Saturday, April 08, 2006

Says who?

Two of my favorite series, both now over, are Queer as Folk and Sex and the City. Both series have something in common even though the shows comes from different perspectives: sex.

Sex is used to sell everything from Viagra to car parts . . . and sex indeed sells. In QAF and SATC the characters talk about, agonize over and indulge in sex. Each character portrays a different sensibility and perspective, but my favorite characters from both shows, Brian Kinney and Samantha Jones, are straight forward, honest and uncompromising. They make no apologies for who and what they are. Sometimes they seem cruel but they remind me of the old saying "cruel to be kind".

Many people complain that Samantha and Brian are promiscuous whores, but those are the subjective kinds of labels that are meant to be negative, a moral judgment. That is the kind of limited perspective that has brought Americans to this pass in history where the righteous moral majority are systematically destroying our civil liberties and freedoms. You don't think honest and open sexual expression is a civil liberty or a freedom? Think again.

Every time we label people we move closer to the kind of narrow-minded thinking that gave the world Russian pogroms, Germany's final solution and Balkan and African wholesale genocide. But it doesn't stop there. During the Korean Conflict bi-racial children left behind by their soldier fathers were murdered unless left anonymously at Buddhist monasteries. Some Islamic countries (Iran and Iraq come to mind) murder and torture the unbelieving population in the name of Allah. Palestinians ring Israel with fire power and suicide bombers taught from their first breaths of life that taking out Israel one school bus or one neighborhood at a time will earn them a favored place in Paradise where their desires will be served by beautiful houris for eternity. Everywhere you look someone is labeling someone else and being different is not all right; being different is a target on your back and there are too many people ready to step up for their opportunity to blast away.

Labels help us identify things as good or bad, but labels are a dangerous way of looking at the world. Labels keep our minds closed and our lives empty.

I am just as guilty as the next person of labeling. I am a professional book reviewer and anyone reading my journal has been treated to my opinion of movies, books and music. However, I still keep my mind open.

For instance, Poppy Z. Brite hasn't impressed me much.

Until now.

I have read some of Brite's horror and short stories. Some have been interesting and some incomprehensible. Since joining LJ I have become a constant reader of docbrite's journal. Talk about opinionated? She is. But then everyone who has an opinion is opinionated.

It is through Brite's journal that I first found out about Liquor and Prime, her departure from vampires and the dark underside of horror. Brite has been blasted for turning away from horror and toward food and restaurants and the real life world of Rickey and G-man, a world she writes with sensitivity, humor and passion.

I read Liquor a few weeks ago after reading about it in Brite's journal for more than a year. It took a bit of time and finagling to find Prime through an interlibrary loan and I'm nearly finished -- and a bit sad. I don't want the story to end. I want to remain a fly on the wall in Rickey and G-man's corner of New Orleans.

I am not a foodie and have not eaten in the better restaurants of the world -- or at Hannibal Lecter's table either -- but Brite's taste sensations made my mouth water and wonder if I should save up to take a culinary tour to indulge my senses instead of buying furniture, paint and curtains to indulge my nesting instinct. But there is so much more to the boys. It is an intimate glimpse of a rich world of subtle romance, charcoal shadowed agendas and uncompromising honesty that neither needs nor offers apologies told with simple truth and humor.

You can't tell the players without a score card.

Gay. Straight. Rich. Poor. Pagan. Heathen. Religious. Liar. Martyr. Old. Young. Sick. Healthy. Whore. Virgin. Married. Single. Optimist. Pessimist. Fat. Skinny. Smart. Stupid.

Labels tell you what is what. But labels should be neutral. They should be sign posts telling us how to go and not what to think. It's like believing you can tell what's between the covers of a book by looking at the title. The only way you're going to know for certain what it's about is to open the cover and read -- with an open mind.

No comments: