You Know Those U.S. Army Astrology Memes? Yeah, Today’s Astrology Culture Goes Against Everything the Army Stands For

·3-min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Earlier this month, the U.S. Army’s official Instagram, @GoArmy, shared a set of very embarrassing and very cringey posts about “what your zodiac sign says about the kind of soldier you could be in the Army.” (Answers: Capricorn = Human Intelligence Collector; Pisces = JAG Corps Attorney; Scorpio = Human Resources Specialist; and so on.)

The fact that this post came in meme format points to the very alive, very queer astrology meme culture that exists in different forms across different platforms. There’s everything from Courtney Perkins of @NotAllGeminis wisecracking all over Instagram to astrotwine on Tumblr creating mood boards of Sun/Moon/Rising combinations to Discords serving as support groups for water Moons. Today’s pop astrology isn’t horoscope columns, which began in feminist zine culture and was co-opted by corporate magazines of the ’80s and ’90s. This is something new.

The Army’s astrology content can’t really be called a meme because it isn’t funny, and it can’t really be called an infographic because it gives no real information about astrology. The comments on the Instagram post show that it’s hated equally by those who practice astrology and those who turn up their noses at it. It feels like Uncle Sam peered into a room of queers, freaks, and girls having their fun and tried to get in on the joke.

But why is the Army’s use of astrology so awkward, so embarrassing—so cringey? What makes something feel cringey to us in the first place?

The Army’s astrology content swallows formerly radical aesthetics and language, creating something that feels like a co-opting of queer culture. However, astrology isn’t inherently queer, leftist, or radical. Throughout history, a lot of powerful, right-wing men have used astrologers. Nazi leaders including Rudolf Hess worked with astrologers, although it is debated whether Hitler himself used astrology. J. P. Morgan, one of the great wealth hoarders, once famously said that millionaires don’t use astrology—billionaires do. Ronald Reagan even worked with an astrologer named Jeane Dixon.

In fact, astrology has historically been shaped by the military more than by queer culture. This is why astrology appears so gendered—you know, “Scorpio is a feminine sign; Aries is a masculine sign.” But when queers use astrology today, we are pulling away from an astrological canon and leaning toward an astrological “fanon”—creating something new, something that affirms us.

Today, we do not receive astrology from a centralized institution—instead, we shape astrology, as a language, by using it to flirt, play, and laugh. We are using astrology against itself and in care of one another. Queers have a kinky relationship to astrology in the same way we have a kinky relationship to gender. It’s a site of performance, sincerity, and pleasure.

The Army’s use of astrology is embarrassing in the same way a parent trying to use a teenager’s language is embarrassing, because the teenager is suddenly reminded that they must live in the parent’s house under the parent’s rules. The Army does not know how to make a meme, how to make information, or how to perform. It is incapable of using astrology as it exists today because it is not in on the joke.

The Army doesn’t get it. Right now, astrology culture functions as a community fighting against imperialism and against capitalism. The Army is incapable of understanding astrology because it is unable to share a sense of humor, joy, or purpose with those who practice astrology today. It is incapable of making new meaning. It is only capable of theft.

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