Fuck you Bryan Adams

When I was in sixth grade I discovered Audio Galaxy, and in keeping with the overall momentum of the universe, shortly thereafter discovered pop punk. I was a big fan of the band MxPx, and I would be lying if I said alternating capitalization and the presence of x’s in their name had nothing to do with the appeal. So bootlegging my way through their catalog I eventually came across a file titled the “Summer of ’69,” hit download, waited the three days for it to download, then opened that bitch in Real Player.

Then immediate, crushing horror

I got my first real sexing
In the summer of ’69

I immediately x’d the Real Player window,right clicked that .mp3, and sent it to the recycle bin like I was banishing it to hell. I then emptied the recycle bin, then emptied the now empty bin a few more times just for good measure. Then threw some more files in there, and emptied it again, because I thought computers were like when the trash compactor gets clogged and you throw some orange rinds down there or old pieces of bread to help things along. Just keep on opening blank Notepad documents, saving them, and chucking them in the recycle bin.

I never thought ’69 referred to an actual 69. That seemed too obvious and childish even for an eleven year old. All I wanted to do was be punk rock and now I had downloaded smut onto the family Hewlett Packard. For a decade I was terrified that .mp3 would mysteriously reappear, like Samara climbing out of the well in The Ring, and I would have to defend my morals to my parents, who would never believe me, because what idiot doesn’t think 69 means 69.

Even when I was much older this experience was incredibly traumatizing. It never made the transfer to the part of your brain where you recognize the distance between you and the event and can find the humor in it. Summer of ’69 was always there beside me, staring me down, threatening to expose my sexual deviance.

Then one day I heard Bryan Adams. This motherfucker is saying six string. This is a semi-ironic cover of a shitty Bryan Adams song about a guitar. I know I should blame MxPx and their marble-mouthed pronunciation, but I just hate Bryan Adams. Bryan Adams made me feel like a sexual deviant. Bryan Adams made me afraid to try new things. Bryan Adams made me empty the Windows XP recycle bin obsessively for two or three years.

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Sara Barron on meeting a lesbian couple at a childhood holiday party

The party was an altogether transformative experience, for it led me to the belief that lesbians were but magical confections that brought joy to all the land. They were regal, special, and festive. They were like beautiful unicorns, those lesbians, for you had to search to find them. Oh, yes. You had to dig around. I had gone a full eight years without knowing they were out there, hidden away in luxurious penthouse apartments. But now I knew, and on the car ride home gazed out the window at Lake Shore Drive and all its gorgeous aspirational housing where the lesbians were, where the lives were happy.

I’m going to be one, I thought. I’m going to try.

– Sara Barron, The Harm in Asking, Random House, 2014

The Walking Dead “Slabtown” Rant (Beth Greene’s Revenge)

I’m not trying to take up the feminist mantle, not that I’m a woman in denial or that I have an issue with feminism, but feminism and anything that deals with gender issues as a whole seems to have come to mean something I’m not really sure I want to represent me or that I want to align myself with. But zombies.

So basically don’t read this if you watch The Walking Dead or haven’t seen the (11/2/14) episode “Slabtown.”

We found Beth. In a hospital. That is run by a female cop named Dawn that is positioned sort of as a lady Rick if Rick had never let go of being a sheriff whose guiding principle is a terribly misguided give/take. Her “police” forces “rescue” those in danger and return them to the hospital where they receive care and are expected to “pay for” this kindness through work. Freedom through work. Except they don’t let you leave. And it is highly implied a woman’s “work” is forced prostitution (isn’t it always.) When Beth arrives resident/sex slave Joan (of Arc?) has recently gnawed a chunk of her arm off in a suicide attempt, only to have her arm amputated (while conscious) and be returned to predator cop Gorman. I’m sure she would have rather had the opportunity to slave it out in the hospital laundry room folding towels with lone dude Noah, if given the choice.

The most disturbing/dramatic scene of the episode is when Gorman, the fire in his rapey loins stoked by Dawn who has taken Joan from him, and denied him “the right” to defile Beth, steals a lollipop (childhood innocence? the small pleasures of the post-apocalyptic world?) given to her by Noah, sucks on it (ew) then attempts to ram it in Beth’s mouth. The episode is focused on ownership, bodily autonomy (Joan’s forced amputation,) the degree to which you can sacrifice the rights of others under the auspices of the common good, who has the right to decide who has desirable qualities and who does not, and what those qualities are (Dawn argues Beth is weak and only useful as a warm hole to benefit another, while Beth argues that she is strong and capable…)

The whole plot line is a perfect metaphor for (or all out example of) sexual violence and gender discrimination and more generally the struggle for power and meaning and a narrative to live our lives by.

Which created so many great talking points, like:

  • This behavior is sanctioned by a woman! A woman in power! What does this say about women in power?
  • Dawn is a cop, a job traditionally seen as masculine! Beth is warm, emotional, maternal, beautiful, all feminine qualities! Must women sacrifice their femininity to attain power? Must they always in competition with one another?
  • What does this say about how we view police officers and people in power? (The Governor’s henchman assaulted Beth’s sister Maggie in a previous season)

I was stoked to watch Talking Dead and work through some of the complex emotions I was having, and so disappointingly they completely glossed over… everything. I realize the show is lighthearted, but seriously, the entire episode is about sexual slavery. I doubted they would go so far as to say rape, but I figured they would at least dance around it with “assault” or “unwanted touching” or something. Seriously! The whole episode! She was in a military brothel. I was immediately reminded of the WWII joy divisions (thanks teenage love of Joy Division) and the Japanese comfort women and the thousand other examples of forced prostitution for the “benefit” of men in power. It’s not like this is some ~crazy~ scenario dreamed up by a horror writer, there are historical precursors. A lot of them. I thought that would at least get a mention, since they seem to like a good extratextual reference. Nope.

On a lighter note Beth has been great the past couple seasons and I’m glad badass Beth continues (especially since Maggie is such a fucking bitch.) On Talking Dead Ana Gasteyer mentioned she felt Beth represented the triumph of emotion in the post-apocalypse. Rick has been focused on cramming his emotions and his humanity down, while Beth has seemed successful in incorporating them into her new life. With Daryl’s training, she’s become brain and brawn, maternal and warrior-like all at once. I kind of feel like she is positioned against Michonne, who sort of failed as a mother in the “real world,” but was naturally suited to the post-apocalyptic world, and has struggled to regain her connection to other people. Beth was the opposite, a natural caregiver with no street smarts who is now apparently a singing Disney princess angel of death.

Please dear God she needs to stay alive long enough to hook up with Daryl, the sexual tension is slowly killing me through the television.