Getting Foxed Over By the Media
No, I'm not Shirley Sherrod, not anything like her. I don't work for the Department of Agriculture; I write porn. I'm a queer secular Jew, not a religious black woman. My dad wasn't killed by racists, though some distant relatives were slaughtered by the Nazis before I was born. I've not been accused of reverse racism, only bad taste. You get the idea.
Oh, and the Obama administration cut loose Sherrod from her job when remarks she gave at an NAACP convention were ripped out of context and turned into a rightwing meme. Hell, I was never even asked to speak to the NAACP, much less work for the government. (Though "Pornographer Laureate" sounds pretty good to me.)
Still, the recent conservative witch-hunt directed against Sherrod sounded kind of familiar to me, in a minor-key way. See, back in '09, Perverts Put Out!, a show I co-curate and, with Dr. Carol Queen, co-host, came under attack by the vapid vulture of the right. It's an odd feeling, let me tell you, to wake up one otherwise uneventful morning and discover that someone at Fox News has deemed you a Threat to the Republic.
It's a kind of convoluted tale, but the gist is that the National Endowment for the Arts was funneling funds to CounterPULSE, a multidisciplinary performance space that we rented out for our little smutty shows. Fox News headlined its 5-minute-long exposé "NEA Funding Pervert Revues," which was, of course, bass-ackwards, since PPO! got nothing from the feds. A fairer headline would have been "Pervert Show Funds Venue for Abstruse Modern Dances Where Performers Spout Poetry and Roll Around on the Floor." No matter. It's easy to see why Murdoch's minions frothed at the mouth. Sex, federal funding, queer sex, San Francisco, and did I mention queer sex, and, of course, a handy stick with which to beat the Obama administration, all breathlessly delivered in the aggrieved tone of a majority culture under attack.
What was irritating but unsurprising was that Fox—ostensibly a journalistic organization, ha ha—got so many of its facts wrong, and did so with blithe unconcern. Turned out that some Foxite phoned CounterPULSE once, spoke to an intern who'd only been there a short time, and that was all the fact-checking they needed. Hey, they actually showed a page from my Website, one that featured a —gasp—fringe of a guy's pubes, so they easily, easily could have hit the e-mail link and asked me for a comment.
But they did manage to include a minute's worth of foaming indignation from some paleoconservative Florida congressman with a hard-on against the NEA.
Well, it was sort of exciting, I admit, to be in the center of a tempest in a pre-Tea-Party teapot. Ignoble visions of talking with Keith and Rachel danced in my head.
No such luck. Turns out that the NEA folks were less interested in truth, justice, and the American way than keeping their heads down. The word went out: just let this blow over. Which is exactly what it did. Stupid story, barren of facts, and the only traction it gained was on a few rightwing websites.
Which all is more or less reminiscent, in a minor way, of the boneheaded brouhaha over Sherrod's speech to the NAACP. Fox's rush to judgment, posting a story based on a tape sent them by the majorly discredited bastard Andrew Breitbart, the "brains" behind the anti-ACORN fraud. The manufactured outrage at uppity outsiders despoiling the American Way. The Obama administration's pusillanimous response to lying rightwing scum. Never mind that the Bush-era NEA also funded PPO!-presenting CounterPULSE. Never mind that Sherrod was actually making an anti-racist point. "We're the almighty rightwing media, and we don’t have to give a shit about the truth!"
What all this shit-on-a-stick does, and not by accident, is disguise the actual power relations that exist in our world. As much as Fox News would like to pretend that the hoi polloi is at the mercy of racist blacks elevated beyond their worth, and of homos who want to destroy marriage, and maybe Christianity to boot, we do, undeniably, life in plutocracy, a society ruled by the überrich. Scapegoating Sherrod and, well, me, keeps the great unwashed up in arms, and Glenn Beck weepily rolling in dough, distracting us all from the inconvenient, staggering truth that the top 1% of Americans hold over a third of the country's private wealth, and that a mere 15% is controlled by the 85% of us who, flatscreen TVs or no, are merely serfs-with-cellphones.
Drumming up anxieties about race and sex keep the Fox acolytes from understanding that they're rooting for the very people who really control their country. Instead, universal health insurance is redbaited into a Commie Plot, and there's mass opposition to the "Death Tax" an estate tax that hits only the very richest of the rich. If religion is the opiate of the masses, then resentment is the crystal meth of the Tea Party putzes.
It's all rather sad, really.
You may have lost your job, your retirement savings, you may be facing bankruptcy because of your kid's appendectomy. But hey, you know what's really upsetting? There are cocksucking queers in San Francisco putting on smutty shows!
Pay no attention to the stinking-rich man behind the curtain.
There's no threat like homo. There's no threat like homo….