Why don’t we know how to talk about winning yet?
We know how to talk about losing, failing, crying, broken hearts. We know how to write about tragedy, make movies about cancer, document catastrophe.
I won the 2010 GayVN for Best Newcomer, and I noticed that when I sat down to write about it I had no idea how.
Stories of winning are often preluded by stories of abysmal failure – the baseball team sucks, but works and works until finally, somehow, they win the World Series or whatever. Or the nerdy girl who everyone hates finally gets the popular boy after she lets down her hair. Everyone, it is said, loves an underdog.
I’m not generally inclined to point out socio-religio-economic factors in narratives, but this pattern does display the perfect capitalist and communist and Christian/Muslim narrative. That is:
Start poor + effort = A climax in wealth!
Or: Start oppressed + organize = revolution!
Or: Work your ass off + die = Reward in Heaven!
One slanted upward line. Flat without the contours of imagination, we begin in poverty and end in reward.
It’s as if we have to experience hardship to celebrate happiness. Is that a different, forgotten definition of guilt? No one can be alive, happy, excited, privileged, loved, without having a shadow to redeem it.
Worse still, If we never achieve reward, it’s out “fault”. We fucked up.
Connected to this is the notion that we somehow “deserve” our hardships. When someone dies of lung cancer: Imagine the shaking heads when we find out that person smoked. Or when someone tests positive for HIV and people say (sometimes in hushed tones, but other times, loudly, rudely), “Well he should have worn a condom.”
If we step back and look at our friends and our lovers, how can we not be ashamed by this backwards thinking? We praise work and suffering. We blame those in pain. We demand that joy and happiness and success be redeemed by turbulence. What kind of world do we want to live in if we demonize the joy of others?
I’m not sure when this all started. Was there a time when we were happier for each other, more connected when one of us succeeds, more loving when one of us suffers?
It has something to do with thinking of ourselves as intensely disconnected individuals: A win is a win for me, not anyone else. So is a loss. The disconnection that accompanies the isolated individual’s success or failure makes him uneasy with both.
So now, even when we win, when we succeed, we are often afraid.
A friend of mine won a GayVN and I caught his twitter feed later – Someone had asked him if he won. When my friend replied that he had, he wrote something like, “Well yes, but we’re not supposed to talk about it, right?”
Like sex used to be, success is a taboo. Too often, we hate the things that have brought others happiness and pleasure.
I don’t agree with the “death to the ego” notion espoused by Buddhists or new age thinkers. I’m happy I’m an individual and have a boundary and what (at least seem like) my own personality and tastes. I think the individual makes sense at this point in time. But I’m trying to figure out how to be myself – in this case, when I win something – and not feel badly telling you about it.
Look, even here, I’ve talked about failure, fuck up, remorse, redemption because I can’t just say “Thank you.” Because I fear saying, “I really did deserve it,” without experiencing rebuke.
Let me start again.
I won the 2010 Best Newcomer GayVN award. Thank you! I deserved it.
Everyone that got one deserved it.
I don’t care if some performers are better than others or one movie was better shot than another, or if -as was claimed last year – there was corruption in the selection process, or if some studios should have been recognized more, or if the whole ceremony was fucked up and self-congratulatory (it wasn’t).
I felt this great feeling when I went up to the stage – people were clapping and smiling and shouting. It wasn’t amazing merely in the winning – it was amazing because it was clear to me that we’re not isolated individuals. We’re in this together. We were there for each other.
I know I’m not always this clear. I know that sometimes I make fun of people, I forget that we’re friends, I laugh when someone trips, and I blame people for their problems.
But right now, it makes sense.
Thank you for the award. Let’s be in love with winning again.