Posts Tagged ‘Radio 4 Extra’

James Lindsay on the Queer Marxist Ideology Behind Drag Queen Story Hour

July 12, 2022

This month, I understand, is the British Pride Month, and either this weekend or last there were a number of Pride marches and events all across the country. Bristol had one in which the local constituency Labour parties marched to show their support, followed by a music festival in the evening. The weather back then was very nice and sunny, rather than today in Bristol, where it’s still hot but overcast. I hope everything went well and that everybody who went had a great time.

Increasing Opposition to Pride and Drag Events

There’s been increasing opposition in America to Pride marches, largely because of concerns over kink and nudity. These events have been promoted as child friendly, but some of the highly sexual displays during these marches really aren’t suitable for children. A number of gays are also put off by them, both in Britain and America. They feel that the concern for promoting trans rights has taken over from the marches’ original focus and purpose of promoting tolerance and acceptance for gays. And the trans focus has also caused concerns about children’s safety. At one of the American marches, the organisers were giving out binders, or stated they were prepared to give out binders, to girls as young as twelve. Binders are extremely tight bands placed around girls’ chests to prevent the breasts developing as part of the attempt to halt puberty in trans identified girls. Apart from the question of whether a pre-adolescent child has the wisdom and maturity to know if they genuinely are trans or not, when they can’t legally buy alcohol or tobacco, there are the health issues of the binders themselves. They’re so tight that they can cause a range of physiological damage, including to the spine and ribs.

There have also been attacks on drag events being promoted to children. This includes drag queen story hour, in which drag performers come into libraries to read or tell stories to young children. This has been explained as an initiative to combat homophobia and instil proper acceptance of gays to children. The right, on the other hand, suspect that it is really a form of grooming. Some of this criticism is is correct, and the performer has put on a display that it very definitely and obviously not suitable for children. Like the drag artiste hired by Reading Library a few months ago, who turned up with a d**do hanging from its crotch and a bare behind, dressed as a monkey. More recently, in the past few weeks there has been outcries as parents have taken children to gay and drag clubs to watch drag queens and trans strippers perform highly sexualised routines, some even stuffing money into their g strings or whatever. These displays have also upset individual members of the gay and drag communities. One drag queen, whose video was widely reposted on conservative YouTube channels, stated that drag shows were not suitable for children because of their highly sexual content. The artiste stated that children shouldn’t be taken to them. If children were going to turn out gay, then they could learn about their sexuality the way the drag queen and other gays had always done, back in their own rooms at home.

British Prime Time Drag Shows of the 70s and the British Music Hall

Now I have to say that I find drag queen story hour a little odd. I think it started in California, in either Los Angeles or San Francisco, cities which have very strong gay communities. I understand the purpose behind them of teaching children to accept gays naturally, as well as encouraging them to read. With the latter, I would have thought it more appropriate to have drag queens as one of a number of different, colourful performers appealing to children, such as clowns that aren’t scary, if there are such things, stage conjurers or puppeteers and so on. And I don’t think there’d be such questions about it if the drag queens were more like the drag acts on TV when I was a child. I was a junior kid in the 1970s, and I remember that Danny La Rue was one of the major hits of week day evening television. La Rue’s act was basically a continuation of the old music hall tradition, complete with songs. La Rue died a few years ago, and there has been nothing scandalous about him that has been published as some kind of revelation of his secret private life. I think it came out that he was gay, which I don’t think surprised or shocked anyone. As for his act, the worst I’ve heard about it is the joke that he wasn’t born, but found ‘on mother Kelly’s doorstep’, referring to one of the Music Hall songs he used to sing. Other drag acts of the ’70s included Hinge and Bracket, two musical ladies of a certain age who mixed songs at the piano with witty repartee. They’re long gone, but their programmes were repeated a few years ago on BBC Radio 4 Extra. As far as I know, no-one objected to their act all. More recently, back in the 90s there was Lily Savage, who was far less genteel than the previous two performers, but nevertheless a comedy favourite on British TV.

Postmodernist Marxism and Drag Queen Story Hour as a Tool of Indoctrination

But there does seem to be a sinister ideological component to drag queen story hour. James Lindsay in one of his videos on his New Discourses YouTube channel read out and critiqued an academic paper written by a drag queen, Lil Miss Hot Mess, and a transwoman called Harper Keenan,” Drag pedagogy: The playful practice of queer imagination in early childhood”. Hot Mess is the author of a children’s book, The Drag Performer’s Hips Go Swish-Swish-Swish. The article was published in an education periodical, and takes a postmodernist Marxist view of drag queen story hour. This goes far beyond using such performers as a way getting children used to gay people so as not to regard them as strange or an automatic threat. Rather, as Lindsay shows, the authors of this paper view it as a means of destroying the constraints on children’s minds and identities imposed by conventional society. Lindsay states that it follows the Marxist strategy, now a century old, of sexualising children in order to alienate them from their parents and the more conservative morals in wider society. The goal isn’t to produce psychologically stable and well-adjusted gay young people, who are accepted into society. Rather its goal is to produce unstable personalities so that the indoctrinated children ‘live queerly’ and reject conventional society and its institutions, including the family. This is attacked as a repressive institution, through which children are socialised into being conventional members of society who grow up, settle down and have families of their own, reproducing oppressive capitalist society while doing so. Instead the authority of their parents is to be underlined with the glitter drag queens spread, so that they grow up gay and connect instead with an alternative, real family in the drag culture.

Lindsay is an academic and a very powerful critic of the recent rise of radical postmodern ideologies such as Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory and Post-Colonial Theory, which appear to have ostensibly liberal goals, such as combating racism, homophobia and allowing the historical experience of persecuted ethnic minorities and colonised peoples to be heard. In fact these ideologies have a far more radical agenda of promoting Marxism and creating an intersectional radical milieu ready to rise up against normal, capitalist society. Lindsay compares this with the educational programme pushed through by Mao in Communist China. His video on drag queen story hour is one of a number of videos on ‘groomer schools’, in which he discusses the way some schools, including elite private schools, have adopted these ideologies in order to indoctrinate their students.

This is contentious, provocative stuff, which is why I’ve delayed blogging about it. I really didn’t want to post it on British Pride weekend because it would be too much like a gratuitous insult to ordinary gay people and their friends and supporters. Especially as Lindsay makes it very clear what he thinks about the pair of authors and their ideological Marxist fellows. He calls them groomers and states very clearly several times that they ought to be banged up in jail. And if they are using drag queen story hour to push an extremist political ideology through creating a queer revolutionary consciousness, which Queer Theorists differentiate from ‘gay’, then such people definitely shouldn’t be in schools. This is extremist politics, not a case of promoting gay or trans acceptance or encouraging kids to enjoy reading.

Queer Theory Attitude close to Parodies of Conspiracy Theories and Homophobia

But it’s also highly bizarre. So bizarre, in fact, that it seems like a caricature of some of the bonkers rubbish rags like The Scum were pushing in the early eighties. You know the rubbish – all that stuff about kids in Brent being told to sing ‘Ba Ba Green Sheep’ by anti-racist activists in schools, ’cause Bernie Grant or somebody thought the original lyrics were racist. It sounds like something just one step less ridiculous than the plot of Carry On Spying, in which the Carry On team were pitched against a Bond-type supervillain/villainess. This person was a hermaphrodite, both male and female, and was plotting to turn the world’s population into similar beings like him/herself. It’s also too close to a skit on Alas Smith and Jones, where the pair lampooned such prejudice in a spoof gameshow about finding ‘Bigot of the Year’. One of the rounds was entitled ‘Just A Bigot’, and asked the howlingly bigoted contestants the question ‘They’re evil, sick and shouldn’t be allowed. Who are they?’ The answers barked back included ‘bisexual social workers indoctrinating kids’. The question master then responds with ‘No, they’re all excellent demonstrations of bigotry, but the real answer is ‘Everyone except from me’. If this story was carried by the Heil, Depress, Scum or the Star, I’d honestly think their journalist had finally gone totally bonkers. You could imagine one of their hacks having strange, paranoid suspicions about Danny La Rue or RuPaul being some kind of Marxist criminal masterminds instead of performers. Pretty much like MI 5 when they investigated ‘Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men’ because somebody thought the nonsense language these beloved children’s characters spoke may have been coded Communist messages.

Drag Queens Can’t All be Revolutionary Marxists

But from the evidence of this paper, and Lindsay adds that there are many others, including one that tells readers how to organise a story hour in schools, there really is an extremist ideological programme behind them. This does raise questions about their suitability for young children in schools. But there are also other reasonable questions that can be asked about the supposed ideological dimension to drag queen story hours. First off, we don’t know how widespread this attitude to drag queen story hour is. Most of the people staging them, I should hazard a guess, probably aren’t ideologically committed Marxists or Marxians. They’re probably just ‘woke’ peeps who genuinely believe that they’re helping gay and trans people gain acceptance, rather than have any ulterior motive of creating the queer intersectional revolutionary class called for by Queer Theorists. I also don’t know how many drag performers actually share this ideology. The majority are probably just performers like the old style drag acts, who want to put on a show rather than push any kind of radical political agenda. Some do, like the group who sent their drag monkey to Reading Library, but not all. I did hear that there was a radical section of the gay community who didn’t want gay people to marry, because this was the gay community taking on the family values and morals of bourgeois society. But the number of gay men and women who are tying the knot suggests that this radical part of the gay community were probably no more than an unrepresentative fringe. My guess is that many of the drag queens going into schools to read probably see it as another job or performance without necessarily there being a further dimension beyond it.

And I note the article doesn’t say anything about the motives of the drag queens who first started the story hour across the Pond. We’re not told if they intended it to be part of some covert programme of Marxist indoctrination. The article declares that it is, simply because of what drag performers do during the story hour as part of their performance, answering questions from pupils about sexuality and gender and so on. But that simply could be a case of how they wish to see the drag performances in story hours, rather than what they are or were intended to be.

Criticism of Marxist Attacks on the Marriage and the Family

As for Marxist opposition to the family, this goes all the way back to the Communist Manifesto of 1848. Marx and Engels objected to marriage on feminist grounds, believing that it enslaved women and reduced them to the level of prostitutes. This was at a time when, under German and English law, a woman’s property automatically became that of her husband and women were very definitely social inferiors under the control of their husbands and fathers. I think as late as the ’60s and ’70s married women weren’t able to open bank accounts on their own without their husband’s consent. Lindsay has argued in other videos and podcasts that the radical opposition to the family and reorientation to include the gay community came from Herbert Marcuse, who founded intersectional Marxism in the 1960s. It was also part of a general radical movement for sexual liberation celebrating free love as well as different sexual orientations. But French postmodernist Marxists like Althusser also condemned the family as part of the institutions which supported first feudalism and then capitalism.

Society and the institution of marriage has changed in the past half century. Marriage has become far more egalitarian, and the Marxist historical critique of the development of marriage from the earliest beginnings of human society has been discredited. Engels, in his book, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, followed the anthropological ideas of the German author Backhofen in the latter’s book, Das Mutterrecht. Mutterrecht in German means ‘mother right’, and seems to have been the term Backhofen used for matriarchy. He believed that humanity had passed through a period of three stages in the development of the family. One was a period of general promiscuity, followed by a stage of matriarchal, female rule, which was finally superseded by contemporary patriarchy. This has been overturned by contemporary archaeological and palaeoarchaeological research. The pair also believed that marriage was withering away amongst the working class in their time. But this came from a very selective study of a local section of the working class in one of the British cities. In fact, marriage in general remained strong amongst the working class as it did in other ranks of society. And from what I’ve heard and read, the working class Communists in France and England were conventionally married men, who had no time for free love. Well, as the Joan Sim character says in Carry On – Don’t Lose Your Head, ‘I don’t mind the fraternity and equality, but I’m not having any of the liberties!’ The concern with sexual liberation is very much a development of 60s radicalism, though with roots in the calls for gay tolerance by earlier writers like the Edwardian sexologist Havelock Ellis in Britain and Richard Krafft-Ebbing, the author of Psychopathia Sexualis of 1886 in Germany.

Conclusion: Question the Ideology, But Don’t Attack Gay People

I think Lindsay’s right, and this paper should raise important questions regarding the suitability of drag queen story hour, but I believe it should be kept in proportion and should not become part of an all-out attack on the LGBTQ+ community in general. I am particularly aware that there is the danger of trans people being subject to abuse and attack, as described by some of the great commenters on this blog. I am also aware that conservatives like Matt Walsh are using the concerns about Pride and the trans ideology as a stick with which to beat the left. Over here, I found a video by Laurence Fox, the head honcho of Reclaim on how ‘woke’ schools are grooming children. At the end, Fox presents his programme for ending it. I intend to go through it very carefully and critique it at a later date.

In short, I believe Lindsay is right in that very serious questions have to made about the ideology, content and suitability of drag queen story hour. But this may mean no more than reforming it to prevent it being used as a guise for political activists to sneak their message into schools.

And reasonable concerns about the suitability of drag queen story hour shouldn’t be used to demonise gays or trans people.

I’m not posting the video as it’s long at about 2hrs 32 minutes, and I also didn’t want to upset people on here with the strength of Lindsay’s condemnations. If you want to watch it for yourself, it’s at Lindsay’s New Discourses YouTube channel, and is entitled Groomer Schools & Drag Queen Story Hour. The number for it is https://youtube.com/watch?v=aBv19E-fF7w&t=371s.

Radio 4 Serialising New Version of ‘The Case of Charles Dexter Ward’

May 21, 2020

Interesting news for fans of the Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. Radio 4 begins a new version of his short story, ‘The Case of Charles Dexter Ward’ on Monday, 25th May 2020. It’s split into ten parts, and is being broadcast on weekdays at the same time of 7.45 pm. It’s been updated by the show’s writer, Julian Simpson, so that the the pair investigating Ward’s disappearance from a secure psychiatric hospital are a couple of podcasters, Matthew Heawood and Kennedy Fisher. In several of Lovecraft’s short stories, the main characters’ final act is to write down their adventures for others to find just before they’re finally killed or captured by whatever nameless cosmic horrors are pursuing them. ‘The Call of Cthulhu’, in which a sailor, who has narrowly survived an encounter with the malign elder god in his sunken island of R’lyeh, and writes down his account of the experience shortly before his own death, is one classic example of this. However, as it’s now 2020 instead of the 1920s, and it’s for the radio, Friday’s edition of the show, according to the Radio Times, has the pair uncovering his audio files.

This could be good. The Beeb has broadcast some of Lovecraft’s works before. Radio 4 Extra a few years ago serialised ‘At the Mountains of Madness’, which was read by a narrator. That seemed to stick faithfully to Lovecraft’s text. While this obviously takes a few liberties, it could still be worth listening to. On the other hand, it could be like the BBC 1’s version of the War of the Worlds last year, which diverged so much from Wells’ book that it was ultimately disappointing. Let’s hope it isn’t.

Radio 4 Serialising Ian McEwan’s Robot Book Next Week

April 23, 2019

I don’t belieeeve it! As the great Victor Meldrew used to say. Next week, according to the Radio Times for 27th April – 3rd May 2019, Radio 4 is serialising Ian McEwan’s latest literary offering, Machines Like Me, about a love triangle between a man, his wife and the android he has bought. It’s in ten parts, Monday to Fridays at 12.04 pm, and read by Anton Lesser.

I’ve already put up two posts about the book, which has only just been published. McEwan’s novel is one of a long-line of SF stories about humans falling in love, or pursuing sexual relationships with the humanoid robots they have built, such as Asimov’s ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’. Genre science fiction writers have explored the issues of machine consciousness and its philosophical and ethical issues, from highbrow authors like Poland’s Stanislaw Lem, to comic book writers like Pat Mills in 2000AD’s ‘ABC Warriors’. The issue I have with McEwan’s book, and other literary authors that are planning similar works of fiction, is that while genre science fiction is still looked down on somewhat by the literary elite, McEwan’s book is going to receive immediate acclaim as proper literature.

Now Radio 4 has serialised a number of great works of SF, including Robert Silverberg’s masterwork Dying Inside, and has, like some of the other channels, Radio 3 and Radio 4 Extra, put on SF plays. Not so long ago there was a series of these, with the title Dangerous Visions. SF buffs will recognise this as the title of the groundbreaking SF anthology edited by Harlan Ellison, that ushered in the SF New Wave over in America. But despite the achievements of genre SF authors, there is still this feeling that it hasn’t quite won critical respectability in the elevated literary circles that support McEwan, Jeanette Winterson, Kazuo Ishiguro and the other regular literary award winners, who are writing or preparing to write books about robots and AI.

As I’ve said, I feel very strongly that if McEwan and co. win literary awards for their SF works, like Machines Like Me, then those awards should have the decency to drop some of the snobbishness and include genre SF authors. Whose latest works I hope the Beeb will also serialise the moment they come out.