The idea that anyone would want to be involved in an abusive relationship is scary. If you heard anyone say in earnest that they deserved or wanted to be beaten to an unrecognizable pulp by their partner, your internal warning bells would go berserk.
That’s probably why following the 2012 Grammy Awards last night, a Vancouver journalist retweeted this link from Buzzfeed that calls out 25 girls for tweeting variations on the theme “Chris Brown is hot so I’d let him beat me like he beat Rihanna.”
Check out the highlights from the police report on this post-Grammy blog post if you need convincing it’s a horrifying scenario.
But is reposting doing more harm?
There’s an unwritten set of principles governing the ethics of republishing tweets: they’re already out there, so compiling them somewhere else doesn’t make them any more public.
It’s a logic used frequently in traditional journalism. But there’s a discipline to which good journalists will try to adhere, for the protection of private citizens and to legally cover their own asses: such information should be broadcast if it serves the public good, and if it does not expose citizens who are not inherently newsworthy by ethical standards to ridicule and hatred.
That defense arguing the publisher’s passivity in the dissemination of the tweet is a facile one, especially concerning a heavily-trafficked site like Buzzfeed. My point is not that Buzzfeed is meant to be held to the standards of serious news sites. But by publishing names and pictures of the “upsetting” tweeters they are exposing them to ridicule and hatred, and here’s some proof:
Well done, defenders of women’s dignity everywhere.
Yeah, what all these girls said was kinda gross. But imagine hearing it in passing in the hallway at school, or if your friend said it to you. Would you begin viciously blasting her, calling her stupid, saying you hope she’ll never procreate? Would you tell anyone who’d listen what a pathetic idiot she was?
The flippant comments we make in the corporeal world seldom lead to the public tarring and feathering to which we gleefully subject one another online. There are at least two main reasons: one, the written word has an intrinsic sense of import and permanency, so perhaps we take what we read more seriously. Two, we’re safe behind our computer screens to bully one another and remain blissfully ignorant of the pain we’re causing.
I’m not saying – wait, I think I am saying – give these girls a break.
I believe there should be an expectation of professionalism in an online persona. I try, not always successfully, to cultivate that. I believe when your online persona reveals things about you that prove you are wrong for a job, reveal violent intentions or explicitly racist/homophobic tendencies, or expose corruption, the appropriate measures should be taken by whomever is in the position to do so.
But I do not think this schadenfreude is the same as standing up for the public good. About these girls’ stupid tweets, relax. About the stuff in this roundup of getting fired from your job because of tweets, go nuts and freak out for all I care, you got some real examples of direct conflict goin’ on there.
As the spectacle of humiliation expands from reality TV to the ‘net – increasingly the place we waste all our free time – will society, bruised, learn to pick its battles? To live and let live? Or will kindergarten classes start teaching kids to micromanage their reputations?
I’m gonna try to go outside today, stay off the computer. Maybe talk to a stranger.
Here are some old album reviews I didn’t post when they were timely in their respective editions of V-Rag. I upload them here for archival purposes.
Born This Way: Lady Gaga
V-Rag wasn’t kind to Lady Gaga’s lead single from the eponymous Born This Way in March. The comparative flop Judas left even hardcore Little Monsters digging for enthusiasm as they awaited the release, heralded by Gaga herself as “the greatest album of this decade”.
It’s not without missteps – or delights. The album’s overall success is in its baffling ability to meld metal guitar riffs, rock saxophone, and Euro-electronica into an effort that begs the question, “What were they thinking and why is it so good?” Its major failure is Gaga’s need to tackle a checklist of political issues without much lyrical eloquence. She’s at her best in Hair, a sugary pop anthem so hot it kicks the title track’s ass practically off the album without attempting the religious commentary that otherwise pervades the disc.
There is plenty on Gaga‘s third effort that is well worth the price. Skeptics who like pop will enjoy its infectious fury, but probably won’t convert into Mother Monster’s zealous flock.
Beyoncé’s fourth solo album (ohhhh! I just got that!) was apparently culled by studio suits from the best of a whopping 72 demo tracks.
I’d hate to hear the 60 rejects.
I couldn‘t remember much about it after I‘d finished listening except that it is so oversung, unconventional and unpoetic it’s frustrating. I also recall one particularly bad line: “You showed your ass / and I saw the real you,” she accuses on “Best Thing I Never Had”.
Wait. On second thought…I’ve had some unpleasant shocks that way too.
The disc contains no classics, no hits, nothing memorable or catchy. It’s overwrought, weird and inconsistent, effectively removing it from the pop lexicon without allowing it to breathe in any particular genre. Maybe it’s hard to see past one of the biggest names in pop to assess the music fairly. If this album were released by another artist, some underground up-and-comer, its retro balladry might place it in a similarly nostalgic category as Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black.
But a lesser, greener artist didn’t release 4. Friggin’ Beyoncé did, so where’s the beef?
Check out my reviews of Grace Jones’ Hurricane, Bruce LaBruce’s Hustler White, and the documentary about his life The Advocate for Fagdom, on page 30.
Click the album cover to go to this edition of V-Rag. To see the unedited reviews of Hurricane and Hustler White, scroll on downwards!
Grace Jones: Hurricane
Grace Jones is her own genre. Her first studio album in 19 years is heavily dub-influenced, but otherwise, the only categorical descriptor needed is the name of the artist herself. The abundant iconography of the 63-year-old’s career takes care of the rest.
The opening track, “This Is“, is an energetic primer with tribal beats and rousing vocals. You can practically see the Africans in grass skirts cavorting in celebration of the Hurricane Jones is about to unleash as she declares, “this is my voice / my weapon of choice / … this is technology mixed with live band.”
“Williams’ Blood” is like Grace Jones’ impression of a worship song, and the catchiest track on the album. As the funk-rock bass and piano are borne on soaring strings in the last third and a soulful choir takes up the chant “I got the Williams’ blood in me,” all that’s missing is a “Hallelujah!” Jones may never have had this much unabashed fun with music before.
“I’m Crying (Mother’s Tears)” is another standout, featuring a rarely-heard vulnerability in Jones’ voice. Apparently more autobiographical than the other tracks, Jones repeats “I’m strong enough / I’m tough enough” throughout like a mantra, as if to reassure herself. It’s surprising to hear the flesh-and-blood woman who was once an unsure little girl beneath the self-possessed, teeth-baring, posturing space cadet who is Grace Jones.
Most of the other tracks are trademark Jones, with esoteric lyrics and spoken-word verses. But it’s great to hear her still repping her individual style – just updated – via the dub and calypso flavours found on “Hurricane”.
Hustler White. Dir: Bruce LaBruce
To many queer culture buffs, Bruce Labruce is an icon. He’s practically revered for his crude, sexy films, and because his exploits in controversy have become the stuff of legend, it is almost pointless to talk about whether or not the movies are any good. “Hustler White” is entertaining, nicely photographed, and occasionally hot. These, not storytelling, are its primary aims.
Hustler White is a sort of anthology of short stories
The film follows several gay prostitutes in the area surrounding Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles. The main plot concerns hustler Monti Ward (Tony Ward, supermodel then-boyfriend of Madonna) as he turns tricks and finds himself pursued by the prissy author Jurgen Anger (played by Labruce), who says he is writing a book about the L.A. porn and prostitution scene. Unconvincingly attempting to mask his crush on Monti by insisting it’s all about research, he gets the rent boy to show him around and explain the ins and outs of the business, while the film’s supporting characters get into sexual misadventures with various johns.
There’s no real conflict
We are just along for the ride, as Labruce mischievously subjects the audience to scenes of bondage and S&M that seem crafted intentionally to shock, yet are presented playfully, even sweetly; every character yearns for their own kind of freaky-naughty companionship. In one infamous example, the “stumpfucking” scene, a john with an amputee fetish picks up a skinhead hustler who is missing a foot and proceeds to live out his wildest fantasy.
It’s not that disturbing
While the scene was certainly controversial in 1996, its impact is lessened for the audience of today, which knows that if you can imagine it, there’s a porn of it on the internet for free. Still, the scene exemplifies Labruce’s ability as a director to show images of raw sexual deviance that some would consider disturbing in a way that makes them weirdly earnest and touching.
If Labruce removed all the so-called “shocking” pornographic material from the feature, however, it would probably be about fifteen minutes long, with Monti and Jurgen as the only characters (who, ironically, never have sex). Film is the medium of choice for frustrated gay men who want to capture their sexual and/or romantic fantasies in vivid eternal life on screen. Without the shock-jocking, “Hustler White” would just kind of look like an excuse for Labruce to make out with the superhot Ward.
If you want to watch a movie with emotional depth and range, see something with Kate Winslet.
If you want hardcore sex, try Xtube. If you want to watch Tony Ward trotting around like a hooker with his shirt pulled up to his nipples, bingo!
Because of its status in the queer cinema canon, “Hustler White” is a must-see for queer history enthusiasts regardless of its shortcomings.
First thing’s first: Bjork is releasing her next album, Biophilia, as a series of interactive iPad apps.
Girlfriend is ahead of the game.
The lead single, “Crystalline”, opens with a frosty keyboard section and Bjork’s trademark hesitant wail. Shortly this childish, innocent charm is corrupted by bright-edged electronic zaps and Bjork’s vocals soar rhythmically in and out of the fray. The lyrics seem to correlate crystal formation, or plants or something, with a budding human relationship. It’s a fairly comfortable pattern until the last minute or so, at which point the sense of security unravels without warning as the beats become frantic and the electronic jolts gather into thunderclouds.
Despite the album’s advanced release concept, this first taste is surprisingly Bjork-y, recalling her now-15-year-old album Homogenic and provoking comparisons to electro artist Squarepusher.
The return to form isn’t displeasing, though. Perhaps the most Bjork-y thing about “Crystalline” is that it dares you not to have it stuck in your head, even while defying popular music conventions like hooks and choruses, and without being even remotely catchy.
Going Down in La-La Land. Dir: Casper Andreas
Don’t judge Going Down In La La Land by its premise, which might at first make you roll your eyes: a pretty, naive New York twunk (hunky twink) moves to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming an actor and gets swept up in porn, parties and red carpet premieres. This film has a lot more heart than its accurate, yet deceptive synopsis foretells. It’s a modern gay Cinderella story, with blowjobs instead of brooms.
Adam’s the aspiring thespian, played with ease and some charm by Matthew Ludwinski’s juicy pout - and the rest of him. After landing in L.A. and having little success finding a job, porn photographer Nick (writer-director Casper Andreas) approaches Adam to do some “modeling”. It isn’t long before Adam’s desperation and Nick’s coaxing urge Adam right into porn and escorting. Under Adam’s circumstances, it’s at least a fairly believable transition for the character, as the script and Ludwinski’s acting manage to convey Adam’s hunger to find some aspect of performing at which he can be great.
Of course, the lure of quick cash isn’t without pitfalls, and Adam finds himself in morally compromising situations – especially his relationship with the meth-addicted Nick and a famous closeted sit-com star who wants Adam to be more than just a discreet trick.
One of a few minor drawbacks is Candy, Adam’s over-the-top, unscrupulous best friend. When she expresses concern about his career path, this contradiction in her otherwise clownish characterization is one of the most interesting moments – but the script doesn’t realize it and never delves into this vein.
All-around solid filmmaking makes this a reliable entry in Out On Screen’s program this year.