First off, I’m gay. Wowee. Not that this should matter but unfortunately if I was a straight male I would be immediately, in reactionary fashion, be called a homophobe for writing something that is critical of the LGBT so-called ‘community’. This is largely because the LGBT movements are reliant upon postmodern ideas that advocate love and acceptance based on people’s lived experiences. As I have mentioned in previous posts, this postmodern phenomenon of sharing lived personalistic experiences can have some significance. However, it can also produce a kind of insularity, a cosy sort of identity bubble, a clichey-ness which often pervades identity groups and the identity politics these groups create.
For those unfamiliar with the postmodern mentality; postmodernism is basically an ideology that attempts to unite people within their respective ‘identities’. It makes bold claims centred around love. It rejects facts (scientific or otherwise), preferring to pay special attention to people’s (the multitude’s) own ‘lived experiences’. While this seems admirable, postmodernism has reaped terrible consequences that I’ve explored particularly when its effects surface in the non-medical models that the social security system (DWP) carries out under it’s private contractors (ATOS, CAPITA and Maximus).
It is thought that in sharing these ‘lived’ experiences’ people, within their respective identities, can come together in love and harmony, among other rhetorical displays that only truly ‘human’ people who aren’t motivated by the ideal of seeking ‘truth to power’ in any meaningful sense. Postmodernism does not value truth motivated by rationality, unless its self-truth of course. They only care about ‘self-truths’ which in effect could mean anything you want. Aside from their claims, there is no such thing as society in the deadened mind of the postmodernist. Facts are merely interpretations. The postmodern/Foucauldian premise that power exists everywhere, even among the most insipid social interaction only highlights the pretentious and arrogant nihilism of postmodernism. It is a truly pernicious and sociopathic ideology because its relativism/perspectivism only serves to protect unscrupulous organisations and governments and obscures the truth of their own actions.
In the postmodern mind, you have supreme authority to say what you want to say. Noone outside of that identity has that authority or privilege. That is why postmodernism has recently, arguably inevitably, been absorbed by the likes of the Alt-right and right-wing populists like Trump. Fact are conveniently ignored in favour of the jingoistic authoritarian identity politics of the white nationalist.
One would think that postmodernism’s focus on the oppressed and the marginalised “other” would meant that I, as a gay, white, unemployed, Aspergian male would make me feel more included in this morally bankrupt nihilistic neoliberal, debt laden economy. But, sadly, no.
Granted, I haven’t traversed the entire social landscape of the LGBT ‘community’. Partly because there are little ways in which to socialise or belong to an LGBT community. Past encounters with the gay community in Manchester only served to depress and alienate. It seems that the legacy of postmodernism has produced within the gay community a kind of narcissism, an obsession with self-image that discards any sense of self-deprecation or even a sense of humour. Manchester, a city that boasts to be one of the most gay friendly cities, only served to prove how inherently hedonistic, ageist and empty the whole community is. Although I hesitate to even call it a community, given the noxious airs that people put on and is encouraged.
Many people, including the mainstream media, make bold claims that social media and apps ensure that people who define as LGBT can be more connected to people. Sadly, this has proven to be no more than rather empty rhetoric. The internet does not provide any form of fulfilling social connection, most of all to people with alternate sexualities – as if online apps are some sort of ultimate solution to everyone’s problems.
The apps that are available are often full of the worst kind of people; people who are almost encouraged to embody a kind of narcissism and short-term lust, presumably because they live fundamentally meaningless lives in a purposeless society in which the only democratic value people concern themselves with is a vulgar and mindless self-expression. To postmodernists, this sort of self-expression among the LGBT community is commendable because it is assumed that having a ‘loud and proud’ parade consisting of people dancing around celebrate (alongside corporate sponsors such as alcohol companies) finally being able to be recognised as LGBT consumers (pink pound demographic) as Owen Jones as pointed out in a surprisingly ok article. This effectively translates into a loving and accepting society in which gay people and others are assumed to no longer be inhibited with their sexual identities.
Why is this a feature of postmodernism? Take the postmodernist, Judith Butler who essentially states that people perform certain identities all the time and that this is reflective of genedered behaviour. This notion is of course highly subjective and assumes that everyone hyper-consciously puts on guises and wants to be perceived in a certain way. Gender is performative to Butler. Butler may as well argue that people love to act out in certain ways, as if they are in their very own role on a stage. This only serves to encourage the rather narcissistic and vainglorious atmosphere that pervades the LGBT bubble world that they have created around themselves. Of course, Butler’s theory is compatible with the bland consumerism and lifestylism of being part of the self-absorbed mentality of the LGBT world. It has and was destined to be integrated into capitalism society due to postmodernism’s inherent fetishisation with identities – something which it has in common with capitalist society. This is not surprising, given that as early as the 1920s capitalism was encouraging the role of consumerism in which self-expression was defined in strictly consumerist terms i.e. what kind of clothes you bought and so on. This only was magnified throughout the years until the 90s arrived and consumer products began to represent ideas, Naomi Klein points out in great detail in No Logo.
Undoubtedly, people within the LGBT bubble world probably couldn’t care less about the problems created by capitalism, possible due to their inherent middle-classness and the relative privilege of which they are oblivious of because they hang around the same people in their bubble wrapped world.
A distinct parochialism within supposedly progressively minded identity groups.
One past example of the grip that the postmodern mentality has on the LGBT bubble universe is the so-called Equalities and diversity hub held in Sheffield’s town hall. People within this group, of which I was a visitor, discussed numerous issues. Some were more meaningful than others, such as ways in which to improve diversity of sexualities within the Council.
Nevertheless, the overall group mentality demonstrated how truly ineffectual it was. One example was when one of the group members recommended that they spread awareness LGBT sexuality in a poor area within Sheffield because they knew people in that area who needed their support. The chair of the Equalities and Diversity hub stated that because the area was predominantly working-class they didn’t want to take the chance to promoting LGBT diversity there. However, the chair quickly stated that if they wanted to they can do it but don’t expect other people to join in. She was basically emphasising that it was up to their personal initiative. So much for solidarity. This only reinforces the sense of disgust and parochialism that pervades throughout these postmodern identity groups towards people who are perceived as more likely to discriminate simply because they live in a deprived area.
It became clear to me that this kind of reactionary attitude only serves to increase bitterness. I began to wonder that this arrogant attitude among postmodern identity groups may have the capacity to strengthen right-wing movements that attract disillusioned people from deprived backgrounds who may become captive to their criticism of so-called “political correctness” because they feel ignored by what laughably passes as the Liberal Left.
Dumbing Down – The pseudo-intellectual obsession with flowery symbolic meanings that ‘identity’ is supposed to convey. (Judith Butler)
Another topic that was brought up in the Equalities and Diversity group was the ensuing quibbling about the term Queer as an identity that anyone, presumably within the LGBT community could use. This seemed a totally pointless and fruitless exercise. The premise of including Queer as an identity was reserved for people who would not like to define as Lesbian, gay, bi or teansgender. In other words, Queer could be used by anyone that identified as non-conformist in terms of being gender neutral and so on and so forth. This was intended to include everyone into the LGBT(Q) fold because it implicitly makes the rather vacuous and outdated assumption that sexuality exists on a spectrum and is not something that a person is born with. Of course, we cannot forget that Queer could also symbolise gendered ways of being which, as Butler insipidly argues, is the way a person dresses (presents themselves).
The main issue with postmodernism is the way in which, as the case above should serve to demonstrate, it boils everything down to the lowest common denominator. The end result is that it actively encourages the most pig shit, dumbed down sort of culture that anyone in their right mind would blow their brains out. Of course, anyone who voices concern toward this is shouted down by this dumbed down bubble world.
Take an article on mic.com which reads very much like a business journal that analyses generational demographics which are supposed to mean something. For instance, the article by Anna Swartz reads:
“That survey didn’t even include Generation Z, which is shaping up to be queerer and more gender diverse than millennials. A 2016 report from the J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group found that more than half of Gen Z-ers said they know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns such as “they” or “ze,” and less than half of the group said they identified as “exclusively heterosexual.”
Even beyond the terms used to describe sexuality or gender identity, young LGBTQ people trade slang on Twitter or Tumblr or hyperspecific subreddits. With queer language feeling like it’s changing and spreading faster than ever, jumping into the mainstream through viral memes and reality TV, what will queer language look like by the year 2030? When today’s teens are LGBTQ adults, will their language be totally unfamiliar to their LGBTQ forbearers?”
Wow, that’s revolutionary…yeah? Don’t get me wrong I happen to frequently use gender-neutral words, but I wouldn’t be offended if someone didn’t. Nor do I fanatically do so. Why would I? Presumably, the fact that I have declared this indicates from the postmodern reactionary perspective, that I am somehow not as progressive than thou? Maybe even, in ageist fashion that I’m somehow not as progressive as Generation Z simply because I don’t embody the postmodern fanaticism of capitalist life?
This is how people who are affected by postmodern culture lazily think. This becomes only more obnoxious when we look at how postmodern culture within capitalist society focuses solely on representation, particularly televised representation. It is assumed that representation fills the void left by a lack of political participation that either people don’t have time for thanks to their monontous or busy working lives, or a general sense of apathy produced by the seemingly endless system of consumerism.
So, let’s force ourselves to look at one particularly recent example at the nihilistically postmodern representations of being gay.
The television programme: ‘Cucumber’ (an illustration of the nihilistic, neoliberal culture of postmodernism).
There are many programmes that exist which are like this in recent decades. These programmes have a strong tendency to depict the most hedonistic, outright selfish and irrational acts and attempt to tranform it into an art form amidst unquestioned media praise, with the exception of right-wing media sources whose criticism is more like a representation of a school bully than anything resembling constructive criticism. These programmes contain themes associated with a certain demographic and yet are utterly alienating
Cucumber supposedly represents the modern “realities” that gay men experience but in reality it is a cruel depiction of gay life that is written by the jaded prima donna, Russel T. Davis. Cucumber (thankfully) never achieved the audience viewing figure of 1 million. It attracted, at most around 900,000 viewers on average, which, I think, speaks for itself for the kind of TV trash we are forced to confront.
*Inhales* Cucumber is basically centred on a middle-aged man who breaks up with his long-term partner of several years because he cheats, ends up meeting some young men, develops crushes and fantasises on the young men, the middle-aged one gets a taunted incessantly by the narcissistic borderline sociopathic young deliberately sexually alluring blonde man, the young men have sex a lot with other men – one of which is married (how thrilling.), the middle age man’s partner ends up going out with another man who turns out to be violent and then murders him, funeral time in which middle-aged man is admits guilt and then lovely party time at the end, followed by a café scene where numbers float over people’s heads showing how many times they’ve had sex. *Exhales…*
While I’m sure that the writers indulged themselves in the personalistic dialectics of the characters, the interplays between young and old, life and death and so on, these ‘fascinating’ themes do little to escape from the overall nihilism of the show.
The reactionary identity politicking media’s mindless praise of cucumber
Of course, the media love The media lovelies showed a pathetically spineless, non-critical, unreflective, conformist embrace of it – BECAUSE IT’S ABOUT HOMOSEXUAL PEOPLE! It would appear that as long as it is focused on gays it must be universally praised as representing some sort of eternal truth, again ironic, given the overall postmodern nihlism that exists throughout the entirety of the programme.
To illustrate, Sam Wollaston writing from the Guardian remarks:
“Sixteen years (!) since his seminal (all meanings) Queer as Folk, Davies is back to Gay Manchester. It’s different – well, there’s now Grindr, for one, so the whole world’s a gay bar….”
Ha. Ha. haaah. Yes, because we all know how wholesome the deadened world of internet communication can be.
Woolaston adds with ageist enthusiasm:
“This interface, between middle-aged and young men, is interesting. The youth now have the power, as well as the looks, the strength, and the firmness; the oldies have very little, apart from a bit of money and a lot of bitterness.”
Oh god there’s more:
“Sounds a bit gimmicky? Not a bit of it. You don’t have to get involved, but it’s a good idea to, especially given that so much of the whole thing is about growing old, different generations and the relationship and power-shifting between them, new technology and how the gay scene – and just being gay – has changed. A younger perspective, on Channel 4’s younger channel, is clever and makes perfect sense.”
He finally ends with a comment that only the most blazé journalist would make, out of a pathetic attempt to fit with the perceived ‘trend’ of trashy dumbed down representations that the world of television endlessly churns out on its conveyor belt of mass-production.
“I’m not gay (there, I’ve said it). This/these show/s is/are, very. Gloriously, explicitly, triumphantly, cucumberly. Gay to the core. But I never once felt left out, or that this wasn’t relevant to me (on the contrary, I felt a worrying connection with Henry). As you’d expect from Davies, it’s also dead funny and – most of all – very, very human.”
Wollaston’s remarks demonstrate that we must celebrate gay people no matter how crude and nihilistic televised representations are of them. Because we’re all human, of course…. Indeed, in this context, the “we’re all human” phrase is bandied about by people, usually ignorance and politically apathetic, who defend shows and ways of living that are presented in Cucumber must have a very lowly opinions of humanity. However, perhaps they can afford to be this way if they have a mind-set that is individualistic to the point of self-absorption.
In fact, the “we’re all human” phrase that people blurt out when defending the “gay to the core”, self-absorbed lifestyle that Cucumber represents can be translated into the apologia “we’re only human.” It is a phrase used merely as window dressing to dysensitise and exorcise the mind of all traces of care. As long as all that exists is the self, one can happily indulge in the short-term frivolities of life that television programmes like Cucumber extol with merry abandon. It is possible that such a representation of LGBTs only serves to reinforce and justify the frequently superficial and impersonal sexual encounters that gay people may have. In which case we should be wary because if enough people degrade themselves by extolling the self-absorbed mindset offered up to them from the entertainment industry it only succeeds in reinvigorating the stance of religious groups who demonise the LGBT(QI) people. One should not underestimate the likelihood of historical regression, particularly in a time where people are becoming increasingly alienated by neoliberal individualism are responding to it by gravitating towards a social collective that is based on right-wing assertions of nationalist identity as opposed to moving towards more progressive forms of what constitute the social collective.
You may also notice that Wollaston’s remarks about the power dynamics and glorification of youth is a key part of postmodern dogma. Power is considered to pervade all relationships, whether our presumed tiny minds are aware of it or not. All of this promotes a sense of fatalism that only serves to strengthen the sense misanthropy and distrust that exists among people within societies based on large inequalities, usually economic (as Danny Dorling says).
However, Cucumber has no real objective. It has no real social issues to explore, other than the cynical and jaded view of one man (Russel T Davis’) view of getting old and the loss of sexual desirability. There is little to be said of Cucumber, just as there is little to be said of the so-called LGBT ‘community’ as a whole that exists within the wider postmodern cultural abyss.
It does not encourage humans to embrace their better natures. It simply encourages the already jaded to shrug their shoulders and say in a kind of pusillanimous, self-defeated narcissism: “I’m only human”.