Thursday, June 15, 2006

You are so gay lame!

After the lengthy get-to-know-you talk with Lifter No 2 on the first day, it seemed as if there would be more conversation than when alone in the car with Lifter 1. That hasn’t happened even though the two lifters seem able to talk a bit more to each other than I can to them. Just a tiny bit more, mind you, as the journey is still largely done in silence. Apart from the radio, of course. Listening to the radio is one of two things that has changed with having another lifter.

One good, one not so good.

Because I’m the last person to be picked up and the first to be dropped off, I sit at the back. Sitting at the back means that I’m able to really settle down into doze-mode without having to endure the swaying and listing that comes from sitting at the front in the passenger’s seat. This is a good thing, in case you're wondering.

Listening to the radio has changed because Lifter 2 listens to BBC’s Radio 1, a contemporary music programme hosted by chatty, snappy, chirpy, crappy DJs. So, every other day, I’m regaled with the sometimes amusing, often annoying voice of Chris Moyles instead of the soothing sounds of Radio 4’s Eddie Mair or John Humphrys.

Not being a Radio 1 listener means that until Lifter 2 came on to the scene, I’d not heard Chris Moyles before even though I’d heard about him before. The inflated salary, his popularity with the under 30s, his clever wittiness, the in-your-face style often bordering on rudeness, the gaffes such as the one where Halle Berry accused him of being a racist. But, not having heard the specific program in question, I’d have missed the recent furore about his use of the word ‘gay’ to mean ‘lame’ or ‘rubbish’ had I not read about it on several blogs that I read.

In response to complaints about his use of the word, the BBC Board of Governors have come out in support of him saying that his use reflects contemporary use of the word amongst today’s youth. Gay rights and Anti-bullying organisations have decried this support saying that were the word to signify another minority, eg blacks, instead of gays, they'd not have supported it. And although they know that it’s used by today’s teenagers to signify ‘lame’, often unthinkingly as regards the homophobic connotation, supporting that interpretation sends the wrong message to the youth where school bullying of gays isn’t uncommon and where allowing a derogatory interpretation of the word may contribute towards the negative self-image many young gays have of themselves.

I’ve heard my daughter use the word in that way and seen how surprised she looked when my son pulled her up about it. She’d used it unthinkingly, oblivious to how it could be offensive to gay people.

Uroskin has this to say about the issue:
Oh dear, precious queens up in arms about cultural appropriation. How deliciously ironic after all those protestations over the last 50 years by heteros shocked by the redefinition of the word to mean something not quite what they envisaged the word to mean.

I've never liked the word to describe my particular passion, because it always sounded so innocuous, so bland, so white picket fenced and completely out of step with my particular tastes, smells, sounds and vision in man on man action. So I have no particular problem with the re-definition: language use will always evolve and it will involve fashions among the young and brainless which no-one should be upset about.

The "nigger" analogy doesn't compute, because that is about the appropriation of the insulting term by the targeted minority (as queer is). "Gay" has outlived its usefulness and should in future only be used to denote a marriage arrangement that isn't "sad" (i.e. heterosexual)

Lubin says this:
It's hard enough to get through your teens when you're gay - but at least when I was growing up, "gay" just meant fancying people of the same sex. Now there is no word which means that and has a positive association. We no longer have a word left that isn't tainted in some way ("homosexual" has a criminal-medical-condition etymology, we can discount the hundreds of words like "faggot", "batty-boy" and "puff" which are straight-forwardly derogative and even the reclaimed "queer" is still used negatively by many people). How are gay people supposed to forge a positive self-image it there are no good labels?

Uroskin is mostly right when he says ‘language use will always evolve and it will involve fashions among the young and brainless which no-one should be upset about’ but so is Lubin when he says ‘now there is no word which means that and has a positive association’. While it may be impossible to change the development of meanings in the language, I’d venture that it’s really not a good thing for the BBC to defend the use of the new meaning of ‘gay’ while there isn’t an alternative word that doesn’t have a negative connotation.

It seems strange that the BBC, often accused of pandering to the PC police, should take this stance on the use of ‘gay’. Despite being a great fan of the BBC, I shouldn’t be surprised as their obsession with World War II has definitely contributed towards the anti-German sentiments in this country. Sentiments that have increased in recent years rather than having subsided as World War II fades away.

How strange that I should be ‘forced’ to listen to Chris Moyles just as this controversy has come about.


Blogger whatalotoffun said...

hint take your ipod with and listen to your own music or if your new phone have radio even better than you can listen to your own radio station.

12:21 pm  
Blogger nyasha said...

if YOU could come up with a word that would be used officially instead of "gay", "homosexual" etc... what would it be?

3:56 pm  
Blogger Dawn said...

Am I just old, old fashioned or perhaps just out of touch with reality? I just don't get the point of modern day slang at all. I hear the teenagers in my home referring to something as being "sick" to signify how cool it is. I miss things being groovy!

5:28 pm  
Blogger Caroline said...

It is only thanks to Radio 4's coverage of the Chris - I've got a bigger mouth than you - Moyles use of the word gay to mean lame that I've become aware of this new meaning. And I was surprised that they came down in his favour - it is denying their own role as language affirmers...

Media people often try to pretend that they are only following what is already out there - clearly they have no idea of postive feedback systems...

My mother died still regretting the lose of what she considered the original use... it was clearly one of the words she'd idenitified with in her youth...

Other people meaning different things by one's own favourite words does seem rather hard - there are so many words not even invented yet - as word veri proves every day!

so how do you fancy being termed, lets see...


You'd get to choose its proper pronunciation or you might wait for a better suggestion!

7:41 pm  
Blogger Saddle Up said...

I like Chris Moyles... if you get past his little 'issues' and such (eg he's a fat good-for-nothing bastard...) you could too...

Of course, Chris does have has a couple of gay guys on the show (most notably Aled his technical guy) so he can be quite humerous...

I guess it's one of those things. It's only offenseive if you let it offend you. I don't... and I enjoy the Chris Moyles show (with its randomness and cheekiness) as much as any other show.

7:59 pm  
Blogger DougZAR said...

I've never been fond of the word gay to describe my orientation either. But I use it to be politically correct. At heart, I'm just an old moffie!

You might have to explain that one to the Brits!

8:06 pm  
Blogger Uroskin said...

In Belgium, that avant-garde state of confusion but with gay marriage, the official term is "holebi". I'm sure you'd agree it sounds better in Dutch than in English, so I'll stick to "queer"

11:36 pm  
Blogger JP said...

I think I first heard gay used in this context when I was still at school and I've never heard it used with any malice.

Anyway I'm with Uroskin on this one for the most part, although I think the Beeb need to figure out their message; if todays youth culture were using 'nigger' in the same way, and that tedious, scum sucking skid mark Moyles had adopted it...well, he wouldn't be on the radio this morning would he.

7:04 am  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

whatalotoffun : I have an iPod but I never use it. But, the sleeping is fine for me – makes up for the little hours of sleep I get at night.

nyasha : I could take my name from scores of them – have a look here. But, I’m ok with gay and I also like the term ‘queer’.

Dawn : Sick is the new groovy, man!! :-)

Caroline : I’ve heard it before and gay guys will use it in a similar fashion too. Depending on how it’s said and by whom, I don’t mind hearing it used like that but I can see how it could be badly tinged by homophobia even though sometimes it isn’t. That’s why I was surprised by the BBC’s decision although they did qualify it by suggesting it be used with caution. ‘Hqeby’ sounds about right: homosexual queer engages beautifully’.

Saddle Up : I suppose I could enjoy his show given time and I may yet get to enjoy it if I hear it often enough each day but he’s the sort of person I’d gather amongst my other pet hates: Ant & Dec, Jonathan Ross, Davina McCall. Maybe I have issues? :-)

TiggerZAR : Most of the Brits I know personally, know that word. I’ve even taught them ‘koffie moffie’.

Uroskin : I’ve not heard that term before, I wonder what its roots are?

JP : Well, you did, after all, go to school a LONG time after I did! :-) ‘Scum-sucking skid mark’? Sheesh, that’s a bit harsh, ain’t it?

8:50 am  
Blogger Uroskin said...

Holebi = homo + lesbian + bisexual, abbreviated to an innocuous term even grannies can use without blushing because there is no trace of sex in the term.
I'm all for putting the sex back into homosexual.

11:15 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

uroskin: Ah, should have thought of that. It certainly does remove all traces of sex even if the word 'hole' appears in it.

In Afrikaans, a language derived from Dutch, 'hol' is the slang/rude term for arsehole even though, I think, it's not used for any other sort of hole. If the Dutch also use it with that meaning, then the word may still sound sexually tinged.

8:15 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will call my straight friends fags and refer to other aspects of their life as ghey while supporting GLBT rights.

Groovy is so ghey. Effing Baby Boomers still struggling to grow the f up I see.

5:33 am  

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