Republicans really are that nasty

The only way Republicans can win elections is by a) picking a repressed minority, b) ginning up some horrific, imaginary reason accusing them of destroying all of culture, and c) profit. In case you haven’t noticed, their current target is trans folk. It’s so blatant it’s dismaying that more people haven’t yet figured out they’re being played.

And so Republicans have conjured a new existential threat, targeting trans people, a tiny segment of the population that is nevertheless the subject of full-blown panic. Earlier forays into anti-trans politics resulted in a backlash, with North Carolina’s infamous 2016 “bathroom bill” being repealed. But Republicans have since redoubled their efforts, with a particular emphasis on “protecting” children, a familiar echo of their opposition to the civil rights of gay Americans.

Republican legislators in Arkansas just passed a ban on gender-affirming medical care for trans youth, overriding the governor’s veto, and Alabama is on the verge of passing a similar ban. Republican legislators in North Carolina have proposed legislation that would go further, forcing state employees to immediately notify parents in writing if a child displays “gender nonconformity,” forcing public workers to act as gender cops. A Texas proposal would label gender-affirming care a form of child abuse and separate trans children from parents who helped them secure it. More such proposals are sure to follow, as Republicans indulge the moral panic about trans identity, hoping to reap the benefits of once again forcing Democrats to defend the civil rights of a small community that lacks the numbers to outvote them.

Keep that in mind for the future. Republicans are always looking for a scapegoat.


  1. kathleenzielinski says

    It is one thing to take the position, as I do, that minors may not be ready to make life altering decisions, including gender reassignment surgery, and therefore significant checks and balances need to be in place before a minor actually has gender reassignment surgery.

    It is another thing altogether to say that medical decisions need to be taken out of the hands of doctors and patients altogether and instead just have the state impose religious ideology on everyone. Because that’s what so-called small government Republicans are doing: This isn’t about good medicine or bad medicine; it’s about imposing religious values on other people. If they thought they could get away with banning gender reassignment surgery for adults, they’d do that too.

  2. raven says

    Republicans are always looking for a scapegoat.

    While true, that doesn’t capture their whole method of operation.
    They are always looking for new scapegoats.
    They never let go of their old scapegoats!!!

    This includes nonwhites especially Blacks, women, LGBTQ’s, the educated, progressives, scientists, evolution, Keynesian economics, nonxians, the wrong kind of xians, atheists, Yankees, children, and I’m sure I’m leaving some of their hate targets out.

  3. larrylyons says

    Reich Wing Nutters always need a demon. If they don’t have one they will invent one. Case in point here.

  4. raven says

    Republican legislators in Arkansas just passed a ban on gender-affirming medical care for trans youth, overriding the governor’s veto, and Alabama is on the verge of passing a similar ban.

    This is uneducated backwoods hicks legislating how medical care is practiced.
    Something they have no training or expertise in.

    I keep thinking these sorts of laws must be unconstitutional but I can’t see exactly where they are.
    IIRC, they are being challenged by the ACLU and others.

    They are also not all that effective.
    Nothing prevents people from traveling out of Arkansas into the real world for medical care.

  5. Aoife_b says

    Luckily no one does gender confirmation surgery on minors. You know what group of kids does get nonconsensual surgery?
    Intersex kids.
    Guess who the current crop of bills says it’s ok to do surgeries on?

  6. Who Cares says

    The point isn’t to put up legislation that is actually constitutional and/or enforceable. It is theater for the people they expect hold values opposite of what they are ‘banning’ so that they keep voting for them. And failure of the legislation, preferably because it is being declared unconstitutional, is the preferred outcome since that allows them to start up the outrage promotion on how [insert enemy du jour here] is trying to destroy the voters lives, livelihood, etc., which should net the politicians that started the cycle more votes.

  7. numerobis says

    kathleenzielinski: gender-affirming care for minors isn’t reassignment surgery. It’s puberty blockers.

    Banning gender-affirming care means they suffer irreversible changes.

  8. kathleenzielinski says

    Numerobis, No. 9, right, but I was talking specifically about surgery. I do favor giving puberty blockers to minors when medically appropriate. I don’t favor the state banning either.

  9. kathleenzielinski says

    Salty Current: I just said I support puberty blockers, and gender reassignment surgery so long as there are checks and balances. Whom exactly is hurt by that?

    I’m mostly in agreement with everyone else here on most trans issues with one or two areas in which I would draw the line at a slightly different place. Why the hostility to someone who mostly agrees with you?

  10. =8)-DX says

    @kathleenzielinski #2 etc.
    Literally nobody is proposing gender reassignment surgery on children or minors, nor is it being done, nor is it legal in most places. In fact this scaremongering talking point shared by terfs and christian fundamentalists alike is not “another thing altogether”, it has directly fed into the current anti-trans panic talking about “protecting the children”.

    Your concern about this issue and importance of “checks and balances” may be sincere, but you’ve actually just been duped by transphobes – once again nobody is proposing that nor is it being done and any “concerns” voiced in that area are spreading misinformation and contributing to the actual problems, which are lack of properly trained professionals, gender clinics and resources, puberty blockers, protections for trans children with unsupportive parents and equal rights for both trans adults and kids.

    Adults have full bodily autonomy, so there the issue is more about cost (coverage under health insurance), any “checks and balances” on adult transition would literally be the “state impos[ing] religious ideology” you said you don’t want.

    The very reason the worst bigots are using trans issues as a WEDGE, is to divide the left from the centre (as well as energise their base). Don’t believe their lies.

  11. kathleenzielinski says

    =8)-DX, I would actually be OK with gender reassignment surgery on minors in some circumstances. I just want to be sure there’s a process in place ensure that it’s a well informed, well thought out decision that won’t be regretted in ten years. So if it isn’t happening now, then I’m actually to the left of the status quo, which makes Salty Current’s reaction to me even more curious.

    You are absolutely right that there are some on the right who are making it sound like any six year old on a whim can get surgery, and of course that’s nonsense. I think it is possible to say BOTH that right wing fearmongering is just that, AND ALSO that to the extent gender reassignment surgery on minors is or becomes a thing, there needs to be a system in place to protect kids from making bad decisions.

    And I don’t view it as that different from a minor having an abortion, which can also be a life changing decision. If a minor wants an abortion, she can get one, even if her parents don’t approve (or don’t know). She just has to go through a process to ensure that it’s the right decision for her.

  12. vucodlak says

    Who is being played? Not Republican voters, certainly- hurting people they’ve identified as an Other is what they live for, and that’s what Republican politicians are doing.

  13. microraptor says

    @14: If you really want to convince us of your sincerity, try actually educating yourself on the process of transitioning instead of coming here and treating scaremongering whataboutism as if it’s got any sort of credibility. It’s a long and arduous process for an adult to get approved for gender reassignment surgery in the US, the idea that it might somehow become routine for children is wildly unrealistic- it’s like being worried that we might be too successful at lowering atmospheric CO2 levels and inadvertently cause a new ice age.

  14. says

    Republican legislators in North Carolina have proposed legislation that would go further, forcing state employees to immediately notify parents in writing if a child displays “gender nonconformity,” forcing public workers to act as gender cops.

    It’s striking how explicitly this is a backlash to recent developments. Back in 2015 I wrote about the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Title IX guidance issued that year, which read in part:

    Title IX’s sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity and OCR accepts such complaints for investigation.

    It also prohibits gender‐based harassment, which may include acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex‐stereotyping. Thus, it can be sex discrimination if students are harassed either for exhibiting what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic for their sex, or for failing to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity.

    I argued then that this was being presented in the media too narrowly – as a victory/protection for trans people, when really it was a victory/protection for everyone. Likewise, the proposed legislation in NC is largely being framed as a threat to trans people when it’s a threat to everyone. (Which means it’s yet another instance in which anti-trans bigots who call themselves feminists could potentially recognize how this is all of a piece and how their bigotry puts them at greater risk….)

  15. kathleenzielinski says

    Microraptor, No. 16, of course it is unrealistic that it might become routine for children, we all agree on that, so I’m not really sure what we’re arguing about. All I’ve said is that to the extent it happens it needs to have checks and balances.

    But there is a dynamic going on that I’ve never understood, and maybe someone can explain it to me. Suppose there are two groups of religionists — Christians, Muslims, take your pick — who mostly agree with one another, but there is a single point of theology on which they differ. Are they going to consider one another allies? Nope, they’re going to consider one another to be heretics. They may send suicide bombers into each other’s worship services. They will anathematize and damn each other to hell. Even though, to the rest of us, their beliefs appear to be near identical.

    We seem to have a similar dynamic on the left. “I’m in agreement with you 95% of the time” doesn’t make me an ally; it makes me a heretic. It places my motives, and my sincerity, in question.

    Well, maybe the right is kicking our butts because we’re too busy mowing each other down in a circular firing squad. OK, so on a specific issue, I draw a line at a different place than you do. Reasonable minds can differ.

  16. Reginald Selkirk says

    It’s so blatant it’s dismaying that more people haven’t yet figured out they’re being played.

    They want to be played. “Please, tell us whom we can hate next!”

  17. brucegee1962 says

    I’ve been in your shoes before — feeling castigated by fellow leftists for what seemed to me to be a minor disagreement, resentful that I thought I was part of a united front, then being persecuted for what seemed to me to be a minor disagreement.
    However, in this case (and probably often in cases where I felt as you do as well), I think that what you’re experiencing is not that people are upset with you about your opinion (which, as you say, probably doesn’t differ much from anyone else’s here). Rather, it is that you’ve developed an opinion about an issue that is life-or-death to some people without bothering to educate yourself first — particularly reading up on the experiences of trans people (many of whom can be followed right here on FtB!)
    Again, I have been guilty of this often myself, but I’m trying to get better.

  18. says

    Apologies! I linked to the wrong thread @ #11. I was thinking of this one.

    Here’s kathleenzielinski’s shtick: Toss out an ignorant opinion or “concern” with embedded anti-trans tropes. Largely ignore substantive responses providing facts and links to resources. Focus on more hostile responses, demanding to be told “why that’s so outrageous” or “why that makes me an enemy.” Whine. Await the next relevant thread for a reprise.

  19. specialffrog says

    @ kathleenzielinski: people here have repeatedly pointed out why and how what you are doing is harmful. You can say, “no it isn’t” if you want but you can’t really pretend not to know.

  20. lanir says

    In the US we have incredibly dishonest dom voyeurs. They’re really, really terrible at being doms, too. They don’t bother to get to know the people they want to be dominant over and they don’t even give a thought to consent. Which I think makes them really bad voyeurs as well.

    How do you know this is true? Well… They’re very concerned about genitalia. Everyone’s genitalia. What it looks like. How they’re using it. Whether it fits with fairly arbitrary cultural ideas about how people who have that sort of genitalia think/act/have sex/give birth/etc. It’s almost as if the only data point they have about vast swathes of humanity is all wrapped up in their rigid perceptions of genitalia.

    And they get off on dominating people who might have different ideas about what to do with their own genitalia. They get off on it in public too, which is sort of odd for people who think everyone else should be shamed into only expressing their kinks in private.

    What’s their excuse? “My deity of choice is also a rapey lying dom voyeur and I’m just taking inspiration from the divine. So don’t blame me, blame my deity.”

    We have a name for these people, too. We call them republicans.

  21. oddie says

    GOP new strategy is reaching for victory standing atop a pile of dead children. Anything to get an edge..,

  22. raven says

    Death Race 2000 bill:
    Oklahoma legislature passes bill protecting drivers who hit protesters

    Isn’t Oklahoma run by fundie xians who claim to be pro-life?

    Oh well, we knew decades ago that their self described name was a lie.
    WWJRO, Who Would Jesus Run Over?

  23. microraptor says

    @18: We’re arguing because you came in here, repeated some transphobic talking points, claimed ignorance, and the tried to cast yourself as the real victim. You’re ignoring what actual transgender people are telling you in favor of promoting fictional narratives that at best are because you don’t understand the situation and at worse are deliberate sea lioning.

  24. says

    In case you haven’t noticed, their current target is trans folk.

    Since when have they:

    1) Had only one scapegoat

    2) Abandoned any of the previous scapegoats (black people, gay people, asian people, muslims, latinos, etc.)

  25. kathleenzielinski says

    Microraptor, right, when I said that trans youth should have access to puberty blockers, and perhaps even gender reassignment surgery assuming precautions are in place, those are just transphobic talking points. Who other than a total transphobe would think that trans youth should have access to puberty blockers and gender reassignment surgery?

    The problem with playing the bigot card — as in, you disagree with me so you’re just a hateful bigot — is that, as with the boy who cried wolf, eventually people just stop paying attention. I once had a housemate who, whenever the subject of how badly the Israelis treat the Palestinians came up, simply responded by calling us a bunch of anti-semites, and to the same effect that your accusations of transphobia have. If calling people you disagree with bigots is really all you have, well, OK.

  26. dangerousbeans says

    @kathleenzielinski you’re clearly being disingenuous here, if you’re initial post were a sincere misunderstanding you wouldn’t still be going on about this. stop being a troll.

    don’t worry, if republicans are successful in targeting us trans people they’ll start targeting cis women and queer people next.

  27. Silentbob says

    @ kathleenzielinski

    Oh hey kathleenzielinski, long time no transphobia.

    So any “people with penises” trying to make you date them lately, or have you excluded them from “women’s social groups” because a lack of “common life experiences”?

    Oh sorry to interrupt. You we’re telling us how you’re not necessarily opposed to the surgery on children you just made up that never actually happens…

  28. says

    @29 j. k. zielinski

    I was sort of seeing your point about how you’d changed some of your tune right up until the “Be nice to me or I won’t be an ally” whining there at #29. If you were going to bother to be an ally, do it because it’s the right thing to do, not because you think you’re being so magnanimous. Fuck your cookies.

  29. Silentbob says

    Sarcasm aside, the situation is really serious.

    The GOP’s latest culture war is focused squarely on the nation’s transgender community, specifically transgender youth. [… ] in the wake of Trump’s humiliating electoral loss, Republicans have accelerated the state-level attacks to a breathtaking level. In just the first three months of 2021, GOP-led state legislatures introduced more bills aimed at transgender people, especially youth, than they did over the entire previous year. There are now more than 80 bills introduced this year alone that, according to Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, “are not addressing any real problem, and they’re not being requested by constituents. Rather, this effort is being driven by national far-right organizations attempting to score political points by sowing fear and hate.”

    Fuck TERFists/Trumpists who laid the groundwork for this. And it’s not just the US. I know of trans people in the UK who are sufficiently scared to be making plans to seek asylum in another country.

  30. microraptor says

    @29: We can see your entire posting history. You’re not going to fool us by trying to pretend that you didn’t say things that you actually did. You’re not an ally, you just pretend to be one.

  31. dean44 says

    One day, when we die, we will have to face a holy a righteous God who will judge us for our sins. Repent (turn from) your sins and put your trust in Christ. His perfect life, His sacrificial death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead. With Love.

  32. says

    Wait, is dean44 sarcastically supporting pharyngulites? Non-sarcastically trolling us? Sarcastically trolling us? Non-sarcastically trying to “inform” us of a Christian tenet of which everyone on this website is aware because they’re convinced that we don’t actually know what Christians believe?

    Why would anyone post such pap? You have to be pretty fucking stupid to think that other people haven’t heard that Christians believe in a savior god who wants faith and repentance. You’d have to be pretty fucking arrogant if you knew that everyone knew what you’re saying already but thought that your repetition of this tripe would magically transform others into idolators ready to worship at the base of a crucifix.

    I mean, seriously, how fucked up do you have to be to think that those words have any point at all? The only non-stupid possibility I can come up with is that dean44 is being sarcastic and actually trying to make a point about the anti-evidence positions of anti-trans folk? But even if that’s not an entirely stupid point to make, the well-hidden nature of such satire (presuming it exists) makes it hilariously stupid in its execution.

    Ah, well. Nice try, dean44. Better luck in the afterlife.

  33. captainjack says

    Seems to me dean44 is collecting Jesus points. The more annoying fundegelicals are, the higher their score.

  34. chrislawson says


    The proof of your trolling is that you launched into this topic with the same old miserable schtick, even though it was irrelevant to the topic. What does your crude and insensitive belief about surgery for young trans people have to do with any of the Republican bills mentioned in the OP? Nothing. “Oh you’re concerned about Republicans making it mandatory for teachers to report any signs of gender nonconformity and redefining gender-affirming parental care as child abuse? Let’s not talk about that when instead we can perseverate on my irrational fear of children getting surgery that isn’t being offered anyway!”

    I have previously given you the benefit of the doubt and assumed that you are not actively transphobic, just infested with transphobic thoughts from social media…but there comes a time when your relentless insistence on bringing up the same old hateful agenda without the slightest sign of learning from your earlier posts, in yet another attempt to derail a thread…well it means you no longer have that benefit of doubt from me.

  35. KG says


    Just a words of advice: stay out of threads on trans issues. You just make your disingenuousness – or at the very least, invincible ignorance on the matter – clear every time, and after so many occasions, no-one is going to take anything you say on the topic at face value.

  36. KG says

    Well, I’ve just seen the comment form dean44@35, and it’s convinced me! I’m currently in the process of repenting my sins (that’s going to take some time after nearly 67 years of sinning), and I’ll then I’ll put my faith in Christ, if I can find out who or what he/she/they/it is – I’ve never heard of her/him/it/them before! Thanks for drawing it/them/him/her to my attention, dean44!

  37. birgerjohansson says

    In a few years, the official line will be “we have always supported trans rights”.
    BTW this sort if thing is very common across religions and cultures. I keep up with the ex-muslim community, they go ROTFL about how online koran translations get changed to less offensive language while the preachers go “we have the most tolerant religion of all”.
    It is a pity MAD Magazine is no more, they would have had a field day with Republicans switching from hating “welfare queens” (you know, n*ggers) to hating trans people while trying to be pals with the blacks.

  38. snarkrates says

    Dean44, As near as I can tell, the main purpose of the Christian god is to provide a scapegoat for the ignorance, stupidity and bigotry of the average Christian. If said god actually exists in reality, I would imagine that being scapegoated for over 2000 years will have pissed him off righteously. Thus, I look forward to an afterlife should one exist and I’ll have the opportunity to observe the surprised, frightened looks of the Christians as they are cast into the burning sulfur pits with the rest of us. If the last 4 years showed us nothing else, it is that Christians better be praying there is not god.

  39. snarkrates says

    kathleen: “I just want to be sure there’s a process in place ensure that it’s a well informed, well thought out decision that won’t be regretted in ten years.”

    Because, as we know, the world is full of folks who had gender reassignment on a whim and now regret it–kind of like the tattoo you got that one spring break after 20 shots of tequila./sarc
    Dude, do you really think that is a thing? That after 13 or 14 years a person doesn’t know their own body and mind to decide what is best for them? I knew I was a straight cis male by the time I was 10 or 11, and my parents knew it even before that.
    That is the thing about our experience. It is subjective. I cannot know what is going on in another person’s mind unless I build trust and talk to them. By all means, there need to be safeguards, but the need for safeguards cannot become an excuse for impenetrable barriers.

  40. call me mark says

    From the OP:

    immediately notify parents in writing if a child displays “gender nonconformity,”

    How far are they willing to go with this? If a three-year-old boy picks up a pink toy will they send him to the gender re-education camps?

  41. raven says

    For the fact based community.
    Transitioning regret is rare. It runs from 0.4% to 2% depending on the study and population surveyed.
    … while only 0.4 percent of respondents said they detransitioned after realizing transitioning wasn’t right for them.

    This is low.
    Who hasn’t done things and made decisions they regret?
    (Speak up if this is you. You could be in Ripley’s Believe it or not.)
    To take a common example, the divorce rate is…50%.
    7% regret having children, an irrevocable decision.

    NBC news Dec. 19, 2019, 5:23 AM PST By Liam Knox

    Media’s ‘detransition’ narrative is fueling misconceptions, trans advocates say
    They say the current narrative makes “transition regret” seem more common than it is and contributes to misconceptions about transgender people in general.

    The information that does exist appears to corroborate Asquith’s claim. In a 2015 survey of nearly 28,000 people conducted by the U.S.-based National Center for Transgender Equality, only 8 percent of respondents reported detransitioning, and 62 percent of those people said they only detransitioned temporarily. The most common reason for detransitioning, according to the survey, was pressure from a parent,
    while only 0.4 percent of respondents said they detransitioned after realizing transitioning wasn’t right for them.

    The results of a 50-year survey published in 2010 of a cohort of 767 transgender people in Sweden found that about 2 percent of participants expressed regret after undergoing gender-affirming surgery.

    The numbers are even lower for nonsurgical transition methods, like taking puberty blockers. According to a 2018 study of a cohort of transgender young adults at the largest gender-identity clinic in the Netherlands, 1.9 percent of adolescents who started puberty suppressants did not go on to pursue hormone therapy, typically the next step in the transition process.

  42. birgerjohansson says

    I think some GOPers view “Silence of the Lambs” as a trans documentary …. we should be grateful they have left “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” behind.

  43. says

    @47 It’s as if they got togerther, watched Silence of the Lambs along with Pink Flamingos and Hedwig and the Angry Inch and then made their minds up from that.

  44. microraptor says

    @49: Or because they’ve actually heard of those three and they support the preexisting narrative that the right wants to push.

  45. vucodlak says

    @ dean44, #35
    When we die, we will stand before Anubis, the judge of souls. Anubis will take our hearts and place them on his scales, weighing them against the Feather of Maat, who is justice. If our hearts measure up, if we have held Maat, justice, in them, then we will pass on to the afterlife. There we will serve justice and order, although for how long, or in what capacity, none living can say for certain.

    Some say the just dead assist in the great battle against Apophis, the great serpent of chaos and darkness, he who tries to swallow the sun each day. It is not an eternal battle, however, for darkness will eventually win, and on that day even gods will die. Do not despair- this does not mean that “evil” wins. The primordial darkness was here before, and it will be here long after we all are dust. Because it is inimical to us we call it evil, but it is simply a place to begin and end. All things have an ending, and anyone who has ever suffered can take comfort in that fact.

    It should be mentioned, however, that some things end sooner than others. If our hearts do not hold justice, they will be fed to Ammut the Devourer, Great of Death, with the rest of our being to follow. Do you hold justice in your heart? Will you witness the wonders of the afterlife? Or will you be eaten?

    Either way, it sounds better than sitting around on a cloud singing hymns for all eternity.

  46. Kagehi says

    Short version of the Republican strategy, and copies and pasted from their “religious allies” play book, “Its not that crusades don’t work, its that we where not attacking with a loud enough cry of, ‘salvation!” and/or the right heathens!”

  47. raven says

    When we die, we will stand before Anubis, the judge of souls.

    As a Valkyrie, I will be standing with the Aesir gods at the battle of Ragnarok at the end of the world.
    It’s not too late to join us.
    Live a virtuous life with courage and I will see you there.

  48. vucodlak says

    @ raven, #54
    Hmm… star-swallowing serpents, or world-circling serpents and god eating wolves? Decisions, decisions…

  49. publicola says

    Good thing I’m not “God”, ’cause if I was I’d create a special kind of Hell and I’d send every one of those bastards there where they would spend eternity being treated the same way they treat others. That would be justice.

  50. John Morales says

    publicola, um, God (the Abrahamic variety) is, apart from being a vindictive impulsive bastard, Omniscient and Omnipotent.

    In short, why not just don’t create that type of bastard in the first place? ;)

    (That’s the stupidity of those omni-attributes; because of omniscience, even before Creation God knew precisely every event that would ensue into the indefinite future, and because of omnipotence, it could have ensured only satisfactory outcomes would occur.
    Therefore, if one grants such attributes, it necessarily follows every single event that happens is what God wanted to happen)

  51. says

    @50 John Waters’ entire oeuvre is an example of the tiresome point I keep trying to make. Waters loves having people outraged at him and maybe there was some deep artistic meaning beneath it all but that’s long gone. What remains is some of the best anti-queer propaganda in existence. Whatever horrible stereotype you want to validate, Waters has you covered – even if he had no intention of doing so.

  52. consciousness razor says

    Well … it’s almost upsetting that John Waters hasn’t been involved in scandals relating to sexual assault, sex trafficking, pedophilia, etc., like many other public figures. Almost.

    But no, I don’t think that counts as outrage.

  53. says

    @59 Who isn’t? Do you really think he’d be famous for his skills as a filmmaker without getting people outraged?

    @60 Well, yeah. I mean, giving people the impression that gender non-conforming people are violent sociopaths that eat dog shit isn’t too terrible in the grand scheme of things, but it’s still kinda icky, yeah? And if you, personally, wouldn’t get any substantial impression from a film about anyone, you are in a very tiny minority.

  54. says

    Do you really think he’d be famous for his skills as a filmmaker without getting people outraged?

    The only way to gain fame for filmmaking is to provoke outrage?? Uh. This is either nonsense on its face, or else using such a broad definition of ‘outrage’ as to be essentially meaningless.

  55. Rob Grigjanis says


    Who isn’t?

    Me, and pretty much everyone I’ve talked to or read on the subject.

    Do you really think he’d be famous for his skills as a filmmaker without getting people outraged?

    A bit of a welcome shock to the system in his early days, but the only people outraged (AFAIK) by his oeuvre were the rightwing lip-pursing “think of the children” douchebags.

    Your views on the impressions people get from art are as ridiculous as your historical “analysis”.

  56. Rob Grigjanis says

    @64: I’m not a film critic. I think he’s hilarious. Having drinks with him and his buddy Werner Herzog would be a dream, except they’d probably find me rather boring.

    Do you know (or have you heard of) any straights who’ve been scared by him? This one certainly wasn’t.

  57. vucodlak says

    @ Susan Montgomery, #64

    Can you point to any other value of his work, other than scaring the straights?

    They’re movies by and for outcasts. For people who will never fit in with “the straights” no matter how hard they try. For people who don’t want to fit in with the straights, because why the fuck should they have to confine themselves to the straights’ definition of respectability?

    Part of Waters’ point (particularly with his early movies) was that, if people were going to treat him and his friends as disgusting freaks, then he’d show them some real disgusting freakiness. Part of his point was for he and his friends to have fun and be themselves. No, not murderous eaters of dog turds, but weirdos and proud of it.

    Believe it or not, weirdos often have reasons for nonconformity beyond freaking out the squares, and a lot of us don’t think that we are the ones with the problem. Bizarro stuff Waters’ films are not just a much-deserved middle finger to the arbiters of the acceptable range of humanity. They’re also a message to everyone whose ever been made to feel like they’re less than because they aren’t just like everyone else: you are not alone.

    Not every outcast longs to join the ranks of their oppressors. A lot of us just want the freedom to be ourselves. My brain has never worked like most people’s, and no amount of abuse will ever change that. I spent years hating my fucked-up brain, making myself miserable trying to be “normal.” I’m grateful to every freaky filmmaker, bizarro writer, and maker of macabre music who ever had the courage to say “you’re not alone- it’s okay to weird.”

    Thanks be to John Waters for scaring the straights, from this bipolar, pansexual, genderqueer goth.

  58. says

    @67 And for those of us – like this transgender strategy gamer and former cosmetologist – who’ve always thought that while queerness was now beyond the pale it shouldn’t always be? Those of us that think transpeople can aspire to more than living in a slum or working as a sassy hooker or porn store clerk? Do we all have to turn in our Qiueer Cards (TM) because we’re not and never have been “weird”?

    If the entire point of queer activism up to this point was to maintain the second class status – only in a way that lets us think its on our own defiant terms – rather than saying that being LGBT is no big deal either way, then I’m done with it.

  59. PaulBC says

    Wait, are we taking about John Waters? (I only skimmed the tail end of comments.)

    I’m straight and I think he’s hilarious. I also know Baltimore well having lived there for six years, and there is nobody who conveys white Baltimore culture as well as John Waters. (I defer to Ta-Nehisi Coates for Black Baltimore.) Barry Levinson has a different take on Baltimore, equally valid, but staid. Without a few of its own out there in the world, Baltimore would just be the place where you set crime dramas.

    Waters’s films are a mixed bag. I think Hairspray was one of the best. It kind of hit the peak of having a plot but not trying too hard to be polished. I liked Pecker, but mostly because it was so Baltimore and I had been gone a few years and missed it. Cecil B. Demented struck me as labored and contrived. I haven’t kept up with him since.

    He’s also very funny in interviews. I remember him explaining on Fresh Air that he watched Rebel without a Cause and wasn’t that taken with James Dean, but thought Sal Mineo was incredible. His idiosyncratic take is the whole point.

  60. PaulBC says


    Well … it’s almost upsetting that John Waters hasn’t been involved in scandals relating to sexual assault, sex trafficking, pedophilia, etc., like many other public figures.

    Waters strikes me as a man with a vivid imagination and fantasy life. Who knows what he does with other consenting adults, but I don’t think he’s out to harm anyone. I would be shocked and disillusioned to find out otherwise.

    This is purely a vibe thing, but with Waters I think, just your normal funny weirdo. You could invite him out if you were so lucky, and even bring your kids along too. He’d adhere to boundaries. By contrast, even a still photo of Matt Gaetz sets off my creep alarm. Creep! Creep! Creep! This was before any news came out, and it just doesn’t surprise me.

    (And yes, I know that I cannot really judge people from from “vibes.”)

  61. says

    @70. I’m sure Waters is an okay guy and I’m not saying that there’s any malicious intent on his part. I’m sure that even he didn’t believe that anyone would care about his early stuff for 50 minutes let alone 50 years.

    But, they’re out there. Monuments of self-loathing that have inspired three generations of f*g hags to view queer people as objects of entertainment and vicarious rebellion rather than people like themselves.

  62. PaulBC says

    OK, here is the context about Sal Mineo. I really think that John Waters sums up something very important about himself, and the key to understanding his perspective:

    So I’ve always in a way liked the second-rate better. I mean, William Castle I liked more than Alfred Hitchcock. Jayne Mansfield I liked more than Marilyn Monroe. Sal Mineo – I liked him really a lot, though. I didn’t feel he was inferior, but he was maybe – I liked Sal Mineo even more than James Dean. I always liked the wrong person. I always rooted for the wrong person. And I always thought that the people that other people thought were ugly were better looking. That’s always been my life, and my career has kind of been based on that.

    I have had a similar thoughts in a different context. I liked Outer Limits better than Twilight Zone. I liked Lost in Space better than Star Trek (which I found confusing as hell as a child). When I finally saw Plan 9 from Outer Space at age 30 or so, I wasn’t sure why it had the reputation as worst movie ever. It was about par with most of the schlock movies I grew up watching. While I can appreciate the art of 2001, I might honestly have a better time today watching Silent Running (or even Plan 9).

  63. PaulBC says

    Susan Montgomery@71 John Waters is a paragon of self-acceptance, not self-loathing. That anyone would see his work as self-loathing says more about their own insecurity than it does about him. If they didn’t have Waters, they’d glom onto something else.

  64. says

    @73. I was in 8th grade when I started to come to grips with being trans. It was also around that time that I began to hear about Waters and Divine. If I’d had the nerve to mention being queer to my parents, it would have been to beg them to send me to conversion therapy. Anything to avoid having to deal with – or be – people like that. And I won’t believe for a moment that I’m the only one who had that experience.

  65. bryant says

    I see something totally different in the religious attacks on trans children — the religious a**h**** are seeking persons to attack who are sufficiently powerless. Trans children are children (so they lack life experience to fight back against this abuse), don’t vote, and are poorly organized.