Unshared Vocabulary

Throw away the worser part of it and live the purer with the other half


Suddenly, Seymour

They call the wind Mariah.

Just a little touch of star quality.

It’s the coming home together when the work is through.

Green finch and linnet bird,  Nightingale, blackbird,  How is it you sing?

If perchance you don’t recognize these lines as lyrics to songs from Musicals then you and I don’t share that commonality. If you can name the shows those lines come from you’re quite probably a gay man. As a sub-culture, in days gone by, gays created a camp language all their own. It was a defensive technique to subtly throw straight society off the track of their social intercourse. It created an in-group coherence amongst the sub-culture. It spoke one thing to straight society and something else to gays. Think Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz: there ain’t no denyin’ he’s just a dandy-lion, or was that dandelion?

I mention all this to show how people go about their lives wearing illusions like a facade of normalcy and distort language in service to the illusion. Alt-right racists have taken up a word, “cuck” that recalls an antiquated word, “cuckold” which means a man who is embarrassed because his wife slept with another man. Now the new word cuck implies a desperate desire for acceptance. This desperation leads to a man’s  “compromise of his beliefs and values, the desecration of his dignity and self-worth, and his inability to stand up for himself and what he deserves as a human being,” or, “a person who is acting like an idiot while using their opinions as fact” according to the Urban Dictionary. Actually, I think most of them have no idea of the word’s history they simply like the fact that it is a harsher sounding version of ‘fuck’ which is a no-no in polite society. Either way, it is used within insular right-wing groups to provide commonality and in-group cohesiveness – the sharing of a secret (and really butch sounding) language.

So, the historical subculture of gays and the as yet unnamed LGBTQ community created a language that could hide in plain sight. This was often used in popular culture by gay artists. The most obvious example is one of the few remaining universally known films,The Wizard  of Oz. It is still so beloved that I once had a student rebellion in my Intro to Theatre class when I suggested the Cowardly Lion was a gay character. I had to write a new lecture identifying all the elements that were subtextual references to homosexuality in the movie. Many students remained unconvinced.

Now that Donald Trump has opened the Neo-Nazi closet door there is a flood of assertive white supremacists out there and visible. And so, cuck, is part of our language. This made me wonder if, other than say a Leni Riefenstahl, there are any famous contemporary alt-right artists? Bigotry doesn’t seem to foster the sensitivity necessary to create fine art. Sure, you’ve got your Scott Baio and Lynyrd Skynyrd types, but is there an openly racist parallel with someone of David Hockney’s or Ian McKellen’s stature in art?

An online image search for as many variations of ‘alt-right art’ or ‘white supremacist art’ as I could conceive produced little more than political posters and graphic artists with political messages. The images tended to reflect clip-art tattoos, older nazi-style propaganda or have a Bauhaus influenced graphic style. There don’t seem to be, at least I couldn’t find, any significant artists willing or motivated to convert the passions of racial or religious bigotry into fine art. Now, this does not mean there hasn’t been art that is racist. Any art that is reflective of when it is made will carry the sentiments of that time and place. This is the job of art: to express the time and place in which it is created and the relevant questions for that time and place. Art, thereby becomes a historical reflection of those times.

If painting is a language and a person paints a green frog named Pepe, as Matt Furie has done, and someone takes that language and forces it contextually to mean something he never intended, as the alt-right has done to his character, then the art is being misused and abused and its language is distorted. Only people who wish to satirize the original intent of the art would do this legitimately, otherwise they would just be stealing. Why does the alt-right steal cartoon characters? Because they have no native artistic abilities of their own. A cartoon is the indicator of their capacity to use the language of art. Sophistication is the antonym of alt-right, a word that personifies crudeness, stupidity and vulgarity. Hillary Clinton called them deplorable, a word they soon adopted as their own. What illusion is being created by the name deplorable? To them it seemed to offer credibility.

The art-stealing, deplorable crowd is making a statement by their actions. They have abandoned intellect so they have no respect for intellectual property. They are tired of being told their fears are unfounded when they can quite clearly see that our last president was black and intelligent and sophisticated; they are frightened by that. They fell for the dumbest-acting con-man in the Republican primary competition.  They took pride in illiteracy, irrationality and contrariness despite the harm it is causing them. They relied upon their evangelical religion as a guide – believe, don’t think; have faith, ignore the rational, praise the foolish and be proud of your mindlessness.

They have cast themselves as the cuckolds of this scenario, they are being screwed by their 1% partners. How could an honest artist portray self-cuckoldry without mockery? It’s just dandy to be the dandelion, but it sucks to be the self-cuck.

Any Thoughts?