely) accidental anti-LGBT censorship is endemic of a bigger problem that I have with YouTube’s Restricted Mode and censorship in general. Simply put, I’m against censorship because is restricts discourse from both sides of a debate and thereby halts social progress. It’s a pretty simple chain of logic to follow; if neither side is allowed to talk about something, how can they debate it in order to solve any problems with it?

It’s for this reason that I support YouTubers like Count Jackula who dedicate regular live-streams to debates with fans and fellow creators or Armored Skeptic who often makes debunking videos pointing out logical fallacies in other people’s arguments. Yes, things often get very heated, people will get offended, and I frequently disagree with them on at least one point. But at the end of the day, they offer a perspective that made me think and that surge of critical thought is what we need more than anything else in this societal landscape.

That having been said, I can still see where YouTube is coming from in terms of business. It needs some kind of system to please the people that make them money. So, what we need is a common ground… and I think I have it.

Firstly, STOP CONFLATING RELATIONSHIPS WITH SEX. I will scream this 24/7 until I go mute from the scar tissue building up on my larynx.

Secondly, I suggest giving more control to what shows up in viewer searches by employing a sort of ‘ADVANCED Restricted Mode’ that allows the user to select what kind of content gets filtered out based on what they personally don’t want to see. It’s not ideal and those people will still be very likely to miss out on mind-expanding discussions, but it’s probably the best we can do until we can build that utopian society where people’s anuses don’t slam shut like steel security vault doors everytime they hear something that threatens their fragile reality.

The Tao of Wu: How A Comic About A Transgender Woman Can Help Unite Us

See that adorable F***ing face? THAT is the face of peace and understanding.
Source: Twitter @kyliesummerwu

Very recently, one of my friends introduced me to the art and comedy of Kylie Wu – a young and proud transgender woman who creates the endlessly delightful comic series Trans Girl Next Door. After reading just a few pages, I was immediately hooked and I’ve been checking Twitter and Tumblr routinely awaiting the next installment.

Of course, being the dorky mega-brain I am, I had to set out on a quest to answer WHY I loved this silly little sequential art autobiography so much. The answer I got was surprisingly soothing.

I’m of the professional opinion that good art should leave you different from when it found you; even if that difference is just reminding you that you aren’t alone in the world. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s shockingly easy to identify and empathize with Kylie (or at least the parts of her she shares with us… which is still substantial).

As someone who has lived part of her life as a man and is living her current life as a woman, Kylie’s fearless sharing provides insight -not only on life as a transgender person – but also on life for cisgender men and women. That insight being that we all aren’t as different as we like to think we are.

We all have bodily insecurities. We all have romantic desires. And let’s not forget the old standby: everybody poops.

Also, even on an individual level, you’ll likely find some life story of Kylie’s that speaks to you. Guys, how often have you endured the pain of sitting on your own sack? And remember the sticky, smelly mess of hormones that is puberty?

And ladies, I know through my mom that finding the right shampoo is a glorious feeling and my roommate has demonstrated the fury-inspiring challenge of painting your toenails.

Even just speaking personally, I find Kylie’s work to speak to my own life experiences. As someone who indulges in body grooming (to the chagrin of whoever’s bathroom I’m sharing), the feeling of freshly smooth skin is amazing. Also, I’m asexual and don’t use my testicles for their biological purpose. So why not keep them for the darkly comedic purpose of an emergency food supply (alternately, I’ve thought of selling them to that phallic museum in Iceland to pay off my loans).

So, what lesson am I trying to impart on you, dear Field Operatives? Well, other than trying to help out an artist in need (seriously, give this girl a dollar and/or buy her S***; good art is hard to come by and HRT don’t come cheap) I’m hoping that people will read this, read TGND, and learn to stop judging based on our genders, sexualities and the like and start judging based on the content of our character.

We may all be structurally different, but we are all human and kin on a fundamental level. And the fact that a cisgender man-child from the gray mountains of New Hampshire can feel a sense of comradery with a transgender surfer girl from the sunny coasts of California gives me hope that the world might just be relaxing its hopelessly tight butthole and becoming a pleasant place to live.

3 More Wonderfully Weird Music Genres

So, while glancing at the last months worth of articles, I noticed a trend of pessimism that needs to be curtailed.

To that end, I’ve decided to delve deep into The Archive and provide a continuation of my exploration of bizarre and brilliant things going on in music. Let’s not waste time and get right into the fun bits.

All-Female Metal Tributes

I was born and raised as a metalhead. My parents fed me a steady stream of the Hair Metal they grew up with like KISS and Poison as well as Hard Rock (all Metal’s common ancestor) like AC/DC and Aerosmith. However, as I grow older, I’ve noticed a problem with Metal; despite how many girls I know that love it, the only time you see women in the genre are on the questionable and often exploitative album art.

Apparently, some lovely ladies agreed that this was wrong and took it upon themselves to take a few extraneous Y-chromosomes out of the sound by forming all-female tribute bands dedicated to some of the greats of Metal. Some notable bands in the genre include Judas Priestess, Hells Belles, and my favorite on the basis of the name alone; Vag Halen.

It’s no mistake that this is the first genre I cover in this article after verbally tearing Meghan Trainor a superabundant sphincter last week. It seems that many female artists are forgetting that feminism is NOT narrow-minded self-interest and nursing a superiority complex. We need more people in the world that actually care about adding to the scope and range of voices heard in media. And that’s why I love this genre.

It’s also why I love…

Queercore

In much the same way that the above mentioned all-female metal tributes were born from women being excluded from the Metal scene, so to was queercore (aka; homocore) born from the inherently homophobic vibes of 80’s hardcore punk and created an alternative for those being excluded that enjoyed the sound.

Bands and artists in queercore use the same naming conventions as our AFMT friends above. Only instead of feminizing existing bands and songs, they ‘gay them up’ as it were. This results in bands like Youth of Togay, Cockwind, and Gayrilla Biscuits.

My favorite though has to be Black Fag – who not only donate the proceeds from tours to charities in the gay community but also do the best cover of T.V. Party I’ve ever heard.

Chap-Hop

And you thought this was just going to be politicized tribute bands…

You know what my beef is with modern mainstream rap? The class is gone. Back in the day, rap and hip-hop were fun and happy, even as they talked about serious issues. Old school rappers in the 80’s and early 90’s would still brag and boast, but did so with an air of dignity. Basically, rap forgot how to be a gentleman.

Leave it to the British to remind us how to be classy.

Chap-hop is the combination of modern rap and that distinctly British men’s fashion trend; chap. The result is a sound that blends rap-style production with a sound that wouldn’t be out of place on a 1900’s photograph and coats it in hilarious boasting lyrics about stereotypically gentlemanly things like tea, mustache grooming,  and playing cricket.

Chap-hop has bled into another odd subculture, steampunk, and you can find many chap-hop artists like Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer, Poplock Holmes, and Professor Elemental performing at conventions.

Why Anti-Transgender Bathroom Laws Need To DIE

Would having something amputated be a valid choice?
Source: PrideLife

Yeah, you read that title right. Not ‘stop’. Not ‘go away’. They need to F***ING DIE. It’s rare for me to get THIS angry about something. But then again, it’s rare for me to see an argument for something so damaging that’s THIS poorly informed and ignorant.

This one’s going to be a short and sweet week because, in all honesty, arguing this point is so easy that it feels like I just challenged a jellyfish with a severe learning disability to a life-or-death game of chess; a battle of wits with and unarmed soul. That said, I have to say something in the hopes that the word will find a way to spread and end this madness once and for all.

To catch you all up to the times, several places – North Carolina and Tennessee being the big ones – are pushing for laws that will prevent transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity; forcing them to use the room of their birth gender.

The main argument from supporters of these laws is that they want to protect women and children from sexual predators who would disguise themselves as women to get closer to their intended targets. There are several reasons why this doesn’t work as a logical argument.

Firstly, the vast majority of convicted sexual predators are straight, white men, not transgender women. In fact, it’s the LGBT community that’s most often the victims of sexual violence. You are LITERALLY blaming the victims, people.

Secondly, allow me to tell you a personal story from my own experience. In my four years as a stage actor for my college drama club, we never had our own dedicated changing rooms or even separate rooms for men and women. Instead, we would have to change in a studio behind the backstage area. What’s more, we all had to change clothes together; meaning everybody saw everything.

In those four years, not to mention for years prior to my arrival and after my graduation, there has never been a sexual assault or rape in the club. Do you know why? It’s because that NO ONE IS SO BLINDLY HORNY THAT THEY WOULD RAPE SOMEONE WITH OTHER PEOPLE WATCHING THAT WOULD KICK HIS ASS IF HE TRIED!

Seriously, it’s a PUBLIC restroom; I.E., everyone can see/hear everything that goes on inside. A rapist usually acts in secluded areas later at night and target people that know them because the victims falsely trust them and no one is present to stop them. A public restroom is practically a miniature panopticon and the exact opposite of what a sexual predator would want.

Let’s just be honest – if you support anti-trans bathroom laws, it has nothing to do with you wanting to protect women and children. It has everything to do with the fact that you’re freaked out by someone that you don’t understand and are unwilling to accept. You are an ass-backwards, regressive wart on the ass-crack of humanity that can’t get over the fact that their way of thinking is outdated and not only doesn’t work anymore but is actually damaging to society. May you burn along your oppressive laws, you slimy, festering carbuncles on the planet’s face.

Why Undyne and Dr. Alphys Are The Best LGBT Couple In Gaming Today

If the game were less politically correct, I suspect Sans would have made jokes about Alphys “sleeping with the fishes.”
Source: tomatomagica.tumblr.com

So, per the suggestion of many reviews, friends, and YouTube Gamers, I finally got my hands on Undertale and I’m enjoying the trip. It’s easy to see why it’s indie gaming gold; it’s a story of hope and determination where every choice you make has weight and there’s no wrong way to play it. You can even go through the whole thing without raising your weapon once and relying on judicious diplomacy and kind gestures if you’re a dedicated nice guy.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a memorable game without some emotional moments. Moments that I’d like to talk about at great length, but if it’s one thing that all the hype around Undertale has taught us, it’s that it’s best experienced coming in fresh. So, I’m only going to spoil ONE aspect of ONE of the story’s paths in order to talk about the game’s most adorable couple.

A good chunk of the story is dedicated to two characters – Undyne; the fish-like head of the Royal Guard who pursues you initially, and Dr. Alphys; a reptilian scientist studying the very nature of what the game refers to as SOULs.

As the game progress (provided you don’t stray from the pacifistic route and kill either of them, you monster), you learn that the two are very close friends and that Alphys has deep affections for Undyne that she fears are unrequited. However, play your cards right, and you’ll see these two finally admit their love for each other and go on their first date.

Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t any meaningful LGBT characters in gaming; it’s just that they don’t seem to carry as much gravitas. Transgender characters like Birdo and Vivian exist in the Mario games but offer very little other than simply acknowledging they exist. And if they do offer something more, it’s often lost in western translation.

I once dedicated nearly a third of an article to gay and bisexual characters in Borderlands 2, but while they may have been intentionally written that way, there’s the nagging feeling that such commentary on LGBT rights might have only come about due to time and budget constraints preventing the unique character interactions based on gender.

Undyne and Alphys don’t have such concerns surrounding them. They are a legit lesbian couple and their relationship is treated just like any other romance.

There are several other aspects that make this relationship beautiful. For one, it’s easy to forget that neither of these two fit the standard definitions of beauty. Undyne is an intimidating, muscular, almost amazonian woman with a face like Lord Voldemort had sex with a disgruntled great white shark. Meanwhile, Alphys is short, timid, overweight, and suffers from a noticeable overbite. This, along with their monster-like qualities, makes it much harder to sexualize their relationship (not that the internet hasn’t tried) and brings their romance to the forefront.

What’s more, there’s a darker story that fuels their passion. Alphys’ SOUL experiments have led to the unintentional creation of many nasty characters in the game leaving her filled with guilt. It’s even suggested that she might be suicidally depressed by her failures. You quickly start to realize that someone like Undyne gives her something to keep working for and saves her from her spirit-crushing sadness; She’s LITERALLY her knight in shining armor.

Undyne and Alphys have one of, if not the most beautiful love story in gaming history and their existence is a sign that the medium is still moving forward. Here’s hoping for a sequel where they hand out the wedding invites.

It Has Only Begun: What To Expect After Marriage Equality

Can we just leave those lights on? It really brightens up the place.
Source: US Magazine

 

June 26th of 2015 will forever be remembered as one of the single biggest victories for the LGBT community in American history. This is the day that the Supreme Court ruled that no state can make any law forbidding same-sex couples from marrying.

As a citizen of one of the first states to legally recognize gay marriage (New Hampshire was 5th behind Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont) and someone with quite a large number of gay, lesbian, and transgender friends, this news raises my spirits enough to still have enough faith in the world to keep charging forward.

That being said, the job is far from done.

Just because same-sex marriage is protected by law does NOT mean other people are willing to accept it. In many ways, the problem of homophobia is likely to become more insidious.

Those that oppose gay couples have already started pushing back; some in ridiculous ways. When those people start perceiving this change as a threat to them (it isn’t, but that’s how change is handled by those who don’t accept it), they will start reacting in more aggressive and bolder ways. As uncomfortable as it may be to think about it, some may even take drastic measures and we may see a spike in violence toward LGBT people as a response to this victory.

Now. It’s possible that this may not happen and same-sex opponents may accept that they were on the wrong side. However, we have to expect that this is a very real possibility. In a world where wars are still sparked over religious hate and racism persists long after anti-discrimination laws are passed, it’s not unrealistic to expect some people to be more active in their use of homophobic language or give more accusatory stares when “the wrong couple” walks into a room.

This is by no means to diminish the victory that has been won. We have every right to celebrate the fact that our government is now obligated to recognize the right of it’s citizens to love whomever they choose.

What I AM saying is that we can’t let this victory make us complacent. We have a long fight left ahead of us and we can’t lower our arms just yet. The ruling in the Supreme Court was a painfully close 5-4 decision showing that tough opposition still lingers.

Homophobia still lives and we can’t rest until we wipe it of the face of the earth. Things may be getting better, but we can make them better still.