Before we go any further – please note that I will respectfully use “Caitlyn” as that is the name Bruce Jenner legally acquired. I will not refer to Caitlyn as a she…at least never as long as “she” still has a penis. Because ladies don’t have penises. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get back to the real exciting news.
I have no resentment for any magazine or show that wishes to profit from the natural public curiosity that comes along with the whole Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner phenomenon. While his reality show on E! failed to gain much interest, Jenner’s life in general is of course notable enough and odd enough to warrant public interest of some sort. More power to any magazine that wants a piece of Jenner’s piece.
Nor can I blame Jenner for wanting to exploit his journey thus far. After all, as part of the Kardashian reality empire, it is literally his job to stay in the public eye. Despite my own opinions of transgenderism and it’s recent bombardment of public discourse, Jenner has always seemed like a driven and kind person. I bear no ill will towards him or his personal decisions and lifestyle.
However, the real issue here is not what we should expect of a celebrity like Jenner, but what we can expect from the pop culture harpies and bullies. These days it is not enough simply to say “Live and let live” and be done with it. If you are not explicitly confirming any deviant or non-mainstream lifestyle then you are automatically draped with the label of “hate” from people who used to be called “progressives” but I now just refer to as bullies.
When Vanity Fair featured Jenner on their cover just after his “coming out” Americans were expected to look at the heavily photoshopped picture of a man in drag and have no other opinion besides “Isn’t she beautiful?”. Anyone who suggested that Jenner did not really look like a beautiful woman was immediately publicly shamed and called “bigot” and worse.
Those of us who were at the very least hesitant to call this deeply edited cover model “stunning” were told that we were simply too ignorant and bigoted to recognize real beauty. We were told to ignore our natural and traditional instincts of identifying gender in order to accommodate a mindset and movement based solely in emotion with no legitimate biological or scientific research to back it up.
Comedians who used Jenner as material were forced to retract or apologize; those who didn’t were added to the “bigot” list. Public personalities who didn’t believe a man with a penis makes a particularly attractive woman were deluged with social media nastiness and anger.
Even those entertainment personalities who simply refrained from publicly supporting Jenner or any LGBT cause of the day in favor of keeping their opinions private were shamed and labeled non-cooperative.
It is no longer acceptable to simply hold an opinion without advocating the law force anyone to bend to it.
You will be made to care.
A rumored popular method of interrogation during wartime is to force a prisoner to provide the answer to a simple math equation. Two plus two equals four but the prisoner is tortured mercilessly until the answer is five (this is also the subject of a fantastic two-part episode of Star Trek: TNG). Either the brain comes to believe this reality as a defense mechanism or the subject simply resigns rather than face more pain. It isn’t really about the torture, it is about the breaking of one’s instincts and free will.
This is what modern pop culture endeavors to do to those of us who are unwilling to capitulate thousands and maybe millions of years of human biology, science and tradition to a statistically insignificant number of people in this nation. Like the drip, drip, dripping of Chinese water torture we are methodically being scolded and shamed into believing that 2+2=5.
Jenner’s potential nude shoot isn’t a math equation, but a societal one. It is the Common Core of public discourse and we are its unfortunate subjects.