Posts Tagged ‘gay’

Issues, issues, issues… okay, let’s talk.

November 2, 2011

Is politically correct language universal? No, but that doesn’t excuse being hurtful. I can’t figure out if I’m just being stubborn or if I have a point when I say: Human rights and humor are both more important than your knee-jerk sensitivities.

I find Americans PC in the most bizarre of ways. They are huge on lip service (by which I don’t mean then men also give oral, although it was one of the first things I was offered by an American – over the phone, in a motel).

They seem obsessed with using the most PC of terms. Terms which they consider universally PC, even though they actually aren’t. Like African American. Which isn’t PC in South Africa obviously. Even African isn’t, because that excludes white Africans. And Africans who call themselves “coloured” or “indian.”

Words may not be just words, but statues are often just statues. This mini ms. liberty found down an alleyway when looking for a shady place for lunch with a New Yorker friend of mine.

Words are just words… or are they? I got into an arguement (and they’re all nasty, so let’s ditch the pretense) with a couple of people who are part of a campaign against the use of the word “retarded”. Ever. In any context. I feel it’s fine to call someone who has no diminished mental capacity / differences “retarded” when they are deliberately or lazily being stupid. I feel it’s okay to refer to the use of the word “natural” to refer to cage raised chicken as “retarded”. I feel it’s okay to say “that’s so gay” when referring to hazing rituals – or merchant ivory movies.

But while I was quite rudely dismissive of the people who jumped on my blog post about sewer videos and halloween columns with their two-minute noodles, microwave-ready slogan, “Spread the word to end the word, your use of the R word is offensive and disappointing”, the whole thing reminded me that I have my own sensitivities.

For instance, I wouldn’t be okay with anyone referring to cage-raised chicken as “so nigger”. Even if they said it had nothing to do with black people. And I can’t even bear to write down the word “kaffir” most of the time, even though I occasionally see certain limes labeled that way here.

So am I being retarded to over-react to the finger wagging of a few poster? After all, I live in America, where words are more important, apparently, than health care, geography, or the right to marry who you please in any state. Or… does that fact that I am genuinely trying to be funny – not writing an essay for school and referring to racist South Africans when I used the word “retarded” – give me any latitude here?

Willing to talk, and listen on this issue.

PS. Here’s my latest masterpiece. Har har…

American Dream from Jean Barker on Vimeo.


Escape from Orange to the city of San Diego

September 19, 2010

“I’m not complaining but …” BEEEEP BEEEEP BEEEEP BEEEEP…

If someone starts a sentence with “I’m not [insert undesirable action or tendency here] but…” they are. Whatever they’re “not”, oooh, they so are.

So let me be straight about one thing: I’m complaining. I admit that Orange is peaceful, safe, so crime-free that I sometimes feel the urge to remove the tracking device from the back of my neck.

Unfortunately, peaceful places make me feel like a total freak.

I was finishing a project in Starbucks on September 9th, when I realised the place was full of ex military. They mostly wore biker jackets with creepy naziesque eagles on them. But this guy was hanging out with an ex-war-buddy, spinning conspiracy yarns based on books, movies and music. Scary and almost like a left wing version of Fox News.

I’ve rarely felt like an outsider as badly as I did this September 11th, a day on which the sounds of celebration of what right wing Americans call “freedom” and other people call “war” seems to increase in volume until it’s pretty much deafening.

From the militaristic overtone so of the whole thing it seems to me that it’s not so much freedom being celebrated, or the lost lives of 911 being mourned, as the freedom to bomb the people they were already planning to bomb, but without feeling guilty about it anymore.

I left home in a pretty good mood – I’d conquered the Friday blues with a quick pop in at a party, and due to the fact that I no longer have a proudly South African alcohol tolerance, get drunk on two beers and therefore can’t get a hangover anymore, I was feeling good. But by the time I hit the highway I was overcome with loneliness and desolation.

From feeling a little alienated by the site of scary eagles on biker jackets and other forms of nationalistic displays, I went to missing my friends (you know, someone who would understand) and from that to musing on love…

And in somewhere along the I 5 South going 70mph through wild west landscape covered in malls, I wondered if I would ever have the courage to get my heart broken again.

I stopped here, found these two guys in white Ts and black pants feeding the gulls under the DO NOT FEED sign. The rest stop was like a lift to a medical centre. Nobody spoke. Everybody seemed a little bit suspicous.

The light kept shifting.

Then I realised it’s pretty sad that I assume that that is how it would end.

Then I realised that although that was sad, what was even sadder was that nobody had come close to breaking my heart for years. Because you have to actually have one to break – you have to fall in love. You have to be prepared to risk something.

And since sometimes you just don’t find the sense to laugh at your own self pity, I cried all the way to San Diego, listening to Radiohead and wallowing in it.

But when I arrived in the city of San Diego I felt instantly better. Finally here I was in a place with as many rainbow flags as Orange has Marines recruitment posters. The coffeeshops aren’t all chains. The names on buildings and election posters aren’t all english. And the whole place doesn’t look like it was built yesterday.

Stopped here to look up the location of my lousy, overpriced motel. America is seriously lacking affordable accommodation for people who don't want diseases.

The toilet at Filter coffeehouse. I could have stayed there for hours, crying about my life, except that two guys kept knocking on the door. Ok, I'm sorry, even as tasteless gay jokes go, that was bad.

Thanks America, for restoring my faith, just when I was losing it completely.