Culturebot contributor Katherine Steinberg is a writer based in New York.
Schadenfraude. So hot right now. It’s on Broadway, it’s on TV and it’s on my to do list for today. Is there anything but showcasing other’s pain for personal delight anymore? Would you want it any other way? I have to admit that when I was first interested in WYSIWYG’s Worst. Sex. Ever. show I was going for a little bit of schadenfreude. However, instead of laughing at I was laughing with. In fact, it seemed the whole audience was in the “with” category. We were all right there throwing back our own memories with theirs. One glass of whisky at a time.
Some might say that this camaraderie was forged by the fact that the readers put themselves out there on the Internet already. Some people…ahem…read blogs obsessively (Okay. I’m guilty!), sometimes getting a false sense of intimacy, making a stage reading more like slurring to your best friend about that guy with the giant mole you just made out with. However, not having read any of these particular blogs (I will now) and going with someone who isn’t entirely familiar with “blogging” in general, why did we both find ourselves identifying with the people on the podium?
It’s because even if the situation didn’t hit home (ah, but I feel as though I have genital warts now) humiliation is entirely too relate-able – and what’s more humiliating than bad sex? The wide variety of stories, readers and sexual experiences on the docket did nothing to lessen the feelings that were universal behind them. Even as my favorite reader of the night spoke of the feelings that welled inside while watching a stranger fuck his wife I found myself silently going “yeah. totally.” And not even ironically. His
fictional scenario actually got an “aw” from the audience as he described their marriage disintegrating with every “thrust” of this strange young buck satisfying his wife.
There’s a deep human need to connect to the pain of others and having a cultural taboo on sex means that a lot of that pain and humiliation is off limits. The freedom with which all these bad sex scenarios were talked about here was cathartic. It’s so refreshing to see personal narratives delivered without limits. Bad sex is forever and so is laughter. Why not bring them together? Humiliation, it’s the new tie that binds.