10 November, 2011

Lesbian! or Lazy Blog Title!

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Lesbian! or Lazy Blog Title!


For some reason I am at the bookstore writing at 11:00. I’m not entirely sure how this happened. The morning has a weird, misty glow to it that is unique and a little too foreign to me. I’m not sure I like it. The only time I see the morning is when I’m coming home from a gig somewhere out in Lancaster or Virginia. But today, I willingly woke up, got in my car, and drove to the bookstore to write. At 11:00. I’d check the sky for brimstone, the seas for boiling, and if you see a frog today, don’t listen to him.
In looking for something to write about for you cats and kittens today, I came upon a bunch of uninteresting nonsense. That, in itself, is uninteresting. But I read each article that I thought had potential, and found very little. I read one in particular that was tooling along with its boring narrative and poor syntax. It was another dumb commentary examining social norms from the lenses of alternative thinking. I’m not sure the idiot who wrote it would describe it that way, but that’s in part how I did. Calling the writer of the article an idiot isn’t nice. Just thought I’d throw that out there. But something dawned on me while I was reading this half news story, half interview, all nonsense article. And these are my impressions.
The article was on some trash fashion scene, celebrity ‘news’ bullshit site called radaronline.com. Some of you with a healthy celebrity addiction may be familiar with it. This waste of internet space reported about a woman by the name of Jenelle Hutcherson of Southern California, or SoCal, as the kids call it. I don’t think the kids call it that. She does hair. She has a nostril piercing and tiny little plugs. She has a stupid hairdo (like most stylists seem to). She’s also lesbian. This isn’t news, I don’t think. I would suspect, and I have no research to back this so take my assumption for what it’s worth, that there are many gay stylists in SoCal. Just an assumption there. 
Anyway, the point of the article is that Jenelle is going to participate in the Miss Long Beach and Miss Southern California pageant this weekend. She’ll be the first open lesbian to ever participate in the sixty-plus year history of the show. Isn’t that neat. Yeah, I don’t think so either. She got involved by blah, blah, blah who cares. I’ll post the link so you can read the dribble yourself. That’s not what we’re going to talk about here.
We’re going to talk about an impression I got from one particular interview question in the article. Feel free to tell me how much my knee is jerking here. This was the question: “Jenelle, we’re so used to seeing women -- usually blonde, busty, thin and airbrushed -- looking picture perfect in magazines, setting a standard that is impossible to reach. So, like many little girls, did you grow up with a warped sense of what beauty is?” Man, I hate double dashes in sentences, but that’s not what grated me about this question. 
I’m a terrible interviewer. I’ve done it before, and hopefully I can avoid it for the rest of my brief and poorly paying editorial career. I think a good interviewer is a special kind of beast, and depending on the subject and the direction that the piece is moving toward, there are many ways to get your story down on paper. One is to lead your interviewee toward the answers you’d like to write. Another is to pick her up and throw her in that direction. That’s how I read this question.
The interviewer here, Neil Woulfe, sets his premise by assuming that establishing a preconceived notion of those who participate in pageants and fashion modeling. He calls these women “picture perfect,” and calling their beauty “impossible to reach.” A strange position for a senior news director of a fashion gossip site. Well, no so much strange as maybe hypocritical. I think we can all agree, and maybe it is because I live in (and love) Dirty Jerz, that those women plastered on magazine covers and those who participate in pageants are not the same women that are waiting behind you in line at the coffee shop. What I argue is that just because their flavor of beauty is uncommon in everyday live doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. There are no wallabies hopping around the Wawa as I’m trying to buy cigarettes and Red Bull, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. The interviewer resolves his question by asking if this contributed to a “warped sense of beauty.” That, in itself, assumes that her, Jenelle’s, sense of beauty is indeed warped. How this reads to me, and tell me if I’m way off, is that the interviewer has set a premise that the conventional conception of magazine beauty is unattainable, yet because Jenelle’s own conception of beauty is not that, then therefore it is warped; and for something to be warped, does it not have to be the conventional thing first and then mutate into something different or unconventional, manifesting into something less recognizable than the thing it was, which was the thing that was indeed familiar and recognizable? How can Jenelle’s sense of beauty be warped if the interview question sets up as the magazine beauty being wrong? Isn’t that how it reads, or am I just picking fly shit out of pepper?
Secondly, that question assumes that the aesthetic and lifestyle at which Jenelle has arrived is a direct result of being negatively affected by magazine cover beauty. Maybe this is true, but there are a couple things here that sound dumb to me. First is that it puts an enormous amount of gravity on the affect of fashion and celebrity trash magazines on individuals. I’m not a woman; I never have been and I never will be, much to the delight of my girlfriend. I can’t speak to the difficulty of finding a beauty identity as a young girl. I imagine it is difficult. It’s difficult for everyone; believe it or not, I’ll never be the action movie stars with whom I vicariously grew up when I was little. If Arnold and Sly and Jean-Claude and Segal and Jack Burton were the manly standards, then my conception of aesthetic ought to be vastly warped. (Jack Burton was thrown in there for Jim and Steve.)
The other point in that point pair I mentioned is this, and again, tell me if I’m nuts. It assumes that Jenelle’s modification affinity and sexuality is governed by the affect that conventionally beautiful people had on her as a youth. Is there any science to back that? If there is, please forward it to me. I don’t know much about homosexuality, and I’m pretty sure it’s classless to ask my gay friends why they are gay because they probably don’t know either; but I would have to doubt that some slut on the cover of a Vogue that Jenelle saw when she was ten had the earth-shattering, tectonic sexuality shift in her that would later manifest as homosexuality and body mod. I’m no scientist, so I could be exactly wrong with that. At any rate, I don’t care.
The whole ‘first gay in a beauty pageant’ thing interests me very little. I don’t care if you’re openly gay. The point of the contest is to score well in the categories. If you can do that, then you win. It doesn’t matter. If you can do that with a scar on your face or missing a leg or busted teeth or with a moose on your head or looking like Kathy Ireland (a youthful crush of mine) then you win. Why is it a big deal that this dame is queer? Aren’t we supposed to not care about that kind of shit anymore? If this were 1954, then yeah; I could see the appeal to the story. But shit, man; in 2011, aren’t we over this? And please, fashion industry people with your stupid hair and space clothes and dumb and pretentious interests; please stop trying to explain modification as the result of some psychological trauma that happened when we were younger. All modification is, and stop me if you’ve heard this one, is a different kind of beautiful. You want to stop youthful girls from being negatively affected by this so called unattainable magazine cover beauty? Stop putting these people on magazine covers. I know many, many, many beautiful women who deserve that space. A lot of them are my readers (Becks, Emmy, my Rogers girls), and some of them are the women of my everyday life (Sam, Jenny, Nanci, Nancy, Laura, my mother, my grandmother, my coffee girls). Pick them if you want to be part of the solution to your invented problem, or stop making assumptions. Stay beautiful, kids.


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