Where’s the subtext?

I spent much time today rationalizing why I feel a strong dislike when I see this:

Who thinks they are brave enough to watch it in full length can click here.

Why don’t I like those public expressions of homoeroticism? I came to a simple conclusion: Because it is fake, and serves a simple purpose: Sex sells. Twilight has in my rough estimate about 97% female fans, on average they like boys kissing boys, or at least don’t strongly dislike it — a great bargain! Surely neither Mr. Pattinson nor Mr. Lautner has a drawback from this action, as — of course! — they are not gay, obviously, no, of course not, well, not really.

Does this kiss, who has been seen or will be seen by almost all teenagers (the target group) during the course of the next days, do anything to abolish prejudices, or make the world a more colourful and tolerant place? It will rise discussions. In classes, among friends, about their specific likings, and dislikes, and maybe broaden one or the other’s mind a little.

So, one good thing: people get used to seeing same-sex couples, and you should think that this breeds tolerance on the long run. Yet, it is not quite so, in my estimate.

I fear, on the contrary, that the effect is rather minute. Pattinson and Lautner are not gay, after all — their management tells us, so it must be true. They do it on a kind of dare, but it is no “dare.” Not the kind of “dare” every really gay person has to face when coming out. It is mocking the hard time people are having.

Has tolerance got something to do with our preferences? It has, to a certain degree, even if I wished it to be otherwise.

What people mind or find unesthetic they rarely approve of. This dislike concerning others’ behaviour caused by various things:

  • How much they put themselves into the other’s place and are able to shift perspectives — which is of course at its root a good thing to be able to do
  • Personal experiences and systems of value. Even in one “culture” — using the term in the loosest possible sense here — those vary greatly.
  • Personal desires and dislikes, conscious or subconscious.

A simple example on what people can find repellant behaviour:

I had no problem at all to sit in a corner at a café and pull my largish shirt over my daughter to breastfeed her when she was little. Some people found this completely disgusting, even the idea that a baby is breastfed is claimed to be “unhygienic” and lots of other things. Mind you, I am not talking about stripping and sitting shirtless in a public place; the mere idea of a breastfeeding is repugnant for some people. For them it puts you in line with pedophiliacs, as for the people uttering this, breasts are something that only play a role in a sexual context. I like to tell those people that breasts were not designed by mother nature to be a perfect advertising space for beer and cars.

So, apparently the disgust here is bred by implying a sexual connotation where it isn’t naturally implied.

When boys kiss, or girls kiss, or hold hands reactions vary. For girls, it is absolutely legitimate to hold hands. For boys it is not. (Talking of the average, should such a thing exist, concerning the social climate and surroundings here). Kissing for girls is just-so-okay, but it varies. My Facebook friends’ albums are full of pictures where one girl kisses her more or less temporary bff in a way that would never be accepted for guys. Guys on the other hand, if they really want to demonstrate a close relationship, keep it to a cheek-to-cheek or a brotherly kiss on the forehead. Alright, I have some lovely punk-style tongue-sandwich pictures too of some male friends, but not to the same extent as of girls.

Why do some people mind at all if they see two boys kiss, e.g., and don’t just shrug, and look away, like you do when you see a same-sex-couple kiss that is far from what you might fancy?

A give-away is that people say things like “I couldn’t imagine…” or “If that was my son…” They put themselves into close relation, and for them it is apparently right out to have a same-sex relationship.

An interesting fact here is that if one has a close look at the organisations with the most fierce homophobes, like the National Party of  Germany (currently not in  Parliament), the percentage of homosexuals in their ranks is un-commonly high. This is called hypocrisy. Not a simple way of leading your life in the first place, and traditionally one of the best ways to be a real pain-in-the-arse for your fellow human beings.

When girls kiss in a bar, etc., they are mostly not lesbians. On the contrary. They do it because they know that most heterosexual men find it a major turn-on. An article I found calls people behaving this way  “fauxmosexuals,” and i find the expression very fitting indeed.

Even if the male part is reduced to a stand-alone item, to say it diplomatically, “lesbian” pornographic material is produced for and consumed by men.  Madonna said something once like — “who needs a man, when you have a dirty mind and a finger.” I like her attitude. Men do not, as a rule — they like to think that they, and their bodily features matter, at least in the course of physical satisfaction.

Pornographic material does not breed tolerance. Neither does Pattinson’s and Lautner’s smooch. Sexual content on the media is a very easy way to capture people, advertising noticed this long ago — Pattinson and Lautner’s kiss follows the same principle.

With political or social engagement the matter is even more important: What you fancy should not play the most important role in the decision for what you stand in for. I cherish my friends in whatever shape, gender and sexual preference they come in. I am old enough to set my boundaries, and I won’t select my friends by gender, or a preference.

Some subjects are just too important to let them be overlayed by personal likes. Well-built men from Ghana are definitely not my personal sexual preference. But what does it matter? I am still annoyed if a colleague of mine has problems solely for his origins, and try to help him where I can. It is not right to discriminate people for their origins, or beliefs, or gender, or sexual preferences.

The matter of personal preferences can never be completely sorted out; successful fundraising functions via this and other psychological principles. Still, it is not completely the same thing, a panda, or a cute child in Roberto Bolles’ arms is not a political statement as such, even if Bolle’s dedication is valiant. Lady Di visiting children with HIV was a political statement. Pattinson smooching Lautner is surely not a political statement.

To be adamant about equality and gay rights is not the same as saying “I like to see two boys kissing.” Well, it is not the worst start, maybe, but I hope I made my point.

To sum it up again: why do I dislike Pattinson and Lautner kissing? Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep kissing? Madonna and Britney Spears kissing?

Roberto Bolle for UNICEF

Because it is a charade. They can always bail themselves out by saying “Oh, but we are not lesbians/gay after all, it was only a joke.”

Love is no joke, even if it can be huge fun.

I like celeb smooches — if it is at least questionable if the persons involved had a PR advantage from it, or most probably rather had a drawback from the action. I like fun, and ambivalence, not staged, faked (and slobbery and bad on top of it)  kisses for an audience.

And also: Where has the slashiness gone? Where is the subtext? (Saying this in a disappointed squealing fangirl’s voice on the brink of tears) A slobbery kiss is all they can ever think of? How boring. Is that all? This one stumbling into the other punching their tongue, or not even that…. I will stop here out of decency, and before the image of Lautner/Pattinson surfaces on my mind again.

AAAAAAAAAh!!! Too late.

Slobbery kisses… I’ve seen enough. There is so much more than that in life, and love.A little poll to close the issue for today:

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