Home/Rod Dreher/Right, They’re Degenerates, But For The Left

Right, They’re Degenerates, But For The Left

Detail from Guardian story. If I revealed the entire photo, it would probably not be safe for work (Guardian screengrab)

As you may have heard, the president of Brazil is a far-right figure, Jair Bolsonaro, who has strongly and repeatedly criticized homosexuals. In this piece — be careful clicking on it, because some of the images may be NSFW — The Guardian, the center-left British newspaper, writes sympathetically about a pornographic artist collective that is protesting Bolsonaro with “queer art.” Excerpts:

“Queer people have been afraid since the president was elected,” says Paulx Castello. “He has been demonising us from the start – but this was different. Here we were personally under attack.” The artist, who has a mohican, is now instantly recognisable to most Brazilians. In March, he featured in a sexually explicit video that was tweeted by Jair Bolsonaro, the country’s far-right president. The 40-second clip, filmed at a gay street party during the São Paulo carnival, showed Castello standing on a taxi shelter, exposing his backside and being urinated on.

“I don’t feel comfortable showing it,” Bolsonaro told his 3.5 million followers, “but we have to expose the truth so the population are aware of their priorities. This is what Brazilian carnival street parties have turned into.” The next day, the far-right leader stayed on the offensive, tweeting: “What is a golden shower?”

In their first interview since Bolsonaro’s attack, Castello and Jeffe, the other man in the video, say their actions – which were captured on a mobile phone and posted to Twitter by an anonymous user – were actually part of a three-hour guerrilla performance by a six-person art collective. They take the name Ediy, which means “arse” in Pajubá, Brazilian Portuguese gay slang.

“We want to perform in public places,” Jeffe says. “Places where this sort of thing is not expected. We refer to it as ‘hacking the imagination’. But there is a context to the performance that the president’s video removed.” Walking through the crowds, they would intermittently stop to interact with each other, their gestures alternating between sensual dance and sexual acts. In the video, Castello twerks for the crowd with his finger in his anus. Urination features heavily in the rest of the work.

Urination features heavily in the rest of the work. Wow, just like with Nureyev! More:

Yet, despite the dangers, the artists have returned to performance. Last month, the group – some naked, some dressed as animals or in PVC – performed at Esponja, an arts space in central São Paulo before an audience of 70 people. A woman battered a naked man with a dildo strapped to her knee. Two other members of the collective tore off a man’s clothes with their teeth. Much of the event was broadcast live via a pornography website.

Their work is certainly provocative but it is also steeped in theory: they cite Judith Butler’s gender studies and the Spanish philosopher Paul B Preciado’s writing on identity as inspiration. On sale were DIY publications with such titles as The Cis Gender Does Not Exist and Hate Towards Straights.

Well, that’s a relief. They’re not just common street perverts. They’ve got theory behind them.

Read the whole thing. 

Remind me again why Bolsonaro is so wrong? Look, I’m prepared to believe that he’s a dangerous demagogue, but everything about this Guardian story makes me sympathetic to Bolsonaro, not these so-called artists.

These clowns remind me of the crackpot artist collective Voina, who protested against Putin protege Dmitri Medvedev in 2008 by having ritual group sex in a Moscow museum. They really think this kind of thing hurts the right-wing politicians they target. I can’t comprehend why. I honestly can’t.

Here’s the thing: the Guardian wants you to read its piece and think well of these brave, radical, sex-positive artists speaking out against the right-wing authoritarian president of Brazil. But if you read the story and think ill of them, well, then you are guilty of taking a fringe group of wack jobs and elevating them beyond what they observe, so you can justify your homophobia. Or something.

In short, this is how it works: these loons are only a big deal if you sympathize with them politically. If you don’t, then they are nobodies, and you are a bad person for thinking otherwise (even though they’ve been ballyhooed in one of the biggest and most important newspapers in Britain, the voice of the UK’s cultural establishment).

Similarly, the Brazilian pornsters are degenerates, but for the left (YouTube screengrab)

I think this is a version of progressive doublethink described here by George Packer, in his Atlantic essay on a new book about Orwell:

We stagger under the daily load of doublethink pouring from Trump, his enablers in the Inner Party, his mouthpieces in the Ministry of Truth, and his fanatical supporters among the proles. Spotting doublethink in ourselves is much harder. “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle,” Orwell wrote. In front of my nose, in the world of enlightened and progressive people where I live and work, a different sort of doublethink has become pervasive. It’s not the claim that true is fake or that two plus two makes five. Progressive doublethink—which has grown worse in reaction to the right-wing kind—creates a more insidious unreality because it operates in the name of all that is good. Its key word is justice—a word no one should want to live without. But today the demand for justice forces you to accept contradictions that are the essence of doublethink.

For example, many on the left now share an unacknowledged but common assumption that a good work of art is made of good politics and that good politics is a matter of identity. The progressive view of a book or play depends on its political stance, and its stance—even its subject matter—is scrutinized in light of the group affiliation of the artist: Personal identity plus political position equals aesthetic value. This confusion of categories guides judgments all across the worlds of media, the arts, and education, from movie reviews to grant committees. Some people who register the assumption as doublethink might be privately troubled, but they don’t say so publicly. Then self-censorship turns into self-deception, until the recognition itself disappears—a lie you accept becomes a lie you forget. In this way, intelligent people do the work of eliminating their own unorthodoxy without the Thought Police.

 

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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