Wednesday, May 14, 2003

I read the response to Richard Goldstein's article without reading the piece itself, until this morning. I could barely get through it: nothing but self-righteous anger on a foundation of ignorance and elision. In March I wrote two or three posts on Anthony Swofford, one of which included this:
War only can be used as entertainment in two ways by two groups of people: those who treat it as a game played by choice -a deadly game but one that can be left and rejoined- and those who know only war. The most important difference is that the former have never been the victims of a war, only the warriors. They didn't learn to kill by feeling pain.
Goldstein doesn't understand the difference, so he attacks Eminem. His critique of hyper-masculinity is laughable; as if gay culture only appropriated masculinity to undermine it. Where to begin?

Tom of Finland spent his life memorializing his escapades with German soldiers, and now Goldstein is complaining about the homophobic violence of lower class machismo.
I'm sitting at my desk listening to a CD Mix-tape: "Street Wars Volume III" a product of the underground musical economy. Rappers toss insults at each other and settle scores from their pasts and from the street. Every major and minor figure in the industry ends up recording tracks for these cd's. In a sense they have to; they have to prove themselves, and continue to do it after they get big. The rivals never meet, the producer sends tapes back and forth. I doubt if Sony or any other big label gets any money. Interestingly, unlike Napster, lawyers don't seem to get in the way. I've heard there aren't many being made right now; 50 Cent is the man of the moment and he makes rivals nervous, and he's backed by Eminem and Dre.
I'm listening to Dre and Eminem from a year ago in a battle with Jermaine Dupri, and the homoerotic undertones in Eminem's language and voice, in his spitting anger at Dupri seem clear. Dupri attacks Dre for being Gay -using that word, not "faggot" or any other- but neither Dre nor Eminem respond. Fans seem to take for granted that Eminem and Dre are lovers. It's been written about, but I'd never understood the context before I picked up the CD from a street corner sale table.

My point is the same as it was with Swofford: to understand everything in its context. I don't approve of violence but even pacifists need to understand, and Helena Cobban does, the difference between Sharon and Hizbollah, between what each represents to those who support them. As to sexuality and power: masculinity is problematic, moralizing self-absorption is worse.

May 2008. Reworked. I've been getting a lot of hits off google for the Tom of Finland images. I'd never liked the way the post was written.

Johann Hari 2004: []"With the exception of Jean-Marie Le Pen, all the most high-profile fascists in Europe in the past thirty years have been gay"
2008: Updated with a discussion of Jorg Haider.