Sunday, April 4, 2010

Soundpolitic Sundays: Kill Da Wabbit Edition

Good morning and a very Happy Easter to all of you. I think it’s time to take a break, spend some time with family, eat some ham and look for some eggs, and perhaps reflect on our behavior here on the blogs that we might resurrect some long-lost happy feelings.

To illustrate this, complete with a reference to the Easter Bunny, please prepare your ears to be tormented with swear words in this clip from Kevin Smith’s 1997 masterpiece Chasing Amy:

So, kiddies, if you’ll excuse the language and the revelation that there really is no Easter Bunny, in this week’s edition of Soundpolitc Sundays, we’ll talk a little about the subliminal lessons we bloggers can take away from this “askew” piece of cinema…

For those unfamiliar with the works of Kevin Smith, well, I can’t really envy you. The man is one of the greatest indie film producers/directors/screenwriters/actors ever to spawn a cult following. You may know him through his famous characters Jay and Silent Bob, a crass yet philosophical duo inhabiting the universe of Smith’s several successful films.

The running theme that I see in all these films is blunt-to-the-core truth, which oftentimes is best revealed by offensive offense. That is, I find that curse-ridden dialogue and adult-themed storylines tend to weed out those prim and proper viewers (also known as cultural conservatives) who wouldn’t even begin to understand the underlying messages to begin with.

And the underlying theme of Chasing Amy is acceptance. I don’t want to give away the whole story, but basically, this guy, Holden, is a comic book writer with his buddy, Banky. Holden falls in love with a woman (who’s name is not Amy, by the way) but later their relationship goes south when he discovers “too much information” about her sexual past. This screws up their romantic present, which is already under pressure because Not-Amy identifies as a lesbian; this is something Banky does not approve of.

Hence, the exchange in the above video. Now you might be thinking that the Easter Bunny reference being “a figment of your fucking imagination!” at the end, but I’d really rather focus on this exchange in the scene’s beginning:

Banky: “What does it matter if I refer to her as a dyke? Or if I refer to the Whalers as a bunch of faggots in the privacy of my own office far from the sensitive ears of the rest of the world?”

Holden: “It’s passive-aggressive gay bashing. And I know you’re not really prejudiced at heart, I just think you should find a better way to express your anger is all I’m saying.”

No more beating around the bush. Here on TAP (and on DailyKos) I have a strange habit that results in arguments with fellow bloggers that I have great respect for: Whenever I see the phrase “teabagger” I do not hesitate to call them out for what Holden might refer to ass “passive-aggressive conservative bashing.” This thread is a good example, and there are several of them.

Allow me to explain. See, like Holden says, I know that us progressive bloggers aren’t prejudiced at heart. But sometimes, I have a hard time believing it with all this “teabagger” referencing about. It’s just not a nice way to phrase things, people.

For those who don’t know, “teabagging” is the practice of shoving your balls (if you are a man) into the face of another man! I first came to know the term a couple years ago when a couple of frat-style friends joked about having “teabagged” a buddy of theirs. This must be what college aged “hetero life partners” do for yucks. And I mean it…yuck! They spoke about the preparation of the ordeal: not taking a shower for several days to make sure the victim of the “teabags” were extra-grossed out.

So here we are, progressives, seeking the moral high ground, with the aims of taking back our country’s dialogue to favor us and further progressive goals…

…and we go about likening our opposition to this?

It makes no sense to me. And I’m sure many of you wouldn’t ever consider writing a pro-gay blog while using the words “faggot” or “dyke.” You’d think to yourself, “Will this dilute my argument among the diverse group of people who might read this?” And you’d have to answer “Yes!” when considering a homosexual might read your work. No matter how good your argument or your reporting, you’ll lose them as soon as they come upon that hate speech. They’ll write you off as just as bigoted as the conservatives who refuse to grant them equal rights under the law.

So will the moderates who come here. They don’t want to sit through that! They’ll determine your just as angry and incoherent as those on the right. Get my drift?

So we come back to this “teabagger” conundrum. I’ve said many times to just call these people “Tea Partiers” since that’s what they are. I’ve also suggested that subtle framing techniques be used by referring to them as “Tea Drinkers,” ala “Kool-Aid Drinkers” if you simply must cast them in a negative light.

Because if you think your language doesn’t cause any harm; if you believe that 100% of your readers aren’t going to mind; if you think that conservatives don’t come on here looking for exactly that kind of stuff, then I’d ask you to reconsider the audience you’re writing for:

You are writing for the Easter Bunny. A figment of your fucking imagination!

Now I think I can get away with a certain amount of cuss words as well. But I know the second I start using hate speech, I’ll be discredited. And then there’s no reason for me to do this every Sunday. It’s one of the hardest parts of the Eightfold Path I attempt to follow as a Zen Buddhist. It’s called Right Speech, and there’s nothing holy-moly or religious about it. It’s just plain-old common sense: If you want to be taken seriously and you don’t want what you say to come back and bite you, then abandon the impulse to use words like “teabagger” already!

And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter: This is called right speech

So ask yourself: Isn’t it a lie to insinuate that Tea Party members engage in shoving their balls in people’s faces? Isn’t it kind of divisive to keep on using that word when it clearly offends people on both the left and the right? Isn’t it slightly abusive to those your speaking of and to yourself when you could choosing better words for better writing?

And doesn’t this all boil down to just idle chatter that does nothing to advance any goal, conservative or progressive?

I hope I’ve made my point. You’ve got to kill the impulse in you, fellow bloggers, to show through this kind of language that you’re no better than those Tea Partiers who just howled “nigger” and “faggot” during the Health Care Reform fiasco. It’s the same impulse, the same figment of your imagination that such speech can actually help.

In other words, this Easter, you’ve got to kill the wabbit:

So until next week, try to notice those wascally impulses that cause wrong speech and keep it real. Thanks for reading and keep up the good work!

1 comment:

Soundpolitic said...

This week's bit of irreverance (or is it irrelevance?) appeared on the front page of The Albany Project and in the diaries section of the great blog-of-blogs DailyKos...

...thanks to the power of my spear and magic helmet!