Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Top 25 Posts of 2013

So, one year ends and another begins.  I'm a bit shocked to see how much less I wrote this year; it's the first time I've posted below 300 a year since 2009.  But I think I wrote quite a few good ones, so I'm not very concerned.  Several of them were basically series, written as I read stimulating books.  (Lately I've been toying with the idea of putting together an e-book from the blog, whether from more or less unrevised posts or compiling series into chapters.  Still thinking about that.)

Once again I decided to list the most-viewed posts to sum up the past year.  Most of them are posts I agree are standouts, though as you'll see, I was very surprised by a couple of them.  This post will serve as a retrospective for those who read This Is So Gay regularly, and as an introduction for people who are new to the blog.

25. You Don't Have to Be a Monster to Be a Bigot. The theme of this post turned out to be a recurring theme in 2013, as several celebrities got into trouble because of racist or antigay things they said, and were defended by fans or supposedly disinterested friends of free speech.  As you'll see, I don't believe in the disinterest: in almost every case, conservatives defended conservative bigots and liberals defended liberals.  (As the year drew to a close, another uproar attended a conference punk/folk performer Ani DiFranco was going to hold in a former Louisiana plantation.  Here's the best thing I saw written about that one.)  But I'm also intrigued by the common defense in most of these cases: the idea that calling a bigot a bigot is "demonization," transgressing the bounds of civility in  public discourse.  That countertactic is nothing new, but it seems to be on the rise.

24. He Brought Me Out. The subtle (sometimes not-so-subtle) eroticism of Christian imagery.

23. Declarations of Dependence.   On reading May Sarton's journals about living alone, and adjusting to increasing dependence in her old age.
22. Oooohhh! I Scared Myself.   Griping again about the Obama administration's inability to deal firmly but constructively with its opposition.  (I looked for a video or audio clip of Tweety Bird's reading of the title line, but couldn't find one.)

21. Real Jesuses Don't Sparkle.   Another post on popular Christian imagery, written before the fuss about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly's assertion that Jesus and Santa Claus are really "white men."

20. Free Advice, Five Cents (The Doctor Is In).  Freedom isn't free, including free healthcare.  But that's okay.

19. Well, I Don't Speak Cracker.  On the "nativist" (racist) reaction to Spanish-speaking people in the United States.  (This 2013 post on "natives" didn't get as much traffic, but I think it's better.) 

18. Word-Sex.  A short post on grammar/spelling/pronunciation neurotics, inspired by a lovely reflection on language by Stephen Fry.

17. Perros Cruzados; or, Just As American as Everyone Else.  A followup to my post on Sebastian de la Cruz, the eleven-year-old American kid who infuriated Anglo racists by singing the National Anthem (in English) on national television.

16. "Come With Me If You Want to Live" -- James Cameron.  A variation on an ongoing issue, namely the authenticity of quotations from celebrities in memes on Facebook.  This case intersects with the popular tendency to confuse actors with the roles they play.

15. You're Stupid, Therefore I'm Smart QED.  Sure, it's fun to make fun of right-wing foolishness.  It provides material for many liberal and progressive blog posts.  But The Enemy of My Enemy Is Not My Friend, and just because someone else is wrong, it doesn't follow that I'm (or you're) right.  The commenters of numerous liberal blogs and sites spend a lot of time bonding with each other over the stupidity of conservatives, which is a handy way of ignoring stupidity on one's own side.  And alas, there's plenty to go around.  As Nietzsche once wrote, it's a very popular popular misconception that having the courage of one's convictions (against opposition) is important -- rather, it's having the courage for an attack on one's own convictions.  The post also deals with some questions about the nature of Art.

14. The Way It Really Went Down, Sort Of.  Sure, heterosexual culture has its blind spots, crudities, and abuses.  So does gay men's culture, which is the one I'm stuck with, even if I'm a fringe figure in it.  And many of our blind spots, crudities, and abuses are depressingly similar to those of straights.  Funny, that.

13. The Only Gays in the Global Village.  Quite a few celebrities came out publicly this year.  Some were surprising, at least to some people, others were not.

12. Groping the Truth.  This post consists mostly of two long quotations from thinkers I admire.  I don't know why it got so much traffic, but since the quotations have been important to me, I'm glad others apparently liked them.

11. Taking Jobs Away from Tape and Giving Them to Microchips.  This post is mainly about Kurt Vonnegut's 1952 novel Player Piano, a speculative fabulation about the effects of automation on American life.  But I read it because David F. Noble wrote so positively about it in Forces of Production, his brilliant and powerful history of automation as a tool for worker control in (especially) postwar America, which inspired several posts last year.

10. The Ancient, Glittering Eye of the Beholder.  Sherman Alexie is checking you out in the shower, guys.  But he's not gay.

9. The Kind of Authenticity That Can't Be Faked. About a gay photographer's commodification of men's bodies, and his curious idea that he's doing something different than his colleagues.  The assumption many gay men share, that only one kind of man is desirable, has long bothered me.

8. Bomb Bomb Assad, Plus Thousands of Civilians.  l didn't do much on President Obama's attempt to go to war with Syria, because (luckily) Putin arranged a diplomatic solution while Obama was pretending to ask for Congress's input on the matter.  There's still an unfinished post, "Everybody Adores a Quagmire," in my drafts folder, which I should just delete.

7. Because You Are Lukewarm, I Will Spew You Out of My Mouth.  On a popular closeting strategy in pop music, the use of "you" in lyrics to avoid specifying the sex of the person being sung to.  It's still with us.

6. They Don't Make Sheeples Like They Used To.  It's often said that the trouble with the Internet is that you can't tell whether a quotation is authentic or not.  I believe it's the opposite: the Internet makes fact-checking much easier than it used to be. The trouble is that most people don't bother to check.

5. Deliver Us From People.  Yes, people still believe that computers are already intelligent, sentient, and will be our best friends forever.

4. Come, Let Us Reason Together.  I also hear a lot about how neuroscience can explain everything about our minds.  No, it can't, not yet.

3. You Made Your Bed, Now Lay in It.  Grammar/spelling/punctuation obsessives are a continuing obsession of mine.

2. A Very Practical Post.  One of several posts I wrote about critical thinking last year.

1. Operatic Justice.  I watched the numbers on this post rise steadily, and I still don't understand why.  No one wrote to comment on it, so I have no idea why so many people checked it out.  It's about a local controversy involving the loss of classical-music programming on our NPR affiliate, in which my Right-Wing Acquaintance Number One, aka RWA1, was deeply involved.  (Background can be found in an earlier post.)  The number-crunching management tried to replace the weekly opera broadcast with "news" programs, and had to back down.  This had all kinds of implications for the eternal elitism question, but also for the place of government support for the arts in the US, and right-wing ambivalence about culture.

Other subjects I covered at length, but which didn't get as much attention from readers, include several posts on gay life in today's South Africa; two or three on a recent book about gay Christians in the American South; and several on sexually variant American Indians and the problems they pose for "Western" conceptions of homosexuality.  Among my own favorites are a series on the strange idea of meritocracy, and another on ongoing flaws and failures in the psychiatric construction of mental illness. drawing on two different books.  I may not have written as many posts this year as I did in 2012, but I think I've written some good stuff on some matters I consider important.  Thanks to everyone who reads it.

(Views on these twenty-five posts ranged from 144 views to 652.)