[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.]
Weeks ago, President Obama delivered the State of the Union address. I thought it was great. Someone with something good to say about America. It is amazing how inspiring it is.
The bad news, real and invented, is doubly frustrating. The perpetrators of the actual bad stuff that does real and lasting harm to people, like leakage of industrial chemicals into water systems, seem to get not so much as a second glance; the bloviation from media pundits and think tanks creates false problems that waste time and energy debunking.
See also: Henry Rollins: The Super Bowl and American Exceptionalism
The president is like any other politician. He wants me to like him, so he's working an angle. That being the case, I regard all things said by any politician with a Jeffersonian, jaundiced eye. To me, the real “state of the union” is found in how Americans react to current events.
At the time of this writing, the Olympics in Sochi are under way. I have never heard the word “gay” used so much in association with any Olympics. This time, the Olympics are super-duper gay. Why? Because Vladimir Putin brought it on himself. He let it be known that he's not OK with the gay; then all of a sudden, the Olympics come to his country and it's on.
Americans cannot help themselves. Many are distrustful of Russia, disgusted and infuriated by some of their practices and, in our own way, still deeply entrenched in the Cold War. And so, comedians and some of the usually politically correct outlets gleefully bash Putin, his homophobia and the overall shoddiness of the Sochi Olympics.
The proceedings thus far remind me of a massive amusement park that has not been maintained. Rides are potentially dangerous, infrastructure falling apart – kind of like a lot of American cities, or Baghdad. You just hope no one flies off one of the tilt-a-whirls and breaks their neck. The water can't be trusted, visitors' phones are hacked – kinda like, never mind.
So for now, at least, we can all pile on Putin and be somewhat patriotic, as we hope for American wins and Russian losses. None of the other countries really matter, do they?
But back to the “gay Olympics” thing. Many of the competitors are taking a shot at Putin's homophobic stance with rainbow uniforms; Google remade its logo with rainbow colors, etc. It's a good gesture, but I bet it doesn't get to Putin at all. All these brightly clothed people soon will be gone, and Russia will resume its dull, dismal, backward ways – kinda like Mississippi.
Just because Putin is a dud, no need to despair. You never know, all this defiance might give the Russian people incentive to change how things are going there.
It must be frustrating for Putin. He knows the truth: Russia, like everywhere else in the world, has a lot of gay people. It's super-duper gay.
Now back to the state of the union. America is off-the-hook gay. I will not go all Ann Coulter on you and say, “Our gays are better than their gays,” but as far as countries go, we are in-your-face gay. We kick ass at gay.
There are at least two reasons why. The first is a combination of our love of freedom and the Constitution with all that First, Fourth and 14th Amendment stuff. Second, there are still at least a dozen regressive dim bulbs who think homosexuality is perversion. An abomination! Oh, they protest and legislate so loudly! And even some of them are gay.
The state of the union is more accurately assessed by the reaction to the gay, the non-white, the female, etc. This tells you where America is far more than the go-team-go – ness of the president's recent SOTU address or the reality of America's ultra-gayness.
Michael Sam, the All-American former University of Missouri football player, recently announced that he is gay. He is also black, which is a bit of a cultural twofer.
As you can expect, there are at least a dozen people who are angry. “Why couldn't he keep it to himself?!” Because if he ends up on an NFL team and had not come out, the truth would have very well made itself known, and Sam would have been seen as being “untruthful.”
Was he “brave” to do this? Perhaps he took a moment before he spoke up, but his bravery is not an issue. Why his sexual orientation is even an issue – that's the issue.
Retired NFL coach Herm Edwards said Sam is “bringing baggage into your locker room.” No more than the coach is bringing his baggage into his statement. A sport that involves so much intense man-on-man contact, hugging, relentless ass-slapping and postgame communal nakedness doesn't come off just a teensy bit gay? Are you kidding? Football is at least as “gay” as rugby, Greco-Roman wrestling and the film 300.
Oklahoma restaurant owner Gary James recently made news when he went on local TV news and announced that he doesn't serve the gay or, oddly, the disabled. A Facebook page, either his or made for him, quickly filled with some hilarious shit. The restaurant is getting great reviews as the best gay bar in the area. One unhappy poster was disappointed by “the lack of comprehensive discrimination,” and wondered, “Where is the Eskimo hate?”
I predict that, even as I write this, almost everyone has grown bored with James, his restaurant's motto, “where the great whites gather,” and his unpleasant point of view. Who cares? No one who matters.
And this is the state of the union. A few people who, unable to face reality, don't get out much, and the rest of us. For people like Gary James and Vladimir Putin, the sun has all but dipped below the horizon. They know it, too. They hold onto their ignorance as if it's a medal. The rest of us are way down the road, and some of us are gay. How gay? Super-duper!