As the election draws near, most voters have probably looked back to determine whether they are better off than they were four years ago, and then carried on shopping or guzzling whatever pills allow them to forget. Back then, in an age of million blowjob investigations that moistened the upholstery on a million talk show television sets, terrorism was akin to something Ann Coulter did in the privacy of her Fox News appearances.
Four years later, despite a little incident in downtown Manhattan and at the Pentagon; a few trillion here and there; some depleted uranium, morale and credibility across the globe; and a spanking new generation of limbless, blinded, deafened, maimed orphans learning to appreciate liberation in both Afghanistan and Iraq, its perfectly understandable that there would still be a group of Americans fitting the label "undecided voters". My younger brother offered the quickest mind-making solution. Draft them.
This election season, the tactic du jour is fear mongering, the new machismo is gay bashing, and there seems to be lots of both going around. After California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, received flak for directing the term "girlie men" at Californian legislators of the Democratic persuasion in a budget showdown, he decided to go all out to titillate the white hetero-fascist wing of the Republican party (is there another?) by using the term again in his speech at the National Republican Convention, coining a new economic theory - girlie men economics. John Maynard Keynes rolled in his grave.
While pissing off an overly-sensitive, politically-correct gay constituency can indeed be fun, a Liberace-bejeweled, steroid-pumped, make-up plied, former-gym queen whose plastic tits are about to succumb to gravity along with his sagging ass, reeks of self-doubt, and would be laughable was it not so contrived and obsequious. The ever-witty "I'll be back," might have worked well in The Terminator, but bitchy barbs uttered from a beefed up version of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner (with his colored hair and over-plucked eyebrows) borders on pathetic.
The problem with gay bashing, or gay baiting, these days, is that it doesn't always have the desired outcome. Reverend Jimmy Swaggart, (rhymes with faggot) the evangelist who was caught twice with a prostitute, recently stated that he would kill a man who looked at him that way, which could only mean with an "intention to marry" (further meaning, in his holy book, committing adultery). Most gay men need not worry too much, given the challenge of looking at Swaggart and envisioning just a one night stand with him, let alone a monogamous commitment, without actually puking. A way-past-prime, lily-white, stinky, flabby-assed, foul-breathed hypocrite pounding a prostitute or two in a cheap hotel room screeching "Sanctity here I come...all over your collagen lips" is about as sexy as Karl Rove in a thong. A wedge issue most would prefer to not think about. Ever.
Some of the more recent skirmishes with international reach involve a British gay human rights group, OutRage! which is behind the increasingly successful Stop Murder Music campaign, and a rise of homophobic reggae stars from Jamaica that currently dominate the Dancehall scene. One of the more vocal acts -- a mean queen that dubs itself, ironically, the King of Dancehall - Beenie Man, is being forced to navigate the tricky maze of nervous labels and neurotic, bottom-line rather than just bottom focused managers. And of course, the tactics of OutRage!, which have successfully managed to get tours cancelled and acts dropped from the very publicity-making mechanisms they need to move ahead.
Jamaican dancehall singer Buju Banton was recently banned from playing a concert in Manchester after protests over his homophobic lyrics, while police in London banned a performance by Beenie Man in June. MTV dropped Beenie Man from the MTV Sizzla Kalonji concert in Miami, and organizers of the prestigious MOBO Awards due to be broadcast on BBC cancelled the nominations of reggae superstars Elephant Man and Vybz Kartel, after they refused to apologize for their lyrics inciting the murder of lesbian and gay people.
"Sizzla Kalonji and Vybz Kartel do not merely express their disapproval of homosexuality. They call for all homosexuals to be killed and incite their listeners to murder gays and lesbians. This goes way beyond an acceptable expression of opinion. Lesbian and gay people have a right to live their lives free from threats to kill them," says Brett Lock, Stop Murder Music campaign coordinator.
Unlike most gay groups in the United States, OutRage! does not campaign for new laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation alone, but laws that protect all citizens against all forms of discrimination, harassment, and incitement to hatred. Their approach is strategically smarter since it is more inclusive and more likely to yield allies. Not in America though.
In America, homophobic lyrics have not even provoked outrage from the once loud and vocal arbiters of lyrical decency. Lynn Cheney successfully managed to turn Eminem into Joan Collins as evidenced by his latest release, "Lose It". A salacious, bitchy attack on Michael Jackson that looks like it was scripted by Vanity Fair's Maureen Orth. Source Magazine and a bunch of other hip-hoppers rushed to Jackson's defense. Not a word uttered about the homophobic lyrics calling for the death of "batty boys" or "chi-chi boys" (the quaint, girlie-men epithets uttered by these macho rappers) by any of Jackson's defenders, or even Jackson himself. As silent as Mary Cheney at a Matthew Shepherd memorial. All that's needed to complete this horrific picture is a song by the predominantly gay music sensation Scissors Sisters called "Lynch the Beenie". Then watch claws unfurl, woodwork explode and fur fly.
While musicians, preachers and politicians verbally bashed the fuck out gays this election season, hypocritical skanks from Mrs. Cheney to New York Times columnist William Safire self-righteously attacked Presidential candidate, John Kerry, for outing Mary Cheney as a lesbian, when asked in the third debate whether he thought homosexuality was a choice. "We're all God's children, Bob, and I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was," Kerry answered, prompting Lynn Cheney to respond: "This is not a good man. What a cheap and tawdry political trick." Rich, coming from a cheap, dirty political trick. From a woman coining in dollars from her book, Sisters, about lesbians. An only-slightly more polished Lucianne Goldberg has emerged. Maybe Mary Cheney is just a "butchie woman."
On the day Dick Cheney spoke to the Republican National Convention in New York, Republican Senate hopeful, Alan Keyes, said in relation to Mary Cheney: "In a homosexual relationship, there is nothing implied except the self-fulfillment, contentment and satisfaction of the parties involved in the relationship…That means it is a self-centered, self-fulfilling, selfish relationship that seeks to use the organs intended for procreation for purposes of pleasure." While such a blatant attack did provoke so much as a whisper from Mom or Dad, Mary Cheney's sister, Elizabeth, did tell CNN that she would not dignify Keyes' comment with a response. (Note to Safire - CNN, in spite of Wolf Blitzer and Tucker Carlson, has a pretty big audience, it was not John Kerry who outed her). Keyes said further: "If my own daughter were a homosexual or lesbian, I would love my daughter, but I would tell her she was in sin." One can only assume he kept his word when it was revealed that his daughter, Maya Keyes, is indeed a lesbian. Keyes has since refused to comment on his daughter's sexuality.
In case anyone thought the girlie man Governor had finished putting his foot in his mouth, he last week told an audience at a lecture series organized by former Clinton administration chief of staff, Leon Panetta that his wife, Maria Shriver, refused to have sex with him for 14 days following his speech at the Republican National Convention. Now for those fortunate enough to have been spared the visual of a steroid penis, imagine an already bloated man snorting a gram of coke and then swimming in ice cold water for about ten minutes or so. Let's just say this. Most clitorises are larger. The bigger question though, is what did Arnold Schwarzenegger do for those 14 days? You'd probably have to ask any of the women he might have chanced upon in elevators at the State Capital. When Arnie isn't eating at home, he does take-outs.
Maria had more on her mind than to imagine what a real penis feels like, let alone a faithful one. In her virgin foray into California politics as First Lady of California, she managed to do to Kennedy sophistication what Lynndie England and Company did to American moral certitude at Abu Ghraib.
Without public involvement, she strong-armed allies on the board of trustees of the California State History Museum to change its mission and become, instead, a women's museum - based purely on the success of an exhibition she spearheaded, Remarkable Women, celebrating the achievement of women, (designed by none other than her cousin Caroline's husband, Edwin Schlossberg.) Opponents do not want a women's museum to replace the current facility that showcases California's state archives and history. To Maria, a conflict of interest is a titillating dispute in the pages of the National Enquirer.
Three board members abruptly resigned. While there is nothing inherently wrong in proposing a women's museum in Sacramento, one of the board members that resigned, Karen Sinsheimer, thought it would be senseless to compete with the International Museum for Women, scheduled to open in San Francisco in 2008, and five times larger.
In a contrite statement to local newspaper, The Sacramento Bee, Shriver demonstrated her unyielding respect of the board members and talent ala Jackie to navigate tricky politics, with the diplomatic nuance of a bull with a sledgehammer: "They called me...I stepped up. Tried to help them. More than happy to help them. More than happy to have nothing to do with them, too, as I said to them...This is their museum. This belongs to Sacramento and the people of California. But the fact is, if nobody comes, Sacramento loses, the people lose and the state loses."
So what of his noble ode to women from the feminist pioneer who looks like she shunned vacuuming for liposuction? This brazen, board-splitting urgency to salute the achievements of women in California. Not Ida Jackson or Mary Ellen Pleasant, "Mother of Civil Rights." Not author and journalist Delilah Beasley or other such remarkable women. Nope. Barbie dolls, the Olsen twins and of course the dress she wore to Arnold's inauguration. Now that's historical value for you. Perhaps she can use her considerable star power to strong arm the FDA into letting the museum sell Phen-fen at the Gift Shop.
This is not even Pop culture, its Popsicle culture. Regurgitated to meet the demands of a reality-based celebrity-obsessed cultural cesspool that defies the notion of depth. Andy Warhol's theory of fifteen-minute fame was conceived in a pre-ADD mind-set. Who can even tolerate fifteen minutes without being bored to death or achingly distracted? Unless, like with Arnie and Maria, our force-fed celebrity fix is constructed from disposable, non-biodegradable plastic.
With all this celebrity-tinged gay bashing and poorly manufactured machismo lite the latest rage, make sure you don't let any of them damn faggots wreck your marriages or undermine your masculinity. Don't let boring old museum directors stop you from looking skeletal enough to pass for Barbie, Maria Shriver or Helen Gurley Brown. So that Bill O'Reilly can loofa the little that's left of you with falafels. And then preach to you, along with Governor Schwarzenegger and Jimmy Swaggart about the need for a constitutional amendment to "protect marriage." From what? Savage Oxycontin-addicted, Viagra-popping hypocrites, cheats and liars who fuck anything and everything but their self-starved, botoxed, liposucked, chemically and surgically modified wives? The bliss of wallowing in exclusive pictures of Britney Spears' trailer trash tirades and weddings or gloating at her double chin?
Alas, there's a lot more than just one poor idiot clutching his measly "marriage credit" tax deduction to spend on Bill O'Reilly's book on how to teach kids morality to his unfortunate children who, alas again, don't stand a hope in hell.
Before you head to the ballot this election, take a moment to think of all the incredible strides we've made, how we've progressed as a species over the last four years. Especially if you're still undecided. You might not like what you encounter, but vomiting can be a good thing when Eminem is still your role model, anorexia is simply a convenient cloak for cocaine addiction, and botched plastic surgery is your talk-show sanctioned, brand-endorsed, mass-distributed success strategy.
Four more years of this kind of shit.
Fucking bring it on.
Clinton Fein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org