Andrew Christian, “The Audition” Video - Reifying White Supremacy in the LGBTQ Community (NSFW)
Every Monday I review media as part of my weekly “Media Review Mondays” series. This is the first installment of this series.
As a black gay man, the blatant white supremacy and antiblackness in the LGBTQ community no longer comes as much of a surprise to me. I’ve grown accustomed to the racist pronouncements of white gay men, who are so incredibly entitled and feel like their experiences with homophobia somehow gives them license to spew racist filth. With the vast majority of white gay men I’ve encountered, they either openly say that they’re “just not into black guys” and ignore the fact that our economies of attraction do not exist in a vacuum, so that they can cling to their white supremacist ideals and standards of beauty. Or, alternatively, they fetishize me and my blackness with their “jungle fever” and being “really into black guys.” There is almost never any in between with them, very little space for my humanity to be acknowledged and for them to not homogenize me and all black men into some dark, exotic mass to be consumed or vilified.
[image description: A screencap from “The Audition” video featuring 5 of the male models. All are white, muscled and wearing tight underwear]
And so already at 23, my expectations of white gay men are incredibly low. But still, for whatever reason, this video advertisement for Andew Christian still stunned me. Andrew Christian is a white gay male underwear and swimsuit designer whose line heavily targets the gay community. The video makes clear, though, who he sees as counting in said community.
We are introduced to the video as an audition for models to win a ticket to Matinee Las Vegas, a large annual Gay Dance Festival. The judges, include Davey Wavey, Pandora Boxx and Todrick Hall (the only judge of color), and together they judge who wins a ticket based on the attractiveness of the contestant (in their eyes).
[image description: The judges from “The Audition” video. From right: Todrick Hall, Davey Wavey, Andrew Christian and Pandora Boxx. All are holding up “10”s for a white contestant]
Begin white supremacist trainwreck.
Of course, the several contestants whom they judge over the course of the video are almost all white or white passing. Many (heterosexual) people may be surprised to know that the “progressive” LGBTQ community is far from a safe space and is as virulently white supremacist as the rest of our society. The video’s parade of white beauty and blatant exclusion of non-white passing MOC, besides one lone black model, should therefore come as no surprise. This is “the gay community” in their minds, and there is no space for us QMOC in it.
[image description: Screencap from “The Audition” video showing black male model, Indar Smith, winking]
The part of the video which gave me the most pause, though, was seeing the treatment of the token black guy, Indar Smith, they threw into the mix. As he walks onto stage, the last contestant, I cringed not knowing what racist fuckery was to come next. He becomes a spectacle, as many of the other contestants had, but one cannot tell the real reason for his particular objectification until the final moments of the video when this happens:
[image description: Animated gif image from “The Audition” video showing Pandora Boxx being led off camera by Indar Smith. She holds up the sign, “Once U Go Black” and smirks as she walks off camera with him]
Yes, “Once U Go Black” being touted about by Pandora Boxx, a white person, as they walk off stage with the only black guy in the video.
And so in the midst of this white supremacist spectacle of a video, the only non-white passing MOC becomes a fetishized object and spectacle before the white gaze.
The fact that Todrick Hall is in the video and was the first one to use the sign, “Once U Go Black” is no excuse. We forget that as POC, we can indeed fetishize ourselves and do so quite often. Moreover, Todrick Hall has been one whom I’ve never really been a fan of for his constant stream of modern minstrel style performances on Youtube. One lesson that people must come to realize is that having one or two black people included in your video does not an anti-racist video make, as many of us POC readily can and do buy into white supremacy and the enshrinement of white supremacist aesthetics in larger culture. This video, between the parade of white bodies as the standard of beauty and the blatant exotification and fetishization of the sole black contestant, is so indicative of this fact.
Overall “The Audition” provides the viewer with clear insight into the value systems which the gay male community as a whole ascribes to: white supremacy. There is also some fatphobia thrown into the mix as well, of course, as they mock the one fat contestant in the competition and boo him off stage. In addition to this the utter exclusion of non white passing MOC, besides one, and the complete tokenization, debasement and fetishization of the one black guy in the video, really stood out to me personaly as a queer black man myself. It reflected many of my own experiences with white gay men and facing white supremacist standards of beauty within the community, and of course it was in a predominantly white gay bar this past weekend that I happened to see this video.
Shortly after the video played, a white gay guy I had recently met got a notification from a black guy on Grindr. He turned to me and the group and remarked nonchalantly:
“Wow this guy has an amazing body… but he’s black”
And with that I was officially done. And the same goes for my feelings about this trainwreck of a video.
If you have suggestions for other media you would like to see reviewed as part of this weekly, “Media Review Mondays” series. Please submit those requests: HERE.
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