Femme FATale


fail: kanye west
February 21, 2009, 5:49 pm
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i’m going to start this off by saying that i love kanye west and his music. i appreciate a lot of the politics he incorporates into his tracks. i think he has an incredible knack for combining wit and truth and packaging it up with some beats that you never, ever want to leave your head. i’m a long-time kanye fan from back in early 2000 when an indie hip-hop boy from a neighboring college attempted to woo me with the promise of mix cds featuring “unheard of” artists. kanye was on there and i instantly fell for him and not the hampshire boy who thought i could be so enamored with the new music he was giving me, that i’d forget he was a male-born dude. it might have killed him a little to know that his very cds became the soundtracks to the makeout sessions with my handsome then-gf. oh, the irony and sadness of unrequited collegiate love!

have i convinced you though of my fondness towards kanye west? because i require this preface in order to say that he managed to piss me off this week and in a really backhanded way at that. i say backhanded because i initially found his praise of gay folks as “really, really extremely dope,” a nice show of allied support. this awesome tidbit is, however, couched in an article focusing on how kanye west is, single-handedly, taking steps to “reinvent” the word “gay” from one that is, supposedly only negative to one that is positive. as a response to mainstream straight folks’ use of the word “gay” to describe anything that sucks, again, i appreciate the effort.

but kanye west wants to do more than just make “gay” positive again. he wants to, as i said earlier, “reinvent” it to be a positive portrayal of good taste in fashion, specifically. why? because all us homos can dress ourselves well, apparently. he’s been quoted in a pink news article as saying:

“I haven’t gone to a gay bar, nor do I ever plan to. But where I would talk to a gay person, the conversation would be mostly around art or design, it’d be really dope. […] From a design standpoint, kids’ll say, ‘Dude, those pants are gay.’ […] If it’s good, good, good fashion-level, design-level stuff, where it’s on a higher level than the average commercial design stuff, it’s gay people that do that. […] I think that should be said as a compliment. Like, ‘Dude, that’s so good it’s almost gay.'”

i don’t know about you, but i don’t want any words that people use as identifiers, especially marginalized identities at that, to be “reinvented” by a) someone who doesn’t ascribe to that identity and b) detaches it from its original meaning and attaches it to something as, trivial in comparison, to fashion. truly being an ally would, in this case, be kanye west stopping after calling gay folks dope and speaking out to reclaim gay as positive and to thwart those who use it to describe something as stupid or bad. defining a whole new meaning and interpretation to an identity and distilling it down to a superficial quality of some gay folks, is not only arrogant and appropriative, but just insulting. i much more appreciate the ad council commercials (two of which feature wanda sykes and hilary duff!) that specifically target the bogus and rampant “that’s so gay!” with some wit and snark.

kanye, i heart you and your music and, as a queer, i appreciate you aligning yourself with queer struggle and calling out folks for repeatedly equating “gay” with “bad.” i’m thrilled to have such a high-profile powerhouse on our side, but dude, don’t be stealing identities, introducing new meanings, and simultaneously erasing an entire history of struggle for folks to proudly call themselves “gay.” you are the leader of the hip-hop world, but your reign doesn’t allow you to be appropriative. we’re not forever on the outs, kanye, but this week, you get a fail.

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this is kind of awesome.
October 24, 2008, 11:35 pm
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t.i. + 2008 election + cute kids = full of win.



fail: katy perry

i’ve been trying to write a post about katy perry’s new song “i kissed a girl” for about two weeks now and every time i try to sit down and do it, i go off on these crazy tirades that take me far away from where i began. as destiny would have it though, my friend gave me the heads up on some reporter at the chicago sun times writing an article about how katy’s song is the new summer anthem and asking for readers’ opinions. i wasn’t going to respond, but then my friend made me feel it was my queer duty. did i want some college co-ed responding instead about the merits of kissing random girls for free beer at frat parties? not really. so here’s what i wrote up and sent to the reporter:

Before even getting into the specifics as to why “I Kissed a Girl” is so problematic, it seems necessary to note that the other song responsible for making Katy Perry popular is her “Ur So Gay,” which details her woes of having an “emo” or “indie rock” boyfriend whose masculinity, and later sexuality, falls into question because of both his clothing style and taste in music. As a celebrity who has not gone on record as being anything but straight, we should question Perry’s obsession with queer culture and her unapologetic capitalization of it through her music. Straight performers getting rich off of the experiences of queer folks should be as inflammatory as any other kind of exploitation. As far as “I Kissed a Girl” goes, the song is blatantly ignorant in its trivialization of sexual experimentation and of the lives and practices of queer women. This isn’t to say that girls kissing girls, regardless of their sexuality, needs to be considered Earth-shattering events, but more so that reducing it to a naughty “game” aimed at getting a boyfriend’s attention – a game that, mind you, isn’t even worth Perry obtaining her girl crush’s name – is just belittling for the many queer women who find significance in kissing other women! The video for the song makes any possibility of its subversion completely impossible by its rendering of girl-on-girl action down to the tired scenario of outrageously feminine women clad in lingerie and fishnets, applying each others’ make-up amidst their flirty gyrations. While this demographic of high femmes, or queer women who express their femininity overtly, exists within queer communities and should be rightfully celebrated, it leads me to question whether or not mainstream music and media produced by straight people, Katy Perry now included, will ever actually attempt to represent the breadth of sexual and gender identities within queer women and lesbian communities. I’m not optimistic.

i know there’s a ton more to say, but i was trying to keep my comments succinct and comprehensible to mainstream audiences. if she gets back to me and wants to use any of it, i’ll press the problem of “trying on” another girl and/or queerness for a night and the ease and privilege straight girls have in giving it a go. also, props to my bestie charlotte for actually growling over that line when i sang it to her on the phone.

for reference:
“i kissed a girl” – video
“i kissed a girl” – lyrics
“ur so gay” – video
“ur so gay” – lyrics