Ian Charles Garner (@sweatpantspapi) on Using Twitter Not as a Stage But as a Bullhorn

ian_charles_garnerIan Charles Garner is a future EGOT recipient who is constantly sporting a fresh fade and always attached to his phone. He’s gearing up to become a full blown, bicoastal Instagram boytoy as he pursues an MFA in Screenwriting at LMU’s School of Film and Television. Contrary to popular belief, he is not Rami Malek’s twin brother. This week Garner spoke to me about three of his favorite tweets, plus celebrities, being thirsty, and knowing when to insert yourself into a conversation.

Garner: If you’ve followed me for at most four minutes, there are three things you already know about me: 1) I’m appalled that society let “Into You” by Ariana Grande flop, 2) I will tell you to eat shit and die if you try to tell me you’ve had a good bagel outside of New York or New Jersey and 3) I’m literally always horny. People like to throw around the word “thirsty” as if it’s some sort of insult, as if you should be ashamed for being a sexual being, and I’m here to say fuck that. I was raised by a single mother who at times was, for better or for worse, incredibly lenient. I spent my formative years sitting in front of the TV at night watching Real World and The RuPaul Show learning about myself, about my body, and about how bodies interact with one another well before some of my classmates. I couldn’t be more grateful for how freely I embrace my sexuality. I wear my dickpiggery like a badge of honor.

Are there any other terms like “thirsty” that you take issue with being used as insults?

I think the glaring answer here is “slut.” Using anything to weaponize someone’s sexuality against them is fucked up, plain and simple. It’s a whole 2017 and we’re still having to rehash the malevolence of slutshaming. Cardi B said it best: “Everyone has sex. Everybody sucks dick and fucks.” Let people be horny and thirsty as long as they’re not harassing anyone.

Who are your fave celebs and/or icons to tweet about? Are there ones who you follow closely but don’t tweet about for any reason?

I’m a black, gay man, and while I’m by no means a stan, I will tweet about Beyoncé news the second it breaks. The other day I was fast asleep and woke up just 30 seconds before she posted the pictures of Rumi and Sir on Instagram. I regularly tweet about Céline Dion because 1) “I’m Alive” is a banger and 2) have you seen the looks she’s been turning out? 49 years old and she’s not letting these little girls breathe! In typing this I’ve come to realize that there’s a 150% chance of me tweeting about you if you have an acute accent in your name.

Being an aspiring writer/director/producer/wunderkind, I keep up with pretty much everyone relevant at any given time but because I hope these people are one day my peers, I’ve grown to shy away from tweeting anything that can incriminate me. There are some exceptions to this rule, of course. As most of my followers know, I live tweet the Oscars and the Emmys and it becomes an unfiltered, no holds barred stream of consciousness. Whenever How to Get Away With Murder is airing, I regularly tweet at showrunner Peter Nowalk to ask if he’s hiring to the point where I’m shocked that he hasn’t blocked me yet. And Tom Hardy, if you’re reading this: you will always have an open invitation to Pound Town.

When I first started logging and reviewing movies on Letterboxd I took it pretty seriously thinking I’d use it as a launch pad into a little film crit side gig while I waited for my writing career to take off. But as I kept typing out these long-winded reviews that made it pretty obvious I was $40,000 in debt with a film degree from a Jesuit school, I realized it wasn’t organic. If there’s one thing that’s most important to me in this life, it’s dick. But a close second is always being my most authentic self.

How else has the way you write online changed over time?

Having been on Twitter since 2008, the way I write online changed as much as the way I speak did. When I acted out for attention in real life, I acted out for attention online. As brazen as I am on Twitter is as brazen as I am in real life. For me, Twitter has never been a stage. It’s always been a bullhorn and a really fucking loud one at that. When going from URL to IRL and vice versa one of the things I hear most often is how my online voice isn’t a persona but just an extension of who I am. Whether that’s truly a good thing is still TBD.

I honestly forget who or what prompted this tweet, but someone somewhere was doing some absolute fuck shit. Maybe it’s because I’m from New Jersey or maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini or maybe it’s Maybelline, but I don’t take shit from anyone except my mother, my grandmother, and the people paying my bills. I remember wanting to insert myself into this situation but instead I sat back and enjoyed my dinner, a piece of advice I’d suggest we abide by more often.

Twitter makes it easy for users to insert themselves into situations. Do you have strong feelings about what conversations you insert yourself into and which ones you stay out of?

Off the cuff, racism, transphobia, homophobia or any sort of bigotry will not go unchecked on my timeline. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. In the wise words of Alexis Michelle, “if I see something, I say something.”

Outside of that, it’s just about being perceptive. Twitter really has created an environment that promotes a fabricated sense of familiarity and because of that a lot of people tweet before they think. Just because the medium is the internet, doesn’t mean that the rules of engagement should be any different than if you were face to face with someone. Before I enter a conversation I have a mental flowchart. Is this conversation serious? If it is, does my comment add anything to the conversation? If it does then boom, I hop right in. If it’s just a playful little gig, I make sure what I’m about to say is funny. I’ve seen funny conversations flatline because someone will jump in and just absolutely bomb and I have the screenshots to prove it. Luckily that’s never happened to me before because I’m truly hysterical.

What advice would you give to someone who’s trying to enjoy their time on Twitter?

This is going to sound hackneyed but, for the love of God, please be yourself. For example, if you’re not funny, stop trying to make jokes. You will find that you will enjoy Twitter (and honestly life in general) much more if you’re not forcing something that’s not authentic. Another way to enjoy your time on Twitter is to Venmo me $10, it’s a foolproof method.

Jenny Nelson lives, writes, and performs in Brooklyn.

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