TV & Film Analysis

The Saviors of American Crime

The new season of the television show American Crime is all about indulging North American fantasies about trafficking. At first glance, the show appears to be taking up the radical project of exploring the roles of border imperialism and the criminalization of migration on the coercive labor conditions experienced by farm workers in the US. If this was the entire thrust of the show, it's possible something interesting could come of it. However, the story lines centering the farm owners and laborers (that after two episodes, as of this writing, are bizarrely bifurcated by a questionable desire to "show both sides of the story" of farm labor exploitation) are interwoven with, and thus seemed designed to legitimize, hysterical fantasies of sex trafficking of white women and girls. (more…)

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Wedding or Prison? Rentboy.com and the Privatization of Queer and Trans Sex

One of the major problems with the push for same-sex marriage, as I wrote about in somewhat more detail before, is the complicity with the privatization of sex, which has been at the core of most of the so-called major gay "civil rights" advances since 2003 when the US Supreme Court overturned anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas. Queer and trans sex, at least since the late-1800s, has been routinely conflated or associated with sex work both culturally and legally, and anti-sex work laws have in many places been used to target and criminalize queer and trans sex, both public and private. Toronto's 1981 police bathhouse raids are a great example, where almost 300 gay men were arrested by police and charged with either operating or being "found in" a "bawdy house," the Canadian legal term for "brothel." Today, trans women, especially trans women of color, are still routinely harassed and arrested by police for "looking like" a sex worker, simply for existing-while-trans. [caption id="attachment_487" align="alignleft" width="660"]Bathhouse raids protests, Toronto, February 1981. Bathhouse raids protests, Toronto, February 1981.[/caption] (more…)