Invisible in Modern Society: Why I Don’t Pay Attention to Pop Culture

by: Khai Devon

Pretty much any time anyone mentions a movie—any movie—that someone from my generation should have seen, I have to admit that I haven’t seen it. I’ve seen a few, of course. I can quote The Princess Bride and The Rocky Horror Picture Show start to finish, and I’m almost always up for extra buttery popcorn and a musical, but I just don’t have a background in the Brat Pack or Disney. I don’t really listen to Top 40 hits, unless I happen to be around people who have the radio on. It’s not that they bother me, it’s just—not where my taste is.

Part of that is because of how I grew up–in a very conservative home. Disney was banned from my house, as was all non-Christian music, and even some of the “harder” Christian music. But I’m twenty-three now, and have been out on my own—and getting picked on for not having the same pop culture knowledge as my peers—for five years.

So, I can’t blame it all on my upbringing. The truth is, I’m just not all that interested. And I’m not all that interested because I can’t relate to anything I see in modern American pop culture. I understand the music of The Beatles–well, some of it, because I am not the walrus–and when Euro-Trance Duo Groove Coverage sings God is a Girl, I can get behind that.

I know what it is to feel love, but not what it is to f**k hos in a no-tell motel. I know what it is to play with gender expectations, but not what it is to get mindlessly drunk for no reason but to get mindlessly drunk—and that’s after three years of college. I know what it is to have a crush and nervously, slowly, start building a relationship with someone. I have no concept of what it is to go out to a bar, pick someone up, and take them home to bone. In short, I do not see myself anywhere in modern American pop culture. I see a lot of empty, hetero, cissexual relationships—the kind of thing I will never have, and never be able to have.

Even when there are gay characters, they are tropes, cardboard cutouts that aren’t real characters—just “Oh, look, it’s a boy who likes other boys.” I am not a stereotype. I am a flesh-and-blood human being. I find more in common with Shylock the Jew than I can find with Jack from Will and Grace; Shakespeare at least gave his stereotypical antagonist the opportunity to protest his treatment. The closest thing the LGBT community has to representation in Top 40 music is Lady Gaga, and the closest she’s gotten is “Born This Way.”

Look, I’ll gladly put my paws up and be a little monster–if it’s okay that I’m not really a boy and I’m not really a girl, and the person I love is not really either either. I’ll gladly watch rom-coms when they start dealing with couples that aren’t “skinny blond cischick meets douchey-but-handsome-so-lovable cisdude, they get up to hi-jinx, everyone learns a lesson and they kiss at the end.” I want characters and stories that reflect my reality. I’m interested in seeing people who are working out their identities, who are dealing with what it means to be gay in a society that’s still pretty anti-gay, or who are gay as a matter-of-course. I want to see a romcom centering around a lesbian couple. I want my music to be sung about the boy Taio Cruz–or someone with Taio Cruz’s voice–met at a bar.

There’s nothing wrong with having fun, but I’m tired of being invisible in modern culture. As long as I don’t see anything that even sort of resembles me, I won’t be interested. I’ll keep getting razzed for not having the same pop culture references as everyone else, and I’ll be okay with that. And when the American entertainment industry is ready to let the rest of us play, I’ll line up for my tickets, too.

Khai Devon is a genderqueer pansexual in hir early twenties, about to embark on a life changing adventure, pursuing her dream of becoming a slam poet in Portland, Oregon. Sie writes blogs at disturbinglynormal.wordpress.com and duffelbagandadream.wordpress.com, updating whenever the words overflow.

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