Sunday Book Reviews the Site Wouldn't Let me Post
Thanks to my editor for this piece I'm working on. I think I can do as he suggests, I just need to start working on it. Once done, I'll show it off here when I send it in to that anthology. Parts of it are really good, but he's right about my tenses being all mixed up. That's a typical problem for me. Got to fix that. Anyway, here's the Sunday book reviews!
A good place to start with Thompson. I read the first chapter in my essay writing class when we were doing gonzo journalism. I remember writing an essay on this porn audition I was on in Kazoo, making sure that one was the one the class workshopped. Yeah. I got some interesting looks for that one ever since. Sadly, I no longer have a copy of "How to Make An Award Winning Porn" (or similar title) and I wish I did because it relied rather heavily on shock value. Nowadays, I'd probably downplay it a little more, although I still like the idea.
Thompson has always given me the need to try working like that. Right now, I'm debating about trying to infiltrate this nun's prescreening retreat. I have all the information, but it would be a weekend in Notre Dame Indiana, which costs gas and possibly registration money. My editor might finanace it, but now I need to investigate the details to see what that would entail. Personally, I'm torn about going. I'd hate to not pass as a Catholic, I tend to mess up the Lord's Prayer with some regularity, but the draw of the forbidden is nearly too much. I'm fairly certain I can pass as devout, as long as I keep my mouth shut, but I'm still nervous about trying. You'll know in the near future.
Anyway, Fear and Loathing is the story of not covering a dune race. Mostly Thompson stays high on a variety of drugs and lets things happen to him. The story flows, but there's never a sense of upcoming events. Everything just sort of happens. The drugs are mixed in heaviest in this work, so you get a surreal sense of time and events, but that's interesting too. The story is fast, heavy on experience, and echoes more than it tells. The point isn't obvious except to record existence at this event, and not much else. Thankfully, Thompson's other books have a little more focus.
This book taught me to avoid the Hell's Angels if at all possible. I don't think I've ever seen one, but I never knew what a strange history they shared. Thompson manages to coexist with them tolerably and he covers about a year with their travels. There isn't a plot here either, but his observations of various events and examinations of points of view of the same event give the reader a biased but full picture of both sides of civilization. The Angels have morals, hierarchies, and rules, much like normals do. Radicals see the Angels as the ultimate outlaws, but the Angels dislike this idealism. Instead, they lash out against the upper class protesters and take their stand with law and order. This is a strange reverse that Thompson ponders throughout the novel. Overall, this is probably my favorite book though it shouldn't be read if you dislike graphic violence. Some of the scenes described from either angle are rather disturbing. Hence, any Angels I see will be from a good distance, or so I hope.
Read this one sometime. I've been forgetting to do it. Some classify it as Science Fiction, but it doesn't strike me that way. I guess it could be because it is an Other World fiction, much like Fantasy, but there's nothing scientifc about it. This world is pure theocracy, based on Genesis and little else. Going completely backwards because theocratic leaders came to power (sound familiar?) and women quickly lose their rights, but they don't mind as they also gain the respect of not having to put their bodies out there anymore. Happy with some changes, upset by others, not enough of the society stands up, and those that do are shipped out to the colonies. The good young women that obey, however, can be rewarded for their piousness if they fulfill their duty, procreation. This story is about one of those women working on her first. I can see why schools banned this book for its sex scenes, although most aren't especially erotic. The first few are purely biological and strange compared to what most writers do to describe sex. Some are more passionate, but I don't think they're worth buying the book. Instead, read it for what it is: a commentary on what can go wrong when you take old religious values too seriously. Women, I hope we stand together if it comes close to this bullshit.
Pornified is very good for a conservative book. Its not insane, demanding unreasonable concessions on the part of men and women. It tracks the development of porn very well, mostly relying on the argument that as porn proliferates on the Internet it has become more accessible, less taboo, and more graphic. Most of us can agree with this logic. When you had to buy porn in person, go to a seedy section of town, or do something that would add time between your need for porn and your getting it, you were more likely to feel embarrassed, rethink the idea, or give it up altogether. This is true. The added time lets your conscience kick in. With all the free porn online, however, men don't need much downtown between desire and actualization so looking at porn more often becomes normalized. More guys do it, therefore it must be a guy thing, so women shouldn't complain. That makes some sense too, mix in a culture relying on sexuality to sell everything, and you've got modern day. What used to be soft core porn is now men's magazines. Fashion looks trashy too. Everything needs sex to sell, but as we become more accustomed to that, we need something more outrageous to get the same high. Porn is like that too. A higher amount of internet consumption will lead to boredom with the usual ways of getting off, so that person will be more likely to explore other venues for getting aroused. By doing so, the slipperly slope may become activated and that person, if not controlling their intake, will start looking at more and more hardcore material, never being satisfied with what they find. An example Paul cites for this is child porn, which often results from men looking at college girl sites, then late teen sites, and slowly moving down the ladder. An accidental click into a child porn site might turn one away, or it might not, depending on the individual, but several men did cite that this was how the ended up looking at child porn, something ALL of us can agree is wrong.
Paul also presents some decent solutions to the problem of a pornified society, in addition to wonderful discussions of how porn affects men, women, and their relationships together and within a family. Most of them seem pretty doable, like restricting internet access to porn by children, as all sites should not offer free porn but require a credit card for access. Teaching kids about sex in a healthy way, not through abstinance education, and by marketing more soft core erotica films, rather than films that demean women. As most men claim they want to see the women in porn behaving like they want intercourse, maybe we could shoot more footage that doesn't hurt women, humiliate them, or demean them for craving sex. This all makes sense. Most of the book does. From here on out, I'll let the quotes speak for themselves, except when I want to comment, lol.
"In other ways pornography reveals men's insecurities with their own sexuality. Psychologists point out that much of what is portrayed in pornography assuages men's fear of and disguest with their own semen; they need to see women revel in it and adore it in order to allay their own feelings of unattractiveness and discomfort. Many male performers in pornography are notoriously unattractive; this, too, feeds into men's fears and hidden desires. If the men were anything other than pathetic, unattractive, wooden, and stupid, they could pose a competitive threat to the men who are watching. The viewer instead can imagine himself as 'better' than his pornographic counterpart, and thus can imagine inserting himself into the scene. After all, if a female porn star would stoop to this lunk, then surely she would be eager to be with him. (Ironically, some men find male porn actors so fake and unappealing as to be 'degrading' and insulting to men.) Pornography literally creates the man's world as he would ideally have it, free of exclusion, discomfort, stressful competition, and rejection." p. 32
Finally! An explantion of why guys in porn as SO uggo and women in porn are so hot. I always thought it reflected the reality of those hot babes who tramp around with those fat businessmen. You see tons of them in the swinging scene.
"Pornography is a sure thing because the women involved don't exactly demur; it also means the implicit reward of being able to get the coveted woman is absent. She knows nothing about him--his quirks or his his traits, his romantic history or plans for the future. But she doesn't like him despite all this; she 'likes' him in the absence of all this. Something about the achievement of pornography leaves men feeling somehow slighted, as if they were hoodwinked into believing something they know to be false, as if they cheated on a test and got away with it. There's an emptiness to the accomplishment. While the absence of a real woman in pornography may be welcome, it also eliminates the presence of a real man." p85
You boys will have to give me some feedback on this one. I hate the absence of real people, but although I'm pro porn I dislike watching it personally. Its usually too fake for me to get into it, so I can't see why men do. I need someone to let me in on that one.
Zillman from Zillman and Bryant's study on pornography describes the satisfaction dilemma of pornography like this
"What has been labeled 'pornotopia' tells [men] what joys they might, could, and should experience. As pornography features beautiful bodies in youthful, at times acrobatic, sexual interactions during which nothing short of ecstasy is continually expressed, consumers of such entertainment are readily left with the impression that 'others get more' and that whatever they themselves have in their intimate relationship is less than what it should be. This comparison, of which pornography consumers may or may not be fully aware, is bound to foster sexual dissatisfaction or greatly enhance already existing dissatisfaction." p 90
I can honestly believe porn does this to most relationships. They myth of the happy swinger does it a lot in swinging too. I talked about that a few entries ago.
"At Indiana University, students who once participated in a pornographic film were disciplined by the university in 2002 for disobeying the school's code of behavior against lewd, indecent, or obscene conduct. But girl power eventually prevailed. By 2004, a freshman at the school started her own pay pornography web site, complete with photographs taken in school dormitories. [...] Despite an initial uproar from campus authorities, she was ultimately not charged with violating school policy." p 115
I went to the wrong school! Only one state away too! I guess that's where the real kink freaks are, gimme a shout out Indiana!
I'm stopping this now. This thing is too long and I got tons of quotes to go. Oh well, I'll buy it if I need it. Read it sometime folks, its fairly good.