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New Media We Recommend

October 27, 2011

Below is a list of new materials that we have read/watched in recent weeks. The comments are not a “review” of the material, instead sort of an endorsement of ideas and investigations that can provide solid analysis and even inspiration in the struggle for change. All these items are available at The Bloom Collective, so check them out and stimulate your mind.

That’s Revolting: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation, edited by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore – That’s Revolting shows us what the new queer resistance looks like. The collection is a fistful of rocks to throw at the glass house of Gaylandia. That’s Revolting uses queer identity and struggle as a starting point from which to reframe, reclaim, and re-shape the world. The collection challenges the commercialized, commodified, and hyper-objectified view of gay/queer identity projected by the mainstream (straight and gay) media by exploring queer struggles to transform gender, revolutionize sexuality, and build community/family outside of traditional models. A fabulous collection of articles and interviews. Highly recommended.

Will the Last Reporter Please Turn Out the Lights: The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done to Fix It, edited by Robert McChesney – In Will the Last Reporter Please Turn out the Lights, media analysts Robert W. McChesney and Victor Pickard have assembled thirty-two illuminating pieces on the crisis in journalism, revised and updated for this volume. Featuring some of today’s most incisive and influential commentators, this comprehensive collection contextualizes the predicament faced by the news media industry through a concise history of modern journalism, a hard-hitting analysis of the structural and financial causes of news media’s sudden collapse, and deeply informed proposals for how the vital role of journalism might be rescued from impending disaster.

The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times, by Carol Deppe – The Resilient Gardener is both a conceptual and a hands-on gardening book, and is suitable for gardeners at all levels of experience. Resilience here is broadly conceived and encompasses a full range of problems, from personal hard times such as injuries, family crises, financial problems, health problems, and special dietary needs (gluten intolerance, food allergies, carbohydrate sensitivity, and a need for weight control) to serious regional and global disasters and climate change. It is a supremely optimistic as well as realistic book about how resilient gardeners and their gardens can flourish even in challenging times and help their communities to survive and thrive through everything that comes their way — from tomorrow through the next thousand years.

Life in Occupied Palestine (DVD) In Life in Occupied Palestine, Anna Baltzer, a graduate of Columbia University and the Jewish-American granddaughter of Holocaust refugees, documents her experience as a volunteer with the International Women’s Peace Service in the West Bank. Baltzer provides a straightforward account of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while chronicling the almost unbearable living conditions of Palestinians under the Occupation. 

10 Comments leave one →
  1. kswheeler permalink
    October 27, 2011 12:55 pm

    “The collection is a fistful of rocks to throw at the glass house of Gaylandia.”

    Great. And let’s make sure we also throw some rocks and bottles at the feminists of the 1960s, who were fired for protesting against unequal pay, domestic abuse that was winked at in court, and being forced to quit their jobs if they became pregnant, because they’re like, so Old School now.

    And let’s be sure to get out the firehoses and give a good dousing to those civil rghts pioneers of the 1950s who were lynched, beaten, imprisoned, tortured, and hounded for wanting to ist in the same soda fountain and bus seats and White folks. How many times do we have to listen to THAT crap in school? Booorrrring. We’re past that.

    We’re so incredibly, marvelously hip ourselves that we can make fun of the very people WHO MADE OUR QUEER MOVEMENT POSSIBLE. They’re old. It doesn’t matter that they were arrested, killed, beaten, humiliated, made into comic icons, and had to hide their sexual identities for decades. Who cares? We’re the cutting edge. We’re radical. We should get all the attention. Who needs THEM?

    Jesus. I’m so sick of this crap. Can you tell?

  2. October 27, 2011 2:02 pm

    kswheeler,

    Your anger comes across very well but I’m confused. What exactly are you angry about? Perhaps you have another list to add to Jeff’s? That’s the trouble with anger. Sometimes it obscures the issue.

  3. kswheeler permalink
    October 27, 2011 2:32 pm

    Patricia, my anger is about rejecting the activists of the past and their sacrifices when new movements like Queer Theory (or the radical part of any social justice movement) comes along.

    Sure, there are some rights for which “mainstream” LGBT people are advocating which I don’t support–like making the decision to go into the military, as just one example. But I don’t believe that sneering at the majority of LGBT people by referring to them or what they want as “Gaylandia” shows any respect for the progress they have contributed in their civil rights work.

    Queer Theory is a radical philosophy, but I also feel that about 80 percent of the people who abscribe to it or support it will soon be wanting a lot of the exact things that the older members of their community want. For example, if two women who have been together for 30 years want to get married so if one of them gets sick, the other can stay in the hospital with her, what exactly is wrong with that?

    Some Queer Theory advocates are truly radical and pushing forward some remarkable ideas. Others are just involved because it makes them look young, hip, and trend-oriented. I don’t think it should be supported above everything that’s gone before, by rejecting everything that has been done in the past. Their ideas would not be possible if they weren’t standing on a foundation that others built for them.

  4. October 27, 2011 2:43 pm

    Just as a word of clarification, the Queer activists who’s voices are heard in the collection of essays in no way is dismissive of previous struggles. In fact, they see their analysis and struggle as a continuation of the feminist, civil rights and other recent movement. What Queer activists are calling attention to in this collection of essays and interviews are the reality that many trans and queer youth face – constantly bullying in schools, abuse by cops and the prison system, racial discrimination, rape and many other realities that are often ignored or downplayed by progressive groups. I for one am grateful for their voices and have had my own privileges challenged.

  5. kswheeler permalink
    October 27, 2011 6:01 pm

    Jeff, even the *term* “Gaylandia” is offensive. And from what I’ve read (I realize you are much better read in this area than I am). and from what my LGBT friends have told me, Queer Theorists do not embrace the feminism that supports essentialism…they support prostitution, which is demeaning slavery…they support the free exchange of pornography (ditto)…they believe they have the ability to switch back and forth from gay to straight, which encourages the radical right-wing garbage that non-straight sexual identity can be “cured”…They consider LGBT marriage, which I addressed above,to be a goal to be ridiculed.

    Some of that goes directly against what feminists have been fighting for/against for decades. I can’t speak directly to their feelings about the civil rights movement.

    Again, I’m not saying that I’m opposed to all of the ideas that Queer Theory presents–far from it. But I find some of their stances to be offensive, and others based on what I believe is wishful thinking.

    I also think that it’s damaging to disparage and mock the very people who have made it safer for them to be open with their thoughts and opinions. What they’re doing would have been literally impossible in the 1950s. It’s a little like a young woman in the workplace today saying, “God, no, I’m not a feminist” when she’s 8 months pregnant and still working–something that would have been impossible prior to the feminist movement of the 60s.

  6. October 27, 2011 6:35 pm

    Kate, the best thing I can recommend is to read the book to see exactly what people are articulating. As is the case in any movement there is no consensus and my experience and my read of those who identify as Queer as been very engaging and challenging.

    When people say things like Gaylandia they are referring to the work of groups like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) that not only has sold its soul to corporate America – having corporate partners such as BP and AT&T, but because HRC caters to donors with deep pockets and has tied their horse to the Democratic Party.

    I don’t agree with everything that I read in the book, as is the case with most of the material I recommend. The point of the recommendations is that these are materials that I think deserve some attention to challenge how we all think and understand complex issues.

    I remember once when I recommended a documentary about Dietrich Bonhoeffer and you didn’t agree with his role in the attempted assassination of Hitler. My recommending the DVD was not to say we should all agree that killing Hitler was a justified tactic, it was to expose people to this history and the various ways that people have responded to oppression.

  7. kswheeler permalink
    October 27, 2011 7:10 pm

    Um…since some members of my family worked WITH Bonhoeffer in the Abwehr to plan 15 of those assassination attempts of Hitler, and were executed as a consequence, I really doubt I said that I didn’t agree with his role in those attempts, or that there was anything wrong in attempting to assassinate Hitler. In fact, Bonhoeffer was executed on the same day with one of my great-uncles at Flossenburg concentration camp.

    I understand that you’re not necessarily promoting everything in the book. My response was to put forward those parts of Queer Theory that I find alienating and wrong. I also think that much of what I’ve read myself to be liberating and mind-expanding. I have read several of the essays in the book, but I’ve also had several long talks with friends of mine in “Gaylandia,” and their take on this has given me a second perspective that colors what I read and how I react. And I don’t believe that anything I’ve read about Queer Theory supports or extends feminism; in fact, I think it is diametrically opposed to much of what feminists have been working for decades to repair in our society.

    Thanks for your answer, Jeff, and Patricia–thanks for asking me about my off-the-cuff reaction. I appreciate your interest.

  8. October 27, 2011 7:24 pm

    If I mis-spoke on the Bonhoeffer DVD recommendation then my bad. As to the point about Queer activists not extending feminism I would have to disagree. There is no consensus even within feminism on issues like sex trafficking and sex workers. I for one am not in favor of anyone selling their bodies, but feminists are not all in agreement on this issue and it would be inaccurate to say they are. Many feminists of color have for decades challenged mainstream feminism on their own privilege and that has been extremely important to push our collective understanding of feminism to new levels. It also underscores that there is no consensus on all feminist principles. but an ongoing dialogue about what feminism really means……a dialogue I find exciting and important even if I don’t agree with everyone.

    You also don’t address the point about those in the mainstream LGBT movement that have attached themselves to corporate America and the Democratic Party, both of which are part of the 1%. These are serious issues that some Queer activists have challenged. When we interviewed Queer Activist Thomas Wick a few weeks ago on GRIID, I was impressed with not only his understanding of issues but his commitment to challenging oppression, so again I think it is important to acknowledge that some Queer activists are doing extremely important work, like fighting religious/homophobia/transphobic extremists.

    Again, there is no homogenous representation of those who identify as Queer, just as there are none for those who identify as LGBT, but I found the essays worthy of generating dialogue just like this one.

  9. kswheeler permalink
    October 27, 2011 8:53 pm

    Jeff, I appreciate the dialogue too–as always.

    Re: Bonhoeffer, I believe I said that Christian anarchists were still debating if Bonhoeffer’s decision to work toward assassinating Hitler was justified. I tend to advocate for non-violence rather than violence, so I too find my support of my family’s work to be at odds with that stance. Although I feel on a gut level that in some cases–Hitler being one; the fighting against dictators in general (such as in Central America) to be another–that violence is necessary, I also feel it should be employed as a last resort, as opposed to an initial reaction.

    And you’re right; I didn’t address LGBT financial support of either party (there are LGBT conservatives as well), or of their financial participation in corporate America. I know that Queer Theorists oppose that, as would I. As I said, there are plenty of their stances with which I agree.

    But, as with any radical movement, I find exclusion to be counter-productive and inclusion to be desirable. And that, I feel, is my major objection to QT, from the outside looking in.

  10. October 28, 2011 2:31 pm

    Well, not being a part of the gay community I am not well informed on most of these things. thank you both for your postings here. It did explain the issues well. Peace.

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