Friday, May 10, 2013

The Vagina Monologues at RIC

This year I helped produce RIC's chapter of The Vagina Monologues. I acted as the script-editor, the casting director, the director, and the producer of the show and worked many hours on the creation of the show along with Feminists United. We had a cast of about 15-20 people of all walks of life and it was a fabulous experience. This year, the show spotlighted the recent rise in the numbers of violence all over the world and featured a significant global movement that was meant to include women of the world. This global movement, called One Billion Rising, was a demonstration meant to shake the world and break the silence about the violences that women across the world face. I think the show went fairly well. We had many people help with the show and about 100 people total showed up to both nights of shows. In the end, we raised about $1300 that went to a local nonprofit organization. My biggest disappointment about the show was the lack of queer issues in the script. To make up for this, we made sure the money that we raised went to a nonprofit that helped fight LGBTQ* homelessness. It's really empowering to know that you can raise money and help change the world one play at a time.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Final Project

Hey, here's our link to our Final project for those of you who are interested. Feel free to make a Tumblr account and follow us. We will still actively be blogging on the page. Queer Teens in Rebellion - Silent Letters.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Glee: It (Doesn't) Gets Better - Reflection/Hyperlink?

Ok. So here's my tiff. While we can all agree that Glee is hugely problematic, I want to take a closer look at the reasons that this show and these episodes are hugely problematic to LGBTQ youth. In doing so I'd like to discuss Individualism as it relates to Kurt and his problems. Bare with me, this might be a tangled mess of problems. Ok so first off, the audience is meant to see Kurt as a blatant homosexual kid. If we were to examine him and break his character down into boxes, he would be the stereotypical gay man who is a diva, cares about his clothing, hair, and makeup, talks only about "femme" issues (planning weddings, outfits, scarves, and high fashion), and gender bending. We see him as flamboyant, full of himself and his talents, and grabbing for attention. This is a problematic stereotype of gay men. While there are some folks who love to brag about themselves and their outfits, not all of them are painted as homosexual men. Kurt is never really given the chance to be anything but gay. He's a token, someone who is there to put some drama and some representation into the mix. If you were to ask any conscious (read: aware) person in the non-heterosexual/gender conformist spectrum, you would notice another phenomenon: NOT ALL NON-HETEROSEXUALS ARE LIKE THIS. In fact, there are very few who are. Yet the presentation of Kurt as a representative character of this group of people is not only highly problematic, but repititious. More often than not homosexuality is portrayed in media by being dominated by white gay flamboyant males, ignoring gender variants (read trans*gender folk, queer folk, agender/genderless folk), people of color, lesbian women, bisexual people, asexuals, and folks of intersex experience. Nope. We're all white, we are all masculine femmes, and we all love anal sex and blow jobs. Having Kurt represent even the smallest part of the LGBTQetc. spectrum on a show where he's the only openly gay character (I'm purposely ignoring Croftski for the moment because he represents another type of gay masculinity that I may get to later.) is irresponsible at best. Being a female-bodied, queer identifying person in a same sex romantic situation, I look at Kurt and feel happy that at least there's a non-heterosexual on the show. But then again there's no one like me. Lesbianism is a joke and something that isn't talked about unless it is for the eyes of straight males. There are no straight women begging gay men to watch them have sex. There is so little representation of LGBTQetc. clarity that it sickens me. The second thing that is really problematic with Kurt's situation is the use of this complex with Individualism. For now, we'll understand individualism is the USAmerican cultural believe that nothing is unreachable and that whether you succeed or fail in this culture, it is your own doing. Imagine this as a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" kind of moment. Individualism states that if something good happens in your life (you get a raise, for example,) it is because of something that YOU did, not the social structures that surround you. Likewise, if you don't have a job, it's your own fault because YOU weren't trying hard enough to get one. If you're on welfare, it's your own fault - not the fact that you have been systematically denied your rights to get a job. This is individualism: The belief that you are the only one responsible for what happens to you. This affects Kurt in a really twisted way. When he's being picked on my Croftski, Blaine (Darren Criss, who is absolutely fabulous and wonderful and who plays Harry Potter in A Very Potter Musical <3 <3 <3) tells Kurt to find "courage". "Courage" is the thing that is going to make him stop bullying Kurt. "Courage" is the thing that is going to make all the bad things in life stop happening to Kurt. "Courage" is the answer to his problem when he is being physically assaulted in school. "Courage" is how Kurt is going to avoid being kissed or touched in the locker room or the hallway. What a load of bullshit. Courage is the twisted little smirk of this individualism complex that runs rampant all through the show. According to Blaine, having courage to be who you are is the answer. Courage will open doors and end oppression. Courage will let us all come together in solidarity to help fight homophobia. If that were the case, I'd be fucking chock full of courage! Here's the problem: When you tell someone that a problem they are having can be fixed by them doing something about it, that is encouraging individualism. No human deserves to be bullied because they are different than the rest. With Blaine telling this to Kurt, as noble as his intentions are, it gives the viewer this understanding that Kurt's problems are the problems of all LGBTQetc. identifying people and that all they need to do is fix it for themselves. Sue Sylvester calls high school "a dry-run for the rest of your life" and says that "people are nasty." Oh. Ok. So by this logic, along with Blaine's concept of Courage, Kurt should either put up or shut up. To me as someone who is not heterosexual and can relate somewhat to Kurt, it feels very much like "It Gets Better", that popular phrase that Dan Savage created for youth who were coming out and comitting suicide. With this believe that the outsider will be assimilated and that "It Gets Better", there's this sort of false belief that people will stop being nasty after high school and that this is a temporary thing. It fuels this Courage complex that Blaine believes in, that all things can and will get better if you just pick yourself up by your bootstraps and tell your enemies what's what. In truth, it's not uncommon for this to happen to LGBTetc. youth and when they confront it, they get murdered in some alley or in some field by homophobic understanding of human nature (See: The Larame Project). But what Glee communicates to the audience is that problem is a normal problem for the LGBTQetc. community and that all those who are represented by that community should know that life sucks now but it will get better. It doesn't always get better. It is a false hope that LGBTQetc. identifying people won't have to expect unhappiness later on after high school. Or at the very least that they should just deal with it, as Sue Sylvester says. To me, this is horribly painful simply because the oppressed (LGBTQetc. community) are then put into a position where their pain is a characteristic of life, leading people to think that it's normal and there's no need to fight. Keep it under control and have the courage to be yourself. LGBTetc. youth don't need just courage. That's putting a bandaid over a broken leg. They need allies - something that Glee was sorely lacking - a no-tolerance policy for violence and bullying, safe-spaces, and basic human rights, which do NOT include Croftski forcing a kiss on Kurt. For the sake of this response, I hope that I've listed enough to make my point clear. I am extremely uncomfortable with this series and none of them are simple reasons that I can list off. There are many problems with this show and I don't like the idea that this is what teenage-hood is being depicted as. *screaming* And I'm done.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Da Fuq?



Monday, April 8, 2013

My Brother, Max Menace

Hey folks

So my brother loves music. He found underground hip hop when he was 17 and never looked back. He's had more bands and music projects than you can shake a stick at but his last one before he passed was called Max Menace, or RI Menace. He loves Rhode Island and talks about it frequently in his songs. This is a fun song, the only one that he video recorded - it's in our laundry room at our Dad's in West Warwick! (you can see the laundry basket and the washer and dryer - and an incredibly cute pitbull named Emma Marie!) He always loves when people listen to his music and since we're discussing hip hop, I can feel Eddie on my shoulder telling me to share this video and links with you. Chris has caught me a few times listening to him, so I hope you like my brother's hip hop. I'm so very proud of him and this is one of the last videos we have of him being himself before he passed.

Enjoy, Max Menace (bandcamp)

Rose's HipHop Discussions - Reflection

ooc: Ok, so I'm a little new at this whole thing (blogging). This is pretty much my first time doing something for class. My hands are shaking and I'm still a bit unsure about pretty much everything. I dunno, I figured you all should know that. I’m going to try to connect my thoughts as much as possible, but please tell me if something seems unclear. Also, I’m acknowledging that I don’t listen to hip hop often and that I’m probably not any kind of expert on anything Thanks.


I'm taking this class called Studies in African American Literature. A majority of the literature was in rhythm with this idea of the blues, especially during the days of the Harlem Renaissance. We read lots of Langston Hughes, Zora Neil Hurston, and W. E.B. DuBois, watched some piece preformed by LenaHorne and Billie Holiday. A big theme that seems to run through them all was this pattern of what Tricia Rose was referring to as "decline and despair". And while she was referring to the white exodus in the post-world war days, I'm going to make the argument that it is at least related to this concept of The Blues. While just like all things change, this concept of decline and despair, which has been a sort of underlying motive of the Blues movement, can be applied still to this very day for the "underground" hip hop.


We always talk about America being a melting pot (and from this point on, I’m going to be talking about strictly USAmerican culture, as I’m not any kind of fool to try to generalize hip hop in other countries to that of USA). Many USAmericans feel as though our culture is a mix of all different types of culture from all around the world. Capitalism plays a big part in this. I think because we have this sense of American Capitalism that the cultural products things that enter or emerge in this country are constantly viewed as having potential to be this sort of marketed product. Hip hop (in my opinion), growing out of what I call The Blues Culture, is no different than any other cultural product marketable in America. While the commercialization of hip hop is great for the makers of money, there is still a huge gap between those who listen to hip hop and those understand and make hip hop. This was part of Rose’s point in both of the pieces. This commercialization of what was once the improvisation of hip hop has not only left hip hop close to dead, but is also helping to perpetuate this stereotypic vision of rappers and hip hop. The author describes that “There's a long history of a particular pleasure in consuming the ideas of black-ghetto-excess dysfunction…this idea that a certain kind of sexual deviance or violent behavior defines black culture has had a huge market in commercial mainstream culture…” Rose argues that because we as USAmericans share mass media and pop culture, the images that people understand and are faced with are the repetitive images of the stereotypic rapper. She goes forward to infer that this “black-ghetto-excess dysfunction” that turns the once-unique hip-hop which grew out of The Blues (again, my argument) of the Harlem Renaissance into this stereotypical, marketable, mass-produced and disingenuous-to-its-roots marketable product.



Sunday, March 24, 2013

Edmund D. Carlson, Jr.

For those of you who don't know, this is my brother, Ed Carlson. He died Saturday, March 16th. He was 25, three years older than me. I just figured I'd let you all know. This is why I've been kinda... whatever... in class lately. I haven't blogged anything either. It's a bit hard to function right now, so yeah. Patience and all that. Thanks for your understanding, especially to Chris and Dr. Bogad.