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Your Tweets: The New Object d’Art

2 Dec

Recently, a friend sent an article asking if social media is bad for NYC to an email list shared by some of my close friends.  While I know everyone has their own opinions of various social-media outlets, here’s a quick rundown of my views, based mostly on a great deal of cultural and media research.

It is anecdotally true that there is a cultural shift that involves documentation as part of the social experience.  Whether this is long-term or even vastly wide-spread has yet to be studied on a large enough scale to warrant a yea or nay from the world of social science.  Being someone who reads (a lot) of theory about these things, I assume that this cultural shift is similar to the theoretical shift seen post-WII in culture, society and media.  Ok, so, post-modernism starts at the end of WW-I and people are very taking notice by the 1950, at the very latest.  The term post-modern had certainly been used in literary and cultural criticism by that point.  Add to the the widespread use of the television, and you’ve got a media-based cultural revolution.  This gives rise to everything from needing our President to be cute (thanks for sweating a lot on TV, Nixon) to pop-art.  The fragmentation allowed to each individual through their separation from group gathering is very indicative of every type of media in this period.  Everyone is obsessed with the same figures, yet everyone is isolated from a group.  Images and media are seen as less “authentic” (in the way Benjamin used the term authentic) due to their consistent reproducibility.  Cultural critics worry we’ve lost originality in the age of post-modernity.

Two things then happen.  First, the Internet, then 9/11.  Much in the way that the majority of vast cultural changes can be linked with basic events in world history (often military/war related), such is the case here.  The ability for people to connect immediately, to give information instananeously is seen as neccesarry by our culture in a post-9/11 climate.  The technology available to us allows us to shift from isolated media images that require separation to isolated media images that require “virtual” community.  Part of the beauty of social media is the interconnectivity of information sharing.  Hitchcock said he liked to put one thing in his movies that he would call “ice box talk.”  It was the piece of information that everyone would discuss as curious or incongruous after having seen the film.  Hitchcock wanted people to be so puzzled by it that they would still be thinking about it, hours later, as they gazed into the icebox hours after their film-viewing experience was over.  It would prompt thought, discussion and drive people a little bit crazy.  This is the same concept as discussing a “must-see” TV show moment around an office-place water-cooler, a commonplace referrence made during the late-80s and through the 90s.  Now, we don’t have to have a physical place to locate in order to share our cultural obsessions; we can tweet them with a hashtag and share with thousands of others the very instant we watch Vertigo and can’t figure out how Madeleine was in the fucking window of the hotel if she hadn’t checked in (damn, you Hitchcock — icebox talk strikes again!)  This culture and type of media has also grown to include ourselves as part of the media, itself.

That’s fucking fascinating, y’all! We are the cultural objects being studied at the same time as we are the ones studying.  We need to know things as they happen, but we need to analyze them, as well.  I think as this trend continues and/or we get historical and societal distance from it, we will very much see 9/11 and twitter as interconnected and integral parts of our growth and change as a larger cultural group.

So, are New Yorkers (and the rest of the world) navel-gazing a little bit more than they had in the past?  Yes and no.  Just as much as people wanted to be part of the avant-garde set who saw the latest show the second it came and knew the next big artist before she made it big, so do they want to be a part of this creation, as well.  The self-importance isn’t new; the way the information is gathered and disseminated is.


Brittany the Queerio: Gleeking Out of the Closet

9 Nov

It should come as no surprise that I am a huge Gleek.  Cheesy high school antics, musical theatre and Jane Lynch?  How could I not love Glee?  Like many other Gleeks, I have favorites.  Puck is my top sexy pick.  He’s a hot, outlaw Jew who had a mohawk for the majority of the first season.  He’s also got a beautiful voice and a body to die for.  I would touch him for hours while he texted and ignored me.  I have problems.  Whatever.

Initally, I figured that Rachel would be my main character of choice; Lea Michele has been on my musical theatre radar since Spring Awakening.  She is, in many ways, a younger Idina Menzel (who played her birth mom on the show due to their physical and musical similarities).  I’ve been in love with Idina since… ever.  Rachel is ambitious, nerdy, spunky and beyond talented.  Also, once again, I can’t help but love seeing a nice, Jewish girl.  More chances for excellent episodes about Passover.  Always a win.

As time went on, though, I found myself waiting for the moments that side-character, Brittany, the resident ditz, would open her mouth.  The writers give her the best lines!  Let’s examine some of them:

“[Miss Pillsbury] is the one they made me talk to when they found out I was keeping that bird in my locker.”
“When I pulled my hamstring I went to a misogynist.”
“I’m pretty sure my cat’s been reading my diary.”
“I’ve been here since first period. I had a cold and I took all my antibiotics at the same time, and now I can’t remember how to leave.”
“I don’t brush my teeth, I rinse my mouth out with soda after I eat. I was pretty sure Dr. Pepper was some sort of dentist.”

My favorite, though, is the ever popular:
“Dolphins are just gay sharks.”

Brilliance.  Pure and simple.  I’m not alone in thinking this.  My personal Lord and savior, Joss Whedon, has gone on record saying that Brittany is his favorite character.

Seriously, check the 1 minute mark.

Vindicated in my love!  Joss agrees with me!  All is right in the world.

As much as the dolphins line may have been the closer for many people, it is actually Brittany’s sexuality that makes her tops in my book.  Lately on Glee, there has been much discussion of the loneliness Kurt feels as the only openly out gay kid at McKinnley High.  Yes, Kurt is fabulous.  Yes, it is wonderful to have a gay character who is accepted by his friends and family at such a young age.  Yes, growing up queer in Smalltown, USA is usually made of super suck.  For all of these reasons (and his fantastic voice), Kurt is wonderful.

Still, I wish he (and the other members of the Glee club) would open their eyes to the one person who has accepted her sexuality, complications and all.  That person is Brittany.  Maybe she’s too stupid to realize that being queer is something outside of the norm where she is.  Maybe she just doesn’t give a shit.  Either way, she’s open about who she is.

Brittany is attracted to pretty much everyone.  To paraphrase the great Margaret Cho, Brittany isn’t straight, she isn’t gay…she’s just slutty.  Besides the fact that she has slept with basically the entire football team, Brittany has an ongoing sexual (and possibly romantic) relationship with fellow Glee club member and Cheerio, Santana.  While watching the first season, I was floored when  Brittany pointed out that if having sex were equivalent to dating, she and Santana would be going out.

Hold the phone, Glee!  Did you just admit to intimate lady-relations between teenagers on prime-time TV?  It sure did.  And no big deal was made of it, either.  Brittany wasn’t tortured by the prospect of admitting it.  Santana wasn’t horrified when the information came out.  They both kept walking down the hallway as they always do, living their lives as hot, popular cheerleaders, albeit ones who have a fair amount of sex with each other.

In later episodes, Brittany talks about more women as attractive.  She even wants to touch the (fairly unattractive, if you ask me) female football coach’s breasts.  Most recently, Brittany and Santana were seen making out.  Brittany even thought that Santana’s “sweet lady kisses” were a nice break from scissoring.   Scissoring!  On network television!  Once again, this was not in an informational episode about creative lesbian activities.  No one learned an important lesson about how some people touch their bits together and walked away as a stronger, better community.   It was a regular-ass episode in which two ladies kissed and talked about the sex they were having without it being an issue.  Halle-fucking-lujah!

I know that gay identity and gay bullying, especially in high-school aged kids are HUGE problems right now.  I’m not attempting to say that Kurt isn’t a good representation of some of those problems.  I just want people to think about queer identities that alternative to a gay/straight dichotomy.  I want people to realize that Brittany, in all of her stupidity and riduclousness is the closest representation to my sexuality that I’ve ever seen on TV, much less on a mainstream, network show and I, for one, appreciate the hell out of it.

You rock on, Brittany.  You rock on or under or around with whomever it is you want to be making sexes.  I’ll be here, loving you and blogging about it.

Random Thought #2

20 Sep

I get really excited to plan my new, fall TV schedule.