Emasculation, American Style
Thomas Brodhead – American, born 1968 – Emasculation, American Style –2013 – acrylic on canvas – 24" x 24" x 0.75" (60.96cm x 60.96cm x 1.91cm)
Despite campaigning on promises to the contrary, President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993 a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for the military, thereby making it impossible for homosexuals to increase home values *openly* on military bases throughout the United States. The direct, collateral, and cosmetic damage from this policy—ended through brute force of personality by President Barack Obama in 2011—is still being evaluated by property assessors, but the most recent victim would be the military itself.
When 5’2” Bradley Manning made the highly questionable deduction that enlisting in the Army would be the best way to gain a PhD in physics, he apparently misunderstood the DADT policy to apply to conversations regarding the age of post-menopausal women, and therefore innocently kept a self-described “fairy wand” on his desk in order to brighten his own work space and those of his fellow enlistees. Although he was taunted and humiliated repeatedly for this faux pas of workplace decor, it was apparently the act of watching Björk’s performance in the film “Dancer in the Dark” that truly sent Manning spiralling into a state of cold-war fusion. He thereafter contacted Julian Assange and transferred to WikiLeaks damning home videos of the U.S. Military clumsily performing its acts of derring-do on innocent Iraqi civilians (without any ameliorating musical numbers--horrors!) as well as its blogs concerning other colorless and truly uninspired foreign policy snafus. And, lest the point be lost on the reader, all were poorly formatted and edited, much as what would be expected from common heterosexuals.
Despite his intentions only to reveal the embarrassing stylistic limitations of the Army’s videographers and copy-editors, Manning was charged with espionage and sentenced to 35 years in prison, thus eliminating his physics PhD aspirations as well as dashing his hopes of dissuading anyone else from watching a Bjørk movie. With all media eyes following him, however, he chose after the trial to announce that the U.S. Army had been a fool all along, as they had court-martialed the wrong agent: The man standing before the press was not homosexual Bradley Manning, but transgendered Chelsea Manning, some random woman trapped in the enlistee’s body. Now the U.S. Army must confront the most perplexing eventuality of its misguided DADT policy, as Manning’s sentence may require overturning and the actual perpetrator—doubtlessly in control of the body of a lesbian dog breeder somewhere in the Pacific Northwest—will now have to be located and brought to justice.
The quixotic artist here depicts the gender reassignment surgery of Manning in a way that forces the viewer to consider its cause and other disquieting questions: Was the U.S. Military responsible for the gender-entity transfer between the as-yet-unidentified woman and Manning, or were Julian Assange’s anonymous followers a collective feminizing force in the psychology of the aspiring physicist? Is Guy Fawkes actually Gal Fawkes? When will Uncle Sam become Aunt Samantha? And is “U.S. Intelligencia” an example of oxymoronic metonymy? For answers to these questions, consult Google and Facebook, online oracles that would NEVER disclose sensitive information to the NSA.