Gay culture

For general discussion of Pet Shop Boys topics.
Message
Author
User avatar
Patrick Bateman
Posts: 8609
Joined: Sat 12 Apr 2008, 4:35 pm
Contact:

Gay culture

#1 Post by Patrick Bateman » Wed 09 Jan 2013, 12:37 am

Whilst the demise of PSB as a chart act was of course inevitable, I can't help from thinking that it also documents a shift in gay culture. Ironically enough PSB have always been a synecdoche for gayness, yet at a time when gay culture is at its most predominant in popular culture their popularity is at its weakest. This is indicative of a shift from the tortured, cerebral homosexuality of a Kenneth Williams or the cool insouciance of a Dirk Bogarde to the screaming, flaming banality of an Alan Carr. The world which they celebrated in To speak is a sin has been replaced by a fully lubed-up assault on the fundament of popular culture. Even the beige hegemony of X-Factor has been masterminded by a homosexual, albeit one with all the aesthetic appreciation of a tap salesman. Making homosexuality illegal again would both improve popular culture and give PSB their long-awaited fifth number one single.

User avatar
retrofuturist
Posts: 3088
Joined: Mon 08 May 2006, 12:31 am
Contact:

Re: Gay culture

#2 Post by retrofuturist » Wed 09 Jan 2013, 12:45 am

Greetings,

I tend to think modern culture (gay, straight or otherwise) is just over-sexualised, period.

I find the all-pervasive crassness of it rather brutal and jarring. All of which of course does not work in PSB's favour, as they are traditionally exponents of subtlety in such matters.

Oh, for the reserved English.

Retro. :)

User avatar
Drico One
Posts: 5448
Joined: Tue 16 Sep 2003, 8:56 pm
Contact:

Re: Gay culture

#3 Post by Drico One » Wed 09 Jan 2013, 1:08 am

Funnily enough, I've no doubt that the changing social environment has had a profound effect not only on how Pet Shop Boys are perceived, but on how they write - which is probably how it should be. Neil's a fascinating writer because it's quite clear from his lyrics how he has developed as a man. Bateman's thread may be tongue-in-cheek, but sexuality - or more accurately, difference - that great all-consuming alienator, has always been central to Neil's writing. As homosexuality has become more mainstream (and it wasn't in their 1987 heyday with those horribly oppressive AIDS adverts on the BBC scaring an entire generation), Neil has become more open and the furtive, subversive nature of much of his earlier material has given way to a heart-felt sincerity.

Neil still has the odd neurotic moment that manifests itself in some wonderfully wry lyric, but a greater self-confidence is the natural consequence of aging and experience. This confidence expressed itself in the public declaration of his sexual orientation in Attitude in 1994. In the imperial days, he was wrestling with his own demons and forbidden desires, yearning for escape whilst simultaneously making a virtue of his somewhat repressed existence.

The natural consequence of officially coming out was that he no longer felt the need to speak in code, and in some ways, as a result, we lost a layer of metaphorical ambiguity. With his self-inflicted repression and the need to translate emotions into something more ambiguous gone, the absorbing battle between his self-control and his desire for escape was a thing of the past. Only Neil's natural self-consciousness and inhibition remained - and these characteristics manifest themselves in touchingly romantic songs like Did You See Me Coming?, It Always Comes As A Surprise, and The View From Your Balcony. There isn't a hint of sex - let alone forbidden desire in any of these songs because his heart's desire is no longer forbidden.

None of this would have been possible without the societal changes that we've seen since the 1980s. Bateman may be flippant, but there's no doubt that Neil's writing has transmogrified as his alienation and sense of being different faded.

Drico.
The pale kid that hides in the attic behind his PC...

User avatar
vincenzosz
Posts: 730
Joined: Thu 05 Mar 2009, 5:43 pm
Contact:

Re: Gay culture

#4 Post by vincenzosz » Wed 09 Jan 2013, 1:35 am

The most interesting part of awaiting new material for me is to hear what Neil has to say. I'm especially curious what kind of commentary PSB will have relating to lyrics set against dance music.

It's true that in the past decade or so very little has been about homosexuality in PSB period. Fundamental was mostly political, Yes was carefree, and Elysium was reflective in respect to age and mortality.
It's been a long time since PSB made a true dance record, and at their age I'm very curious to hear what lyrics will be set against that kind of music.

Will it be straightforward pop lyrics, insightful dance beats or unabashedly bold and liberating rhythms?

User avatar
FormerEnfantTerrible
Posts: 717
Joined: Thu 26 Jul 2012, 4:48 am
Contact:

Re: Gay culture

#5 Post by FormerEnfantTerrible » Wed 09 Jan 2013, 2:29 am

Well, because now most gays think they can only listen to Rihanna, Lady Gaga, or such...
Did You See Me Coming?

User avatar
geowayne
Posts: 1957
Joined: Fri 31 Oct 2003, 6:43 am
Contact:

Re: Gay culture

#6 Post by geowayne » Wed 09 Jan 2013, 3:02 am

I think it has far more to do with ageism than anything else. All music acts perceived as "old" -- that is, old enough to be the parents of today's teens and 20-somethings -- are struggling mightily for any chart presence and airplay.

That being said, I think there's a modicum of reason underlying this thread. There has obviously been a huge shift in "gay culture" -- as well as in general culture's attitudes toward gay people -- over the past few years, and while there are mostly positive aspects to it, there have been a few downsides. As gay people are increasingly accepted into the mainstream, traditional "gay organizations" have been struggling. I've witnessed it in my own personal life, with more than one organization to which I've belonged having folded over the past several years. In effect, those organizations have been victims of our own success in that there's less perceived need for them than 20, 10, or even 5 years ago.

But while this may indeed be a factor in PSB commercial fortunes of late, I still believe ageism is the chief culprit.
Last edited by geowayne on Wed 09 Jan 2013, 3:14 am, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
geowayne
Posts: 1957
Joined: Fri 31 Oct 2003, 6:43 am
Contact:

Re: Gay culture

#7 Post by geowayne » Wed 09 Jan 2013, 3:04 am

[Unable to delete message repetition because of submission errors, but at least I can edit it to leave this note instead.]

User avatar
Deschanel
Posts: 2360
Joined: Thu 30 Oct 2003, 8:23 pm
Contact:

Re: Gay culture

#8 Post by Deschanel » Wed 09 Jan 2013, 4:17 am

Drico and GeoWayne both have very good points (as they do) about somewhat separate but related topics.

I do think there's something lost when gay culture, however one defines it, is so thoroughly assimilated that it becomes utterly banal. I wouldn't want to go back to the bad old days, but there's no denying that repression, subversion, allusion, the unspoken, transgressive and outlawed led to some very great creativity and art in all its forms in the past. The 20th century being particularly rich, or the late 19th too, counting Oscar. Being outside society, quite loathed, gives a person persectives on life that perhaps not most people experience. Queer, if you will. I very much enjoyed the dark hints and allusions and unspoken things in early PSB. There was a glamour in feeling an outlaw, forbidden love, dreams of escape. Repression can really produce some great art (though some great human damage too).

Wouldn't want to go back. But the things that gay culture used to be- a bit dangerous, a walk on the wild side- has it seems, been assimilated into the great culture machine and processed into a vanilla smoothie. Boring and unthreatening and bourgeois, from media representations. Which, progress, but dumbed-down, dull. I never thought I'd see gay marriage become a thing, much less become a law in my state. When I was young, hoping to live to 40 was my thing. I very much do not to relate to what passes as retail "gay culture" these days- bars, clubs, the whole commercialized and tacky world of it- and haven't for a very long time. It's a kind of dumb and shallow scene, and there's many many more facets of it that I find objectionable, but I don't even have the energy or care to list them. I'm smoking, non-scene.

I don't see a lot of great "Gay" art these days, but that's okay. Because a lot of gay artists don't have to label themselves as such anymore, which is good, and progress. And there was a tremendous amount of terrible "gay art' in the past for sure, most of it. But what shone through, from Wilde to Forster to Warhol to..ten thousand more .. was valuable and distinctive art that came from a gay point of view and experience.

The NYC humorist/cranky bitch/ Warhol pal and Studio 54 attending cynical yet funny and acerbic (god that was a lot of descriptives) Fran Liebowitz had an HBO documentary about her, directed and produced by Martin Scorsese. Talking about the 70's and 80's, she posits that not only did Aids wipe out a generation of gay men in NYC, it especially targeted the best and the brightest- artists, writers, dancers, whatever. Because, the most creative, talented, charismatic, successful, and I guess handsomest of them all had tons of sex back then. Before people knew about the plague. And in their absence, their vanishing, to her it's when the hacks and the second-raters got successful. She does a darkly funny comic telephone call to Heaven, to one of her friends who died, to gossip: "Hi- you would not believe who's having a retrospective at the Whitney Museum." "No! That hack?!". In short, what she meant was that culture here really did suffer , the Aids crisis was a real catastrophe, and there's a missing generation that might've passed down some wit and wisdom to the younger gay folks that just..died and vanished. And in part, that's why "gay culture" in NYC is so dumbed-down and shallow. I sort of agree with her. Late 80's and early 90's NYC, it felt a bit like life during wartime- ACT-Up, protests, ever present fear, absences and ghosts.

Sorry for the long exposition! It's an interesting topic to me, and a personal one I suppose. Anyway.

User avatar
vincenzosz
Posts: 730
Joined: Thu 05 Mar 2009, 5:43 pm
Contact:

Re: Gay culture

#9 Post by vincenzosz » Wed 09 Jan 2013, 8:40 am

One thing to note is that Neil dislikes the idea of gay culture. I have to agree, as for one thing it further seperates gay people and has created in some ways a representation of what gay life is, which is really not a true representation, but a stereotype.

We are all people, and it's only because of the struggle for rights that there was a seperation to begin with. As Chris has said, there is only one kind of sexuality; human sexuality.

I believe however that the ambiguous gay nature of early PSB music did give then a sort of "gay icon" status. And for sure because of their unique pop and dance sound (which can be primarily associated with appealing to gays), as well as subtle and relatable lyrics (I get excited, etc) that gave PSB a gay appeal. The latter being more or less absent for the reasons Drico elaborated on above.

So it seems this was part of the natural progression of things in terms of the subject matter of their music.

Any gay friends I've met have little to no idea who Pet Shop Boys are, but the same could be said for the straight ones.

I've heard Neil say one of the reasons he suspects PSB haven't been as successful as they could be is because they don't sell sex.
If that's true early in their career when they were young, that is especially true now that they are older men. On top of the fact that the world is just that much more overtly sexualized now.

User avatar
vincenzosz
Posts: 730
Joined: Thu 05 Mar 2009, 5:43 pm
Contact:

Re: Gay culture

#10 Post by vincenzosz » Wed 09 Jan 2013, 8:46 am

Just thought of this....

It's funny, but if PSB started a new group with a different name but everything else the same, but represented themselves like Daft Punk, the Gorillaz, etc they would probably be a lot more successful. Good idea on Daft Punks part, they will never have to face ageism. You can stick those helmets on two 90 yo guys and noone would be any the wiser. :D

User avatar
Undertaker
Posts: 8856
Joined: Thu 30 Oct 2003, 9:16 pm
Contact:

Re: Gay culture

#11 Post by Undertaker » Wed 09 Jan 2013, 1:13 pm

I think it's as basic as the radio and t.v simply not playing their music. Radio 2 isn't going to get you a hit. It's down to Radio 1, Capital and X Factor. If they ignore you, the single buying public wont know anything about a new song. It's all about exposure.

Look at the charts, it's so stagnant with the same records in the top ten weekly. All playlisted and on heavy rotation on the three examples above.

User avatar
Danimal
Posts: 1199
Joined: Mon 03 Nov 2003, 12:57 am
Contact:

Re: Gay culture

#12 Post by Danimal » Thu 10 Jan 2013, 2:14 pm

It's interesting that the type of fantasy world PSB depicted during the Very period, everything "mega" and "over the top" to the maximum, all of the time, has come to pass in our real world. I wasn't a fan of grunge, as it was just rock and roll trying to get in the back door, and the "hyper-realness" quickly became a new type of cultural oppression, but I must say I do miss a more down-to-earth cultural status quo.

bohemians.
Posts: 1588
Joined: Wed 05 Nov 2008, 10:46 am
Contact:

Re: Gay culture

#13 Post by bohemians. » Sun 13 Jan 2013, 3:41 pm

its very funny connection "gay" and "culture"..
I discovered interview in mag Out/January 2000 -btw very beautiful cover with Neil and Chris with laces over their faces,specially lace over Neil s sweet face entertained me /well excited me almost well..
Neil said" I didn t think of myself as gay - I had quite a lot of heterosexual sex!" and he goes on " its a shame the way bisexuality narrows down at some point to beeing gay,like me, or beeing heterosexual,like Michael Portillo.Its pity one does that.
Does this mean he is bisexual and wisches to be gay or gay who wisches to be bi
I can only quess then the interviewer says "..there s a sense that Tennant regrets the way a solid life emerges from the countless possibilities we begin with, that perhaps as we choose one life, others get ruled out..

If someone nice posted here all article/because when I get the the point Neil decribing his boyfriend lived in his house in basement,while Neil up, sadly it doesn t go on..

I wanted to writte something about gay culture in London night clubs,...but is it really "culture" ,when it usually is not even proper ONE NIGH stand??..

User avatar
geowayne
Posts: 1957
Joined: Fri 31 Oct 2003, 6:43 am
Contact:

Re: Gay culture

#14 Post by geowayne » Tue 15 Jan 2013, 3:02 am

bohemians. wrote: I wanted to writte something about gay culture in London night clubs,...but is it really "culture" ,when it usually is not even proper ONE NIGH stand??..
There's a lot more to "gay culture" than just the sex. Or at least that is traditionally the case. When gay people were almost universally "outsiders" and even "outlaws," it fostered various viewpoints, attitudes, behaviors, and sensibilities that, together, constituted (or at least contributed to) what could very rightly be termed "gay culture." But, getting back to the initial posting of this thread, that may be history, at least in many parts of the world. When gay people are no longer outsiders and outlaws, will that unique perspective also be lost? And what are the larger ramifications for the arts in general?

Still, as a gay man of a certain age, I'm personally willing to make the sacrifice. If I and other gay people -- not to mention future generations -- can live a greater life of freedom, safety, love, and happiness, then screw "gay culture," and even screw the arts. It's people that matters. Besides, I suspect the arts will get along just fine without a unique "gay culture."

Now getting ready to don my flame-retardant attire. :)

User avatar
retrofuturist
Posts: 3088
Joined: Mon 08 May 2006, 12:31 am
Contact:

Re: Gay culture

#15 Post by retrofuturist » Tue 15 Jan 2013, 4:38 am

Greetings,
geowayne wrote:It's people that matters.
Well said, Wayne.

Retro. :)

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 7 guests