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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sexual Meming Radicalizes Desire on the Internet

Posted By on Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 10:30 AM

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As Linsanity swept the sports world last month, my focus -- as a bit of a nerd -- was less on New York Knicks' point guard Jeremy Lin and more on his cultural impact, particularly on the Internet. I followed Spike Lee's Lin musings on Twitter, and when I saw that the athlete had received "Hey Girl" meme treatment -- made infamous by its original poster boy, actor Ryan Gosling -- I was more fascinated by how far the Fuck Yeah! Ryan Gosling

Tumblr had come. 

And not just the Tumblr itself, but its whole concept of cheekily shaping a progressive form of masculinity that -- thanks to microblogging -- has been modified and remixed into countless incarnations: Feminist Ryan Gosling, Public Policy Ryan Gosling, and a slew of others that incorporate topic-specific terminology with the common thread of an understanding, empathetic Gosling who's ready to please. It's a highly amusing phenomenon, mixing wryness with what I consider to be real fantasy for some (ahem, this writer included): a fine physical specimen who's into the same niche interests as you and is ready to sensually (and respectfully) woo you. These memes are also spiked with critique, perhaps like a gentler cousin of the dearly missed Privilege Denying Dude which took hegemonic masculinity to task and subsequently got yanked from Tumblr.

Lin's "Hey Girl" Tumblr, whose entries can be fairly benign, is a critique in and of itself by the mere fact that Lin, as an educated second-generation Asian American man in professional sports, has a bevy of racial, cultural, and sexual stereotypes stacked against him the minute he steps foot on the court and in front of a TV camera. But at times the site can go further with its analysis of the Lin phenomenon, particularly in its most recent post which responds to the ESPN "Chink in the Armor" fiasco: "Hey girl, While you may have heard that I was called the weakest link in a suit armor, that is only because an ESPN writer was "deceptively" uncreative. He's been cut form the roster, and there is no D-league in journalism. Wanna backrub?" Oddly -- and awesomely -- an image, a few lines of text, and a humorous motif can say more about racial dynamics than much lengthier articles, op-ed pieces, and longer-form blog posts. And while the Internet has certainly been the place for expressions of desire and sexual preference (just check your spam box or your grieving local brick-and-mortar adult store), microblogging platforms -- particularly Tumblr -- have made it ... pretty. Tumblr themes are mod and gorgeous, making the experience of viewing eye/brain/loin-tantalizing images even more pleasurable. Tumblr's networking functions allows for quick reblogging of a post that translates to more connections, more cross-pollination of ideas and interests, and expanding viewership outside of niche communities. There's a Fuck Yeah! Dykes, Fuck Yeah! Androgyny, Fuck Yeah! Suit Porn (a personal favorite featuring just about anyone who looks damn good in a finely tailored suit), Of Another Fashion (which features vintage photos of women of color in the U.S., oft-neglected by mainstream fashion), and the hilariously literal Touch Wieners, which the proprietor describes as "a collection of images of dudes that I really wish were touching their wieners against each other. Or, maybe a few where they actually are doing that. You know, just any picture I look at that makes me yell 'TOUCH WIENERS' at my screen." There's an incredible sense of curation with these eye-candy related short-form blogs, a sense that technology has helped empower users to create, manipulate, and manage their desire in a free, impeccably designed, and communicative way. There's also a celebratory aspect that goes beyond just rote posting and reposting of material, perhaps attributed to the fact that Tumblr, as a company, still seems like a platform for the savvy and hip, a space that doesn't feel ubiquitous and corporate yet. "Hey girl, Let's be critical and sexy together on Tumblr." "Fuck yeah!"
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Sylvie Kim


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