Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Mouth of Bourbon Street

In a lighter vein, my Tabloid Friend on Facebook linked to a doozy of a story today, with video. The title says it all, or nearly: "NSFW: An Alabama Fan Teabagged a Passed-Out LSU Fan at the Bourbon Street Krystal." The video doesn't seem to be embeddable, but if you really want to see it it's still on the Deadspin page.

It's a distinctly creepy video. There is no indication of who took the video, though we see his hands for a few seconds at one point. The accompanying article calls Krystal at the mouth of Bourbon Street a "restaurant," but it probably includes a sports bar since the video shows a bunch of drunken Alabama fans (as you can tell by their attire) milling around a single passed-out LSU fan. The Alabama fans are a mix of male and female, mostly white but including at least one African-American woman. They look middle- to upper-class, which fits since they were able to travel to an away game and then party at a restaurant/bar afterwards.

The Alabama fans are fascinated by Mr. LSU. They begin stacking empty juice or food containers on his shoulders. One guy starts to unzip his (own) pants, but changes his mind. One woman stands right behind Mr. LSU and starts to raise her top, then changes her mind. A guy with a goatee is especially intrigued by him, holds his middle finger in front of his unconscious face, and finally opens the zipper of his pants with great care to bring out his testicles (not his penis, as far as I could tell). He moves around to Mr. LSU's side and rubs his scrotal sac on LSU's shoulder for a few seconds, then moves away, though he leaves his pants open for a while longer. Finally a young black restaurant worker (cap, apron, latex gloves) remonstrates mildly with the Bama fans, who act as though they're going to disperse or at least move elsewhere, and the video ends a few moments later.

There are some strange things about the video. One is that the camera evidently wasn't hidden: whether it was made with a phone or a dedicated camera, the equipment seems to have been in plain sight. This doesn't seem to have made the Alabama fans any more circumspect. It makes me wonder how much coordination was involved here. Was it "Hey, Bob, you teabag this drunk and I'll get video, we'll put it on YouTube"? If so, how drunk to you have to be for that to sound like a good idea, especially to the guy who's going to take his balls out in public?

Whatever. I did some looking for definitions, and I think I can safely say that what happened in this video wasn't "teabagging," which seems to involve at least getting your scrotum in contact with the subject's face, and preferably into his or her mouth. The guy in this video didn't even get near Mr. LSU's face, just sorta dry-humped his fully clothed shoulder. One female commenter on Tabloid Friend's status cried that the video depicted "oral rape." Huh-uh; not even close. But if you ever wondered how a lynch mob starts, that's one way: someone hysterically manufactures a sexually-charged accusation. In this case, luckily, there was no way to run with it. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that what happens in this video could be classified as sexual assault or sexual battery, if anyone wanted to bring charges. Amazingly (to me, anyway), some geek claimed on Twitter and elsewhere to be the guy with ball sack, though it shouldn't be necessary to resort to social media for the police to find him if they wanted to: he performed on video in a brightly lit room, for goodness' sake.

But the other thing I learned from perusing the web was that teabagging is not only a trope in porn videos, it's a form of hazing and play among younger, supposedly straight guys, their way of bonding around a friend who's either asleep or passed out drunk. It fits with the straight male belief that the male genitals are an instrument of humiliation and abasement for anyone who comes in contact with them: if I brush your face with my ball sack, I have turned you into a fag. I don't think you have to be a Freudian to suspect that this is most exciting to someone who secretly wants to fool around with another man but doesn't want to think of himself as queer. Just as a matter of policy, every male who plays this game should be labeled a fag forever after. But I think the game is more about power relations, dominance and abasement, than it is about eroticism -- which is another reason to give a hard time to those who play it.

The other game being played in this video, of course, is sports rivalry. The passed-out LSU fan symbolizes LSU itself to the drunken Alabama fans who play with his unconscious body. (In the same way that a head of state, whether president or monarch, is the nation, and a blow struck against him is a blow against the nation. Toppling a statue of a hated leader has the same meaning, even when it's a staged media event. It's poppet magic.) Flipping him the bird shows it most openly, even or especially because he can't see it: We beat you! We made a faggot out of you! Suck on this! Both men and women get into the game here. Another clue: the Deadspin writer reports the "some people are claiming the victim in this is now dead, making the 'This guy's life is over' line uttered in the video creepy. (We're trying to get in touch with New Orleans police. We'll update if we hear from them.)" So far no update, even two days later, so I figure this claim can be laid to rest. "This guy's life is over" meant, first, that LSU is toast, it has been made a fag by its loss to Alabama; and second, maybe, that the victim's life is over because he was abased on video for the whole world to see. I don't know: his face isn't really visible, and it would be a lot harder to identify him from the clip than Mr. Goatee, whose life really should be over. At the very least, he shouldn't be able to go to work or walk down the street without being mocked and taunted.

I found a couple of articles online about teabagging as a "new" form of bullying in Our Schools, for example: "something apparently inspired by the Halo video game series, in which players can perform a posturing move over a defeated enemy." Then there were comments like this one on another post:
ya those kids went overboard but really that kid is such a P***y for letting his face get balls rubbed on it as weel as a banana shoved in his ass. i mean like quaker says boys will be boys, they went over the line here and should be dealt with properly. this kid if he is to much aof a bithc to defend himself with his fists should take a bat to these guys.
If "boys will be boys", then why should it be "dealt with properly"? ("Boys will be boys" is used to defend just about everything violent or criminal that boys like to do, up to and including gang rape and broken bones.)

The sexual abasement of boys by other boys in dominance games is as old as the word "faggot" and its equivalents. In my day "pantsing" -- ganging up on a boy and pulling down his pants to humiliate him -- was popular. (I must track down an account I once read of pantsing as a guy pastime in 19th century Mexican fiction.) Much of its endurance depends on its not being celebrated on the Intertoobz: it's supposed to be one of those things that happens out of sight of adults, and of course only a whining "bithc" would tattle over some tiny thing like having a banana shoved into his butt. Again, this kind of thing might properly be dealt with by publicly labeling the perpetrators as gaywads. Use homophobia to catch a homophobe.

Still, what got me started here was the overreaction: this event was "teabagging" only by courtesy, as it were (though probably also by intention: if Mr. Goatee could have gotten his balls in Mr. LSU's face, he no doubt would have, but it turned out to be too awkward). And "oral rape"? Tabloid Friend and his commenters love to jerk off over other people's sexual peccadilloes; it's the American way.