The Revolution Will Not Be Televised Via Vlogs; or, Against “Fuck You”

Supposedly this video has been making the rounds today on the internet; and I’ve been told that, in particular, this was THE Facebook video for the gays.  I’m not sure precisely sure what it is other than painfully frustrating, but give it a go and see how far you can make it.  I made it 41-seconds in before I had to stop it.  Let’s see how much of it you can take (oh, and by the by, the language is definitely not safe for work):

Insofar as this video is making a statement against homophobia, that’s great.  I’m glad to see that the internet is being used as a tool to connect members from various parts of the world into a digital community.  The interwebs are exciting, and this is the future y’all!  These young queers are certainly making the most of it, and that’s a wonderful thing.  Metaphorically speaking, these kids are like Queer 2.0, and I’m just running on Homos ’95.

So then why then am I so bothered by this video?  Is it the fact our operating systems might simply not be compatible, so to speak?  Or perhaps is it the fact that watching people vlog makes me quite uncomfortable with the extreme exhibitionism of it all?

Whatever the case, let’s discuss:

I don’t get this video as it is or means to be.  At all.  I’m well aware that, as generations become further absorbed into the internet as social sphere and public forum, that we require ways to respond to the binary-coded slings and arrows we’ve all suffered when we make our voices heard.  Not everybody will agree with what we say, and there’s an unfortunate number of people out there who simply express their disagreement by throwing out snide comments as opposed to opening up an actual conversation in which people can share ideas.

When thoughts and ideas are continuously being broken down into the smallest pieces of digestible information we can take as we surf the internet, it’s easier to strike back at opposing opinions like we were idiot mean girls instead of grown adults.  This is called snark, and we’re all guilty of it.

And this clip, as I see it, is guilty of just that.  To organize a group of people through the vast expanses of YouTube connective tissue and put together a video response to such (homophobic, as is the case) snark is admirable only in its desire to respond and defend.  As an actual and articulate response, though, it’s buying into the same precise conversation.

In this video we have a variety of people of race, sex, gender, class, ethnicity, and orientation that have all come together to speak out against bigotry on the internet and in society.  So why is their best response a simple and inarticulate “fuck you”?  And why are they lip synching?  Are their own voices and personal experiences somehow not worth hearing?

I look at this video and see the faces of a generation with stories to tell of their own frustrations.  Each and every one is in a world that’s boxed them in with mores and standards, rules and regulations and expectations that they neither want nor even perceive as their own.  I see kids getting teased on the playground and getting their books knocked out of their hands in the hallways.  These are kids that are mocked in the lunch rooms as being “too fat” and taunted in their P.E. class as being a “fag” or a “dyke.”  These are the kids that probably have to fight  for their identities in the public, at school, and perhaps even in their very own homes.

In that sense, the easiest and most understandable reaction indubitably becomes “fuck you.” It’s the instantaneous response and the inherent battle cry for the outsider; however, the fact is, putting yourself out there is more profound and significant than those simplistic words will ever be.

Take whatever label you want, but own it proudly and wear it in every way you can.  You become irrefusable and unavoidable, and in that way you a create change for the better.  The people in this video can be leaders towards a radically different and  infinitely more just future.  They deserve to be heard, and this present video does them little justice.

Every time we begin a conversation or respond to one with a “fuck you,” we’ve automatically ended that discourse and simply entered the language of animosity.  We become “fags” and “niggers” and “chinks” and whatever the hell else they care to throw at us.  We become “ignorant” and “ugly” and “Godless,” but we’re none of these things.  We’re something much better.

At worst, “fuck you” has been our only defense to a world that hates us.

So let’s be done with it.  Should the world despise us, we still exist in spite of its disgust, and as such it must simply learn to deal.  We’re not leaving any time soon.

And, at best, “fuck you” has become the simple response to swat away the words that never bothered us anyways.

Let’s be done with that as well.  We know ourselves enough to encounter prejudice with the knowledge that it shall always fail.  We’re in ourselves our own best weapon, one of real discussions and not cheap retorts.

So let’s be done with “fuck you,” as both a literal phrase and an ideological concept.  Let’s abandon the language of cheap retorts and empty arguments and instead create something better and new.  After all, those past  conversations were never really built on listening to anyone but themselves, where they?

We’ll slowly and inevitably find open ears willing to hear our own earnest voices.  That’s for certain, and that’s all that ever really matters.  And until then?

Let’s not begin or end with the easy “fuck you.”  Let’s just listen.  We can respond, politely and intelligently and forcefully, for sure.  But let’s always continue to listen.

Given them enough time and they’ll exhaust their petty, foolish arguments.  They’ll have no sentences nor even words to defend their hatred, and that’s when we’ll win.  It’s inevitable, when you think about it.  It’s simply a matter of time.

‘Til then, we only need to keep an open ear.

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4 Responses

  1. Oh, you totally called it. And, seriously, Lily Allen, WHY????

    …. Amen.

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  2. Before I get into my more reasoned question about anger and cohesion in the youth LGBT movement, I must say that I think you make an extremely cogent and valuable analysis of this video. Very intellectual and high-minded. It’s strong and convincing and I will have to consider it further. However, I wonder if this video could be OK as a one-time “fun moment”–a release as it were, like going into a separate room and screaming your head off to get over a really frustrating moment. For example, at the National Equality Rally, there were many religious fundamentalists on bullhorns, and I wanted to go over and engage them, ask them why they selectively interpreted the Bible or, feeling less rational, get them to shut up somehow. They were right in the middle of things, ruining a positive, if small, event. Thus the feeling of wanting to go somewhere and just scream.

    My second problem is with the idea of being civil, which I think ties into a larger generational divide about mainstreaming and being civil “respectable” members of society.

    Is it really such a problem to make a video like this? I guess I count as a “young” gay (21) and, I dunno, I feel in complete agreement with the sentiment. I’m tired of hearing people arguing about the merits of gay marriage and constantly hearing the hate speech of preachers. In HS, though I wasn’t out, there was rampant underground homophobia (in an extremely liberal school) and it sucked.

    Yet now that the gay movement has “matured,” we have to be nice and friendly and try to mainstream ourselves. And we have to care about these really adult issues, like gay marriage, that I care about on a more abstract level (because they’ll lead to more civil rights for gays) but not on a personal level (except that people are telling me I’m wrong). Why can’t we tell this new generation of bigots to fuck off? Isn’t that what the older generation did? It’s harder to have a community when you have to be friendly and accepting all the time. So many of my friends are just okay with allowing other people to pick up the slack–I think we need to inject a bit more energy and a bit more combativeness. We’re still a minority that suffers daily discrimination: can’t we joke around and not always take the moral high ground?

    Granted, I think that some of the excesses of the post-Prop8 protests were unwarranted (e.g. gays destroying a cross while all fired up) but why can’t we have a bit of anger? I’d love to talk with you about this, because I’ve been struggling with this issue myself.

    Thank you for making such an interesting blog post!

    Like

    • George, I’d like to start by thanking you for leaving such a great comment. From the beginning, my hope had been that this post might open up the discussion on activism and political discourse on the internet. Even if yours is the only response, I’m glad to have opened up the conversation a little bit more.

      I wholeheartedly agree with you that this video works as an outlet for a group of queer and queer-friendly youth to vent their frustration with a society that sadly still carries so much intolerance. It’s essentially a digital bitch session, which is always needed; however, it’s not the same as going into another room and screaming your heart out. Do we need to be able to do that every once and a while? Absolutely, but the internet’s a public forum, and as such this video is more akin to screaming on the street corner. If we think of this video as more so public speech, a contribution to the continued conversation about how to end discrimination, then this is a contribution that doesn’t say much.

      That’s not to say that the anger in this video is unwarranted. We’ve all experienced homophobia in our lifetime, and we should all be pissed off that we’ve had to go through it and will probably see it again. Ignorance and prejudice sucks like that. We shouldn’t hide or ignore our anger in slightest. We should be expressing it, and not just when we encounter homophobia in our lives. This video is certainly an expression of that, but I feel that–like the sick, sad Bible thumpers that claim AIDS is a cure for our “disease” and that we’ve already bought our ticket to hell–this expression of anger, this response, shuts down any conversation (and therefore any opportunity for social change) by assuming automatic superiority and inherent “rightness.” If you share the sentiment of the argument, you nod your head in agreement; if you disagree, the message simply reaffirms your own opinions about how the speaker is “wrong.” We’re not going to see discrimination against us end if nobody’s working on having a constructive conversation.

      I think the difference between past generations and this generation is not the right to be angry (we’ve still plenty of reason), but how we use said anger. It’s important that we can still be angry because it reminds us that there’s still much progress to be made, and it can mobilize us to work towards such change; however, we can’t expect such change to come if our argument is little more than stomping around like a temperamental child. This isn’t an issue of being “respectable.” If we were being a “respectable” community, we’d just be happy that we weren’t being policed and bullied like this was pre-Stonewall America. This is an issue of differentiating our voice from the noise and hate that chokes this conversation.

      Just because we aren’t acting on our anger in such a base fashion doesn’t mean we’ve lost our motivation to act or the community that binds us together. If anything, it’s the opposite. Remember, most hatred comes from ignorance, and as such it becomes our obligation to correct that ignorance. It’s easy to respond with a simple “fuck you,” but it says so much more–and holds the potential for so much more change–if we can channel our anger into a rational, critical response.

      Then again, that’s just me.

      Like

  3. I do understand and appreciate your position, and to some degree agree with it, inasmuch as this video should not replace articulate dialogue with our adversaries. And I agree that it will probably serve to reinforce their opinions, but then I think that their minds were already made up, so I doubt that it will make much of a difference in the big picture, to how they view us. I first saw this video only two days ago. Someone I know on Facebook posted it, and expressed how much he had enjoyed it. So I watched it, several times, and each time I watched it I got a huge smile on my face and an enormous feeling of satisfaction. There was just something so charming and extraordinarily refreshing and cathartic about it. After 8 years of George Bush, IT WAS ABOUT FUCKIN’ TIME!!! So then I posted it on my Facebook page and forwarded it to several friends. My friends are intelligent and thoughtful people. Without exception, their response to the video was the same as mine. Then I went onto Youtube and looked at the comments on there, and again, there was not a single comment by anyone one there that indicated anything but complete enjoyment and satisfaction. So all of this tells me that this video has a great deal of value, if for nothing else, in providing some validation, and a much needed voice, FOR US, to express what we’ve all been wanting to say for a LONG time. Plain and simple, it just makes us feel really good, and after everything we’ve had to endure, most recently, the overturning of Proposition 8, we deserve a moment or two of base humanness to revel in those two little words that say so much, “FUCK YOU!” I really believe that the positive value for us gay folk far exceeds the negative impact that it will have on the opinions of people who have clearly already made up their minds anyway.

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