June 17th, 2008

barometric waffle linguists (pic by me)

A moment of channeling Morford

The phrase "culture jamming" has popularly come to mean something like (per Wikipedia) "turning away from all forms of herd mentality." That definition would have it be an individualized act, a personal opting out.

But today's weddings in California are culture jamming in a much broader sense.

Jam, v.tr.: To block, congest, or clog. To cause (moving parts, for example) to lock into an unworkable position.

Culture jam, v. tr.: To bombard with conflicting cultural signals in such a way as to threaten or break societal conditioning.

Even as a gay marriage supporter, seeing this photo -- of two men in tuxedo shirts, black leather jackets and cowboy hats, standing at the altar -- caused me some cognitive dissonance. For three decades I've been bombarded with images of what "marriage" is. Being thrown these contradictory images leaves me feeling ill at ease. Unsettled. There's a little Archon inside me whispering that accepting these images means a terrifying loss of order.


Pictures are funny things. You see in a photograph -- more so than real life, anyway -- what you want to see. Your brain seizes on the contradiction of the image; glosses over the little touches that make it real. The tender glance, the gentle hand-holding.

And you miss the world of your other senses. The laughter, the scent of roses, the taste of chocolate, the hugs of well-wishing friends, the vibrant joy and exultation of a love long suppressed, stepping out tentatively into the world as if it can't believe the sun still shines after a lifetime hidden in the basement.

You can't be there for a wedding, gay or otherwise, without feeling it.*

The love.

That's what this is about; that's why this is the right thing to do. Expanding marriage is about love versus fear. It's about confronting that dark dissonance of unquestioned social convention, letting it flay your unquestioned expectations and strip your conditioning raw and naked ... and still being willing to let go and wander, unprotected, away.

"Something big is indeed being lost here, and we will be better off without it."

When convention protects love, friendship, community, happiness, guard it with your life. When convention stands in the way of these things, dance in the rubble.

Convention is not all we have: people are all we have.


And besides which, this means George Takei** has finally gotten married. By all accounts, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

* Okay, some people can. Those people should be treated as a case of brain damage and gently guided away to sulk in their corner.
** You remember his total pwnage [video] of Tim Hardaway's "I hate gays" comment. Right?