America’s Big Gay Musical

Posted: May 4, 2011 in Masculinities, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,
When I saw a very similar shot of these three US Marines, celebrating Osama Bin Laden’s death, in the Sunday Times newspaper, I thought it was a scene from a Gay Musical on (or off) Broadway. But no, it is just another scene in America’s Big Gay Musical of Machismo.
Mark Simpson, who has written astutely on the arch campness of America’s macho culture, including the military,  and relatedly but in a slightly different vein on the homo-erotics of America’s military, said:
‘There’s no doubt that the most profound impact of 9-11 in the US was on American machismo. The Hyperpower humiliated. The ‘Twin Towers’ emasculated. The Pentagon ‘ring’ penetrated.
That’s part of the reason why Bush described the suicide pilots as ‘cowards’. Or in some accounts ‘gay’. Why US servicemen scrawled ‘take this faggots’ on bombs dropped on the Taliban. And why there was an attempt – so obviously bogus – to portray Bin Laden as ‘cowering’ behind his wife’
  1. Clarence says:

    Ironically, Ive never tied being gay into being emasculated.
    Emasculation to me means fear and incompetence, and yeah, both those things suck.

    As for Bin Ladin, America has a long tradition of demonizing its enemies and denying they could ever have a non-cowardly bone in their bodies. Thus Bin Ladin went from this evillllllllll scary terrorist Mastermind to a sissy pants deluded Muslim boy hiding behind a women’s skirt. Of course this was ludicrious, but, since at least World War 2 (the last GOOD war) we’ve been very apt to deny our enemies any prowess in battle, any bad luck , any humanity.

    But one thing I haven’t noticed is Americans calling Bin Ladin “gay” or making gay jokes. Somehow, Bin Ladin just doesn’t bring out “teh gay” in most American’s minds.

    I think Mark Simpson (and I do like the guy) is trying too hard here.

  2. arctic_jay says:

    Calling macho americans “camp” has the same exact motivation as calling Islamic terrorists cowards: it’s an attempt to diminish the power of an oppositional group.

    And I only see equating macho-ness with being a faggot as self-defeating. Men, if given the choice between being a masculine fag and a pussified hetero, will ultimately, in time, choose faggotry. And a faggot has the freedom to be way more masculine than a straight man since they don’t have to be influenced by women at all.

    I’m starting to see the effects of the breakdown of homophobia, and it’s resulting in more laddish behavior, not less. Homophobia is about making men proper. It promotes emotional restraint, deference to women, and societal responsibility. Without it, men are VERY hard to deal with.

    I’ve noticed that as men become less homophobic, feminists become more homophobic. That should be a very telling dynamic to anyone interested in gender.

    • I do notice that a-jay. I am not equating machoness with ‘being a faggot’ but with being ‘camp’ about the concept of masculinity. anyway this is Mark Simpson’s baby I just found the picture!

      • arctic_jay says:

        You’re directly contradicting yourself. You’re headline is “America’s Big Gay Musical” and then you reference Mark’s article about the campness of America’s macho culture. You’re making a clear connection between the concepts of camp, gay, and macho. Why are you even denying this?

        No matter what rationalizations you use, the further you investigate an accusation of “campness,” the closer you come to an accuser’s notion of gayness. Camp is failing to be serious. Masculinity, when portrayed successfully, is frightening and demands respect. When it fails, it appears gay. It’s clear you’re making the same connection.

        • I am using the term ‘gay musical’ to suggest a)campness and b) homoerotics in the military. This is not calling machismo ‘gay’ as in ‘a faggot’ but calling it
          ‘in denial about how it is camp and homoerotic/homosocial and sometimes homosexual’

          I dont think masculinity is frightening and demands respect. I think it is just the word we use to describe things we associate with ‘men’.

          • arctic_jay says:

            Umm, what? Lol.

            I don’t understand how this is an argument against my point. You used the phrase “America’s Big Gay Musical of Machismo.” How is American machismo like a “Big Gay Musical”? And what is an example of machismo that isn’t like a gay musical and what makes them different? Also, there’s a cognitive dissonance in claiming that you’re not saying machismo is gay but at the same time it’s camp, homoerotic, and sometimes homosexual. There’s a lot of “homo” in your analysis of machismo for it to not be gay.

  3. and it’s a GREAT picture. They look like they are singing ‘In the Navy…’

  4. Mark says:

    Hello. I didn’t say (in my email to QRG which has been quoted here) that there was an attempt to portray Bin Laden as gay. I said there was an attempt to portray him as unmanly and cowardly.

  5. typhonblue says:

    *sniff* I wish I could see the picture.

  6. elissa says:

    I can’t see it either – little “x” in the top left corner – as in a broken jpeg type thingy

  7. Mark says:

    It is a great picture. And it is, AJ notwithstanding, tres camp.

    • arctic_jay says:

      I didn’t say it wasn’t camp. I don’t think “camp” is really a useful term to describe anything. It mostly just reveals of the people who use it the type of person that they have some deep need to diminish.

      What I am pointing out is that is does perpetuate the notion that gay men are frivolous and weak and that when men fail in their masculinity they are appearing “gay.”

      • it depends on your view of masculinity AJ. I don’t think a man can ‘fail’ in masculinity. and I don’t think gay men or frivolous or weak.

        And I don’t think ‘camp’ means lack of seriousness!

  8. arctic_jay says:

    “And I don’t think ‘camp’ means lack of seriousness!”

    Well, the only concrete definition of camp that has a bit of consensus is Sontag’s, and that, boiled down, is a failure of seriousness. That failure can promote a serious affection in connoisseurs of camp, but the failure has to be there. So I guess I’m going to have to request a definition of camp as you see it.

    I guess I’m also curious as to what makes this picture camp. It’s three men: one is making a fist pumping gesture, one is pointing, and one looks like he’s about to high-five a ghost. There is no intimacy, or any real interaction, between them whatsoever. Their gestures are definitely masculine and a bit aggressive, but a bit too expressive and the gestures a bit too “poised.” Is that enough to make something camp?

  9. A-Jay I used the term Big Gay Musical as the picture reminded me of a set from a musical and musicals are a part of ‘gay’ culture. I don’t think musicals are actually ‘gay’. The problem with the term ‘gay’ is it can mean different things.

    I don’t believe there is a thing called ‘gay’ except for what people load onto the term. You must know that you have been reading Mark Simpson longer than me!

    • arctic_jay says:

      I’m just curious: what do you believe makes something camp?

      • I think ‘camp’ in terms of masculinities comes from an exaggeration of the gender binary. that’s what it takes ‘seriously’. so the military is camp as it is so obsessed with being ‘masculine’ and ‘drag’ is camp because it is so determined to show the difference between masculine and feminine.

        sometimes camp can send up this ‘seriousness’ about the gender binary as some comedy does. But it still kind of relies on it.

  10. Nico says:

    Patriarchy fucks itself in show tunes & fatigues.

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