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Source: (consider it) Thread: "creatures of the night"?
Stetson
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Canadian student-union apologizes for playing transphobic song

I expect that, like me, most of you had a derisive chuckle at the expense of the offended students, when you saw what the song in question was.

And I'd imagine we've got a few grizzled old veterans of 70s punk shaking their heads in bemusement that some little twerps referred to Take A Walk On The Wild Side as "a song".

On the other hand, is it really a defense to say, as one of Reed's friends is quoted as saying "Lou was open about his complete acceptance of all creatures of the night"? Are most trans people really comfortable being so categorized? My guess would be that at least some of them regard themselves as no less "daytime" than anyone else.

Another way to phrase this would be to wonder at what point an ostensible embrace of diversity shades off into exoticization.

And, yes, I am aware that the song is about a particular group of people who gravitated toward the Warhol circle in 1960s New York. So, you could argue that the students' union erred in assuming it could be taken as being about trans people in general, though that point is rather negated by the songs' defenders arguing that it promotes overall tolerance of trans people.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
And I'd imagine we've got a few grizzled old veterans of 70s punk shaking their heads in bemusement that some little twerps referred to Take A Walk On The Wild Side as "a song".

It's not?

It's certainly not punk.

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Stetson
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Well, I meant that it might seem odd for people of a certain taste and generation to hear Take A Walk On The Wild Side described as "a song with transphobic lyrics", as if the complainant has no other experience of hearing the song. Sort of like apologizing for reading from "a book that contains anti-semitism", when the book in question is The Merchant Of Venice.

And, point taken about the genre. In my experience, the Velvet Underground tend to get lumped in with punk in popular discussion, though of course that song is not by them, per se.

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lilBuddha
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The students are fucking idiots.
quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:

On the other hand, is it really a defense to say, as one of Reed's friends is quoted as saying "Lou was open about his complete acceptance of all creatures of the night"? Are most trans people really comfortable being so categorized? My guess would be that at least some of them regard themselves as no less "daytime" than anyone else.

Trans people of that time period, hell anybody different, would have been more likely to come out at night. I don't think it would be seen as an insult to be so described back then.
I am not of that era and I do not see that song as anything phobic.

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If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Stetson
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quote:
Trans people of that time period, hell anybody different, would have been more likely to come out at night.
That's certainly a logical way to read the friend's comments, though some might say a bit literalist. I personally would tend to imbue the phrase "creatures of the night" with, as I say, more exotic connotations, not simply a time-of-day reference. Such an interpretation puts the original song somewhere in the territory of Freakin' At The Freakers Ball(which the anti-PC crowd might find a little harder to defend against objections.)


quote:
The students are fucking idiots.
On the face of it, they do seem to be living up to the stereotype of Canadian progressives as being a bunch of aesthetically tone-deaf prigs.

[ 29. May 2017, 23:17: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
And, point taken about the genre. In my experience, the Velvet Underground tend to get lumped in with punk in popular discussion, though of course that song is not by them, per se.

Does glam slide into punk the way psychedelic slides into prog? TAWOTWS is very slick, very "produced." And all the instruments are in tune. It doesn't have the raw sound I identify with punk at all, nor the anger.

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Nicolemr
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It's really hard for me to see the lyrics of TAWOTWS as transphobic. If anything they seem rather transpositive. If that's a word...

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Pangolin Guerre
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It is a word, at least to the extent that I've seen it in print.

I'm not that old, but in my misspent youth and post-youth, a group of us used to refer to ourselves as 'the children of the night,' without conscious reference to TAWOTWS, but rather to the fact that we were one variety or other of queer. My own relationship with the transvestite and transgendered communities has undergone a long evolution, and will probably continue to evolve, but one thing of which I am certain is that I've gained more by shutting up and listening. I think that those complaining about TAWOTWS are not listening, and failing to put it in historical context. It's actually quite liberating, or, it was. For myself, growing up in a small, somewhat remote town, hearing TAWOTWS on the radio always gave me a frisson of delight and the promise of some future freedom.

Before some 20-something activist gets upset, they should ask a 60 year old transgendered person about their experience. Perhaps the 60 year old quite likes the song; perhaps s/he doesn't. Ask. Learn. Historical consciousness is something sadly lacking in (as I call it, and I'm in there) the alphabet community.

[ 30. May 2017, 01:24: Message edited by: Pangolin Guerre ]

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
That's certainly a logical way to read the friend's comments, though some might say a bit literalist. I personally would tend to imbue the phrase "creatures of the night" with, as I say, more exotic connotations, not simply a time-of-day reference.

But I think it is meant to. And that part of it unfortunate, but part of its era. But we are talking about someone else interpreting Reed.

quote:

Such an interpretation puts the original song somewhere in the territory of Freakin' At The Freakers Ball

Whoa! That was an education. I had never heard of this before and was only peripherally aware of Silverstein as a children's author.
quote:

(which the anti-PC crowd might find a little harder to defend against objections.)

Two things. I think the students are fools and I would not describe myself as "anti-PC".
And I think discussions of what it was like back then and how those lyrics play now are a worthy discussion, but Walk on the Wild Side is in a different category no matter how you slice it.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Stetson
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
And, point taken about the genre. In my experience, the Velvet Underground tend to get lumped in with punk in popular discussion, though of course that song is not by them, per se.

Does glam slide into punk the way psychedelic slides into prog? TAWOTWS is very slick, very "produced." And all the instruments are in tune. It doesn't have the raw sound I identify with punk at all, nor the anger.
Mea culpa. Believe it or not, I was actually gonna write "grizzled old veterans of 70s glam rock", but I didn't think that was an identifiable subculture quite the way punk was. And wikipedia listed both the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed as "proto-punk"(among other genres), and I think I've often heard them lumped in socially with punk artists(though possibly the way the Beatles get lumped in with the not-so-similar Rolling Stones), so I figured I might get away with the slapdash taxonomy.

But I can see you're more than a match for me!

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Stetson
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Buddha wrote:

quote:
Whoa! That was an education. I had never heard of this before and was only peripherally aware of Silverstein as a children's author.

And a Village Voice and Playboy cartoonist as well.

His list of songs is pretty impressive. If you've heard the Top 10 of Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, you've heard at least a few of his tunes. Plus, A Boy Named Sue, and this thing about the unicorns drowning in Noah's Flood that, as far as I know, enjoyed its greatest popularity in Canada, where most people likely assumed it was an authentic Irish ditty.

The Unicorn Song

Some other stuff to reply to here, but I'm a little pressed for time. Later.

[ 30. May 2017, 07:53: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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orfeo

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What idiots. Apparently now, simply mentioning a trans person constitutes "transphobia" if you fail to include in your mention an explicit declaration of how utterly wonderful transgender people are.

Which is a bit hard to do in a song lyric.

I can't see anything in the song's description that could be construed as negative, except by someone who was actively looking to pick a fight in a culture war.

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Stetson
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Buddha wrote:

quote:
I think the students are fools and I would not describe myself as "anti-PC".

I don't doubt that for a second. But when reading newspaper comment sections(which tend to be the main venue for these sorts of controversies), I always kind of assume that the people complaining about "political correctness" make the same complaint every time such a controversy arises, regardless of the specific facts. So I was kind of curious how they would repsond to criticism of the Dr. Hook song.

And of course there's a sardonic joke to be enjoyed in considering that most of those "anti-PC" complainers are the same people, spiritually if not literally, who thirty years ago would have been calling radio stations to complain about the references to "giving head" heard in TAWOTWS.

quote:
But I think it is meant to. And that part of it unfortunate, but part of its era. But we are talking about someone else interpreting Reed.

Good to re-iterate that the phrase was someone else's reading of the lyrics. Just to be clear, the words "creatures of the night" words don't appear in the song lyrics.

quote:
And that part of it unfortunate, but part of its era.
I guess one of the things I've been wondering here is whether we ARE, in fact, supposed to regard the "creatures of the night" aspect of the song as unfortunate, or if it is something being embraced.

Pangolin wrote:

quote:
I'm not that old, but in my misspent youth and post-youth, a group of us used to refer to ourselves as 'the children of the night,' without conscious reference to TAWOTWS, but rather to the fact that we were one variety or other of queer. My own relationship with the transvestite and transgendered communities has undergone a long evolution, and will probably continue to evolve, but one thing of which I am certain is that I've gained more by shutting up and listening. I think that those complaining about TAWOTWS are not listening, and failing to put it in historical context. It's actually quite liberating, or, it was. For myself, growing up in a small, somewhat remote town, hearing TAWOTWS on the radio always gave me a frisson of delight and the promise of some future freedom.

Thanks for the recollection, Pangolin. Not much to say in direct reply, but it's always good to hear from people more directly connected(if not outright part of) the time and place in question. Like I say, some of these activists can be a little tone-deaf to context, nuance, the whole nine yards.

orfeo wrote:

quote:
Apparently now, simply mentioning a trans person constitutes "transphobia" if you fail to include in your mention an explicit declaration of how utterly wonderful transgender people are.

Not that it's much of a defense, but I suspect the line that set their alarms off was "shaved her legs and then he was a she", which might sound(again, to someone lacking the capacity to absorb nuance)a little flippant, like its trying to dismiss the notion of transgenderism altogether.

[ 30. May 2017, 15:18: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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Stetson
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Oh, and just to further complicate the notion that the Warhol scene was all about tolerance and acceptance, here is a relatively recent interview with Paul Morrissey, the man more-or-less responsible for the fact that anyone had ever heard of all the people mentioned in Wild Side to begin with.

You can scroll down to near the end, where he gives his views on what's wrong with American culture these days. It's the paragraph that begins with "American culture has been run by the Soviet Union for the past sixty years", and proceeds from there into the waning power of the Catholic Church and the subsequent popularity of sex, drugs, and incest.

He apparently doesn't think much of the Velvet Underground either.

[ 30. May 2017, 15:30: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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Stetson
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Women In Revolt


Starring Holly and Jackie. (NSFW)

Yeah, can't see the twentysomethings in Guelph really appreciating that one.

[ 30. May 2017, 15:47: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
Not that it's much of a defense, but I suspect the line that set their alarms off was "shaved her legs and then he was a she", which might sound(again, to someone lacking the capacity to absorb nuance)a little flippant, like its trying to dismiss the notion of transgenderism altogether.

Well,
Holly came from Miami F.L.A.
Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A.
Holly, though birth-assigned male, identified as female and decided to transition. Which, for her,* was to take on tertiary characterises as expressed in her generation.
And the African American girls, or Black or West Indian or whoever they choose to call themselves and why are we assigning background vocals to a colour anyway,
sing doo doo doo...

*But, by no means for everyone. How anyone chooses to express their gender is their own choice, from no change to surgical reassignment.

is fairly challenging in a lyrical sense.

That which Reed describes is within the umbrella of Transgender anyway.
Fucking little tools are setting back inclusion by being the embodiment of the formerly bullshit anti-inclusion "PC gone Mad".

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Pomona
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Actual transgender person here. Drag/cross dressing does not 'come under the umbrella of transgender anyway'. That's a really harmful stereotype that contributes towards violence particularly against trans women - ie, that they are just men in dresses.

It doesn't say whether or not the students in question are transgender (and it is transgender not transgendered, you don't say 'gayed people') and that is the crucial point really. It's not for cis people to tell trans people what is and isn't transphobic, because cis people will never experience transphobia and are therefore unable to fully recognise it. I would say that the song is casually transphobic in the way that it suggests makeup and shaving is what made her a woman, when she was a woman all along and presentation is not gender - a woman wearing her boyfriend's clothing doesn't suddenly become a man due to those clothing, and likewise it isn't clothing or looks generally that determines someone's gender. It is a harmful idea that contributes to transphobic violence including murder. I'm not sure I'd want to ban it because if every transphobic form of media was banned, most mainstream TV and film companies wouldn't have anything to broadcast - but apologising to those who are harmed by transphobia seems like a weird thing to be upset about. Why is it so terrible to treat trans people as human beings?

I feel like the issue is that transphobia is just so normalised, particularly transmisogyny (the intersection of transphobia and misogyny, aka the very particular oppression faced by trans women) that this isn't seen as transphobic - it's just considered a normal state of things for trans women to be a punchline. Mainstream TV sitcoms and popular movies use trans women as the butt of jokes.
At least nine trans women have been murdered in the US already this year. 22 were officially recorded as murdered because they were trans women in 2016 - the actual number is likely to be far higher. A serial killer is targeting trans women in New Orleans. Trans people are forbidden to use the correct public bathroom in several US states, and most European countries require mandatory sterilisation in order for trans people to get legal recognition of their gender. We live in a world where systematic oppression of trans people and violence against them is completely normal - it's not surprising that challenging this is controversial.

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Stetson
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quote:
It doesn't say whether or not the students in question are transgender
Well, the students apologized to "our friends in the trans community', which may indicate that they themselves were not transgender. Though I'm not sure what the usual protocol is for that sort of thing. Would, for example, a group that included black people apologize to "our friends in the black community" for playing something racist? (Sincere question)

And, according to the link below, there were no complaints lodged from the general public, the group simply decided themselves that it had been inappropriate to play the song.

So...

Assuming that the group contained no trans people, and that there were no complaints from trans people, then we can probably conclude that both the decision to play the song and the decision to apologize were both cis people.

Pink News

Incidentally, Pink News, unlike most other media, states the specific reason for the objections as being the songs title, ie. it implies that trans people are "wild". I suppose that kind of affirms the point I was making about possibly exoticization.

FWIW, I've lived for quite some time now as a "visible minority" in a country often described as "the most ethnically homogeneous nation in the world", so I do have some idea of what it's like to have well-meaning people evince a fascination with you, simply because you look or speak differently. (I can still occassionally get a torrent of giggles just by responding in kind when Korean schoolkids say "Hello" to me.) It doesn't bother me much at all, but I do recognize that it's not quite the same thing as genuine respect between equals.

[ 30. May 2017, 17:48: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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Stetson
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Sorry, missed a few words...

quote:
suming that the group contained no trans people, and that there were no complaints from trans people, then we can probably conclude that both the decision to play the song and the decision to apologize were both cis people.
The last part of that paragraph should read "...were made by cis people."

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Pomona:
Actual transgender person here. Drag/cross dressing does not 'come under the umbrella of transgender anyway'.

Just for the record, that is not what I was saying.

quote:

I would say that the song is casually transphobic in the way that it suggests makeup and shaving is what made her a woman, when she was a woman all along and presentation is not gender

I don't think that is what the writer intended. Songs must work as songs and sometimes this means simplification.
Holly Woodlawn, the person referred to in the song, was transgender* and ISTM that informs the intent.
That said, if the trans community said it was, in effect, transphobic, I would rethink my position.

*Interesting side note: My browser's dictionary did not recognise transgender. But when I switched it to a US dictionary, it did.
quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:

Incidentally, Pink News, unlike most other media, states the specific reason for the objections as being the songs title, ie. it implies that trans people are "wild". I suppose that kind of affirms the point I was making about possibly exoticization.

I am not saying I am correct, but I always thought that song was positive in intent.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
Though I'm not sure what the usual protocol is for that sort of thing. Would, for example, a group that included black people apologize to "our friends in the black community" for playing something racist? (Sincere question)

It's also fair to say that racism offends some people who are not black, and transphobia offends some people who are not trans. It may well be appropriate to apologize particularly to the targeted group, but the idea that if you say something racist you should apologise to your black listeners seems to contain within it the idea that it would be OK to be racist if there were only white people there. And that's a problem.
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marsupial.
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quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
Not that it's much of a defense, but I suspect the line that set their alarms off was "shaved her legs and then he was a she", which might sound(again, to someone lacking the capacity to absorb nuance)a little flippant, like its trying to dismiss the notion of transgenderism altogether.

I think part of the problem here is that, consciously or unconsciously, the lyrics will likely appear to some people to be drawing on a long unhappy tradition of sexualized stereotyping about transgender people and trans women in particular. Maybe it's a whole different situation if you understand the song in its proper context -- I know virtually nothing about the song so I wouldn't know -- but in that case personally I would think twice about including it in playlist of songs that are going to be played acontextually for a mixed general audience.

I first ran into the title of the song in some pop psychology book I picked up at random whose author apparently thought it was an appropriate title for a chapter on transgender kids. Knowing nothing about the song I nevertheless found that more than a little creepy.

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Stetson
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lilbuddha wrote:

quote:
I am not saying I am correct, but I always thought that song was positive in intent.

Well, what I'm been arguing is that there is a third possibility between straightforward positive and straightforward negative. It's what I've been calling exoticization, as possibly exemplified by the whole trope of refering to transgender life as "the wild side" to begin with.
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Stetson
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Marsupial wrote:

quote:
I first ran into the title of the song in some pop psychology book I picked up at random whose author apparently thought it was an appropriate title for a chapter on transgender kids. Knowing nothing about the song I nevertheless found that more than a little creepy.
Well, if you knew nothing about the song, then you were probably not the target audience that the author was trying to reach. Assuming his intention, at least, was positive, he likely thought that it was a phrase that transgender people would appreciate.

Now, whether they WOULD appreciate it is another question. Pomona's post on here suggests that they might not, but I haven't heard a lot of other voices from the trans community speaking about this, which may or may not be significant.

[ 31. May 2017, 07:27: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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mousethief

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Treading onto the thin ice here. We know that Pomona, now, 45 years later, finds it offensive. But a lot of water has passed under the bridge. Did Trans people in 1972 find it offensive?

It may be one of those things that was considered okay (by the relative group) then, but is not okay now. As such, of course, it should not be in a playlist now.

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orfeo

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quote:
Originally posted by Pomona:
I would say that the song is casually transphobic in the way that it suggests makeup and shaving is what made her a woman, when she was a woman all along and presentation is not gender

And I would argue that expecting a song lyric, which takes about 2 seconds, to carefully delineate the process whereby a transgender person reveals their true self by changing their presentation is simply asking too much of it.

Seriously, if we demand that song lyrics accurately capture all the nuances of a subject, then what we are really demanding is that the subject simply not be referred to in song. Because it is asking something that the art form is not capable of.

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Stetson
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Mouethief wrote:

quote:
Treading onto the thin ice here. We know that Pomona, now, 45 years later, finds it offensive. But a lot of water has passed under the bridge. Did Trans people in 1972 find it offensive?
I've been trying to find some samplings of trans opinion on-line, but not much has come up that's accessible. The comments accompanying this piece from the UK include a few from self-identified trans people who say they love the song, but of course we don't know who anyone really is on the internet.

The author of that piece compares the Canadian students to Mary Whitehouse, who apparently once complained about a dance routine choreographed to TAWOTWS. Though as one of the commentators points out, Whiteheads objections would have been somewhat different.

The writer also implies that the students don't like Reed's song because it's "wild"(thus further situating them as latter-day prudes), but it seems to me that their objection to the song was that it portrays trans people as wild, not that it was wild in and of itself.

[ 31. May 2017, 15:42: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
lilbuddha wrote:

quote:
I am not saying I am correct, but I always thought that song was positive in intent.

Well, what I'm been arguing is that there is a third possibility between straightforward positive and straightforward negative. It's what I've been calling exoticization, as possibly exemplified by the whole trope of refering to transgender life as "the wild side" to begin with.
OK. But it was on the wild side in the '70's because that is where trans and gay and anybody else "different" found the most acceptance.

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If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

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Pomona
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I think it's totally possible to appreciate that it was 'of its time' and also something that some people might find unhelpful or harmful. I'm also not suggesting that I would ban it or that I expect perfection from old song lyrics. I did hope I was replying in a fairly nuanced way, but it was quite late after travelling back from a festival so apologies if it wasn't as nuanced as it could have been. Like, yes, I find it to be transphobic....but vast swathes of even modern media is. It's impossible to avoid in a way that even homophobia isn't nowadays. So I feel that calling for a ban would be rather pointless, especially as it was well-intentioned. There are other areas of transphobia in current/recent media I'd rather tackle first.

Trans self-image has varied hugely over the years - a very narrow form of femininity for trans women has often been necessary for safety reasons (ie, needing to 'pass' totally to be safe), but this has been a necessary thing to cope within society rather than something freely chosen. That's balanced by the very real fear of physical violence that still exists today, but at least with the (very small) reassurance that it's actually a crime now. So, it is a complex issue with many varied fears and feelings caught up here, at least for actually trans people.

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marsupial.
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quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
Marsupial wrote:

quote:
I first ran into the title of the song in some pop psychology book I picked up at random whose author apparently thought it was an appropriate title for a chapter on transgender kids. Knowing nothing about the song I nevertheless found that more than a little creepy.
Well, if you knew nothing about the song, then you were probably not the target audience that the author was trying to reach. Assuming his intention, at least, was positive, he likely thought that it was a phrase that transgender people would appreciate.

I should have added that the content of the chapter turned out to be decidely not trans-positive. That may not have been as obvious from the context of my post as I thought it was.
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Stetson
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quote:
Originally posted by marsupial.:
quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
Marsupial wrote:

quote:
I first ran into the title of the song in some pop psychology book I picked up at random whose author apparently thought it was an appropriate title for a chapter on transgender kids. Knowing nothing about the song I nevertheless found that more than a little creepy.
Well, if you knew nothing about the song, then you were probably not the target audience that the author was trying to reach. Assuming his intention, at least, was positive, he likely thought that it was a phrase that transgender people would appreciate.

I should have added that the content of the chapter turned out to be decidely not trans-positive. That may not have been as obvious from the context of my post as I thought it was.
Gotcha.

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Stetson
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More or less idle curiousity, but it does sorta speak to the theme of this thread...

I wonder if the author of that book regarded TAWOTWS as a trans-negative song, and used the lyrics because he thought they agreed with his views, or if he regarded it as a trans-positive song and was trying to subvert its intention?

I'm reminded of the anti0drug book Go Ask Alice, which took as its title the lyrics to a decidedely drug-positive song. (Granted, I haven't read that book, so someone can correct me if I've misrepresented it.)

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marsupial.
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As I recall it (I saw it at a relative's house and skimmed it for about 5 minutes) the basic idea was to encourage parents to raise their kids according to traditional gender roles. So basically aimed at an audience of conservative parents who, to the extent they knew the song at all, would have thought of the lyrics as describing about the worst possible thing that could happen to their kids.
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Pangolin Guerre
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I read it when I was 11 or 12, so I'm uncertain how accurate my recollection (a lot of gin under the bridge), but Go Ask Alice was essentially a Just Say No book before the slogan existed. I recall the cover being a soft focus photo of a girl's face, she of about 14(?).
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Pigwidgeon

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quote:
Originally posted by Pangolin Guerre:
I read it when I was 11 or 12, so I'm uncertain how accurate my recollection (a lot of gin under the bridge), but Go Ask Alice was essentially a Just Say No book before the slogan existed. I recall the cover being a soft focus photo of a girl's face, she of about 14(?).

Just found it on Amazon. (I'd never heard of it.)

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Nicolemr
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It's not, of course, a real biography, though for quite a few years it was passed off as one. It's fiction by Beatrice Sparks.

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Jane R
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mousethief:
quote:
Treading onto the thin ice here. We know that Pomona, now, 45 years later, finds it offensive. But a lot of water has passed under the bridge. Did Trans people in 1972 find it offensive?
<joining you on the thin ice> Another factor is that language changes over time, and the use of language also varies between different groups. Back in 1972, as far as I can remember (I was a child at the time) 'wild' had similar connotations to 'cool'.

*ahem* Also, 'children of the night' suggests wolves to me, because that's what Dracula called them in the original novel.

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Pangolin Guerre
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Stoker was in fact an oblique referent (not revenant, but you never know) for us. Also, for me, at least, was a radio presenter from CBC Vancouver, JB (Johan Bruno) McShane, who hosted a programme Saturday nights called Neon Nights. Relatively cutting edge. He addressed his audience as "my children of the night."
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Stetson
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quote:
Originally posted by Nicolemr:
It's not, of course, a real biography, though for quite a few years it was passed off as one. It's fiction by Beatrice Sparks.

It's funny how it was the opponents of LSD in particular who felt the need to make up fake scare-stories. It was always acid users who were jumping off buildings because they thought they could fly, or putting the baby instead of the turkey into the oven.

I guess it's a combination of a) the psychoactive effects of LSD being fairly intense, so people were particularly freaked out about it, but on the other hand b) genuine awful trips being relatively rare, so, all the hype aside, there really weren't a lot of real-life incidents to utilize for creating cautionary propaganda.

I doubt that anyone ever needed to concoct fake stories about the drawbacks of heroin or crystal meth. The reality was bad enough to match the reputation.

[ 19. June 2017, 17:38: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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churchgeek

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I always heard that song as being about male prostitutes in drag. There's not a whole lot to go on - it's not a very long lyric - but that's how it always came across to me. Maybe because it just describes a cosmetic change from "he" to "she," and has "her" calling out (to whom?) "Hey, baby, take a walk on the wild side!" Sounds to me like s/he's soliciting.

Which, IMO, has nothing whatsoever to do with trans men or women, any more than it does anyone else. Male prostitutes dressing in drag could be cis, trans, straight, gay, bi; they could be transvestites IRL or they could just be putting on a costume and an act for their work. I don't think there's enough information in the song lyric to really clarify any of that.

To the OP's point, though, yes - transgender folks are exoticized too much in our culture. I think that's often the first way a marginalized and oppressed group is allowed to be seen in public. If portrayed as exotic, they feel less dangerous (to the sort of people who are threatened by differences, that is). But then people get used to seeing them, and you start to see more realistic portrayals. Hopefully it means true acceptance is coming soon - but that doesn't mean exoticization is OK or that it isn't hurtful to actual people.

People of color have been similarly exoticized, and that continues with ethnicities we're not as used to seeing in the US heartland. Gay men and lesbians have been exoticized, and still are sometimes, but much less so now. Women have been exoticized, even, despite making up half the population everywhere. I really think it's a "safe" (for the mainstream culture) way toward acceptance of difference. Which means it's all about white/male/hetero/cis fragility.

Whether or not that's what's happening in this specific song, I think there was a lot of it going on at that time, when people whose activities and even identities had to be hidden before were starting to come out into the open. I was only born in the early 70s, so I can't speak to it from experience, though. This is my speculation as a relative outsider.

And please don't get me wrong - I'm NOT trying to say exoticizing people is ever a good thing!

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by churchgeek:
I always heard that song as being about male prostitutes in drag.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side Wikipedia

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Stetson
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quote:
I always heard that song as being about male prostitutes in drag. There's not a whole lot to go on - it's not a very long lyric - but that's how it always came across to me. Maybe because it just describes a cosmetic change from "he" to "she," and has "her" calling out (to whom?) "Hey, baby, take a walk on the wild side!" Sounds to me like s/he's soliciting.
I think that all the female Warhol stars mentioned in that song identified as transgender, or at least, are identified as such now(wikipedia calls two of them transgender, and uses feminine pronouns to refer to all three).

But yeah, if you watch the movie-trailer link I posted earlier, their speech and mannerisms seem more like what we associate with drag queens, rather than authentically transgender persons. I'm not an expert on these things, but I'm guessing at that time and place, there might have been a bit more of an overlap between the two concepts.

And I don't believe Joe Dallesandro ever identified as transgender. Doesn't seem like the guy who was Sugar Plum Fairy did either. Most of those people probably had some involvement with the sex trade.

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ThunderBunk

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Attitudes on these things change hugely over time. I'm not sure I like all the changes - they seem to me in many cases to be ridiculous over-earnest and prevent the play of irony, which used to be key, for example, to the queer identity as it was developing 20 odd years ago. But if others want to do dull and earnest, I suppose I can't stop them. Don't have to do it myself though.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by ThunderBunk:
Attitudes on these things change hugely over time. I'm not sure I like all the changes - they seem to me in many cases to be ridiculous over-earnest and prevent the play of irony, which used to be key, for example, to the queer identity as it was developing 20 odd years ago. But if others want to do dull and earnest, I suppose I can't stop them. Don't have to do it myself though.

Outsider behaviour is as shaped by the conventional as are the norms. As a group becomes part of the normal, there is less pressure to differentiate.
So you see "dull and earnest" and I see people more free to be themselves. Honestly, I don't think LGBT+ are any different in basic personality types to straight people. Plenty of just plain folk inside and out.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Stetson
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Thunderbunk wrote:

quote:
I'm not sure I like all the changes - they seem to me in many cases to be ridiculous over-earnest and prevent the play of irony, which used to be key, for example, to the queer identity as it was developing 20 odd years ago. But if others want to do dull and earnest, I suppose I can't stop them.
Admittedly, Take A Walk On The Wild Side has a more interesting narrative than some Hollywood message-movie about a suburban family learning to accept their nice, middle-class transgender neighbours.

[ 20. June 2017, 07:08: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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marsupial.
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A more interesting narrative perhaps but also pretty dark. If you look at the Wikipedia bio on Holly Woodlawn it says she left home at the age of 15 and quotes her as saying she was turning tricks at the age of 16 and wondering when her next meal was coming from while her contemporaries were still in high school. There isn't even a hint of any kind of awareness of this in TAWOTWS.
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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by marsupial.:
There isn't even a hint of any kind of awareness of this in TAWOTWS.

Why should there be?

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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marsupial.
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Short answer: because the song seems to be completely oblivious to some pretty vicious transphobia. At least I assume that 15-year old girls don't usually leave their hometowns and end up in the big city sex trade unless there's something pretty intolerable going on in their hometowns.

I don't have time for longer answer but if if you're not with me on the basis of my short answer I don't think a longer answer is going to help.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by marsupial.:
Short answer: because the song seems to be completely oblivious to some pretty vicious transphobia.

Or, it could simply be celebrating who they are without referencing the negative.
Of course, it is a song and we are likely reading at least something into it that isn't there. Given that people who knew Reed thought that he accepted the people in the song, I am going to go with my inference.

quote:
At least I assume that 15-year old girls don't usually leave their hometowns and end up in the big city sex trade unless there's something pretty intolerable going on in their hometowns.

Yeah, name me a village, town or city in the '60s that would have been tolerant.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Stetson
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quote:
Originally posted by marsupial.:
A more interesting narrative perhaps but also pretty dark. If you look at the Wikipedia bio on Holly Woodlawn it says she left home at the age of 15 and quotes her as saying she was turning tricks at the age of 16 and wondering when her next meal was coming from while her contemporaries were still in high school. There isn't even a hint of any kind of awareness of this in TAWOTWS.

Well, maybe not about Woodlawn directly, but "looking for soul food and a place to eat"(about Sugar Plum Fairy), and "just speeding away...then I guess she had to crash/Valium would have helped that bash"(about Jackie) hint at some rather negative aspects to the milieu.

And, as buddha suggests, the song doesn't neccessarily have to reference the negative to be a legitimate portrayal of the culture. One of the things I remember about the critical reception given to Boogie Nights is that some critics pointed out that the film avoided the usual sociologizing about why people get involved in the p**n industry; the characters were just shown as all doing that kind of work by the time we meet them. That said, I did have a few left-leaning friends who considered that to be a significant lacuna in the film's approach.

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I have the power...Lucifer is lord!

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