Class Narratives in Video Games

The communist gamer?

Below is a link to my recent article for the Kasama Project. The piece deals with the role, or lack therefore of, which video games possess in the class struggle; how does labor, warfare, and ideological narratives play a role in the formation of our society’s spectacle? In this polemic I attempt to unearth some of the possibilities as as well as the modern reality of the medium. Click the following link to read it and join in on the discussion…


Transgender Resistance

As oppression become heavier resistance becomes fiercer.  This much is certain. And while in the case of the Transgender Equality Movement this fact has taken some more time to show, in part because of the intense bigotry, recent events from across the Earth have proved this thesis to be sound; that so as long as reactionary paper tigers search the realm in search of fodder there will be progressive hunters longing to poach.

The first instance of such resistance can be seen here in Imperialist America. Enter the case of Kayla Moore, a transgender woman who died in police custody on the 14th of March after arrested on yet unreleased charges involving “resisting arrest”. How this woman died is not yet known and will not yet be known for some time.

Obviously this event is tragic. In all likelihood this woman was murdered by the police pigs. The intense animosity towards members of the Queer community is well documented among enforcers of the bourgeois state. Because of this historical fact it is no surprise that protests erupted in the wake of Kayla’s death; with dozens of protesters demonstrating outside of the police station the event turned militant when several of the demonstrators shouted “Vengeance for Kayla Moore”. Meeting the riot gear clad cops the demonstration nearly came to blows.

While none were arrested in this action it nonetheless is evident that the slumbering militant of the Queer community are being roused to action. Not just in Berkeley California either. For the Transgender resistance is also rising in Vietnam where the situation for Transgender persons is changing with the howling political winds of social change.

As in any capitalist or even socialist, for that matter, state Vietnam has a saddening history of heterosexism. Discrimination prevails heavily in the air with many Transgender people forced out of school forcing them to take on menial cultural gigs performing at funerals. Yet as with any movement the tide is turning. Increasingly throughout the last year the ruling Vietnamese party has been happily throwing out crumbs in an effort to appease the social opposition.

Their promises have included proposed legislation on legalizing homosexual marriage as well as remarking that specific reactionary gender norms present within the system have been preventing Transgender people from identifying, legally, in the manner which they so desire (such as undergoing sex-change operations and having their preferred gender listed on their I.D tags).

While they are doing this primary to win a human rights seat at the United Nations their actions, nonetheless, prove that the genuinely progressive grassroots campaigns have a place even in “totalitarian” places like Vietnam. Such pressures have taken the form of fruits in the mass-media with the Vietnamese version of “American Idol” (aptly dubbed Vietnam Idol) sporting several prominent Transgender celebrities which the nation’s multitude of young people are able to list off without hesitation.

While the movement has its gains (such as the first national transgender workshop held in August which was attended by government officials) it still has a long way to go in overcoming the powerful stigma still nauseatingly prevalent in Vietnamese society. Naturally, many Transgender people there are still forced to lead double lives where they must often “revert” back to the gender of their birth in order to keep on acceptable terms with family only to switch back when the return to their “other” life (often situated in a city).

Yet even with these obstacles there exists great room for change. If the movement keeps up and the leaders do not allow themselves to be led astray by false promises then Vietnam could become a beacon for Queer rights in the region. If this happened it would not only be a monumental accomplishment for activists and revolutionaries in the area but it would prove to the Western world that the Imperialist bourgeoisie does not have a monopoly on human rights.

Venezuela’s Future: Elections and Homophobia

With the death of commentate Hugo Chavez the Venezuelan people must not only mourn the loss of their beloved president but also shoulder the arduous task of picking a new strongman for the country. This is a vitally important task one which no one is taking lightly; in due part to the resurgent right-wing, which will undoubtedly be pushing hard after nearly a decade and a half of radical populist rule. As is to be expected much dirt has already been slung, to this end we see interim president Nicolás Maduro making homophobic comments.

This is troubling not only for the obvious reasons (homophobia) but also due to how the opposition uses such statements to their advantage. Most recently this has been seen during Nicolas derogatory remarks about his opposition’s party. Naturally the opposition has used such remarks to their advantage in order to swing not only the native queer vote but also affect public opinion abroad.

The primary opposition party (Justice First) is headed by candidate Henrique Capriles; a individual who classifies himself as Center-Right. Campaigning as pro-gay and pro-Jewish Capriles has already amassed a strong online following in the imperialist centers. Is this a coincidence? No, it is not.

While Henrique himself has gone on record to saying that Hugo Chavez was his political inspiration this does not mean he seeks to emulate Chavez. As such it is not too hard to see that when taken together with his center-right party Henrique is merely another pretty face for the progressive bourgeoisie. As president he would not propel his predecessor’s initiatives to a revolutionary level; this is part of why he, despite virtually being an unkown prior to this scandal, has sky-rocketed to fame in the recent days: because “progressive” America and the progressive Venezuelan capitalists, are seeking a new approach to restoring their former power and Capriles fits the description perfectly. Much like President Obama he is seeking to instill in the saddened masses a form of left-centered capitalism that will convince people any kind of social-democracy, let along socialism, is not needed.

So it is from this understanding we must conclude that Henrique Capriles is a reactionary.

This does not mean we should condone Nicolas’s comments or that life for queer people in Venezuela would be better under him, but it does mean recognizing that the ascendency of Capriles in the West in such a short time means an effort to turn back the gains of the Bolivarian Revolution is underway.

As with any progressive social-movements in homophobic areas the path for Queers is to work within the most radical political groups available and turn opinion from the inside out while working with the grassroots; it means influencing truly the most revolutionary while rejecting imperialist schemes for domination. Above all it is a sign that the Venezuelan people need not only our well wishes but our solidarity as well.

Musicial Interior: Rainbow Incest (Damien Zygote)

I am always hesitant to listen to any song with the word “incest” in the title. For me it conjures up images of familial sexual intimacy. Something I do not fin very appealing. So upon hearing, some time ago, an older track of Goth-like techno-horror musical artist Damien Zygote, entitled “Rainbow Incest” I was skeptical of its Queer-friendly attitude (to say the least).

The song is over five minutes long. Filled with some telling lyrics and a nearly far-eastern sounding vibe, the song reminded me, for reasons unknown, of author Stephen King’s novel “Misery”. Borrowing influence from local Maine themes, however, the song displays a somewhat bewildering message which I will attempt to shed some light on and whether this is Queer-positive or Queer-negative.

Let’s start with some of the lyrics[1]:

                “Slide Another Rainbow Into Your Mouth

Dirty Birdie Tongue And Groove

Dirty Little Mouse

Down Through The Cellar Door

On The Basement Floor

What’s The Name Of The Game

That We’re Killing For

What stands out most of all is the first line: slide another rainbow into your mouth.  It seems to be a reference to homosexuality. What is intended, however, is unknown. The next line, with starts with “dirty Birdy” reminds me of Stephen King’s character Annie Wilks from his novel “Misery” (it is not absurd to believe that Mr.Zygote has a certain amount of affinity for Mr.King living in the same state and being hosted on King’s radio station). The mystery starts with the mouse lyrics indicating that someone is perhaps spying on another person? From here it is not until the fourth lines that another intriguing line starts: a basement is referenced along with murder?

Oh My, Oh My, Oh My, Who’s Lying[x2]

This line is more revealing: someone isn’t being murdered rather is keeping a secret, one that is killing him, or murdering him, on the inside?

A Smile On A Dog’s Face

Don’t Mean It Won’t Bite

Tear Out A Piece Of Your Soul

And Hide It Inside”

The latter lyrics in this verse are more of a regurgitation of what we previously know (someone is keeping a terrible secret that is eating away at them) so it is the former lyrics that are worth noting; appearances can be deceiving and so the words state: “A smile on a dog’s face don’t mean it won’t bite”. One could interpret this as a person, our secretive protagonist, is keeping up with the world only through fake appearances; our un-named man seems nice but actually have some vigor to him.

A Kiss From A Snake’s Tongue

Will Keep It In Mind

Well I Don’t Want To Make Fun

So I’m Laughing Inside

The first two lines here can be discerned as anything. They could be simple conjecture or they could be homophobic descriptions. What is clear, however, is the final two lines concern someone, this observer, restraining his thoughts so as to continue watching. This could also be a wider statement on how many heterosexuals view homosexuals: tolerance, they keep their negative thoughts inside to accommodate political correctness?

Oh, I Really Wanna Know [x3]

Where The Rainbow Goes

The unnamed observer desperately wants to know something. This must be taken in with the first line of the song (“Slide another rainbow into your mouth”). The task seems to be figuring out what this so-called rainbow means, what it represents. It could be many things but sexual innuendos come to the forefront.

They’re All Gonna Laugh At You

They’re All Gonna Make You Cry

They’re All Gonna Laugh At You

Hide Your Pride

A fascinating section, we now come closer to the meaning of the song, maybe? The omniscient narrator is parroting results deduced by our “mouse” observer. He implies that if these two people, who are engaging in homosexual acts in a place (“a basement floor”), go to the public with their love they will be ridiculed. Knowing this it is best to keep their orientation pride, their rejection of hetero-hate, on the inside.

Take And Break Another One

Is It Something Really Fun

I Don’t Know Anyone

Who Really Knows It

Maybe In Another Life

You Can Try To Choose A Side

But For Now

You’re Gonna Like It

Now our observer is making inner remarks. He muses about how he doesn’t know anyone else who engages in such, presumably, sexual acts. More importantly he endorses the correct, and scientific, fact that one’s sexual orientation is unchangeable and set from birth (“Maybe in another life you can choose a side”. He finishes off this verse with a positive statement of “you will like it”.

Some Of These Things Are Not The Same

Some Of These Things Are Alike

Learning Too Much Can Be Such A Shame

Close Your Mind

Finishing off his song Mr.Damien sings of uniqueness. Stating that “some of these things are not the same… [and] alike” he is endorsing diversity and attacking the heteronormative culture of Americana.  The last lines are perhaps the most revealing as they might be defined as a social-statement: the populace is queerphobic and learning too much, learning to accept, is, sarcastically, a shame so it is better to close one’s mind and live in ignorance (who wants knowledge anyway?).

These last lines could easily be homophobic, an endorsement of ex-gay “reparative” therapy (learning to be heterosexual?). Yet coming from his tradition, his locale, and from how the previous song proceeded, this seems unlikely.

Returning to “square one” we must examine the word “incest” to truly understand the meaning of this song.[2] defines incest as sexual intercourse between closely related siblings. So with this in mind, and with the examinations of the verses, we can now say, within a reason of a doubt, that this song is about two same-sex family members experimenting with their sexual urges and society’s innate prejudices towards such people. The lyrics hint at a very Queer-positive depiction (if not somewhat condescending).

Personally I do not endorse sexual relations between family members but neither do I condemn it (so as long as it is between two legally consenting adults). It is, in short, not my cup of tea. And while it is a type of song one would never hear on the mainstream radio stations, for a local artist who is trying to make a name for himself, it is a perfect substance; edgy, different, and new, it shows, at the minimum, that Mr. Damien Zygote is unafraid to tackle oceans of creative grey.

To judge for yourself whether Mr.Zygote’s track is homophobic or not listen here…

[1] For this article the lyrics have been taken from the lyrics data-base “Lyricsmania”:

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