Seems to me the term, once so beloved and useful to leftist critics, “transgressive art”, has nearly vanished in the Current Year.
A quick Google ngram search shows the phrase was unheard of before the sixties, emerged from complete obscurity in the eighties and rapidly entered the lexicon in the decade of leftist consolidation of the universities and the rise of pc, the nineties.
And after rescuing us from Mom and apple pie, it went away. The bottom falls out in the oughts.
In its early guise through the eighties it was more literal, including its application to art that wasn’t overtly political or that might even be hostile to leftist sensibilities. John Waters described himself in his early years making transgressive films as an anti-hippie. Punk rock and style was transgression, but wherever a band wasn’t overtly political it felt more fascist than anything else, a rejection of pacifistic,liberal rock and black pop. Whatever the case, it was far too white to ever be allowed to happen now, thank God.
Of course you never heard the phrase until it was popularized by the left, and that spike in its usage also represents its capture–along with the concept of transgression in art–by the left. The meaning of both changed, to become contextual–transgression itself was the thing when there was an actual white patriarchy, but once the transgressors supplanted it, they restored the realm of the sacrosanct, replacing God, Family, Country with Diversity, Inclusion and Equity.
That which was transgressive is now that which cannot be transgressed.
Take for an excellent example Ru Paul’s description of his work as a “big fuck you to male-dominated culture”; it remains just that, only now it is respectable, unassailable and part of a broader transsexual movement that won’t stop until every last masculine male has been chased into the weeds.
We seem to be inexorably working our way to a world where the only thing you can mock is white men, and only for being white men. Via Steve Sailer I see the Columbia Spectator reporting on a student group evidencing the sort of confusion of which we an all expect much more, soon:
Saturday Night Live writer and comedian Nimesh Patel was pulled from the stage by event organizers after telling jokes that were criticized as racist and homophobic during his performance at cultureSHOCK: Reclaim, an event held by Columbia Asian American Alliance on Friday night.
Patel, 32, was the first Indian-American writer for SNL, and has since been nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing. Patel has previously performed on Late Night with Seth Meyers and opened for comedians such as Chris Rock.
During the event, Patel’s performance featured commentary on his experience living in a diverse area of New York City—including a joke about a gay, black man in his neighborhood—which AAA officials deemed inappropriate. Patel joked that being gay cannot be a choice because “no one looks in the mirror and thinks, ‘this black thing is too easy, let me just add another thing to it.’”
About 30 minutes into Patel’s set, members of AAA interrupted the performance, denounced his jokes about racial identities and sexual orientation, and provided him with a few moments for closing remarks. Compared to his other jokes, ones specifically targeting sexual orientation audibly receive less laughter from the crowd.
Patel pushed back on the officials’ remarks, and said that while he stood in solidarity with Asian American identities, none of his remarks were offensive, and he was exposing the audience to ideas that would be found “in the real world.” Before he could finish, Patel’s microphone was cut from off-stage, and he proceeded to leave.
cultureSHOCK, an annual charity showcase featuring a fashion show, productions by various student groups and a famous performer, aims to provide a platform for Asian American artistic expression and breakthrough harmful stereotypes.