Soap Box 8: Things that bugged me in February

Oh February, Y U SO Cold? I actually got ill this month even though I hardly ever get ill (I am a very sickly person in general but I hardly ever get ill, give it up for my bad health but strong immune system!). There were actually a lot of things to get mad about, so as usual, I picked mostly things that don’t involve war and genocide because it’s super difficult to write about those things and still work in puns and funny music videos. So we got mistreated “Fag Hags” ( I hate that word), Musical-Adaptions that put the “Karaoke-Night” in “Musical”, Ellen Page’s coming out and people being outlandishly dickish about it and another one of Germany’s issues with race-related entertainment. Ah, when will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?

You might think that I posted this ironically but I totally rock out to this song on a regular basis. Because I too was born like a hobo to walk alone – how can you not love these lyrics?

1. Misogyny from unexpected places

I read this article about some misogynistic tendencies in certain areas of gay culture and it is very long but also very good (it also links to less long but equally good articles). It’s also the kind of article that can raise one hell of a shitstorm in any given discussion. It’s about a worrisome tendency of some (not all and by far not the majority) gay men to treat women like objects, touch their butts and boobies (because it’s not sexual, therefore ok?) and comment on their looks and outfits without being asked to do so whilst using words like “bitch”, “slut” and whatnot. Oh, it’s so cute, because they are gay, so shut up, you dirty whore – just kidding, I love you!

I know tons of great gay guys but I unfortunately also had my share of very uncomfortable situations with gay guys that felt that touching women without their consent is acceptable. I never really thought about the possibility that it could be more than some assholes with boundary-issues but the points made in the article make sense (again, not for all and by far not for the majority of gay men). Now, this is not about condemning the gay community and this is also not about playing down many straight women treating their gay friends like accessories (I truly hate that, because gays really don’t go well with sneakers if you ask me). It’s about realizing that sometimes, certain negative behavioral patterns towards one minority can become so ingrained that they turn into tropes that make it to literature and TV and therefore get reinforced over and over again until it is seemingly okay for a gay designer to grab an actress’ boobs in front of the camera without one ounce of shame (oh, and there should be shame all over the place).

“We encourage that”? Yeah, maybe you do, but I most certainly do not encourage a random guy to honk my tooters, so if you have to flail your inane crap around, don’t generalize, you stinky slut – just kidding, I love you!

However, it also helps me personally to reassess how I might behave negatively towards groups of people without even noticing it as I am sure that many boob-grabbing-gay-guys might not be aware how uncomfortable it is for most women to be boob-grabbed whether it is for sexual reasons or not (I prefer being asked about my most embarrassing moment by a person I never met before to be honest). Our human mind works well with behavioral patterns based on stereotypes but sometimes they can take an ugly turn. Unfortunately, even being a woman and therefore knowing how certain prejudices can make life harder, doesn’t keep you from having prejudices against other people (like, what’s up with tall people? What is their deal?).

However, this is just rude. What a dirty dickhead – just kidding, love you, Randy!

2. “Into the Woods” – Into the bad singers category

Of course it makes sense that you go for big-name actors and actresses if you film a musical because even popular musicals are not really THAT popular, so you need some star power to curb up the media machine. But can people please stop casting actors who simply can’t sing just because they are – ahem – good actors? Didn’t we already suffer enough when Meryl Streep butchered ABBA, didn’t we cringe in our seats when Johnny Depp pretended that he was a gritty singer, even though he was just mumbling through his lines in “Sweeney Todd”? And didn’t Russell Crowe’s failed attempt at a music career show that he shouldn’ be cast in a musical as high profile as “Les Miserables”?

Oh hey, what a great voice. It’s humorous, sinister and sounds like you would want a voice to sound if you’ve came to see a musical

Oh hey, what a great look this movie has, I sure will enjoy it. That boy can sing, that’s awesome, I will surely…urgh, what is that weird creeky sound? Is that Johnny Depp? That’s not nice. Maybe he’ll get better? Nope, nope, he won’t. That’s a shame. Want a comparison?

Oooh, so the leading part of this musical actually was supposed to be a good singer. I didn’t know that…

Look, I get that you might want to have good and known actors but I know for a fact that there are hundreds of amazing and known actors and actresses out there who also have a musical education and first and foremost – have voices that actually please the ear. Heck, casting Anna Kendricks as “Rapunzel” is brilliant but why casting Johnny Depp in a role that was originally played by a perfect deep and rich voice? And why cast Meryl Streep in the role that was originally mastered by the dame of Broadway aka Bernadette Peters?

Hey, this is nice. There is so much emotion in that singing and because Bernadette is a trained singer, the vocals themselves don’t suffer from the acting.

Hey, this is nice. That’s exactly, how my mom and I sound after two bottles of wine with our hairbrushes as microphones. Now guess, which of these two songs I would like to hear in a movie?

It’s a real shame because it shows that the producers don’t really get what a musical is about. Sure, it’s about acting and Meryl will do one hell of a job with the wicked witch. But she will come nowhere close to Peter’s vocal abilities and the music is a big part which is why a long kept tradition of musical animations is having a trained singer (e.g. Idina Menzel for “Ella” in “Frozen”) for certain roles. It’s a bloody musical, not a movie with a bad Karaoke-Night-feature.

Let it go, Hollywood, let Meryl and Johnny go!

3. Ellen Page comes out and people are being dicks about it

So, it might appear like an epidemic of stars coming out of the closet right and left but believe me, it’s actually not that many (especially not in Germany). So, when Ellen Page came out and was all teary-eyed and brave* and amazing as she always is, I swallowed back my womanly tears and thought that surely no one could ruin this – and then I turned on the internet (that’s a lie – my internet is always running).

So, there are many horrible people saying horrible stuff about it but because we don’t have all day, I just pick one, deal with that and ignore the rest like I would ignore toxic waste in a lake that is a little too close to my drinking water-system – weary and suspicious.

Ok, here it comes: “D’uh, of course, she is gay, everyone knew that.”

How? How did everyone know that? How can anyone know someone’s sexuality if they don’t see them snogging their respective partner or say that they are straight/gay/bisexual/asexual? How?

I really fail to see it and if anyone wants to tell me that Ellen’s mannerisms, her style and her friends are any indication of her sexuality, then please tell my parents and friends so they can stage an intervention for me because even though I am convinced that I am into guys, I must be totally into women instead (heck, I even cut my hair short, I guess that says it all). You know, part of the fun nowadays should be, that everyone can be as masculine or feminine as they like to be without other people thinking about their sex-life (I mean, it is a little pervy of you, if I talk about horror movies and comics and you immediately imagine that I have sex with women).

*By the way, I know very well that it still is easier to come out in Hollywood than in the NFL, the UFA or most political environments (let alone countries were coming out equals a prison sentence if you’re lucky).

4. Germany! Get your shit together!

I hardly watch any German TV because it is really bad. Ok, that’s not true, it can be good but the good parts air late at night or during the week at 10am which is a time that I usually spend at work, reading gossip magazines and clicking through endless pictures of Lady Gaga dressed as a chicken, a muppet or a Hedron-collider. But apart from those “Where is Waldo”-quality-shows, most of German TV is really bad. Especially the one show that even made international news because it forces its guests to sit on a couch for more than three hours (I am not kidding, Tom Hanks joked about it and Robbie Williams complained about it).

Now, it’s worse enough to be a guest there and basically being paid to endure all this for three hours but I’ll be damned if I sit at home and watch this drab without even getting paid! And that’s why I really missed this (tune in at 2:38 and watch in horror):

And yes, it is exactly what it looks like even if I really wished it to be something else when I saw the pictures. So, this is a so-called “Audience Bet” when the whole audience (especially those at home that live close to the studio of doom) has to come to the studio to do something stupid, in this case dressing up as beloved children’s characters Jim Knopf and Lukas one of which is – you guessed it – black. The original characters were part of a few novels and a marionette-show.

Erm, ok, I guess Jim Knopf’s design wasn’t that sensitive to begin with…

The real problem was that the hosts asked people to do blackface, yes, they really did. They said that part of the costume for Jim should be covering the face with soot or shoe-polish and no, I am not kidding nor exaggerating. Some smart bloggers mentioned that there are numerous things wrong with it, particularly the fact that none of the hosts seemed to think that any of the participants could potentially be a.) recognizable as a cartoonish character without blackface and b.) actually black and therefore in no need of simply insulting means to appear as black.

I mean, how many incredibly daft people have to work in this place to not have one single person say: “Dudes, I watched this documentary on the History Channel and I think blackface might be a little, tiny weeny bit insulting, so better not let a big group of people with black smears on their face into the studio of one of the most watched TV-shows in Germany? Guys?”


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