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7 April 2011, 12:00 pm 6 Comments

Not Your Average Prom Queen: Does FCKH8 Go Too Far?

This post was submitted by Jean

Image from http://fckh8.com/Bullies

c. FCKH8.com

Whenever I’m really riled up in an argument I try to remind myself to control my voice and to avoid dropping F-Bombs. Yelling and swearing, I tell myself, are ways in which people who cannot smartly make points or communicate emotions make up for that lacking.

It’s not really that I have a problem with the words themselves; I swear in conversation or in my writing to emphasize a point or make a joke. However, in some situations, using “foul language” in anger can be aggressive, immature, demonstrate lack of control and often hamper communication. I can’t count the number of times I have been a part of an argument that has come to a screeching halt because one of the participants refuses to listen to a curse-laden diatribe. Most of us don’t react well to violence or aggressive language, especially those of us who have experienced it in the past.

Cursing is also often favored because its shocking and aggressive. It gets people attention. Ask any kid who has accidentally muttered “F*ck you” to a parent or older sibling because even young people are aware of how damaging those words can be. Language is power – and there is no doubt that foul language holds power – but what is the right way to wield that power?

What about GLBT Groups trying to harness that power to speak out about hate against gay people and bullying in schools? A friend of mine, who is a school teacher, sent me the link to a video which she had received from a student.  It was an anti Bullying video from the FCKH8 Campaign. I wasn’t able to view to video on my phone due to some content restrictions, but when I eventually had a chance to watch it I found myself pretty turned off.  I did a little research and found that at the end of March The Advocate reported that the FCKH8 campaign donated 300,000 dollars to GLBT Charities such as the Trevor Project. That’s awesome, but, as Davina Kotulski pointed out in January on Bilerico, “Is having children yell ‘fuck you’ to people who are against gay marriage on recorded video exploitative of children?” After thinking about it, that wasn’t the only question the campaign raised for me.

I am supportive of many movements that aim to “reclaim” opinions or terminology ABOUT minorities FOR minorities, but using angry and aggressive words to fight anger and aggression doesn’t work for me. The FCKH8 campaign has gained quite a bit of popularity, perhaps with young activists who believe that tooth and nail is the best way to reach equality, but there is also something to say for the desire of a minority group to reflect the morals and values that they desire others to exude toward them. In situations like this one, I tend to think  that fighting fire with water is much more effective than fighting fire with fire.

Conversations and peaceful sit-ins don’t always move fast enough or even accomplished the desired goals at all, but creating an ad campaign promoting equality that can’t responsibly be taken into schools, churches, offices or family parties doesn’t do us a whole lot of good. If we can’t be proud of our message in front of our teachers, our pastors and our grandparents, how can we be proud at all? Our message needs to be sharable, mature and inclusive. To communicate an important point we should be using important language. I wouldn’t use the F-bomb in a business meeting, or making a hotel reservation, or explaining why I’m pro-choice or anti-death penalty. Why would I use it to help people understand gay rights? If President Obama appeared in the State of the Union address and said, “F*ck Terrorism,” would you be inspired or offended?

What do you think of these videos and this message?

You can view the FCKH8 FCK Bullies video here. Due to adult language you have to sign into YouTube and be at least 18 years old in order to view it, so it could not be embedded here.  A powerful message for/by youth, restricted from youth? Something about that seems ineffective.

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  • Nicktr said:

    I’m glad someone said it. The first time someone showed me this video I wasn’t exactly feeling it. I mean, I wanted to really like it because of the end goal, but I don’t think the ends require the means. A bunch of my acquaintances (around while I was viewing the video) said that they want the t-shirt, but I had to keep quiet. Sadly, I couldn’t imagine wearing it anywhere, except maybe to my ultra hip living room dance parties, with my partner and our cats.

  • Sporto said:

    First off, I swear like a trucker and I still agree with this article. I appreciate the concept of what they are trying to accomplish but I think they are going about it in the wrong way. Like you said, a message by the youth that cannot even be viewed by the youth. Not so smart in my opinion.

  • Chris said:

    “Restricted from youth?” More kids then ever are going to watch this. It’s the language that kids use. Yes, the fbom wont be taken into schools by teachers or adults, but the message behind it can be taken into schools by the people who actually have currency, the kids them-selfs. (And just because someone swears on tv/movies/internet doesn’t mean people are robots and will just do the same). Inspiring people with a bit of outrage is fine.

    FCKH8 is just reflecting the frustrations that people feel. Furrowing our brow at people for expressing it through a campaign or wearing a tshirt is ridiculous. I don’t think every campaign should drop the f-bomb, but that’s not exactly what we are in danger of is it?

  • Susan said:

    Honestly, I like the campaign, and when it first came out, I showed the videos to my 9 and 10 year old children, who both thought it was great. What shocks ME is ignorance, intolerance, hatred, and bigotry. If anything, the “shocking” use of the F word simply shines a light on how very unacceptable these things are. It’s attention grabbing, and it definitely makes you think! That being said, I wouldn’t worry too much about sending the wrong message or turning people off – because these sorts of campaigns, IMO, generally “preach to the choir” and provide support among likeminded people, rather than actually causing bigoted people to think and change their opinions. I’ve gotten ugly looks and whispers in reaction to my Legalize Gay shirt – so people who want to be offended WILL BE, no matter what the wording of the campaign.

  • Lauren said:

    Great article and really good points. I think it’s always an issue when you try to find the right way to reach people. If the campaign’s goal is to further homophobes understanding and acceptance of queer people, I don’t know how successful it will be. If the goal is to catch queer people’s attention, obviously it’s passed with flying colors. Thanks for opening up a dialogue about this!

  • John said:

    I’m glad you wrote this. I just saw the fckh8 videos this week and can’t believe how offensive they are, but not probably for the reasons most would think. The most offensive thing is when @ 50 sec into the vid they say gays are adopting babies “abandoned by straight people. ”

    I am a single father who had his child stolen through the court system through a fraud adoption, not by gays but people who claimed to be religious but weren’t, backed by the the so called religious right–the same groups that generally persecute gays.

    For years those monsters accused me in court of abandoning my child because they were trying to steal my kid. I eventually won my case and got my kid back however, because their accusations were baseless and they had broken the law to steal my child.

    Lots of gay people probably don’t realize this but most adopted children come from single mothers who were coerced into signing away their parental rights. That is what happened to the mother of my child. In fact there is even a Dateline NBC special about how this happens so much in Utah, but the truth is it goes on everywhere. There are also dedicated political action teams from the so called religious right in all these states trying to make it to where single fathers have absolutely no parental rights, regardless of how much they been involved in the children’s lives.

    Why would gays attack straight people who have had their children stolen? You would probably answer that by saying that’s not what they were trying to do, however that’s what they are doing. They are defaming straight people who have had terrible crimes perpetrated against them to steal their kids by the same groups that are currently persecuting gays.

    And what’s worse is a these are people who are not against gays rights. In fact I have never met an adoptee or a birth parent that thinks that it’s right for gays or straight people to be required to marry to adopt. The requirement should be is that the person is stable and that the child really needs to be adopted, like a kid stuck in foster care, not a baby stolen through legal fraud from a 20 year old. The fckh8 video actually makes the ridiculous accusation that “straight people want children to remain orphans rather than be adopted by gays.” That is just flat out hateful propaganda. These children are not orphans. Babies are adopted at breakneck speed at a cost that’s top dollar, and children in the system usually stay there because people see them as damaged goods, even in the most conservative states gays can usually adopt these kids, the problem gays have is getting a place in line to adopt the most sought after prize in adoption for profit– the white baby.

    It’s not surprising though that offensive things were said in a video where people constantly screamed the F word. In fact it seems these days the one thing that Americans have in common is they would much rather scream expletives each other and even shoot each other than ever try to understand where the other person’s coming from. These videos verbally assault everyone that disagrees with them, and attack and defame people that didn’t who are being attacked by many of the same groups that persecute gays.

    How will this help to further the cause of gay rights? It won’t, it will make gays seem like they are no better than the monsters that they have been trying to fight all these years. The worst part about it is if gay rights groups don’t come out and condemn these videos, gay people in general are going to be blamed for them. That’s not fair either, but that’s what will happen. Martin Luther King would never have succeeded by using these tactics. He won the only way anyone does, by working with his community and across community lines with people that wanted to change the world for the better, all while not doing any wrong himself. These fckh8 videos are a far cry from that.