a few random, possibly offensive, thoughts and observations
as we head into the weekend i thought i’d leave you with a few random and possibly offensive thoughts and observations. i’ve actually been working on an epic peripatetic personal essay on museums, culture, platform-agnostic art, mash-ups, hybrid culture, Judaism, Obama and the death of theater. but i’ve been really busy and plus my internal CPU was overloaded with big ideas to the point of almost-total system failure. so i’ve been relaxing. taking a bit of a summer break from seeing culture too. i missed Laurie Anderson. missed all kinds of stuff. But i’m going to try and see some stuff in the Fringe. I’m much more excited about Philadelphia Live Arts and also, of course, PRELUDE ’08, which is going to rock out hardcore.
but so i thought i’d leave you all with two juicy nuggets to discuss as you drink your fruity umbrella drinks in the summer sun this weekend.
The first thought is about pornography. I was talking to Sophie from Peg-Ass-Us which got me thinking about sex and then this morning I had an allergy attack and started sneezing. And that led me to joke about sneezes kind of being like nose-orgasms – the fastest expulsion of bodily fluids other than ejaculation. And then I started thinking about ejaculation and how all those feminists and freud and all that stuff are right – how the pattern of the male orgasm has really defined the way western culture and male-dominated culture views things. dramatic arcs, if you will. and how in pornography the money shot is usually accompanied by loud grunting, triumphant shouting and voluminous displays of seminal fluid magnificently aloft and airborne, coming to rest on the face or in the mouth of an eager and voracious recipient.
And then I started thinking about Sophie and Peg-Ass-Us again and how Bend Over Boyfriend was, for a time, the best-selling adult video on the market. And I wondered what that meant? What are the cultural implications of that? AND THEN I started thinking about the whole “female ejaculation” thing. I mean, I’m no expert – and I NEVER EVER EVER look at porn! – but I hear that there are a lot more videos about that sort of thing these days. And from what I hear the ladies are achieving similarly heroic “triumpant arcs” of fluid expression as their male counterparts. So, okay – what does that mean? What does it mean when pornographic representations of human sexuality have altered the manifestation of female orgasm to mirror that of men? Is it a move towards equality? Does it suggest a devaluation and minimization of the more “conventional” feminine pleasure responses? Or is it an enhancement? ALSO – remember that although this expression may be natural, to achieve the sort of demonstrable fluid arc that reads on video/film requires practice and intentionality. Societal squeamishness makes us reluctant to acknowledge that adult film actors have to acquire a uniquely challenging skill set – kind of like bodybuilders, gymnasts and extreme athletes. But if this is as much an acquired skill as a natural response – or an unnatural exaggeration of a natural phenomenon – we can assume that this skill is being acquired because it amuses men. right?
I don’t know, really, its just how my mind works when it starts to get fuzzy and overloaded.
My other possibly offensive thought is about culture and authenticity. I was thinking a lot about Hasidism, as I have family members who are pretty much a part of that whole scene. For those of you who don’t know, Hasidism is a version of Judaism espoused by a mystic and scholar known as the Ba’al Shem Tov, beginning around 1734. If you hang in Williamsburg and other parts of the Five Boroughs you’ll see them walking around with the black hats and payot, long coats, etc. The reason they dress that way is that they are dressing, as much as possible, as did the Jews of Eastern Europe during the time of the Ba’al Shem Tov. At least that’s what I’m told. And they basically assert that their form of Judaism is the only authentic form. Which is their right. BUT I was thinking – what if there was some radical sect of African-Americans who dressed in ragged clothes and chains, as did their ancestors in the 18th and 19th centuries, and insisted that they were the only authentic expression of Af-Am identity? You’d think they were friggin’ nuts, right?
So what’s up with that? Does doing things the way they’ve always been done necessarily confer authenticity? How and when did the notion of cultural authenticity even come into existence? I would really, really appreciate it if someone smarter and more knowledgeable than me could explain when culture became so inauthentic and manufactured that we had to draw a distinction?
And on that note – happy beginning of August!!!