Published in Vol 10 of The Carceral Notebooks. (A great honor to be included in the same table of contents as Lauren Berlant.)
Samuel Galloway and Joseph Sannicandro
THE KIDS ARE NOT ALRIGHT?
This sound collage was assembled by layering the audio
from 15 gay pornographic videos featuring older men with
“twinks,” or young boys typically at the vague borders of por-
nographic legality. These soundtracks were randomly triggered,
creating chance encounters interacting and building upon one
another. Sonically, this collage mimics the contingent, conta-
in real-time, treating the chorus of moans with various filters,
echo, and digital and tape delay effects. This is all set against a
loop, “we’re just gonna do whatever we want,” which is meant
to evoke both a fear and a promise.
“We’re just gonna do whatever we want…”
This looping refrain—an increasingly warped, spectral,
reverberated echolalia—bleeds into and slips under a sound-
scape of moaning, kissing, sharp breathing, smacking skin,
sighs, grunts… the sounds of fucking swelling and building and
rushing up in a crescendo of orgiastic, orgasmic intensifica-
As a refrain, this looping echolalia has the potential to
produce a territory, a perverse space of desire. In this respect,
we understand the refrain to be a transductive vehicle of
becoming attuned to a dynamic affective habitus of feeling out,
negotiating, and inhabiting boundaries.
The refrain sounds out a space: the sounds of men fucking
boys with brutal beauty; men fucking boys whose little pricks
bounce and strain with joy; men fucking boys—bound boys,
gagged boys, abducted boys; men fucking boys without con-
doms; men who smack, spit on, fucking abuse boys; muscular,
hirsute, tattooed, pierced, massively hung men fucking boys:
“suck my dick,” “take it like a bitch, boy,” “you fucking like
that,” “aw yeah, fucking twink.”
“We’re just gonna do whatever we want….”
A fear and a promise.
The fear is well known, the moral panic that targets gay
male sexuality as pedophilically pathogenic: gay men want to
fuck our sons, infect them with queerness. We see in the ‘sod-
omization’ of the figure of the pedophile the persistence of
homophobia in the American Imaginary. We insist, however,
that the legal targeting of sodomy is but one mode through
which this paranoid suturing is conducted.
For instance, we see the recapitulation of this anxiety in
the conservative panic that marriage as an institution will
become decoupled from reproductive sexuality and compul-
sory monogamy. We detect in this recapitulation the not so sly
insinuation that the gratuitous sex of gay people is harmful to
We further see a capitulation to this homophobic sex-
negative slander in the sentimentalized and ‘romantic’ deploy-
ment of gay couples by marriage equality proponents: these
couples are not sexual, but loving; not perverse, but
supportive; not promiscuous, but rather committed:
the new normal, the modern family: managers of the
safe domestic sphere. We recognize how the impulse
of normative aspirations tends toward
and often operates in tandem with allergic pathologizations of
We acknowledge that the promise—“we’re just gonna do
whatever we want”—is less obvious and is fraught with danger,
that it may be received defensively, as though a threat.
Nevertheless, we encourage our listeners to risk occupying a
dynamic sonic space of queer intimacy. We invite an attun-
ement to contingent rhythms of desire that challenges deraci-
nated deployments of punitively predatory gay male sexuality,
to experience these auditory scenes—and their chance interac-
tions— haptically: to become immersed in and swept up by the
feel of the flows and currents of desire, to risk becoming viscer-
ally aroused by the sounds we’ve assembled.
That is, if we feel unsettled by the sounds of men fucking
boys, then perhaps we may understand this solicitation
as a potential dilation of horizons of possibility through which we
may come to think about sex, sexuality, and ageist and homo-
phobic panics differently.
Perhaps we may feel the inadequacy of age of consent laws
to categorize and delimit safe versus harmful sexual desires and
Perhaps we feel the elusiveness of the supposedly danger-
ous sexual stranger in a different way—he may become elusive
and conceptually slippery because he may be
sought after by, rather than intrude in upon, the supposedly asexual, sexually
innocent, naïve and passive child.
Perhaps we may feel the aporias of compulsory heteronor-
mativity in assumptions that children will not
revel in, be turned on by, or desire to emulate the sexuality of gay men—
the patently stupid, blatantly homophobic, and politically qui-
etist assumption that, innately, gay butt sex is disgusting.
Perhaps we may feel libidinal economies of pornography,
prostitution, and ‘personal assistance’ as just so many markets
that open up and make possible the space for the appearance of
and indulgence in certain relations of socially precarious desire
while simultaneously offering some connection to the world—
perhaps something slightly more or maybe even less than the
pimping of desire.
Perhaps the promise of the refrain is that we may come to
feel these relations differently, as so many values and anxieties
that don’t quite amount to the promise of the refrain.
“We’re just gonna do whatever we want…” A fear, a prom-
ise, a refrain.