You wanna kill me? Well, here’s your chance
I can barely get around now as it fucking stands
You wanna see me, but you just can’t get passed
How I look or talk or think or walk, and it’s fucking sad
I don’t know what I can do
To make you comfortable
With what you see before you
So let me let you know that
I’m not cisgender, I’m not binary, transCisgender
I don’t wanna be a girl, I don’t wanna be a man
I’m just existing on this God-forsaken land
And you can take it or leave it
Or you can just stay back, stay back
Heeeeey, you know what the world needs more of? Straight, cis, old, fat, white guys judging the scorched soul searching of young black queer people! Yeah yeah, Shamir, boohoo for you, tissues for your issues, but allow me to state the proper reaction to your inner trauma. “I’m just a faggot, who lives like a maggot”?? Hey! That’s our word for making fun of you people! So now we’re allowed to call you lot ‘queer’ and you get to use the F word?? And yet when I use the N word as a joke at my job I’m suspended from teaching primary school PE for a whole two weeks?! No fair! Where’s my artistic communication of hopelessness in a world that’s still depressingly oppressed against me?? I just wanna use the N word and bully queer people online!! Truly, we are the lost generation. Thank God that comedy is now legal on Twitter, because I’ve got some bangers.
But seriously though folks, Shamir is the dog’s bollocks and we all stan, right? You’ve never felt old until you’ve had to explain to one of your closest friends – who is technically younger than you – what ‘stan’ means. It’s a real gut punch of ‘Oh God, this is my generation!’. True story. Sorry, Michael, hope you never read this. Also hope your haemorrhoids have cleared up. Anyway, yes, we all – as the kids say – ‘stan’ Shamir, right? He has been one of the most intriguing and subversive musical artists of the past decade. Seriously, I am not looking forward to listing all of his previous Necessary Evil entries at the end of this post, because there have been a lot. And ‘Heterosexuality’ is maybe the best of a very good bunch. I love it. I really enjoy it.
Only… should I?
The thing I find most fascinating about Shamir’s lyrical perspective is that he so often outlines the more troubling and difficult aspects of living as a queer person – and one obviously so to outside eyes – in the 21st century. I have always loved this aspect of his work, as we seem to be otherwise bombarded with liberal flag waving and rainbow flagged hideous multinational companies grossly co-opting the signifiers of queer culture. Hey! We’re all OK now! We beat systematic homophobia because AT&-fucking-T celebrated Pride Month! That $2.7 million that AT&T bribed 193 (one hundred. And ninety. Three) homophobic US politicians with in 2019 was probably used to buy rainbow flags as well! This is fine.
Like, life fucking sucks for gay people, I’m sorry. And I’m not gay. Yeah, yeah, Kinsey Scale, sexuality is a spectrum, etc etc, but I tend to approach women or people who strongly affect feminine physical traits when I want to announce my intentions by awkwardly telling that joke about Jenny Hval/Santigold and The Wire again (come on, it’s my strongest material). I haven’t had sex with a man in probably twenty years, and I had sex with a woman as recently as… erm… None of your business. All the time, mate, all the fucking time. But I live (wait for it) in a society. I’m not blind. I’m not completely blinkered. I occasionally read the news. I love using italics. I have friends. Even if not first hand, I know how fucking difficult it can be to be queer in 2022. And, yes, a big part of that knowledge comes from the music of Shamir. But (and this really is a first) the Pitchfork review of this album really made me think. I know, heavy Pitchfork acknowledgment today. My first thought was: 6.5? wut lol, but for once a Pitchfork review inspired deeper thoughts than “Were we even listening to the same album??”. Writer Peyton Thomas obviously identifies as queer as, and considers the album an overly hostile and miserable take on the identity. He uses the review to talk about a recent incident where he’d been punched and called a ‘Dyke’, and closes by stating that such negativity towards the gay experience shouldn’t be heard from inside the community, that “Burial is their job, not ours”. So what am I then?? I’m not the melon walking around punching queer people on the street, but I’m also not a queer person myself and -culturally and in terms of privilege – I’m definitely closer to the former than the latter. Am I just the third party masochistically enjoying the pain and trauma of a queer artist as they dance for me??
But then I realised…
Nah, fuck that. If I accept those boundaries then, not only am I disallowed from enjoying such brutally honest and incisive work by queer artists, but from pretty much all art. I mean, how the fuck am I supposed to process works by Backxwash – a trans woman born in Zambia – or FKA Twigs – with all the things that she’s recently been forced to endure – or Superorganism – who… Well, I’m not 100% sure what their entire deal is, but I have the feeling that I wouldn’t be invited. You know what art I’d be left with in the end? That fucking Walter Hayes song about Applebees. Nothing else, just that song. We don’t even have Applebees in this country! That’s the cultural death you’d be condemning me to!
So yeah, Shamir, keep suffering please
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