The hype and hope of the past and a big fat gay collab

While surfing for videos about the future from the past, I found this little gem from Apple:

The video comes from a time in which very few were actually on the internet, hence the question, “What *would* you do?” The most recent YouTube comments paint a disheartening picture of what we have become:

stuff011

There is considerable GLBT hatred on YouTube. Some of it is generated by Anonymous trolls just doing it for the LULZ, but a good bit of it is genuine. After studying YouTube for several years now it is easy to see why Candis Cayne would call the GLBT community “the last great minority”, noting that they “can still be harrassed openly” and “called out on television.” (from Wikipedia entry on LGBT)

In my short time as a professor, I have already heard three horrific stories from students who have suffered through violent and humiliating GLBT hate crimes.

In light (or darkness) of all this, I get a certain joy out of watching the big fat gay collab video, now spreading around the intertubes like wildfire and receiving tons of (thankfully) positive comments:

(Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics)

Wesch

Associate professor of cultural anthropology. Ed Traceur. Hacker. Car-free.

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40 Responses

  1. Adam R. says:

    Respectfully, I have to disagree with your joy over seeing the success of this video, Dr. Wesch. I see this as a response of a community that wishes to be taken seriously and with equality, but that instead produces a “world-wide smash hit” YouTube video that centers around a vulgar and immature theme. Telling the world to “f off” probably isn’t going to help make the case that those with GLBS preferences stand on equal footing with those with different sexual preferences.

  2. Felipe Díez says:

    Fantastic work.
    When a thorough study of the LGTB community on the web?

    Best Regards from Madrid (Spain)

  3. Prof Wesch says:

    @Adam R. You might be right. But while it may fuel the fire, it at least helps those who have been burned release some of the anger and frustration and know that they are not alone with their feelings.

  4. Domen says:

    Adam has a point, but so does the video. Turning the other cheek is not always the perfect solution to a power imbalance. Plus they’re not saying FY they are singing it. It’s a poetic, well-deserved FY.

  5. Marijane says:

    @Adam R:
    The unfortunate reality of our society is that oppressed groups do not receive recognition for their rights by being polite. PZ Myers addressed this subject eloquently a couple years ago:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/04/we_aim_to_misbehave.php

    He was talking about atheists, but I find it applies universally to any minority/oppressed group.

  6. manuel garcía says:

    GLTB is a mayority group, and this (queer-)video reflects what many times we need to use the same language as the homofobic dummies to tell them that if they do not respect us, fuck them

    cheers from Madrid,
    manuel

  7. Will says:

    The problem I have with referring to GLBT as the last great minority group is the idea that minority groups in general have gone away, which is not true – they’ve just been swallowed into majority culture, where they still exist, I would argue just as oppressed simply in different ways. Now there is this big, supposedly friendly, majority (normative culture, call it) that minority groups one by one bend themselves to become part of, give up their values to gain entry. As a culture we pat ourselves on the back for having a black president, and say “wow look how far we have come” but in reality all we have done is increase the scope of the definition of a normative being instead of simply doing away with the concept of normative culture in general. This is what we’ve seen with many of the civil rights movements: the result has been significantly improved legal treatment of minorities, but in reality we haven’t done away with any of the root causes of the hatred and so de facto problems like job placement are still a huge issue. We are just band-aiding them one minority group after another instead of attacking the actual problem of fear of the other.

    In a culture that’s so heavily influenced by protestant values it should be clearer where our definition of normativity, especially sexual normativity, comes from. It was a surprise for many, for instance, to see minorities who had fought so long to become accepted in the mainstream turn around and exclude another minority group when they turned out in huge numbers against gay marriage in California, recently. I would argue that the recent ban on gay marriage had a lot to do with their religious convictions, which surprise surprise come from a hegemonic protestant background that was never found anywhere but here, in nice happy American majority land, and Europe before that. These minorities, then, were not really accepted, but instead assimilated. Even Americans who are not religious in the slightest often feel the shame and guilt associated with sexual behavior (specifically sexual behavior that can in no way be misconstrued as child-rearing – like gay sex) that comes directly from Christianity, and I would argue this shame is the main source of hatred towards the GLBT community in particular.

    So, @Adam R., I wouldn’t disagree that this video probably wont get people to all of a sudden accept the GLBT community, but maybe it aims to polarize the debate and make push come to shove – polite resistance is asking for rights while “staying in your place.” More Fanon, please.

  8. Will says:

    And by the way, the other problem I have with calling GLBT the last great minority (quickly, sorry, I know I wrote a book last post), specifically in response to the open harassment being acceptable thing, is look again at the presidential race. Tucker Carlson crossing his legs and grabbing his crotch every time Hilary Clinton’s name came up is pretty open harassment in my opinion. Minorities are still everywhere, even if they have the right to vote or get married or own land or whatever it is we decide makes people full fledged citizens these days.

  9. Mike says:

    Hi, nice posts there :-) thank’s for the interesting information

  10. David says:

    Prof Wesch: Thanks for highlighting this video and and bringing attention to the issue of homophobia on the web and in daily life. This summer is the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York, the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. The culture is changing, though many cling to the past. Our great hope for the future is the youth of America who aspire to a world that is diverse and just. As a gay academic in a large urban public university in the South, thanks for reminding me that I’m not entirely alone.

  11. Dave W says:

    The following Quote of the Day seems fairly appropriate:
    “The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.” – Ralph W. Sockman

  12. kratom says:

    they sure picked the right thumbnail to display for this video, targets the exact stereotype they are aiming for with this message

  13. bowerbird says:

    what a cute bouncy sunny funny song,
    a great way to respond to the haters…

    -bowerbird

  14. Dan says:

    @Dave W – I would disagree with the quote that you posted. I don’t think that the GLBT culture wants to be “tolerated”. Rather, I think that they would want to be accepted for who they are.

    The “fuck you” that the song describes is not a fuck you to the haters in the sense that you are hating so I will hate back, but rather is a statement of I don’t care what you think.

    I hope that our changing world due to technology and creation of global community also changes our opinions and values about all people including GLBT.

  15. DrBob says:

    While I hope that I can empathise with some of the feelings that prompted the video, as a teacher I’d like to highlight that it’s presented me with a difficulty.
    I’m currently work with 11-15 year olds, soon 11-18 year olds. I’m involved in trying to increase the vibrancy of some of our work in the area of ‘digital literacy’. Mediated Cultures has been one of my favourite places to point towards for both adults and students to say …”We could be doing something more like this”. Now I find that my links point towards a site that posts a video that is clearly well intentioned but which uses language that wouldn’t be tolerated in students at our school, wouldn’t be tolerated by many of the students and would be a hard for many teachers and parents to accept as language appropriate to mainstream teaching resources. I feel it would be helpful to have some kind of ‘advisory’ notice adjacent to the video.

  16. Elise says:

    Great educaitonal video!!

  17. Prof Wesch says:

    Good point. I’ll take care of that.

  18. DrBob says:

    Thanks for adding the advisory.

  19. Richard Dorland says:

    This song is a hit in The Netherlands :-)

  20. Changeseeker says:

    An advisory might be to the point in certain circles, but I unfailingly find it amusing that schools and programs that have a “problem” with certain language invariably have PLENTY of that language floating around outside of the earshot of the “decision-makers” — and they usually know it, but feel that to “allow” it would be to “encourage” it. It doesn’t NEED “encouragement.” It’s going to be there regardless.

    I used to teach at a very small, private, Catholic university where the GLBT commuinty (and the alcohol and drug use, as well, as a matter of fact) was rampant, though unacknowleged. One of my favorite lines is: “You can’t wake up a person who’s pretending to be asleep.” A lot of well-meaning professionals pretend to be asleep. More’s the pity. It reduces communication and ignores reality, which, needless to say, builds walls rather than bridges. But oh, well, right?

    It doesn’t surprise me that when I brought my super-radical self to a much larger public university in the deep south two years ago, a steady stream of students have continued to find my office pretty much daily to say, “Finally — somebody who tells the truth!” Their relief is palpable. And their energy and joy exhilarating.

  21. T-Diddy says:

    This is very odd. I have never seen any movie or TV show that portrayed a gay person as anything but on a level above the average human being (no accounting for what’s on YouTube).

    Here’s a book worth thinking about (and its thesis seems borne out by almost every movie and TV show I’ve seen featuring Catholics.

    Full disclosure: I’m Catholic, but a former Catholic-hater. And I’m not a homophobe and I don’t think “Gay is gross” LOL.

    http://www.amazon.com/New-Anti-Catholicism-Last-Acceptable-Prejudice/dp/0195154800

  22. Erin McGlauflin says:

    Hello! I love your site… I got here from the intro to anthro video, which I ended up watching the whole thing at once (at 3 in the morning) haha.

    Anyways, I found this video a while ago, and what with this site all about digital enthnography and the videos about the power of Youtube, I thought this was a great socio/anthro project.

    Enjoy! (:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n7nKNLSJCU

  23. Claire says:

    Helllooo! Wow i like the video to Lilly Allen’s FY – and i agree it definetly helps those who have been treated unfairly vent off some steam.

    I have to say i love all your videos and blogs. Im a student doing a BSc in Media Production in the UK and one of my modules is about digital technology, and participatory culture. I have found your research very helpful and it has also opened my eyes to over areas i probably would not have considered beforehand.

    I hope you and your students continue creating brilliant insights into the web 2.0 and partcipatory culture!

    Thank you!

  24. BT says:

    Pretty much sums up my experience with the LGBT community — childish and vulgar. Nothing new here.

  25. Adam G says:

    I disagree with Adam #1 up there. Sometimes a community feels so frustrated that they have no choice but to pop. I think at the heart of this video’s message is the idea that at this point, some views are so antiquated, backward and racist, they just need to be told where they can stuff them. I do see that this doesn’t move the dialogue further, but perhaps it gives a sense of needed relief to a victimized community. Could this argument also justify riots, which I am not pro, yes, so I think it needs flushing out.

  26. Karilee says:

    I really like this video…… the GLBT community is just asking for acceptance just like women did, just like african americans did, and we get ridiculed for it. Im white and gay so that must make me a vulgar stuck up racist white girl. NO thats not it at all. All the “straight suburban” types think “us gays” are going to tie them down and do sexual things to them and thats not it at all we look for that longing for a community to be apart of just like everyone else. Were not going to “hit on” everyone we come across. Not to mention what makes you any better for us to want to be with you? I use to date guys but they can’t connect with a girl on an emotional way like another girl can they are in their own world stuck on themselves thinking that everyone wants them when in reality their personality is so shallow no one wants them for the right reasons. Once you look inside yourself and find out who you are and get over yourself is when you will realize that we are people just like you and deserve respect just like the rest of the world. Atleast take the time to know someone before you want to get rid of them all.

  27. Michael says:

    It seems that YouTube, LLC takes a stand against some kinds of free speech (or singing)

    >> “THE BIG FAT GAY COLLAB!”

    This video or group may contain content that is inappropriate for some users, as flagged by YouTube’s user community.

    To view this video or group, please verify you are 18 or older by signing in or signing up. <<

    is the answer you get when trying to watch the video directly on YouTube.

    Very sad..

  28. David S says:

    As a member of the gay community and the youTube community, I appreciate the dialogue happening over this video, but…really? It speaks for itself. This is a pop song by a quirky singer that was borrowed by some folks who wanted 15 seconds of youTube fame. Nobody in this video is trying to achieve equal rights for a minority group, or feels so oppressed that they are going to pop. These are people who are comfortable with who they are and are simply reacting to what is becoming an increasingly marginalized public view of homosexuality. The whole purpose of this video is to express the fact that we don’t NEED to argue and fight anymore to gain acceptance. Thus, why it’s so jolly, people are smiling, nobody seems too concerned. The target audience of this video is not politicians or right wing conservative televangelists or your Grandma; it’s on youTube after all. The idea is just to grab some attention, which, if you’re looking for things to analyze, is its own statement. The younger generation of gays has moved on, we don’t need to fight for our rights, we’re comfortable, our friends accept us, and for those of you who haven’t caught on quite yet, well, fuck you.

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  39. Drew says:

    @Prof Wesch,
    Hello from Bracebridge Ontario! I’m in a grade 11 french immersion Media class and to say we study your work a lot would be an understatement. I’m divided on this topic because I do agree with Adam’s argument in that, it’s unlikely that this video will be so monumental that the world’s views on the LGBT community will change durastically. However, it is clear that YouTube has developped into a mass communication machine, forming connections across the globe. For example, the recent spread of Jonah Mowry’s “What’s Going On” video across the MediaScape was astounding and in studying some of the comments, shares and posts made by social networkers around the world, I believe it touched more people than Mowry ever hoped it would. I’m not sure that videos like these will be the overall solution to the LGBT issues that are still prevelant today, however, it’s not as if they are doing anything but helping to push a movement forward.

  40. Jonathan Charles says:

    well don’t fret too much everyone – because EMI have just cleaned the whole lot off youtube (all the versions I searched) – so any chance – that anyone – would get to discuss this very interesting piece of work – has been rendered null and void – probably due more to capitalism and greed than homophobia (although we’ll never know)