n. A heterosexual person who is open to relationships with people of the same sex. —adj. Also: hetero-flexible, heteroflex.—heteroflexibility n.
The article “A Few Notes on Collaboration and Participation” by Andrew Berardini brought to mind an artist-collaborative I had learned of in the late 1990’s – HOT YOUNG STAR. A member I met while living in Chicago has kept me up-to-date on their on-going linguistic in(ter)ventions for the last few years. The basic goal of the group is to influence language through the development of new words and to have these neologisms codified in language in a concrete and demonstratable way. There is no specific type of word they choose to invent, but most of their creations pertain to the world of sexual and identity politics. In a similar vein to and coming together on the cusp of General Idea and the Guerilla Girls, through consensus the group practices its own conceptual (re)working of the power-knowledge ideology.
Through a network of supportive academia, journalist and social scientists, HYS has been able to integrate a number of specific words into articles and stories published in magazines as diverse as Thrasher and Vibe and as prestigious as The New Yorker. Knowing which specific magazines the North American Reading Program (a research arm of the venerable Oxford English Dictionary) closely monitors, they have been strategically placing words in articles in these magazines since the mid ‘90s.
n. A person who pretends to be gay, particularly as a way of garnering attention; a person who mistakenly believes he or she is gay. Also: faux-mosexual. —adj. —fauxmosexuality n.
Before their activities in print media, HYS were strong proponents of the internet and were adept in crossposting and employing Usenet and BBS to get their work out. The word fauxmosexual can be directly traced to a July 8, 1992 posting on the alt.flame group by HYS. More recently, agents of the collaborative have also embedded themselves in such organizations as the Center for Applied Linguistics and the Linguistic Society of America in Washington, D.C, as well as the Modern Language Association in New York City. Through a smart understanding of semiotics and the system in place for words to become language, in slipping in new thoughts to our expanding growing lexicon HYS offers a shift from an understanding of language as action or representation to that of language as activity.
An obvious and clear precedent for the HYS can be traced back to the Situationist International and their practice of détournement; but, a number of the HYS artists who were also influenced by the Letterist movement, seek to have the words they create represented through pictograms and illustrations. While it is admittedly more difficult to get a dictionary illustrator to draw a representation of a word, this is the direction certain members are hoping to move toward.
Other artists who are obviously, if not secretly working in a similar manner are The Yes Men, RTMark, Negativland and the Adbusters network. In 1993, claiming that the dolls reinforced gender stereotypes,” RTMark instigated the Barbie Liberation Organization project in which voice boxes of G.I. Joe and Barbie dolls were switched (directions can still be found on the internet some 17 years later). The fact that perhaps as few as 12 dolls voices were switched reveals that manipulation of a structured system is an easy enough goal when done intelligently. HYS, while operating covertly and within a much more difficult system to comprehend, still have their own successful methodology.
n. Language that uses jargon, euphemisms, and other devices to hide the true meaning of what is being said.
HOT YOUNG STAR (whose name incidentally is taken from a description of our own sun, and not from the world of celebrity culture) provides a prototypical example of how only certain work can be created in a truly collaborative way and would be virtually impossible to exist without a network of interconnected participants. Combining the varied interests of the anonymous members into a web that mutually supports their creation has been difficult and rewarding achievement over the last twenty-years. While they remain in anonymity, they are satisfied that their cultural jamming is having an effect on how language is used.
Though secretive, it makes one wonder what other cultural engineerings and social provocations might be infiltrating our language, for good and for evil. When Fox (and, then other actually respected agencies) are manipulated into running a cleverly edited video about the San Bernardino chapter of ACORN (without fact checking), when the video provokes reactions that lead to Congressional hearings and when funding of ACORN is completely cut off, it is clear that for every Hot Young Star there is a "death panel," for every Anonymous, there's an anonymous without the same sense of juvenile humor causing their own subtle linguistic revolutions.
It reminds me of the October 17, 2004, New York Times Magazine article by writer Ron Suskind, in which he quoted an unnamed aide to George W. Bush:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
Perhaps, HYS is only about creating a 'counter-reality.'
- Calvin Phelps