Lately, I seem to be obsessed with deciphering queer celebrities through a queer/race scope. For my last, let’s say, “controversial” blog, I talked about celebrities coming out only when the height of their careers were ended a good while ago. After learning more, I changed my opinions about this subject and displayed my learning on the Final Paper, I do see now that mainstream society is sort of a “culprit” in destructing the sexuality of celebrities when they “sense” that their sexual orientation is other than heterosexual.
For this “Arts” blog, I took the essentialism/constructionism dynamic that we discussed in class and applied it to Ricky Martin and Lady Gaga. The essentialism/constructionism dynamic can get a bit complicated at times, so I tried my best with my understanding of the topic. I think this dynamic is imperative to see queer and race intersect and, from what I learned and observed, I think that the queer community prefers to be seen on the essential spectrum rather than construction because essentialism identifies them as individual people and not categorized and shoved in to a “group” with other people. I think that is a reason as to why the queer community stands out as unique, which is something I highly appreciate.
Please click the link below to see my “artsy” piece.
**Note: The fonts express a tone for each side. Such as for “Constructionism” the font is all bold because of the monotonous categorizing that must take place for this paradigm. In the same note, “Essentialism” is typed in different, unique font to represent the specific identity of an individual, which goes along with that paradigm. **
**ALSO: You guys should be able to see the document, but if for some weird reason you can’t, please don’t hesitate to let me know, PLEASE! Thanks!**
In case you haven’t already seen this, here’s a link to Olympic figure skater, Johnny Weir, skating to the song “Poker Face.” It’s an amazing blend of insane figure skater moves and voguing/club dancing.
Music Selection: “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga
Section of Lyrics:
I won’t tell you that I love you
Kiss or hug you
Cause I’m bluffin’ with my muffin
I’m not lying I’m just stunnin’ with my love-glue-gunning
Just like a chick in the casino
Take your bank before I pay you out
I promise this, promise this
Check this hand cause I’m marvelous
Can’t read my, can’t read my
No he can’t read my poker face
(She’s got to love nobody)
Can’t read my, can’t read my
No he can’t read my poker face
(She’s got to love nobody)
Living in the 21st century, artists that exhibit either blatant or underlining queer/race influences are becoming more and more prominent in American society. As I read this assignment for the first time, Lady Gaga is an artist that first came to mind. Though Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson, etc. have preset the stage for challenging discrimination and freely portraying sexuality through music, Lady Gaga is following suit and becoming worshipped for her fearlessness, as well as her music.
Lady Gaga’s second chart-topping hit was “Poker Face,” a song about being physical with a man while fantasizing about a woman. Her openness about being sexually attracted to both men AND women stirred unsettling feelings within some, and a breath of fresh air for others. She was being who she was, and finally, her career was not suffering one bit. Her poker face was being used against societal norms of female sexual attraction to a man as she creates her own interpretation of female attraction to a female. In fact, Lady Gaga is working against these norms and taking advantage of them. By using her sexuality, she can have her cake and eat it too. She seduces a man with nothing but a blank, meaningless poker face and her sexuality to get what she wants, but in fact, she’s just “bluffin’ with her muffin.”
After seeing her video over and over again, I couldn’t visually see the deeper meaning of poker face and the song in general. While extremely sexual throughout the video, similar to a Madonna video, she is primarily surrounded and flirtatious with men instead of women. (Most likely for the appeal to a mainstream audience.) By making the sexuality strictly man v. woman with a hint of woman v. woman, it makes the girls want to be her, the men want to sleep with her, and the gay community love her. The bottom line is that Lady Gaga is a new generation of artists in America, one that promotes individuality and uniqueness without compromising success.
I chose this specific song, “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga, because of the underlining meanings one can overlook. By topping charts worldwide, Lady Gaga’s music has become one to dance to because of its catchy refrains and pumped up beats. However, she is creating an identity beyond a traditional Britney Spears-esq pop star and into a unique identity of her own. She relishes in her tangent from cookie-cutter, popular music as she identifies with everyone that is different. Whether that means racially, sexually, or physically, they can immediately relate to Lady Gaga and her music. “Poker Face” specifically depicts the power of the individual, straight or gay, black or white, and what their strong sexuality can do without blinking an eye. Lady Gaga has become a spokesperson for the queer community with overt sexuality and openness to those deemed different by society. But these differences can surpass the queer community and into the importance of race and those affected by racial differences. Being different is not a bad thing, and Lady Gaga’s music allows you to believe that. She’s putting the power back into the individual’s hands, and if that means falling in love with someone of the same sex, so be it. She makes her listeners fearless.
I themed this week – I choose to highlight “colors” in queer news. Keep this in mind as you read the following few stories:
Hailing all sex-loving fashionistas! Lady Gaga is teaming up with designer Jeremy Scott to create a line of fashionable rubbers for your, ummm…, you know! But I have to ask myself, what’s the angle here? Lady Gaga is a promoter of the bizarrely normal world; is there a real appeal to create something fashionable during an act which most of us would call anything but fashionable? My gut feeling is that these will be a hit, however, are they reaching those that may need to use condoms most? The condoms are selling at $5.99 for a 3-pack but I think it’s safe to say that great sex happens more than 3 times. Do you then have to pick and choose when to use the neon green, zebra-print rubber to impress your partner? If Gaga and Scott are trying to reach a greater public by promoting safe-sex, albeit by using bright bells and whistles, are they really hitting the mark? Should the “haves” of society now have bedazzled condoms, too?
While we’re on the topic of fashion and bright colors, rabble.ca has an interesting podcast which reports on a story of the 2010 Olympic Game preparations in Vancouver. I know that I enjoy the 5, brightly-colored rings that represent the games, but it seems that in terms of diversity, that is about all we’re going to get from our alleged friendly, neighboring country to the north. Rabble.ca is stating that there was a pressure to keep up a “certain image” at the games, and that all other “messy” signs were stamped out of project planning. Issues like poverty and addiction were purposely hidden from the public’s eye during the Games. However, as Gary Kinsman, co-author of “The Canadian War on Queers” and professor at Laurentian University states, this is not a new phenomena: at the 1976 Montreal Games, similar efforts were coordinated to clean-up the streets, which included the “queer people” at the time. So what are we supposed to understand from this story? Is it acceptable to put one’s “best foot forward” for the sake of keeping the tradition at the Games? Aren’t the Olympics supposed to showcase a diverse and wide array of people, origins, faiths, etc.? What happened and why exactly did we have to shove the queers under the rug? What negative image was the world going to walk-away with if Canada actually let the queers be?
And lastly on the colors theme, I have a few colorful words for North Carolina State Senator Jim Forrester (R-Gaston.) Queers United is reporting that the state senator has refused to meet with a specific subset of his constituent group – the local chapter of the LGBT advocacy group, Parents and Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG). Now you might think that this is okay because state senators are busy people, but his motivations for not meeting with PFLAG will be the focus of this story. Forrester has notoriously been dubbed a homophobe and a racist with comments like, “Slick city lawyers and homosexual lobbies andAfrican American lobbies are running Raleigh.” In response to the invitation from PFLAG, Forrester is reported to have said, “I doubt I will go to the meeting, but I appreciate the invitation anyhow…I don’t think it would be a constructive meeting. I think it would just increase animosity toward me, and I don’t want that”(Pam’s Houseblend). What animosity could you be talking about, Senator Forrester? It must be difficult to feel “animosity;” and it’s a good thing you’re saying this to the LGBT community, because allegedly they’ve felt a lot of it, from YOU! How dare this representative reject the invitation to meet with PFLAG; his job is to represent the views, ideas, and thoughts of his constituents, whether they are LGBT, black, or not. If this behavior keeps up, Senator Forrester, those angst-ridden PFLAGers might just vote you out of a seat here pretty soon, and nothing screams animosity like a racist, homophobic, jobless North Carolinian!
So what are the great takeaways here?
The queer community can now practice fashionable, safe-sex, while combating Olympic Game stigmas, and giving the finger to Senator Forrester’s remarks? Not quite. It’s important to frame each of these stories in your own personal life. These stories seemed pertinent to me for a few reasons:
1. Safe sex is IMPORTANT! And so is individuality. It’s great that an iconic figure (iconic?), rather, popular? whatever; Lady Gaga is in your face and she’s got your attention. Hopefully we’re paying attention this time! Find a helmet and strap it on!
2. It is crucial to be prudent in understanding the history of events and rituals, even when it comes to the Olympic Games. At the same time, we cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater. For as many critiques that will pop up because of this story, there are also stories of strength and power that should get just as much attention. People make mistakes! Some are forgivable, and others we just have to work to fix overtime. Become empowered and don’t let history repeat itself!
3. People in the South are nuts. No, I’m kidding. We’ve allegedly come “so far” in overcoming injustices, but that does not allow for an excuse! Everyone should be upset with Senator Forrester’s comment, for whatever reason that they want. Take the comment as a personal attack, on your “whiteness,” your “femininity,” your “love of hockey,” whatever. If you don’t feel insulted yet, imagine you’re the one that’s being picked on in the playground. Why wait around to find a hero to kick the bully? BE the hero! Shake your fist, bite your thumb, blog! This is only as acceptable as you allow it.
BE PROUD OF YOUR COLORS, KIDS!
This article describes how famous pop-star Lady Gaga held a strap-on near her crotch on the front cover of Q, a British music magazine. There were rumors prior to this that Lady Gaga may be intersexed but rather than running away from the rumor, she played along with it.
This is an article (with video) from queerty.com detailing how African-American lesbian Wanda Sykes discussed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” with comedian Bill Maher and Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. Sykes makes the comment that although gays are in the military, they are not Rupaul gays, but “Brokeback gays.”
How could I skip this article? It explains how our beloved state of Maryland could soon recognize outside same-sex marriages. This could only happen, however, if: “Maryland General Assembly enacted legislation; the Court of appeals ruled to allow it; or through the regulations of state agencies.”
These articles, all found on queer news sources, demonstrates the variety of information regarding LGBT matters. The first article about Lady Gaga’s strap-on is fascinating because she has been deemed by many as intersexed, the perceived ultimate taboo. Rather than running from the rumor, she embraces it on the front cover of a magazine. Her status in the LGBT community is well-respected as she is an outspoken proponent of equality. The second link is significant because it demonstrates much of society’s public outcry of the DADT policy. Many late night comedians such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have lashed out against the policy but Bill Maher’s inclusion of a lesbian informs viewers that queer people (and in this case an African-American woman) are no different than everyone else (despite what many conservatives believe). The last article is an example of the many queer policies being discussed and debated by lawmakers and these cover important information that affects the lives of queer citizens (“How will this affect
me?”). Some of these items may be regarded as national news (Prop 8 in California) but other stories like this one may make local news.