Why not just liberate the fucking farm, hmmm?

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Butch Dog Food Ad - Full of Meat

An ad for Butch dog food, in two parts. The panel on the left shows neatly wrapped sausage, over which is superimposed the following text: “I’m as guilty as the next girl of licking the odd bone. But believe me, there’s no substitute for being stuffed full of meat.” In the right panel sits a small pug, an expectantly eager look on her face. Just in case her gender isn’t readily apparent, the ad is dripping in pink.

Writing about the life and death of porn star Stephen Hill – perhaps most famous for his role as Barack Obama in Palin: Erection 2008 – in Salon, journalist Susannah Breslin bemoans the fate of male porn actors, or “mopes”:

If porn is a joke — and, particularly these days, it most assuredly is — male porn stars are its punch line. Reams of text have been written about how porn supposedly victimizes the women who work in this branch of the sex trade, but inside the straight porn industry, it’s the female performers who have the greater power, higher status and bigger paycheck. […] So-called woodsmen are paid significantly less than their female counterparts, for their efforts are treated like props on the movie sets where they perform near Herculean sex acts of which most men can only dream […] and more often than not end up as decapitated, frantically thrusting tubes of meat in this industry’s final product. Due to the hardcore nature of the porn business and the toll it takes upon all its workers, the porn industry functions as a meat grinder for the human condition, and men are its offal. They may score bragging rights as professional cocksmen, but the reality is these are the working stiffs of a business that has virtually no interest in the men it employs and all the interest in the world in the women with whom its movies are forever preoccupied.

Just two paragraphs previous, Breslin described a visit to the set of a porn film, circa Valentine’s Day 2001:

From the outside, it’s one more stucco building on a suburban street in the San Fernando Valley. Inside, some 90 men have congregated to masturbate on a young woman for the making of an adult movie called “American Bukkake 13.”

Sabrina Jade, who has long, reddish brown hair and emerald green, catlike eyes, is seated on a towel in the middle of the floor. A plastic cone has been duct-taped around her neck like a funnel, or an Edwardian collar. Jim Powers, the director, came up with the idea when he saw a dog wearing a similar apparatus around its neck after a visit to the vet.

(Links and emphasis mine.)

Um, yeah. If men are “tubes of meat,” women are the farmed animals who are force-fed the least desirable pieces of their murdered and dismembered cousins. Forced into carnism and/or cannibalism; at once “meat” and “meat-eater.” Enslaved, caged, tortured. Right up until the time when they’re hoisted into the air, hung upside-down by a hook through the thigh, and left to die, throats slit, bleeding out. In the meantime, maybe some randomly passing slaughterhouse worker decides to jerk off into the dying animal’s eyes. Just so he knows, in that 30 seconds, that it’s not he at the bottom of the shitpile, nosiree.

Maybe, maybe not.

And that’s all I’ll say about that.*

(More below the fold…)

Movie Review: The Notorious Bettie Page (2005)

Monday, April 6th, 2009

A disappointingly superficial Bettie Page biopic.

After reading Eric Schlosser’s REEFER MADNESS (which details, among other things, the history of pornography and “adult” entertainment, including the U.S. government’s attempts to outlaw such vices, First Amendment be damned!), I rented THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE, thinking that it might be interesting to see the ’50s “war on porn” brought to life. While the film does begin with a Congressional inquiry into the “illegal” activities of Irving and Paula Klaw (who employed Page for a time), this angle is used as a vehicle with which to explore Page’s life, and the anti-pornography craze soon fades to the background. When the topic is covered, it’s done so superficially, with little attention to detail.

Which is all fine and good – after all, the film is called THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE for a reason – except the movie also fails to offer much insight into Page’s childhood, her path to becoming a pinup model, or her life after sex work. Page’s conversion to Christianity, for example, concludes the film – but the audience is left with little idea as to the how’s or why’s of her newfound fundamentalism.

All in all, THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE is stylistic but superficial – which is frustratingly disappointing, given the subject matter. The filmmakers missed an incredible opportunity to examine not just the rise and retirement of the Notorious Ms. Page, but also government corruption and censorship, the beginnings of the sexual revolution, the effects of sexual abuse on women, and the state of feminism in the ’50s.

Though THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE is rated R, I thought it was rather tame. Only two of the photo shoots involve nudity; while risqué outfits and poses are depicted throughout the film, it’s nothing you couldn’t find on the cover of MAXIM or FHM nowadays. Two instances of rape are implied, though never shown, which is a relief – too often, violence against women is sexualized and glamorized, and I admire the filmmaker’s decision to merely hint at the sexual traumas endured by Page.

(This review was originally published on Amazon. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Book Review: Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market, Eric Schlosser (2004)

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Reefer Madness, the Brown Scare & Sex Crazed Fascis

five out of five stars

In REEFER MADNESS, Eric Schlosser looks at the effects of U.S. policy on the underground or “black market” economy. Specifically, he examines three diverse “commodities” – “recreational” or illegal drugs (specifically, marijuana), cheap labor (provided by undocumented workers or “illegal aliens” from Mexico and South America), and “adult” materials (primarily pornography) – and the American “war” on each. Schlosser narrows the scope of his study by focusing on a few key players in each of these underground economies: Mark Young, a recreational pot smoker and middleman who was given a life sentence for brokering a marijuana deal; California strawberry farmers and the migrant workers who pick the finicky fruit; and Reuben Sturman, a “pioneer” of the porn industry (and a jackbooted thug).

REEFER MADNESS is an engaging study of what happens when a supposedly free and democratic government attempts to stomp out vices that it deems morally corrupt. The section on U.S. drug policy is especially enlightening – and quite relevant, given the current upsurge in drug-related violence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Pornography receives the lion’s share of attention, seemingly at the expense of immigration, which is a shame; I felt as though Schlosser barely scratched the surface of the latter, while I grew bored of Reuben Sturman’s story by the end of the book. Schlosser concludes REEFER MADNESS by tying all three tales together, thus making a larger statement about civil liberties and the strengths and weaknesses of the “free market” in the U.S. Again, though, he probably could have devoted more pages to this synthesis had he not lingered on Sturman and pornography.

Overall, it’s a fascinating and engaging read, and vividly demonstrates why all American citizens should be concerned with their government’s attempts to regulate individual conduct – even if it’s conduct with which you may personally disagree.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)