The Agent on Homophobia, Meme Culture, and Millie Bobby Brown

Millie’s face in this scene looks like mine when I heard the news.
Source: Hello Giggles

It’s not often that I wake up first thing in the morning and know EXACTLY what I’m going to talk about this week… I just wish I didn’t HAVE to.

For those that don’t follow celebrity happenings, Millie Bobby Brown, the young actress best known for playing Eleven on Stranger Things, was bullied off of Twitter yesterday because of memes circulating around the web using pictures of her and spouting off homophobic rhetoric. This was especially damaging to her since she is well known for being a powerful supporter of the LGBT+ community.

… I have SEVERAL complaints.

First, I want to address my attitude towards people leaving social media over bullying. Normally, I reprimand people for doing this as it shows the opposition that they can get whatever they want if they’re dickish enough. But, in this instance, I think Millie may have made the right choice. The sort of harassment that she’s experiencing right now is especially damaging when you’re as young as she is. So removing herself from that environment, at least until the meme runs it’s lifespan out, was probably the best choice she could have made.

That brings me to the culture of memes in general. Let’s not beat around the bush here; memes are the LOWEST form of entertainment. Any brain dead schmuck with a pirated copy of Photoshop can parrot the same unfunny garbage as 5 million other people and call themselves an artist. The only reason these things gain traction is just for that reason; they cater to and are (mostly) produced by the lowest common denominator. As such, the ‘insights’ they share will almost always be the same sort mouth-breathing troglodyte thinking that seems to have been dominating the landscape lately.

Which is exactly why THIS unfunny hack job we’re talking about now is centered around homophobia. It seems pretty obvious that one blinkering jackass who enjoys the smell of their own beer farts thought it would be hilarious to make an anti-gay meme during Pride Month of all times and centered around a young person that has supported the community for a long time because they lack the number of functioning brain cells – most likely having died through multiple college benders – to understand how comedic juxtaposition is SUPPOSED to work (Or at least I HOPE that’s the explanation because the alternative is that they were ACTUALLY hoping this would destroy the LGBT+ community… somehow…). You need a punchline in order for a ‘joke’ to exist. So where is it here? Where’s the goddamn joke?

I know it sounds like I’m just angry and fuming right now, but I actually am that upset. Stuff like this – people that think that being offensive just to get a rise out of people qualifies as comedy and probably claims that “Mel Brooks could have gotten away with it” while failing to understand that even he had the common decency to not make light of lynching when he made Blazing Saddles– has been going on for far too long.

The sad part is that you can’t just ‘get rid’ of thinking like this. there’s always going to be some colossal, cretinous clod-hopper who thinks insults and threats of violence alone with no real comedic exaggeration are the height of humor. But we CAN make it clear to them that they have crossed a line. We can shame and abandon such ignorant people and leave them to rot in obscurity and their own intolerance.

On the unlikely chance that Millie sees this, know that you did nothing wrong. You’re just an unfortunate victim of cruel, uneducated sub-humans. I hope that someday, you’ll come back to us fully healed and ready to make us smile again. Until then, we’ll wait for you.

As for the rest of you, congratulations; you attacked a harmless community on their day of recognition, earned the ire and hate of the world, and made a 14-year-old girl cry. Your parents must be beaming with pride.

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The Agent on Trans-Visability, Drag, and a Horrible Misunderstanding

In the words of the photographer, my home state is primarily, “…covered bridges and drag queens.” (Side note: the model’s name is Porcia J. Chanel and she is gorgeous)
Source: American Society of Picture Professionals

So, you want to know something that’s been eating me alive for the past week or so?

I have a lot of very close friends in the transgender community. Like, A LOT of very close friends. They made up some of my most trusted confidants in college, one of them is an amazing teacher/writer, and I still try to keep them close even after graduation made us part ways. I would break myself to do anything for them if they asked me personally.

I also have close ties with the drag scene. I got started in early college doing drag for charity for the American Cancer Society (you speak to a two-time Mz. Relay winner, for the record). It then carried over into a later college acting career where my role in the dinner theatre mystery Murder at Rutherford House as the bubbly maidservant Ruby Pinkbottom was widely regarded as my best work ever. It allowed me to acknowledge the fluidity of my identity as well as a repressed feminine side of myself that, if I can be honest with you all, I feel I’ve been neglecting the last few years and really want to get back into the show.

So, considering my undying affection for these two factions of people, you can imagine how hurt I was to be told that drag shows hurt trans-visibility by delegitimizing transgender issues.

I won’t lie; when I first heard that, I had an existential crisis. I broke down crying because I cared so much about both of these aspects of myself that seemed to be at odds with each other in the eyes of those I cared for.

But, after a few days of rest and a daily regiment of herbal stress relievers and vitamin D supplements, I was able to sort out the information and I think (keyword: THINK) I understand where the confusion lies.

On a quick glance, I will grant you that the average drag show does look like a bunch of straight cis-gender dudes imitating and, by extension, mocking the trans community to someone viewing the action with no context. But thinking like this disregards the hefty number of transgender women that comprise a large section of the drag community. To demonize drag in this way is to throw many of the very same transgender folks you’re defending under the bus.

And even if there were absolutely no overlap between drag and trans, you still have to consider the number of non-binary and gender fluid people that use drag as a means of truly free self-expression – non-binary performers like the incomparable Jinkx Monsoon and gender fluid people like, you know, ME.

Drag should always be about inclusiveness regardless of how you identify yourself. To me at least, it’s about separating femininity/masculinity from gender identity and viewing it as something wholly beautiful and even artistic. That’s why there’s a big hullabaloo about whether or not cis-gender women should be allowed to perform in drag shows (I’m personally for it, even though I feel it’s a bit redundant).

And before anyone says anything, yes; I’m well aware that the queen of queens RuPaul said some rather dishearting things about transgender people claiming that the only thing that separates them from drag is, “about twenty-five thousand dollars and a good surgeon,” – a statement that totally insults the trans folks that can’t afford hormone replacement and gender reassignment surgery. But let’s be brutally honest with ourselves here; Ru is NOT a good role model for either community. She’s a shock jock that says horrible things and throws shade at everyone because she knows it will keep her in the spotlight for a little while longer and stave off the effects of being an outdated antique in the drag world. You hear me, Ru – you are the Daniel ‘Keemstar’ Keem of drag queens and you’re making the rest of us look bad by association.

So, in closing, no – drag is not, nor was it ever meant to be, a slanderous statement against trans-people and if something should happen in the future to change its meaning for the worse, I will burn my dresses, throw away my makeup, and flush my nail polish down the drain never to return. Until then, let us all take pride – not in who we are – but in who our brothers and sisters are. For we are all works of art that we have spent years crafting through the torturous trials that life uses to impede the creation of our magnum masterpiece and we need to take the time to appreciate each other’s amazing artistry.

Be proud, be fabulous, and #GodBlessTheFreaks.

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.

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.

Archive News: No Article Doesn’t Mean No Content

Yep, It’s break time again. Nothing serious; just a little overworked and under inspired this week.

That said, I don’t like leaving you with nothing to entertain/inform. So this week, I’ll be recommending that you listen to Episode 1 of T-Time with Joshua D. Lambert.

I’ve mentioned my friend Josh several times on Facebook and Twitter and I still support him in all of his endeavors. If you’re a Transgender person looking for inspiration and a sense of belonging or just a supportive person looking to deepen your understanding, give him your love by listening in to his podcast. And also consider checking out his book, Finding The Boy Within.

I’ll be back next week refreshed and ready to perform this labor of love as always. I’ll see you all then.

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.