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The Fake Courage of Caitlyn Jenner

I believe it was Shakespeare who said “a dick by any other gender is still a dick,” and now we have Caitlyn-formerly-Bruce Jenner to “live out her truth” and prove it.  Celebrated for her “courage” by no less a moral arbiter than ESPN itself, lionized even by Diane Sawyer, the slow-witted ex-Olympian–who of course has absolutely no idea what true courage it takes to survive one day of homelessness in America—has created a sad little furor by telling her girlfriends on TV that those bums on the street, those war veterans and street kids and whatnot, don’t want to work because they’re too happy getting government handouts.

Well, penises come and penises go, but bad taste is timeless, I guess.  While she revels in her expensive new state-of-the-art breasts, the Marie Antoinette of transgenders has done us all a favor by revealing just how shallow, venal and corrupt her kind of “courage” really is, and how gullible the media figures who celebrate her.

First came the long, breathless wait to see what Bruce Jenner would look like when he was miraculously transformed into a woman named Caitlyn.  When the moment finally arrived, the caterpillar-to-butterfly metamorphosis produced a breathtaking vision–which looked exactly like Bruce Jenner, with fake breasts, in a dress.

This was, as Tom Brady might say, slightly deflating.  But for TV and social media it was a virtual second coming.  Athletes who dared to criticize ESPN for honoring the rich and privileged Jenner over more deserving candidates were hounded and mocked as transphobic haters.

And then Jenner finally opened her surgically-enhanced lips, and what came oozing out was the politics of identity in its purest form.

First, he told Diane Sawyer, his new BFF, that he didn’t like Obama except for one single thing–and guess what that might be!–“He was the first to say ‘transgender,’ I give him credit for that, but I’m not a big fan, I’m more on the conservative side. ”

This seemed to completely astonish Sawyer–but it’s hard to see why, after countless Republican politicians have been outed as cross-dressers; Jenner is building on a long and rich tradition there, and it’s fun to imagine her trading fashion and make-up tips with J. Edgar Hoover.

But Jenner knocking Obama was pretty thin stuff, and very few people–outside of his immediate family, and MSNBC–care to defend Obama anymore, so there was a tiny hubbub about it, and it fizzled quickly.

Then came the bizarre coronation on ESPN, with the stage-managed standing ovations.  No “haters” allowed!  The king is dead, long live the queen!  Of course, Queen Cait could barely deliver her scripted words of inspiration–she didn’t seem to have  read them beforehand–but social media was deeply moved.

And, in the ultimate proof that she’s on the right side of history, Caitlin got her own reality show.  But no sooner had her show begun than she wobbled off-script for a moment, and our newborn Cinderella proved to be more of an old-fashioned Wicked Witch.  When one of her girlfriends talked about the importance of caring for homeless people, Jenner said, with an adorable toss of her bangs: “Don’t they make more by not working–wih social progams–than they do with an entry level job?”

The other transgender women on the show–who have lived actual lives–were horrified.  When they tried to explain it to her, Jenner finally revealed her true self, the one that even Diane Sawyer failed to uncover:  “Oh, you dont want people to get  totally dependent on it.  Thats when they get in trouble–‘why should I work?  I got a few bucks! I got my room paid for!”

Let’s de-construct that little beauty for a moment.  As soon as Jenner starts her feeble attempt to role-play a poor person,  she junks normal grammar–becuz poor folks iz stupid, lol!–“I got a few bucks.”  Then she faults these dumb slobs–you know, these combat veterans and mentally ill and sexually-abused women, men and children–not just for their damn laziness, but for their total lack of imagination, too–for them, a room and a few bucks (for crack, no doubt) is enough. They aren’t even ambitious enough to crave a two-room apartment, much less an L.A. mansion paid for with sex-tape money!

And girlfriend, don’t even get me started on their clothes!  Pee-yew!

Here, Jenner finds herself in bed with Earl Butz, the Republican member of Gerald Ford’s cabinet, who disgraced himself with a similar quote.  Though it seems too good to be true, this is actually how it happened.  In 1976, Butz found himself on an airplane with Pat Boone–in some ways the Kardashian of his day, because he, like Kim, became famous by exploiting black sexuality.  Boone, himself a high-level right-wing ideologue, asked Butz why there weren’t more black Republicans, and Butz replied (I quote accurately, if reluctantly): “Pat, the only thing the coloreds are looking for in life are a tight pussy, loose shoes, and a warm place to shit.”

Poor Earl Butz is as dead as vaudeville now, but if he were alive, he’d happily join Lindsey Graham in welcoming Caitlyn Jenner to the Republican party and praising her “courage.”  And that’s the core of the problem: across the ultra-narrow spectrum of American media/politics, it’s become way too easy to be “courageous” on LGBT issues.  It doesn’t cost anything. Every day and every night, MSNBC “bravely” champions gay rights, and they recently hired the first openly gay news-anchor.  Excellent!  Now when can we expect to get the first poor news-anchor?  The first Native American news-anchor?  The first ex-convict?  We all know the answer: as soon as there exists a wealthy and powerful group of the homeless, or of American Indians, or of ex-cons, who contribute millions of dollars to the Democrats and Republicans, like the gay rights groups do…and not a day before.

It’s the same old game, and you pay to play.

So in the end Jenner’s “courage” boils down to this: I will fiercely defend the right of obscenely wealthy cultural parasites to have surgeons in Beverly Hills build new breasts for us, and to then have those store-bought breasts draped in the silks of Parisian coutouriers.

Well, it’s a program, I guess, and you see some of Caitlyn’s right-on sisters shopping in Beverly Hills every day.

But if I want to see true courage in action, I’ll step outside and watch a homeless woman try to catch an hour’s sleep in an alley off Santa Monica Boulevard.

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John Eskow is a writer and musician. He wrote or co-wrote the movies Air America, The Mask of Zorro, and Pink Cadillac, as well as the novel Smokestack Lightning. He is a contributor to Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence. He can be reached at: johneskow@yahoo.com

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