Thursday, February 10, 2005

Let's hear it for cynical exploitation

It's February. Sweeps week. And, as usual, devoid of any new ideas, network television offers us the lesbian kiss. Ah, nothing like two gorgeous heterosexual women pretending for the titillation of those straight men in the audience to kiss one another as if it meant something. How much tongue? How much full lip contact? Will there be other parts of the body touching?

"Hey honey. How about a threesome?" he says, turning off the remote and reaching for his wife.

Michel Foucault is no doubt laughing in his grave. Our culture gets its knickers in a twist over the things that it is most titillated by. Certain members of our culture watch this stuff through hands over their eyes, fingers split open, and then file complaints with the FCC. In the meantime, advertisers and television producers collaborate together to cynically exploit this culture's completely fucked-up attitudes toward sex, sexuality, and gender. I know, I sound like a broken record. But I can't help it.

Foucault wrote that it is the culture that is most obsessed with regulating sex that creates a situation where sex is everywhere. And sex is everywhere in this culture. I want us to reclaim sex as the amazing thing it is, not some commercial enterprise that is used to sell us things. And by the way, sells us completely awful images of women's bodies, too. I read Eve Ensler's The Good Body last night. Every word resonated.

How can a culture that hates bodies really embrace sex? And how can a culture that hates sex really embrace love?

12 comments:

FunkyB said...

I know what you're talking about... I caught the promo yesterday and decided that from now on, OC will stand for, "Oh CHRIST!"

Some Guy said...

Here Here! (or There There!) I agree completely. We've a very screwed up society going here. Maybe I'll become a priest. Oh, wait...bad idea.

J.R. Boyd said...

Great post, Lorraine. I think the key is to organize around our common values and keep doing it until they can't be ignored...

J.R. Boyd said...

Which is to say: our bodies look different from the perspective of ratings and profits than they do from a pro-human vantage point.

1138 said...

There was Lesbo stuff and I missed it!?!
I dunno what's with this country, and I'm begining to think I never will.
"Morality" issues define an electorate while they sneak back home and buy pay per view porn, in the morning the moan about the decline of values and in the evening watch and giggle, then scorn the lesbian kisses and other titilation.

I used to hope for the day that TV and movies would represent 'complete' relationships that included Mrs. Cleaver and Ward having a sexual relationship as well as a parental one. One where men and women got to be men and women and not animitrons for social and consumer engineering.

By the way, WTF is blogger doing with this new format for posting?

Sheryl said...

Whereas I agree with the sentiment of what is being said, I would hazard a guess that different people complain to the FCC about pornography from the ones who subscribe to Hustler.

If the same society produce both groups, it's probably because they are reacting to each other the way liberals and conservatives react to each other.

Kind of the way whenever I clean up the kitchen super nice, my dad takes it as cue to cook the most extravagent, messy invention he can think up. To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

lorraine said...

Sheryl. I think the overlap between these groups is greater than you think--I always imagined that the Starr Report was used as a stroke book by those who condemned Clinton in the same gasp.

1138 said...

On a Friday or Saturday night the church fathers(and some of the mothers) of our communities switch towns and go strip clubs outside the usual community.
The largest growing community of AIDS cases in America is the over 65 group, because the guys got Viagra.

The town I live in owns the cable TV company - It's a dry community, no alchohol sales at all ever, but there's pay per view porn.

The Mayors wife shoplifts and the teen pregnancy rate is in the top 5 in the state because of the total abstinence sex ed. program.

lorraine said...

I think we have enough examples of the hypocrites who condemn sex and then engage in "immoral" (their word, not mine) behaviour. Let's see if I can come up with a list:
Strom Thurmond
Henry Hyde
Jimmy Swaggart
Jim Bakker
Bill O'Reilly
Jack Ryan
Clarence Thomas

I'm sure I'm missing a few. Feel free to contribute.
Then we can talk about men like Rush and Newt, both opposed to gay marriage because it destroys the sanctity of marriage, who, between them, have racked up 7 marriages. Or is 6? Or 8?

Sheryl said...

Be fair, Lorraine. The politicians and clerics are preaching for power, not values. That's like saying that Bush is really a christian. He's an opportunist, just like the rest of the people you named.

I live with a genuine prude. He's not christian, republican, or Pro-Bush, but he's a genuine prude.

I think the issue is how people determine their self identities. They pick a group like "liberal" or "conservative." They know how society defines those groups, and maybe they agree with 80% of what that group is supposed to mean.

The question is how much of the remaining 20% of what they don't believe will they promote in order to feel they fit in with the group. Just because they promote the remaining 20% does not mean that they believe that 20%.

And yet, there are people who do believe that 20% within the group because these labels are umbrellas.

My dad might not fit within the conservative mold sufficiently to call himself conservative, and yet he gets indignant about pornography. And it's not as if he cuddles up to porn magazines. He genuinely has a few screws loose when it comes to such issues.

Both my parents got really upset when they discovered that my ex and I were having pre-marital sex before we were engaged. And I was 26 years old at the time!

So whereas I can see how you might believe that prudes are fakes, but I know there are plenty of for real prudes because both my parents are prudes.

And yes, there are plenty of people who pretend to be prudes because they want to fit in one group or another, but that doesn't change the fact that there are plenty of people who are just plain screwy about sex. It's a cultural thing.

Maybe it's just something you have to have lived in the Bible belt all your life to be aware of. I hate to say that because I am always trying to convince people that Texans are so very weird as the stereotypes suggest. I've always tried to convince myself that it's a generational issue because I do have such different attitudes about sex from my parents. But I assure you that they are not out buying porn movies, and while they are also not complaining to the FCC about sex on TV, they never watch commercial TV.

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