The rule of cops: "If you date a cop, you are a cop."
Lana Del Rey's been dating Sean Larkin for at least a few months now, and as of this week the two have gone Instagram official.
Larkin is a cop based in Tulsa who stars on the show PD Cam and works as an analyst for the series Live PD. Naturally, some fans have taken issues with Larkin's profession. Much of Del Rey's fanbase is comprised of people who understand that there's a huge problem with police brutality, the prison industrial complex, and systemic racism in this country.
When asked whether she was worried about the public's response to Larkin's career choice, Del Rey said, "Well, the thing is, he's a good cop. He gets it. He sees both sides of things."
But which "both sides of things" are we talking about? Are these the "both sides" that Donald Trump saw in the fine people in Charlottesville? Are these the "both sides" that Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden supporters are reaching out to and that Hillary Clinton allegedly appealed to? It would be nice to think that Del Rey was just referring to the "both sides" that Joni Mitchell has seen now, but as many of us know, there is no such thing as neutrality in a system built on oppression, and that wide-eyed centrist apolitical idealism very often hides apathy, which is essentially taking the side of the oppressor.
All that said, it would be tempting to think that Larkin may be aware of at least some of this, but that seems...doubtful. Apparently Larkin is very invested in defending his profession and exonerating his fellow policemen, and he's even working on a book about officers who were "falsely accused of misconduct or criminal activity."
Sooooo...I’m excited to announce that I’m partnering with @danabrams and his @LawCrimeNetwork to put out a book in… https://t.co/G9Eag50qLD— Sean Larkin (@Sean Larkin)1568564008.0
All of Sean Larkin's actions reveal that he's probably very proud of being a police officer and has no interest in addressing the profession's racist, violent DNA. If being a cop wasn't enough, Larkin is literally the star of a cop reality TV show, which Vulture described as "the distillation of a toxic combination of corporate interest and state propaganda." Criticisms of Live PD and its forefather Cops have often noted that these live cop shows target (and sensationalize the punishment of) poor people, people of color, and people with mental health issues, among other vulnerable groups. These are of course the same groups that wind up in prisons, stuck in self-fulfilling prophecies of suffering, and televising their crimes helps absolutely no one.
Some people have argued that live cop cam TV shows help hold the police accountable, but thus far this has not been the case. Since it began, Live PD has faced much negative press, including two lawsuits for police brutality, and one of its officers has been arrested for domestic violence—and it's hard to say how many cases have been swept under the rug, simply because the people that the police tend to victimize often don't have the ability to fight for their rights. According to The Appeal, "Police may like the ride-along TV arrangement, but they, and the city councils that ostensibly regulate them, work for residents, up to and including the disproportionately poor who are used by these programs as cheap entertainment fodder––to say nothing of the families of those whose murders and rapes are used to titillate the viewing public."
Remember that earlier this month, George Zimmerman—who literally killed Trayvon Martin—was not only exonerated. He is now suing Martin's family for over $100 million. Remember that in 2018, 1,164 civilians were killed by police; meanwhile, as police brutality continues, convictions for officers have plummeted by over 90%, with only 2% of officers who killed civilians that year facing criminal action. Meanwhile, though they make up 37% of the United States population, racial minorities made up 68% of people killed by the police in 2018, according to Vox. In 2019, the Los Angeles Post reported that 1 in 1,000 young black men can expect to die at the hands of police. The statistics go on and on.
In light of all this, Sean Larkin is calling himself a "full-time popo" and has decided that now is definitely the time to write a book about police officers who were falsely accused of misconduct or criminal activity. This is partly why it's disappointing to many fans that Lana Del Rey has chosen to date a cop without at least saying something in support of Black Lives Matter or showing some awareness of the implications of her new relationship. (There's also the fact that prisons in America are veritable hellscapes and mass incarceration is, as Michelle Alexander writes, "a massive system of racial and social control").
As a longtime Lana Del Rey fan, it does pain me to write this article. Then again, what did we expect? Though she is undeniably super-talented, Lana has never been exactly "woke" or far-left. She's open about this, calling herself a "simple singer" in defense of her decision to perform in Israel/Palestine (against the advice of the more anti-Palestine Roger Waters) and writing songs with titles like, "When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing."
Still, it's easy to see radical and visionary themes in her music and persona, especially after she came out strongly against Donald Trump wrote an entire song about ending gun violence (see: "Looking for America")—but she's never been entirely politically correct. Her music exists in a dream space outside of reality, in a world of all-consuming love and Americana illusions and, yes, a lot of very bad men with guns.
everything Lana Del Rey has ever sang or done suggested she loves cops— opheli (@opheli)1569349542.0
What do Lana Del Rey and the Instagram cop even talk about on their dates.— Ally Millar (@Ally Millar)1569354228.0
telling myself that lana del rey is only dating a cop so she can infiltrate the criminal justice system from the inside out— 💛OWEN💛 (@💛OWEN💛)1576643163.0
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Plus celebrities react to Nigerian protests.
Young people across Nigeria have been pouring into the streets for the last two weeks to protest police brutality, specifically the controversial special police force known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Tension came to a head on Tuesday when armed forces fired on protestors in Lagos, the biggest city in Nigeria, who were out past the state-mandated curfew. According to AP News, "Police also fired tear gas at one point, and smoke could be seen billowing from several areas in the city's center. Two private TV stations were forced off the air at least temporarily as their offices were burned."
Not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
October 21, 2020 marks the third annual International Pronouns Day.
Created by an independent board and first observed in 2018, it's one of those small commemorative holidays that trends on Twitter in hopes of drawing attention to a pressing social issue, like International Women's Day (March 8th) or the ever so serious National Taco Day (October 4).
But Pronouns Day in particular "seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace." The organization's website further describes, "Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people's multiple, intersecting identities."
But in the words of nonbinary activist and Trevor Project's Head of Advocacy and Government Afairs, Sam Brenton, "Pronouns are hard." Never before have pronouns been scrutinized as closely as they are in 2019 for their power to (in)validate or accurately describe something as fluid as gender identity. In fact, it was only this year that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary expanded the definition of "they" "to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary" (thus codifying a long history in English language of using "they" to refer to a singular non-gendered entity).
‘Everyone has the responsibility to be respectful.’ — The @TrevorProject’s Sam Brinton is explaining why pronouns a… https://t.co/pMMO8KRvBR— NowThis (@NowThis)1571253180.0
But throwing an additional wrench in the works is the fact that not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
Take me, for instance: Despite having female biology, I couldn't pass a lie detector test saying I'm a "woman." But my pragmatic, Puritan family is still endearingly confused by the idea of "liberal arts," let alone the notion of gender fluidity. And I'd rather share a communal language with them than do the emotional and mental labor of re-orienting their worldview for them. Plus, I have the privilege of passing as female without feeling too, too, terribly dysphoric (which non-binary people can definitely suffer from, despite not identifying as trans).
But enough about me, look at Queer Eye's beloved Jonathan Van Ness. While he's been outspoken about being genderqueer, gay, and HIV positive, he prefers he/him pronouns. "The older I get, the more I think that I'm nonbinary," Van Ness said. "I'm gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman." As he told Out magazine, he doesn't identify as a man, but he does prefer "he/him/his" pronouns. In his view, those pronouns don't detract from or contradict his non-binary identity, because gender is not about simple binaries between masculine and feminine identifiers. "Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I'm here for it," he said. "I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It's this social construct that I don't really feel like I fit into the way I used to."
On the other hand, last month non-binary singer Sam Smith announced that their preferred pronouns are "they/them." Smith posted to Instagram, "I've decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM ❤ after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I've decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out." People like Smith and Trevor Project's Sam Brenton simply feel more validated, seen, heard, and true to themselves with gender-neutral pronouns. Smith wrote, "I'm so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I've been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but f*ck it!"
Most importantly, as pretty much every non-binary person and activist is aware, changing cultural norms is hard. While LGBTQ+ activism is inspired and passionate and dedicated to expanding human rights to all gender identities, we all know that changing society's entire understanding of gender and pronoun usage is about slowly opening minds. As Smith wrote, "I understand there will be many mistakes and mis gendering but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now. Thank you." Happy Pronouns Day to you/him/her/they/(f)aer/zim.