It’s Brenden Shucart—writing for HuffPost Gay Voices—versus Bruce LaBruce:
Recently, in Vice Magazine, beloved writer, photographer, and filmmaker Bruce LaBruce wondered aloud that “gay culture is dead.”… And by the time I had finished reading, I was fuming.
His entire argument seemingly rests on the fact that Elton John isn’t a rebel anymore and/or that he never made another album as good as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Elton John had the temerity to be successful, fall in love, and get old. Good for Elton John! […] If you think our people are broadly moving in the wrong direction, as I often do, you have a responsibility to not only get out in front of the crowd and tell them they’re going the wrong way, but to show them the right way to go.
Well, it’s LaBruce’s column, and he doesn’t have any responsibility other than to give his opinion. And as I said yesterday, LaBruce is right. Gay culture is dead. But, all culture is dead, so who cares.
The only thing left resembling culture anymore is fighting on the internet, right? Having a blog war is where it is at. Oh sure, LaBruce makes movies and was out on a book tour, but look where he’s getting the most attention: Blogging. So…cultural!
But don’t mistake a blogger or an internet personality who “writes” for an actual “writer” or cultural contributor. Most writing online isn’t writing but rather a string of terse sentence fragments loosely connected by LOLs and OMGs! and “What Do U Think!?” And that last one, the one soliciting reaction in the form of “comments,” is the real reason culture is dead (well, that and Huffington Post slideshows).
Today, we write less because we have a cogent point to make or an entertaining narrative to share and more because we want to really get some commenters fired up! Page views, favorites, retweets, likes, comments, shares, and reblogs define our culture. If you haven’t been RT’d, are you even relevant? No. The goal in blogging, or at least a new mark of successful blogging or being a successful blogger, isn’t to be “good.” The goal is to have whatever you wrote be so hated or so outrageous or so controversial (when, in fact, it’s not controversial at all) that it–or better yet, you!–becomes a comical meme of sorts. It’s not about whatever idea or story or contribution to culture you made, it’s about whether or not people on the internet can really really hate it or really really make fun of it. We are a culture of H8RS.
Take that truly dreadful piece from Paul Aguirre-Livingston, “Dawn Of A New Gay.” Livingston’s attempt to proudly define an entire generation of gay men as apathetic hipsters pissed literally everyone on the internet off. A few months later, does anyone even remember what it was about? Of course not. But it was a culturally defining moment! It brought in the most comments the site that published it had ever received on a single article. Was this horrifying piece of writing intentionally horrifying in an effort to attract all the h8ers? Who cares. Being horrifying is all the rage. The comments prove it.
Of course, observing internet H8 and the death of culture in and of itself is a way to attract H8RS and destroy culture even more! (You’re welcome.) It is also pretty pretentious and, let’s be honest, pretty feigned. You think Bruce LaBruce really gives a shit that Elton John isn’t a crazy gay anymore? And yet, I sort of took him seriously. Brenden Shucart took him seriously. And instead of actually contributing to the long dead culture that LaBruce was pretending to lament, Shucart and I wrote a couple blog posts and played along.
LaBruce suggests that it’s conservative gays who killed gay culture, but that’s not true. It’s the internet. It’s the internet that killed all culture, actually (and not just the gay kind). Specifically, it’s the people on the internet. It’s me. It’s the bloggers who do the bad blogging and the readers who do the bad reading and the commenters who do the bad commenting. It’s the way we interact with each other and the way we’ve been conditioned to react to art or pornography or music or an idea with the click of a button or by leaving a comment (under an anonymous name) announcing that something is “fucking stupid.” Gay movement over? Gay culture dead? IDK, can’t I just “like” or “hate” them instead?
Think about what it would be like if the internet just turned off all its comments. No debate, no praise, no hate, nothing. It would kill the people who live off of the attention they receive online. It would infuriate the people who are infuriated by the things they read online. I guess it wouldn’t be the internet anymore. And then what? Well, what are some things that people could write about online that could provoke a rebirth of some form of culture? What are some things that have inherent value and are worth talking about for the sake of culture and not just to stir up comment wars or “controversy”? What are some topics that aren’t stale trend pieces written about everywhere that would make for a unique reading experience?
Considering how short and how precious life is, what is the most effective, valuable way to spend one’s time while surfing the net? What do you think?