It's July, oops. But Pride Month never ends... right??
ok i know pride month is over and i shoulda sent this earlier but i’ve been enjoying being vaccinated. umm, forgive me. please. ok enjoy!
As Pride Month comes to an end, I am Jasmine Masters and I have something to say. The only month of the year where gay people are allowed to speak in public. There are parties, every beach-y town is full of speedos and you can see a drag queen in your car. Do you have queer friends? Well, better put their half-naked bodies on your Instagram stories, mama! I don’t want to sound like a complete and utter prudish, conservative HRC f@ggot, but umm— I’m in distress, a bit, I think. Pride month is usually debaucherous (in a fun way) but now that it’s colliding with the the great uptick in vaccinated individuals, it’s turned into a bacchanal celebration of freedom. And I, for one, am feeling the intense need to be out and about, looking fit and wearing something fly and hot and sexy. But is this attainable? Is it sustainable?
How we’ve staved off our very real queer impulse to party with our queer friends during a pandemic (some of us) is only what some would call a miracle. Queer nightlife is the paradise (for many, not all). A land that is ripe with fulfillment, prone to escapism, and accepting of whatever fantasy one might want to live for the night.
I’ve found myself tired from the absolute blast of serotonin bubbles being slapped into my synapses. From the sweat, the ferocious sexual glances, and the cheap liquor. There is, in fact, something magical about dancing to “Rain On Me” for the first time on dance floor full of queers. Finding the rhythm together, waiting for the breakdown. Letting the head pulse back and forth like a metronome. Oh, what it is to live inside the beat!
There is a downside to all this maenad-like expression. We are left at home sometimes with no friends, not fully vaccinated, reevaluating our lives and careers and loves. All this can be hard to watch through your little phone screen. FOMO (a millennial cheugy term) is real again. The pandemic has left us craving connection more than we have before this time.
Then there’s the body. The queer body. (I don’t have PhD yet.) That is on display via Twitter, Instagram. The chisel adonis in euphoria, stuck on a perpetual Fire Island Pines trip. Someone donning a speedo in Sheep’s Meadow. Or perched on a rock in Palm Springs or Joshua Tree. While we spent a year reflecting on the often not reflected on— like how our bodies extend past social media and implant on a viewer a specific kind of dysphoria. And now we’ve forgotten about all that and jumped right back into the spinning wheel of queer hierarchies. And we know the body is placed first, dominates even the moving intricacies of queer intersectionality.
I’m not blaming people of muscular experience for having those bodies. Or even showing them off. But it’s hard. How do y’all get thousands of likes for you standing on a beach in speedo? (abs?) Queer reclamation of the body looks like many different things— tattoos, piercings, makeup, etc. Though specific bodies are placed at the top of the chart, praised and hearted all the internet. While the discourse surrounding the acceptance of different bodies are encouraging celebration and inclusion, I have yet to see a Fire Island pic with fifteen people that don’t have abs or aren’t white.
Slowly, I suppose, it will all change. It’s all coming along. People are getting called out. Or rather, called in, for their queer fam to acknowledge what it means to be queer in the summer after/during a global pandemic. And what long lasting effects these simplistic social media post that feature joyous revelry mean to others.
The presentation of queer bodies may not be the sole purpose for my, and most likely others, disdain or confusion, it’s simply the way (in which) we consume theses bodies. Social media consumption (my fave thing) is at an uptick too. And I would posit that queer consumption is at an all time high— at least for me. The eye scrutinizes, engorged with the images of hard muscles, slick hair and taunt swimwear. There doesn’t seem to be a way to experience joy if your body doesn’t look like that. The images we consume are wrought with the expressed nature of lust, self-expression and freedom— in its nature mimicking what Pride is all about. Can we get a variation on the theme, Maestro? Are there goths on Fire Island who want to play interactive board games?
And I know I said I didn’t want to party poop, but there’s something there to uncover. And one way or another, someone will articulate it a bit better than I have.
But now, I’m thinking a lot about self-preservation. As I interact with friends, push myself outside of my home and grapple with inter-pandemic politics, I want to be mindful of the ways my body reacts to others. I want to be the sergeant of my consumption, drilling affirmations at my weight gain in the mirror. There is a substantial effect this all has on psyche. And I shouldn’t be engaging but the discourse on Twitter moves quickly, bouncing from hatred to celebrating joy to academic study. In these leaps, the discourse and its nuance lessens. I think quippy sayings and academic language often fail us in our attempts to truly engage on societal and community issues. We have to come back to emotion, to feeling. That’s where I am trying to connect myself to— my emotional field and be open to receive others’ valleys and plains.
Kate Winslet is The Mayor of Easttown
To the success of the genre’s history, one must now seek to undermine the well-known tropes of murder mystery and continually look at different ways to change, often deceive, the audience from their expectations. Especially from those who are narrative-minded and can easily, as they say, put the pieces together. The genre’s reach is wide: musicals, movies, books— adaptations of said books into mini-series. Murder mystery television shows are the perfect medium for a well-paced thriller story, in that the periodical nature of episodes mimic the one-by-one laying out of stories in chapters, seen each week from newspapers in the late 1800s.
What The Undoing misses that Mare of Easttown achieves is that it deceives in a way that is simply the form at its best, filled with red herrings and endings where the truth is laid out in the open for the viewer to grasp all along. Not only is Kate Winslet giving a star turn as Mare, embodying the East coast small town-ness, the show is focused on the greater connection with the audience. One of the show’s goals is to reach for the heart of its viewers, going deep into the personal dramas of the characters. Where a show like The Undoing fails, it tells us who the killer is upfront. And that’s actually who the killer is. Not very fun!
What we get from our lovely Nicole Kidman driven-vehicle HBO mess is a glimpse at how the wealthy deals with the unspeakable and unending dramas. And we have enough of these kinds of shows: Elité, Gossip Girl, etc. I guess these are all about rich teenagers being naughty (murder involved in some cases). There is often a layer of distance between the viewer and the subjects, when the subjects are rich. (Richies don’t watch TV.) In our everlasting love for pure escapism, we want to watch the shell of actual humanity. Not something that finds itself so close to our own reality.
The team of Mare of Easttown engages with the audience in a true melodramatic form, which murder mystery is one to do. Family, loss, and death are at the center of the reason for solving the murder but in way that places grief as the show’s true subject. This is where the show lays out a place mate at the dinner table for the audience, to devour the grief of someone else. Maybe to place their own personal griefs with Mare’s, so that grief can sit covered by another’s.
“When something is just bad (rather than Camp), it’s often because it is too mediocre in its ambition. The artist hasn’t attempted to do anything really outlandish.”
- Stuart Richards: How big are you?
- Steve Burns: Party size.
Music Makes The People Come Together
Okay! I listened to Olivia Rodrigo’s first studio album Sour. It was very good. The voice, the pure pop punk bang, the winding vocals on the ballads. Rodrigo is a young talent that is ripe for a long career. There is a pushing of the voice, in its vowels to accentuated the emotionality of the song— this is a key to the fun pop song that waivers into the Pop Punk genre. Rodrigo is a facsimile of Lorde and an antithesis of Taylor. Lorde captures the essence of teenager life. Song after song is indictment of her ex and their relationship— one of the downfalls of this album; its repetitiveness. The more tempered songs show Rodrigo’s power in her voice, the songs aren’t as effective as the more pop-punk anthems.
Rodrigo is a facsimile of Lorde and Taylor Swift. Debuting with an album that centers youth and heartbreak. Rodrigo even references Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream on the album’s first track “Brutal.” Being soured on a failed relationship in your early years is a constant pop troupe: 21, Jagged Little Pill and many other seminal musical works by young women. This legacy is strong and often reveals legendary musicians. Let’s say I’m happy to grow with our new pop songstress!
Other music stuff:
St. Vincent’s latest album Daddy’s Home was not it. The sound was replicas of not-as-good tracks from Masseduction. There’s even a video of someone comparing the production (Jack Antonoff, baby) to the new Lorde single— and they’re eerily similar.
Japanese Breakfast’s Jubilee is a fantastic record that
I know we have our qualms with Ms. Marina— but she’s dropped The Diamonds and this new album is weird and fun and absolutely slaps.
Our Lorde and savior is back! Lorde is serving a more sunny (haha) side with a cool breeze single “Solar Power.” There’s a bit of power to the song but overall not as an exciting release as “Green Light” so I’m hoping this song fits more authentically within the other songs from the album. The song is the titular single from her new album Solar Power. And the track listing leaked, mamas! Are you High At The Nail Salon? Or maybe you think of yourself as Failed Fruit? I hope this album gives what the fans have been craving!
We have a new Doja Cat album. And a new Tyler The Creator album. Both albums are finding new and exciting ways to engage with hip hop and rap, mixing genre sounds and giving us classic hip hop elements like dialogue infused tracks.
Pop Culture Bites
Yummy yummy wish I could have some
Lorde x Nicki Minaj. Let’s go to beach each (in New Zealand)!
James Baldwin sissying THAT WALK.
I tried to watch Pink Flamingos at like 9AM in the morning. And I didn’t get through all of it— but here’s a good piece about John Waters.
Drag Race All Stars Season 6 and Drag Race UK Season 3, mama! Rupaul is not retiring anytime soon!
Gay Football! A New Musical!
More of J. Lo and Ben Affleck! Now with tongue!
Straight People are ummm well anyway Love Island is back!!
Sharon Stone is spilling the absolute tea on Ms. Streep. And I have to agree with Sharon Stone. She’s right. So get into it!
Free Britney! A court transcript and audio was leaked of Britney Spears’ court statements made to a judge. The audio is haunting in that we hear Britney’s regular voice, she speaks concisely and clearly, not stumbling over her words— and the most haunting thing of all; Britney, without much pause, lays out the abuse that’s she’s endured over the last 13 years. Read/Listen to the devastating court statement from Ms. Spears here.
Good Gay God!! A Gay Version of Pride & Prejudice set on Fire Island! Count me in!
Touch down 2 cause Hell🔥 @AtlTopTierWelp. Khia's daughter doesn't like what Lil' Nas X been doing either. PSA. https://t.co/CwAOsu8SuK
Gay Movie Marathon
This gay movie marathon does NOT include Call Me By Your Name. We’re going deep into the annals of cinema and I have someone’s Criterion Channel login (thanks, Sam)! Documentary films like The Celluloid Closet and Disclosure explain the intricate balance of media representation of queerness, dating back to the start of cinematic history by exploring queer-coded characters in film, the introduction of the Hays Code and how modern queer filmmakers are taking queer representation to a new level.
The three films I watched to enhance my Pride Month were Cruising, Tongues Untied, and Victim (in that order). Cruising features a young (and hot, jeeeeez) Al Pacino as an undercover cop that’s looking for a gay murderer— I mean, a murderer who is attacking only gay men, who, later in the film, is implied to also be a gay. The film’s 1980 premiere was met with protest from both ends of the political spectrum. With the film’s now gone X rating, the film not only met backlash from conversative movie goers but the queer community was like “umm no please.” In both docs, our talking head guests talk about the double edged sword of representation in which places more visible, and in turn, more threatening eyes on the queer community.
This film is not without its qualms but William Friedkin’s direction of the leather bar scenes are gorgeous, well-paced and seem like an anthropological first hand account of the sexual renaissance of the late 70s and very early 80s Pre-AIDS pandemic lifestyle of queer folks. The cast lacks melanin but (slightly) makes up for it in shots that feature glances, looks, touches and jockstraps. There’s even a sort of meta performance of “being a cop” during the bar’s police themed event. Cruising is problematic in nature but with 40 years of retrospection, it’s community on queer life in that specific decade is important.
Though the next film is less of a film and more of a collage of about the intersection of queerness and Blackness, Tongues Untied puts its subjects at the forefront to tell, what is likely, true accounts of Back Queers’ lives in the late 80s. The film reminiscence of the Black collage aesthetic like the work Basquiat or pieces of art that follow such as the play The Colored Museum. In its piecemeal fashion, the film’s power comes from a layering effect that multiplies its story into nuanced and differing experiences of Black Queer culture.
Marlon Riggs features Essex Hemphill and Brain Freedman to dissect different facets of Black Queerness. Whether it be about Black Queer coded language and movement, desire for white men or about how Black Queer communities were facing the AIDS pandemic— the star of the film is the effective way in which Black Queer bodies experience humanity.
This film, too, had its controversy. The American Family Associate attacked the film, the NEA and PBS for funding, what they deemed was, inappropriate art (that’s putting it lightly). Nine year after Cruising and well in the AIDS pandemic, the film’s importance is paramount to the constant discussion of Black Queer representation in media, specifically. And though I love Moonlight, where the Black Queer filmmakers at?
Years before, in 1961, a British film that was the first English-language film to use the word “homosexual” was Victim, an crime caper that features sensational shots, top tier actors and a butt load of foppish performances from the crew of gay characters in the film. Victim is a film that radically portrays both sides of the argument on homosexuality. The film’s language seems very familiar, current even. The language is the same we used today, the same queer people have used for a long time, language that invests in their humanity, in persuasion of being.
Not only did these films garner negative protest, they do what is most important: showing the careful shades of queerness and an introspection of how our bodies are impacted by the ways we interact with society. These elements alone warrant a closer look at these films, where we can start to trace forward in the sand, their importance to growing queer film canon.