Delete Your Account is a weekly column that takes the hot air out of celebrities and their social media shenanigans. Every Friday, I will decide whether or not each perpetrator should delete their accounts and never grace the internet again. This week, Out magazine is over; David Simon thinks he’s one of his characters on The Wire; Jesse Williams got the keys, the keys; and Entertainment Weekly is late, as usual.
They shoot magazines, don’t they? I purchased my first copy of Out magazine in September 2005. It was my sophomore year of college and I worked at Borders bookstore. Though I’d come out months earlier, I still hadn’t gotten to the level of purchasing a gay magazine in public. Drawing that much attention to myself seemed positively petrifying. But I was putting away magazines and a woman saw Jesse L. Martin on the cover of Out.
“Is he gay?” she asked.
“No, he just plays a gay character in the movie Rent. It’s based on a musical he did about 10 years ago.”
“Oh, thank god,” she said. “That would be a shame.”
The conversation disappointed me enough that on my lunch break, I made sure to buy my first copy of the magazine. I’m not ascribed to the faux-morality that some people attempt to put onto magazines. I don’t think that magazines need to be political movements all the time. But I also can’t deny the fact that seeing a straight black man on the cover of Out, proud about playing a gay man on film, was incredibly moving to me. It was one of the first identifiable steps toward my acceptance of myself as a gay man.
Which is to say, that’s far from the Out we have now. While I can admit there’s power in seeing your straight heroes on a gay magazine cover, it matters who those heroes are. If it’s just a hot, gay-baiting actor looking for album sales like Nick Jonas, it means a lot less than a Jesse L. Martin or Jake Gyllenhaal promoting Brokeback Mountain. Out editor Aaron Hicklin has stated that the magazine is not the HRC or GLAAD, which is true, but gay media should exist to enlighten and to be a positive force in a world where trans women are murdered at increasingly high rates and gay men of color are getting gunned down in nightclubs.
And so, giving a fawning platform and glossy eight-page spread to a white supremacist like he’s fucking Kate Moss, even if he’s gay, even if you want to highlight a “super-villain,” is incredibly damaging and irresponsible. Particularly a piece that challenges none of Milo Yiannopolous’s abhorrent statements and allows him to assert the fact that having sex with black men makes him not racist. The author of the piece, Chadwick Moore, challenged the idea that Yiannopoulos is a white supremacist, which seems predicated on the fact that Milo said he loves fucking black guys. That you can fuck black people and be a racist is lost on a white gay man, which doesn’t surprise me. One needs only to look at the language Milo used to describe Leslie Jones to see what he truly thinks about black people. Writing to Fusion’s Sam Stecklow, Moore asked:
Imagine needing white supremacy defined for you in 2016. How hard up for freelancers is Out these days? Must be difficult when the best gay writers in media work for outlets that are slightly more reputable than a Tiger Beat with popper ads. This, of course, is not Aaron Hicklin’s opinion of Out:
First things first — Out‘s celebration of intersectional cultures has amounted to 85 percent white people on their covers from 2011 to 2016. Second, having the gall to condescend to writers about how to “read journalism” when you’re devoting your Pride issue to a profile of Nick Jonas is beyond laughable. In an interview with Fusion, Hicklin told Stecklow, “I think a good piece of profile writing, feature writing lets a reader come to an informed opinion based on observation, and what they see happening in the piece. I think a writer that inserts themselves and their opinions into a profile piece or a feature piece is not a good writer, and I’m sad that we have a lot of that journalism these days, I think it’s not the kind of journalism I was raised to write, it’s not the kind of journalism that you see practiced in a profile piece in The New Yorker or The New York Times, and there’s no reason that should be the kind of piece that you see in Out. I mean, if anyone is coming away from this piece with an idea that Milo is somehow an OK guy, I would be extremely surprised.”
Did he even read the fucking piece? Because Moore’s prose features plenty of editorializing like “the Loki from London swoops in with rapid-fire talking points delivered in a playfulness so foreign — and intoxicating — to most journalists and Americans that they are left standing in the rubble, dumbfounded” and “His silver-tongued tirades madly skip over the surface, leaving in their wake a stunned armada of agape liberals. He is the right’s Kanye West, the NRA’s Kim Kardashian.”
At any rate, the Out magazine that once helped me live my truth as a gay man is gone. It’s been replaced by covers with white men, interviews with white supremacists, and an editorial team that tells itself lies to defend the shit they’ve published.
SHOULD OUT DELETE ITS ACCOUNT?
David Simon isn’t all that different from Rachel Dolezal when you think of it. But we’ll get to that in a moment. The creator of The Wire decided the best way to criticize Sean Hannity for hosting a Donald Trump town hall for black people was to tweet out the word “nigga.” He then went on to explain the context to his followers and tell us we just didn’t get it, he was making a joke! And that defense has worked so well for Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer in the past, so of course it had to work for Simon, right?
Nah, Simon. Let’s unpack this here. First of all, your continued insistence that the quote doesn’t exhibit racism and people just didn’t get it is wild. I don’t really think it’s racist, but it’s incredibly privileged of a white man to tweet out “nigga” and think that just because he put some black people on HBO he’s able to decide when someone should use that word.
But then again, people said “nigga” every 10 seconds on The Wire, which, if we’re gonna get real about it, was some straight-up poverty porn. I love the show, but it was far from a realistic portrayal of black life below the poverty line. The black experience in America is such that we really aren’t that far removed from housing discrimination and unfair hiring practices, which makes The Wire a bit of a fantasy in the same way The Cosby Show was. Every black person on The Wire is broke or plays a character like Clarence Royce, who got to his status by corruption. There’s this idea that black communities abandon each other, which is propagated by narratives such as The Cosby Show, where the Huxtables don’t seem to interact with any of their family members who are less well-off than them. Just because one family made it doesn’t mean the entire crew does. The same can be said for The Wire, which has an absence of affluent black people or at least well-off ones who are doing work in their communities to end gun violence, poverty, and drug addictions. My family wasn’t always middle class and I, like many black people who’ve achieved this status, still have family members I see at Thanksgiving or other family gatherings who haven’t had the privilege of gaining what I have.
All of which is to say: The near-realistic portrayal of black lives from Simon and his years as a journalist have given him the sense that he has an “in.” It’s the same “in” that allows Madame C.J. Dolezal to act like she’s black because she twisted some locs in the kitchen while Amen was on. It’s the same “in” that lets Simon think he’s allowed to tweet out “nigga” repeatedly. Because he’s done it before:
Just as long as we understand the context, right? Not at all. The context is you’re white.
SHOULD DAVID DELETE HIS ACCOUNT? I mean, I can’t stay mad at someone who introduced Idris Elba’s fine ass to me, but chill, David.
Who is “they,” DJ Khaled? What kind of 1970s paranoid conspiracy thriller are you living in? The only people who don’t want to see The Birth of a Nation are the people who don’t want to give their coins to an alleged rapist. You were at the same screening of Moonlight that I saw — how about you tweet about that movie instead?
SHOULD JESSE DELETE HIS ACCOUNT? *Stares at his eyes* No, never.
New? The Jay Z song being referenced was released in 2003, y’all. It’s also on The Black Album, which has topped countless best-of lists. Hire some black writers.
SHOULD ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY DELETE ITS ACCOUNT? I mean, who else is gonna update us on Outlander?