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Dragged on an Outing

Have you ever really thought about Nirvana?

Well, no. Why would you have to? They're so overexposed they've become cultural white noise. It's far from easy for anyone born in the late C20th to delimn them, to separate them out from the whole.

Some questions in philosophy get called "truth-inapt" (that is, without a determinate reply, because the answer to them is not really a 'proposition'). The question of whether you like Nirvana is like this. You certainly can like them - and, boy, we seem to - but what good does it do you?

Notes from "Unplugged In New York" anyway:

- Cobain is actually a country singer. No, really - sure he's a mutant one, but the indelible praise sticks. Where Country's purpose is to glorify and dramatize the ordinary (and actively absurd) facets of Midwest America's experience, Nirvana demonize and delve under it instead. Often into things which are, too, ordinary, but unspoken, unspeakable. Another instance of the absolutely standard "dark side of bucolia" (American Beauty, .

- That said, don't let anyone try to tell you he was a genius lyricist or anything. There's also that pathetic thing they do ("In Bloom", "Smells Like") where they complain about the amount of people who will buy their music and about who will buy their music, i.e. booo rednex and jox. Here's a thought: Most people are misunderstood. An obsession with being "alternative" or more punk than whoever else can lead only one way; selling out of life, and did. The commercial / alternative distinction is ridiculous, based as it is in the idea of Authenticity.

This is a horrible idea of aesthetics:

But this is no more right, and this is maybe what killed the dumb bastard:

Some more caricature aesthetics graphs, cos they're fun:

- They really did prefigure/enable the mookish, solipsistic strain of rock which washed up on our eC21st shores, piteous and gagging. The fixation on Being Rejected and fantasising about a titanic, tragic romance stands.

"MOOK (n.) Male adolescent or young adult exhibiting an unpleasant, self-centered attitude, formed during a sheltered upbringing."

- But there's a feminist lilt to them that's not so often emphasised, probably because of the misogyny that 'Polly' et al represent (but don't endorse), as well as the general Metal air of the lyrics. But Cobain focalized women and belted against the horrible things that men do to them often. Nirvana owe far more to riot grrl than to the uniformly androcaucasian hardcore punk.


"this song is weird, love song about eminem singed by dude, but neil is gay so it's understandible that he love guys"
- youtube


There comes a time in every boy's life. He'll start to awaken, broaden and wonder what it will take to be himself. This time is immediatedly waited upon by a time where his Da prints out Kipling's "If" and buys some soft porn.


"I hate the epidemic of vilifying chavs that's everywhere right now [2007]. Chavs are good, let's face it. They're unpretentious, listen to goood music and are about 500 times better than the Ordinary Boys fans who write this shit [chavscum]. Inventing stereotypes so you can laugh at people and find something to smirk about is pure evil. No one can claim this is light-hearted fun. It is the middle class calling the working class scum and spreading hatred of them on the internet. It's completely fucking disgusting."

- James mk.1


"There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well."
- Jane Austen's Elizabeth


"Free your ass and your mind will follow!"
- Hank von Helvete

Really interesting piece here blaming Jodie Foster for free-riding on publicly gay public figures' courage. There was a spate of press outings of closeted gay people in the 90s - not just from the habitually salacious tabloids, but upstanding magazines like Out. I'm missing something. I'm not libertarian by any stretch of the mind, but when did someone's sexuality become something that privacy didn't apply to?

I don't mean the pre-Stonewall sort of Outing, when it was an actually deadly smear ("sodomite!") but the public exposure of someone who hadn't identified themselves as gay. It's reported in the same register as the bastards espying their prey's pregnancies or weight gains. You might say that not being out, or taking the half-measure of letting it be known without actually saying so is hiding or being repressed, and many maybe are. But call it trying to live with dignity.

Gossip, or visibility rights struggle? All such personal exposé is undignified, whether it's OK! wedding photos or details of who one was talking to at that party-one-was-paid-to-go-to. I'd be interested to know of examples of cases in which someone was "outed" as straight; in which the reversal of the expectation about them was newsworthy? It is probably wrong that our uniform presumption is of someone's heterosexuality (even noting the 10:1 likelihood of it).

I don't think I'm just prudish when it comes to people reporting their tastes/exploits, though I'll not dignify them with the dumb attention they're often designed to attract.

We do, of course, gurn merrily when it's a pious Republican senator's hypocrisy shown up, rentboy style. But even there, do you not recoil from the malice? Politicians are fairer game than, say, actors, for some reason.

Let's grant that there is a duty (for public figures) in this homophobic moment: it doesn't follow that dragging people out is the right thing.
I suppose when it was the gay press (or rights activists, or rabid fans) they could imagine themselves liberators, surgeons on their subjects' repression. Or maybe it was more of a weird recruitment angle, trying to force the hate-sick world into normality one ass at a time. Or trying to fight invisibility. Spin magazine once tried to out Busta Rhymes, which I do concede would have been an amazing headline.

Obviously far worse than either is the US military's bullshit. "No inquisition so long as they don't act funny."

"I don't think it's any kind of secret within the music industry and within the fan base at large what my sexual preference is..... I was born with it. I don't like the word gay because I don't know what the word really means... I'm not your spokesperson, because I don't know what you're about... I do not flaunt my sexuality. I do not deny my sexuality. It is my sexuality. It is not the public's sexuality..."
- Bob Mould, more or less blackmailed Out in 1994

"It is every gay public figure's social responsibility to be out, to make life better for those without publicists and pilates teachers. Those who cry, "It's none of your business! Who cares who I sleep with?!" shirk their public duty, and deny the shame that keeps the closet door shut. Do straight people consider their orientation private?"
- Patrick Strudwick

Yes, I do. But of course my surroundings have made my 'outing' automatic, in a Gettier non-knowledge way.
Think about "closeted": denial, shame, being made to deceive. In a lot of the world, this is still what it is to be privately gay (as well as massive buckets of fear). But it also implies that 'real' homosexuality is essentially public, that it's an explicit essence that one must unleash on the world; it thus has a hangover of the old bigot's thinking, that one may know a gay person even by their non-sexual behaviour.
This creates a social role, and roles want filling, even if we have to distort ourselves to fit into them.

Public heterosexuality is made of absurd visual/behavioural stereotypes too (the most facile being that one where Straight Men are supposed to recoil from the sight of a penis; the most excellent being the loose restrictions on grooming). And iit can be source of glee that these overlap with homoerotic ideals so much. (How is a relationship with twice as many men in it supposed to be less manly?) But the straight "look" implies nothing like the Identity claim that homosexuality is bound up in.

"I was being made out to be a coward about it, rather than someone who felt like it really was a very private thing."
- Michael Stipe

Fuck, maybe not, maybe it is liberating. Bob Mould even djs house music nights these days, this instead of wailing goodly macho hardcore punk. Maybe he wouldn't have been able to swallow his irony enough if, y'know, the get-out-of-taste-free card (which is what it means to be camp (which obviously is what it means to be gay)) hadn't been pushed on him. But one day there must be a distinction between being repressed and being private.

"You cannot skip the tough part of a human rights struggle. I long for being gay to be nobody's business, to not matter, but we're a long way off. You either do your bit, and in the case of an A-list actor, that means blazing a trail for other performers, or you remain concealed, bleating about privacy."

I dunno. Maybe it is no big deal, maybe it should be treated the same as any other predicate that people want to hang their opinions off of. I'm obviously too naive for this discourse - I still don't really understand the David Laws situ. I'd thought I lived in a newer world than the one in which public figures still did this.


  1. Plenty of food for thought.
    Cheers for recalling the existence of Infoshop, by the way. It's been a while...


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