“Come Fly With Me” & Info on “Birthright” in Other Countries

So all throughout yesterday’s discussion on immigration and the stereotypes & stigma surrounding immigrants, I was thinking of a segment in a show called “Come Fly With Me” – a British comedy show which parodies various stereotypical individuals who can be found in airports throughout the UK. If you are an Anglophile, you will have heard of the popular show “Little Britain,” which is just as controversial and satirical as its spinoff “Come Fly With Me” as it has the same creators/comedians – Matt Lucas & David Walliams.

Anyways, what I’d like to talk about is the show’s character Ian Foot, a character which personifies the stereotypical immigration officer – racist, ignorant, and with a very strong sense of nationalism. Many of the stereotypes regarding immigrants that we discussed in class – they’re smelly, they can’t speak English, etc. – are brought up in these two clips, as is the common question, “where are you really from?” which is posed to anyone who doesn’t look like the “ideal,” white American – or Brit, in this case.

I thought these clips were humorous in addition to being applicable to our current topic of immigration, so please don’t take offense to any of the clips’ content – just like “Little Britain,” the show’s content can be controversial but its merely meant to parody popular British stereotypes – us Brits are very fond of satire, haha 🙂 And although the UK is focused on the controversy surrounding immigrants from the Middle East (which is reflected in the second clip), the stereotypes in the clips can be paralleled to the US controversy surrounding Latin American & South American immigrants.

Immigration Officer Ian Foot – “A lot of them are foreign, many of them are dirty, and unfortunately, all of them are smelly…”

Immigration Officer Ian Foot On “Random” Inspections

**Also, I found some info online regarding birthright in other countries as I was asking my mom about whether or not birthright existed in the UK – which as I said in class, it does not – but please feel free to read the information provided in the link below, it details some interesting requirements for citizenship which I thought I’d share!

http://www.loc.gov/law/help/citizenship-birth-country/index.php

“Come Fly With Me” & Info on “Birthright” in Other Countries

J. Butler & S.Taylor Interview

Hey everyone!

I just wanted to go ahead & post on here the link of the J. Butler & S. Taylor interview that Caro emailed us about as I know that I personally am more inclined to watch a YouTube video when its right there ready to watch – so I have put the link below!

If you have not watched it yet, then I would strongly encourage it as the interview not only puts a face to a name of Judith Butler, who we’ve been discussing throughout the quarter, but it also provides a great intro to the topic of disability studies. In the interview, Butler talks about some issues that even I – as a visually impaired individual – had not thought about before so it was interesting to hear of the link she made between disabled & gendered bodies, and how we should rethink what the body can & cannot do…it is a great interview so please watch, I promise it is shorter than most of her work that we’ve read thus far, haha 🙂 plus, I find that it helps to hear Butler discuss her own theories – enjoy!

J. Butler & S.Taylor Interview

Midterm: Coming Out Videos & YouTube Pop Culture

I don’t know about you, my fellow WGS 170 students, but I love watching YouTube videos. I could literally sit on my phone, or at my computer, for hours and hours watching video after video….it’s become a little bit of an addiction. From Zoella and Alfie Deyes, to Thatcher Joe and Caspar Lee, to Tanya Burr and Jim Chapman, to Jack & Finn and Dan & Phil, to Marcus Butler and Niomi Smart, to Miranda Sings and Jenna Marbles (I found it hard to make a short list of my favorites) – the YouTube community and all of its many members are extremely influential in today’s society. I not only watch their videos for laughs and giggles, but for hair & make-up inspiration, fashion tips, and overall good advice.

However, after following these internet celebrities for several years, I’ve noticed a new series of videos that have been gaining more and more attention in pop culture, a series that’s very different from the common Q&A, tutorial, or challenge videos that subscribers are accustomed to. In addition to their regular content – or should I say, in supplement to – Tyler Oakley, Troye Sivan, Connor Franta, Hannah Hart and Lucas Cruikshank (whom most will recognize as his alter ego, Fred) have all made coming out videos, videos which each of these YouTubers made in the hopes of inspiring those watching their videos who may be going through similar identity struggles. These YouTubers share everything about themselves with the internet, and each had their own motivation to share such a personal detail with their audience, & it was this desire that each felt the need, and the necessity, to make their own coming out videos to describe their unique experiences with recognizing their sexuality. “Are you gay?” was the most popular question asked in one of Lucas Cruikshank’s Q&A videos. His viewers, like all human-beings, have this compulsive need to fit everyone into a box, and to categorize things into these boxes. Troye, Connor, and Lucas risked everything – subscribers, likes, their careers – all to help these curious viewers fulfill their need to categorize. But by taking the power into their own hands and by making these coming out videos about their own experience, these YouTubers have created a space in which one’s sexuality – a term which Somerville argues becomes “constitutive of identity” – can be explored and acknowledged in positive regard in today’s pop culture (241).

Lucas Cruikshank: ARE YOU GAY?!?

In the History of Sexuality, Foucault argues that those who hold the power in regards to sexuality regulate its discourse and public opinion – it isn’t about who confirms or denies their sexuality but rather “to account for the fact that it is spoken about, to discover who does the speaking, the positions and viewpoints from which they speak, the institutions which prompt people to speak about it and which store the things that are said” (11). In regards to YouTubers and their coming out videos – YouTubers are the ones who do the speaking, their viewpoints are their own unique experiences with coming out to family & friends, the internet and its many subscribers are the institutions which prompted them to speak about it, and YouTube stores the things that are said in these videos for viewers to watch anytime & anywhere. But despite their common goals, none of these coming out videos are the same – some have a more serious tone, while others a more casual, light-hearted style but nonetheless, all have an impact.

The modern generation draws so much influence from what they watch on the internet. Viewers become attached to YouTubers and create a connection with them by watching their vlogs, videos which virtually bring millions of people into their lives & homes every day – so it’s no wonder why these viewers are curious about the sexuality of their favorite YouTubers. As mentioned previously, its only natural to want to put everyone (and everything) into its own box – so natural that human-beings even invented the term “heterosexuality” back in the 1890s to satisfy people’s need to classify & categorize human-beings based on their differing desires and attractions. Just as viewers wanted to know if “Zalfie” (the ‘ship name of Zoella & Alfie) were an item, viewers wanted to know if “Troyler” (the ‘ship name of Troye Sivan & Tyler Oakley) were an item – henceforth creating categories for heterosexual & homosexual of YouTube couples.

Troyler

The first YouTube coming out video that I ever watched was by Troye Sivan – a talented, Australian YouTuber who drew influence and support for his video from fellow YouTuber, Tyler Oakley. His video was so inspiring and so heart-warming – and it was in fact, the inspiration for this blog post. With currently over 4.9 million views, Troye’s coming out video is well-known in the YouTube community as it served as one of the first platforms for other individuals to publically accept their sexuality – other individuals such as fellow YouTuber, Connor Franta. Back in December 2014, Connor made his own coming out video which has received 7.1 million views in just three months. And although these videos are very impactful, Connor (and Troye & Tyler) just insists that “it’s just another video, another video where you just learn a little bit more about me…” And that’s all these videos are, just another video. But by creating coming out videos for the internet, these YouTubers are providing courage and support for the thousands of adolescents watching who may be struggling with their own identity issues.

Troye Sivan: Coming Out

Connor Franta: Coming Out

The emergence of the queer community as a subculture on YouTube continues to gain in popularity & recognition as an open space to discuss issues of gender, sexuality, & identity – and as Becca Frucht of PopSugar notes, these coming out videos are slowly putting the “You” back into “YouTube” by making more relatable content available to the site’s millions of viewers. With the increasing influence of YouTubers in today’s pop culture, society will pull sexuality “out of the realm of nature and biology, and into the realm of the social and historical” as Katz once urged (29). Even though coming out videos are a modern phenomenon, utilizing queer theory and its past critiques to understand their impact provides better context for Foucault’s discussion of the relationship between power and sexuality – as coming out videos clearly demonstrate that it’s the individual (not the audience) who has the power in speaking out about their sexuality. Therefore, I believe that YouTube is making a historical impact on our culture, by empowering those who were perhaps once too afraid to be themselves…so trust me, if you haven’t yet discovered YouTube as more than a place to watch cat videos, you’re truly missing out. Please feel free to not only check out the links I’ve provided below but to actually check out the YouTubers’ channels & who knows, you may find that you too #CantStopWatchingYouTubers 🙂

YouTubers

PopSugar: The Most Inspiring Coming Out Videos on YouTube

Midterm: Coming Out Videos & YouTube Pop Culture

Reading Summary of “Manifest Faggotry: Queering Masculinity in African American Culture”

In “Manifest Faggotry: Queering Masculinity in African American Culture,” E. Patrick Johnson discusses the performances of several famous writers, poets, & comedians and how these performances contribute to the idea of racial, sexual, and gender identification in popular culture. Essentially, the article is a reflection upon the antigay sentiments in pop culture through the latter half of the 20th century.

As a psychology major, Johnson immediately caught my attention by describing Sigmund Freud’s theory of mourning versus melancholia – where mourning is a normal process in acknowledgment to losing a loved one, melancholia is a pathological state in which the unconscious refuses to acknowledge the loss of a loved one and thus refuses to grieve (49). Johnson then connects these ideas to those of Judith Butler, who argues that in the formation of heterosexual gender identity, heterosexual melancholy results in the formation of masculine gender as a response to the refusal to grieve a possible male loved one. It is through the psychoanalytic approach that Johnson explains why black male performances tend to be homophobic in nature, affirming the strong assumption of heteronormativity in African American culture (51).

Although Johnson talks about the case of Eldridge Cleaver, and the work of Amiri Baraka – two prominent antigay, black writers/poets of the 1960s, I would like to focus upon the performances of the comedians Eddie Murphy and Damon Wayans & David Alan Grier during the 1980s and the 1990s, as I believe their performances are more culturally relevant to our time.

I am sure that everyone has heard of Eddie Murphy – a funny and witty comedian who I, and many others grew up with. From Doctor Dolittle to voicing Donkey in Shrek, I regard Murphy as a comedic icon of our time but much to my surprise, Murphy was instead voicing the homophobic views of the late 1980s during his popular stand-up routines at the time. While some speculate that Murphy may have been doing these stand-up performances in response to his repressed homosexual desires (how very Freudian of him…), others speculate how his performances made – and manifested – queerness in black culture into a negative thing through his inaccurate depiction of how HIV/AIDS is contracted. If you want to see the stand-up performances Johnson referenced in the article – which I would strongly encourage, here are the links to the YouTube clips of Murphy’s homophobic performances, performances which he did not publicly apologize for until 15 years after the fact…

Delirious:

Raw:

Additionally, in the 1990s popular comedy In Living Color, Damon Wayans & David Alan Grier portray two stereotypical gay men on the show’s segment entitled “Men On…” – although their sexuality is ever explicitly stated, the two review popular films, music, food, etc. and then give the “snap” of the week, an action typical of black gay men of the 1990s which therefore leads us to believe that Wayans & Grier are demeaning black gay culture and contributing to the queering of African American masculinity (66). Through their parody, the two demonstrate the popular stereotypical beliefs about black gay men but unlike Murphy, their true sexuality is not questioned because Wayans especially, was a prominent masculine, heterosexual icon during the late ‘90s. If you want to see the skit that Johnson referenced in the article, here is the link to the YouTube clip of “Men On…”

Men On Film:

  

Through these performances of black gay men, Murphy, Wayans & Grier distinguish the fact that black heterosexuality is authentic & non-comedic while black homosexuality is inauthentic & comedic (69). While these comedians affirm that it is justifiable to make fun of homosexuals because they make fun of everyone else too, does this really excise their prejudiced behavior? Johnson argues that the performance of homosexuality by heterosexual individuals contributes to the manifest faggotry of black culture – and by queering this assumed heteronormative community, these performances are contributing to the fact that black heterosexual individuals are experiencing melancholia for their unconscious refusal to grieve a possible male loved one.

Discussion Questions: Should black heterosexual comedians make fun of homosexuals and be able to justify this behavior by saying that they make fun of everyone? Does the fact that heterosexual individuals portraying homosexuals lead to more negative views about homosexuality? Would having black homosexuals portray themselves lessen the extent of prominent gay stereotypes? Do you think that in modern pop culture there are stand-up performances, or television skits like those of Murphy, Wayans & Grier? Do you think that in the 21st century, homosexual characters are portrayed more by heterosexual or homosexual individuals, and do you even think that the actual sexuality of an actor/comedian makes a difference in the portrayal & audience reception of homosexuality in not just black popular culture, but modern popular culture in general?

Reading Summary of “Manifest Faggotry: Queering Masculinity in African American Culture”