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Jul 08 2013
Ain't The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name Grand? Comments (12)


If I were Grand, I'd consider a legal letter RE the defamatory, leading headline.

Sorry, it isn't going to be all Steve Grand, all the time around here, but this piece at Bilerico really struck me as something worth writing about.

Mark S. King, writing for Bilerico, certainly has a right to criticize any artist he likes, even budding gay ones. Also, I share his belief that words and images mean things, even—maybe especially—when it comes to silly pop songs. But I was really taken aback by his brutal comments against Steve Grand's "All-American Boy" song and video, found here.

His take is that Grand's character drinks too much and attempts to take advantage of a straight friend. He strongly implies that Grand's character is lucky he isn't gay-bashed, almost that he would be deserving of it. (Why is the piece categorized under "anti-gay violence," "hate crimes" and "gay bashing"?)

In referencing The Boys in the Band, King is trying to argue that this kind of representation is negative to gay people. But as I wrote in the comments at Bilerico, The Boys in the Band had and has a lot of truth in it. The reason some gay people loathe it is that since it was among the first representations, and was a rarity, it had 100X more weight than it would have today. Today, gay representations are numerous and, while not perfect, far more diverse. So one music video should not threaten to define us. (Where was King when "Shame About Your Penis" came out?)

Even with that said, I don't think the video is negative to begin with! It's a song about a young gay guy who is pining for his friend, who he thinks is gay. Guess what? He's not. He makes a play for him, is rebuffed, and he is left to get over it. What's more normal than that? How is that "predatory?" You know what's a negative gay stereotype? The idea that a boy in love with an unavailable boy is a PREDATOR. He's not a predator, he's lovestruck and horny.

As I wrote at the site, I think the review itself fosters an unfortunate gay stereotype more than the video does, that of gay people tearing each other down. King should not hold back if he thinks a gay artist sucks or is doing something worse than sucking, actually causing harm, but I think his review of Grand smacks of bitterness and contempt more than it resembles principled artistic criticism. Why the blistering comments about how cute Grand is? It just comes off as incredibly angry.

I would hope that King would attempt a somewhat more empathetic look and listen to the video and song. I don't know why he ascribes such a negative agenda to the artist (even more than complaining that the video does negative things accidentally, his piece seems to imply Grand was hoping his looks would distract from  what King says is the piece's intent).

From everything I can see, Grand is expressing himself, not attempting to speak for a community, and seems overwhelmed by the attention. That does NOT mean we're not allowed to hate his music or question his message, but I don't see why he is a good candidate for being vilified.