Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters

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Exploitation of women is great and all, but it grows tiresome.

I saw the film "Birthday Girl" and I'm thinking about throwing away all my porn. It's not a great film, not a horrible one either. Like one of those flat cable TV movies where you're slightly engaged at times and incredibly bored at others, except that it never dips into the realm of truly horrific boredom. The beginning is sweet and pleasant, a truly beautiful (Nicole Kidman) girl comes from Russia to add a little bit of human contact and sex to a lonely British workaholic. She doesn't speak English, and in the best scene of the movie he tries to send her back. He tries to send back Nicole Kidman, after she gives him a handjob, because she doesn't speak English. It's beautifully neurotic and realistically pathetic. It is almost every lonely dweeby guy's fantasy that a beautiful exotic woman will show up on his doorstep and want to get to know him, in both the emotional and biblical senses. In the film said woman doesn't speak English, which she later points out is more seductive to the men. That makes sense on a variety of levels, first it forces the sexual issue and second it gives him enormous power and a feeling of security. She is a stranger in a strange land, totally reliant on him and unable to seek out a more suitable partner. This sort of dynamic is very safe and comforting, there's no threat of true rejection because it isn't an option. Unless there was total incompatibility she's stuck with him. The film acknowledges this even more explicitly when she finds a cache of bondage pornography underneath his bed. She explores it, confronts him about it (he runs away to hide in a dark bathroom, which I thought was a really good touch) and eventually offers to explore his kink with him. How sweet. Of course the film isn't just about a kinky British banker and his Russian mail order bride getting to know one another, although I suppose that could work, and eventually some friends of hers from the old country show up. From there the movie descends into cheesy thrillerdom with all sorts of unrealistic character actions and such (the worst of which happens at a police station.) It's not so much the story as the way it's told that's problematic.

Is the film worth seeing? The first bit is. It's well done and heartwarming and sexy. The rest of it? It doesn't hang together. I could have written it better, much better. Maybe I wouldn't have had the guts for the introduction, too lustful, but the rest of it could have been done much more cleanly and realistically. A pity really.

But back to the porn. This film made me want to throw it away. There were two primary reasons. One was a shot of Nicole Kidman's absolutely stunning ass that didn't elicite as much excitement as it should have, and the other was the scene where the porn stash is discovered. Now I'm not exactly afraid that some exotic babe is going to land on my doorstep and step into my life, only to discover my porn stash and leave in a huff, but what that scene reminded me of is that porn is often a crutch. Here was this guy who ordered a bride from Russia and was getting ready to embark on his new life with her, and he couldn't bring himself to throw away his stash of "Hog Tied Bitches" magazines (or worse yet he didn't remember to, because having them felt so normal and natural. Now don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge anyone their full collection of "Hog Tied Bitches" from march 96 through September 2001 (It's not like "Hog Tied Bitches" had offices in the World Trade Center or anything, but it didn't run a patriotic issue in October, while the competing "Whores in Bondage" did the classic heart-wrenching "Red and White and Black and Blue" issue that really put the tragedy in perspective. He cancelled his subscription to "Hog-Tied" the next day, even though the next issue was going to have Japanese ropework in it. It just didn't feel right to support such a callous publication.) but when you're inviting a strange girl from Russia into your home to share your life, you might want to wait a bit to spring the "Hog-Tied Bitches" on her.

Anyway, a crutch. I've had porn for most my post-pubescent life. During the early days of AOL you could download Jpegs at about 10 minutes a picture from innumerable "secret" chat rooms. I don't know if that's still the case today. I can distinctly remember being in Ecuador and terrified that the cops would arrest me upon my return to the country. Back then there were always stories of internet porn rings getting busted. I knew that the chances of them going after a 15 year old guilty only of looking at a few dirty pictures was slight, but I thought that my life would be over if they found me. This was before I knew just how limited the FBI's resources and capacities are. They weren't as interested in me as I expected. From there I graduated to a few copies of VHS tapes and then eventually DVD and high-quality Mpeg video. Along the way there were a few magazines (when I was like 13 I found a playboy at the top of a public garbage can and took it. rscott had a collection of playboys he'd gotten from the garbage room of his building and I leafed through some in his room. You're not a sexually frustrated heterosexual boy unless you've taken a few playboys out of the garbage. At least you weren't before the advent of equally good and more widely available porn on the internet.)

I also went from the Playboy style pictures along a path of greater and greater perversion until such pictures seem somewhat quaint and boring. From what I've heard this is somewhat normal among habitual pornography users, and I haven't quite gotten to the point of wanting to see bestiality, kiddie, or bodily function porn (Midget porn is great not because it's arousing but because it's ridiculous. There's something in "Here's a midget. Watch it have sex." That makes me chuckle. I don't own any though.) I wouldn't say I'm addicted in the traditional sense, as I've never missed a class or day of work to view porn and it's not like an average day includes 10 different pornos and a brown paper package in the mail (Okay, I get a lot of brown paper packages, but they're mostly books and conventional movies. I swear. Wait, "Hot Horny Hicks 14: Pig Lovin'" is a conventional movie, right?) I've had days like that, but they are the exception. On the other hand, I find it really hard to fall asleep without jerking off, and I sometimes find it off to jerk off without visual aids. That worries me. I have a TV/VCR combo near my bed partially to hook up my old SNES to and partially to play filthy tapes on. I don't feel too comfortable with that either. I think pornography is a distraction and can be a detriment to mood. It's problematic to say the least.

I also have problems with how porn treats women. If Hollywood chews up young pretty actresses at a rapid clip then porn slices through less pretty ones with a buzzsaw. I think the average career for a porn actress involves one movie. Porn "stars" almost all have serious emotional problems. You can blame it on society or sex or drugs or California or Santa Claus. It doesn't matter. Do some escape unscathed? Sure. There's nothing inherently self-destructive about engaging in sexual performance ASSUMING that you have the proper attitudes about it, understand what you're getting into, and can survive an incredibly destructive culture. That's a lot of assumptions to make. Ironically it seems like in straight vanilla porn the actresses are treated the worst. In some of the lighter bondage or lesbian stuff you can tell that some of the performers on screen are actually having fun, and the boutique companies clearly demonstrate a more collegial and even respectful attitude. It could be a matter of self-selection, since I'd imagine the money's not as good most of the young and stupid people want to join up with a large company with a large audience (including the huge hotel and cable distribution centers that "Leather Dykes and Old Lace" simply aren't going to be able to break in to.) Regardless, there is a human cost. There's a human cost to buying a hamburger too. Someone has to shovel the cow shit, and servers burn their hands and arms on the hot plates. I'm not saying that the fact that porn has a human cost makes it immoral and worthless, but it does bother me. It's one of the reasons that I've always prefered paying for it rather than pirating it or getting it for free. If purchasing porn is analogous to prostitution (and it is) is pirating it analogous to rape? (not really)

Throwing it out will be rough, if I go through with it. It's a reasonably large investment and I'm sure there will be plenty of lonely times when I'll regret it (I don't have a Russian bride en route or anything.) I don't want to give it away for a variety of reasons, but I can slip it into garbage bags and eliminate it from my life. It might be time.

On a lighter note, I got a Golden Key portable stool, apparently because I have a credit card from them (I suggested that it should be subtitled "The Cockblocking Credit Card" on account of having an Honor society credit card is profoundly geeky, and having it be any society but one with the prestige of a Phi Beta Kappa is both geeky and pathetic.) It's about 2 feet tall and capable of supporting someone about a third my weight. I'm not sure what to do with it. I think it would be more embarassing for a potential Russian bride to find THAT in my house than "Sweater Sluts 18: Yarn and Poontang."

I'm sorry that my writing hasn't been up to snuff recently, I know it's been crap. It's because my sleep cycles are STILL off and I'm tired. It's also because I'm not doing enough. I really do need a day job but I don't know that I can apply for one until my schedule for this other thing is worked out. Maybe I should apply and just quit the other thing out of hand if I get one. Maybe I could volunteer somewhere. I'm not sure. I'm hating everything that I'm producing and getting no help from my supposed collaborators but I'm soldiering on. I don't feel as awful as I have in the past, nor as great.

There were some things that I forgot to put into my pessimism essay, but I don't remember them now either. It lost its impetus about halfway through when I went to sleep. There are never enough hours in the day to write, even though I'm keeping the TV off for longer and longer periods and just sitting down to write. That should pay off at some point.

The future's so dull I need a miner's helmet. My next goal is to write something funny and then tackle one of my listed projects. That's the plan Stan my man.

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