Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

It Gets Better

Popular culture has a tug of war with real life.  For example, porn.  It depicts a world where anything goes.  Where all it takes is getting someone to embrace one kink and suddenly they'll try any kink, nothing is taboo.  Movies try to teach us the wisdom of children, who are pure and unmotivated by selfishness (this is part of the reason South Park is so funny.  It's practically a walk down memory lane for me).  You can learn a lot about people and cultures from their popular entertainment, but you have to sift through it.

A perfect example of this is what is probably my favorite anime, Ebichu The Housekeeping Hamster.  The name sums up the basics, but not the driving force.  The series is a blatant attack on the conservative, male dominated social order of Japan in general and in the urban areas in particular.  It focuses on two characters, Ebichu and Master.  Master (she is never identified by name) is a 29 year old office lady in Tokyo.  In Japan, 29 is generally considered the oldest a woman can be and still have a reasonable shot at landing a husband.  Ebichu will do anything for her Master, but Master treats Ebichu cruelly.  Meanwhile, Master has a worthless boyfriend in her life (he is never identified by name, either).  He cheats on her, he uses her (one time, when she's sick, he comes over for a quick lay and then takes off while she's asleep), but he's the only man paying her any attention, so she puts up with him, tries to change him, anything she can so that she can not be viewed as a failure by the world around her.  The one who shows her unconditional love, Ebichu, she couldn't care less about.

I mention this because, if you look at a lot of Japanese pop culture, you might get the idea that they are a very tolerant society.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  This is especially true of gays.  Despite a sexual culture that not only gets really weird (tamakiri, which is just men being kicked in the balls.  No kidding.  Playboy offered a DVD of four hours of it for a subscription to their magazine) but sometimes downright disgusting (check out Cool Devices, but not before you fill your bathtub with vodka, you're going to want to lie in it for a while after seeing that), IRL sex is strictly beyond vanilla.  Despite all the yaoi and yuri in their media, gays are ostracized and treated like shit.  Well, when they aren't being ignored entirely.

Last year, a stunning number of gay teens were committing suicide due to harassment.  It's bad enough being picked on in high school, but when you combine it with being gay, with entire segments of the planet, sometimes your own parents telling you you are sick and wrong and a flaw, the pressure can easily push kids over the edge.  The totally awesome Dan Savage understood this better than anyone (not to spoil anything, but he's openly gay).  Dan created a PSA with a simple message -- "It gets better."  Just a little reassurance to anyone lost in the wilderness that they won't be living there forever.

"It Gets Better" exploded into a meme.  Dan's simple YouTube video soon found participation from over 10,000 people, from simple parents who would rather love their kids than exclude them for being gay to celebrities, including Lady Gaga, Barack Obama, Colin Farrell, and even Woody from Toy Story.  I thought it was beautiful, but I also felt sad.  I mean, plenty of stuff becomes popular for a while, then everyone forgets about it.  In slang, words like "cool" and "dude" apparently will live forever, but expressions like "23 skiddoo" and "wing ding" are not only forgotten about, but people will think you're talking jibberish.

Turns out, not everyone is forgetting "It Gets Better."

The current issue of X-Men -- Generation Hope has hit the stands.  X-Men has long been a metaphor for social discrimination (even the movies did this, with Bobby Drake being asked by his parents in one scene, "Have you ever tried not being a mutant?").  Some background -- the character of Kenji Uedo is from a Japanese culture, and his dad committed suicide when he saw his son in bed with another man.  Kenji is talking with Wolverine, and this exchange occurs:

KENJI:  This world is not right.  Why would we live in it?
LOGAN:  It gets better, kid.

There's always a new generation that needs help.  It's great to see people are still reaching out to them.
Tags: art, comic books, comics, haven't we suffered enough, i'll drink to that, important life lessons, let's talk about sex bay-bee!, lord hear our prayer
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