Posts Tagged ‘sexuality’

pennyslingerposter_465_329_int

 

 

witch1.jpg

 

(Also: The Witch – Joe’s Review)

‘But if you take the movie symbolically, the movie is kind of a primer on what fucked America up in the first place: delusional Christian assholes stealing the land and then using their obsessive and insane religion to create a dogma of hate and intolerance.’

 

by Kim Niccolini

If you plan on heading to the movies to check out Robert Eggers’ The Witch, you better hurry. It most likely will vanish before even having a chance to get stoned to death by the general public. Most people have flocked to the film expecting a standard Hollywood shocker horror film. Sure, it could be a crap movie, but at least it would provide screams and squirms and squirts of blood and guts.

Audiences have been gravely disappointed and confused by what they have found in The Witch. Sure, it’s a horror film, but it’s about the horror that is American Christian culture and the disease it has inflicted on social and sexual culture since the moment the first Puritan bible hit the New World. The film is a moody, minimalist parable for the sickness of American conservative Christianity and the horror of its vile intolerance. Rather than finding cheesy creepy shlock shock, most audiences have left the theater surprised, disappointed, and more than a little disturbed. Set in the 1630s and chronicling a Puritan family living in exile, the film is a dismal, dark, stark and disturbing reminder of the original Christian sin that gave way to the rape of the American land, Christian-sanctified genocide, the oppression of women, and the repression of sexuality that has never left the dark core of American socio-politics.

TheWitch

“Forgive me Lord for I have trespassed” is certainly a biblical phrase that most people are familiar with. And trespass is exactly what those Puritan bible thumpers did. They trespassed in the name of God. They trespassed on land that was not theirs. They trespassed on human rights. They trespassed on women and children. They trespassed on the natives that occupied the land they stole. And they trespassed on themselves, promoting a culture of self-loathing, sexual repression, and a dogma under which it is impossible to be right and thereby gives license to wrong so many.

That is the religious landscape that is portrayed in this colorless, bleak and dismal film. It is a tale stripped to bare bones insanity. Those Puritans were run by a bunch of insane patriarchs like Jonathan Edwards and who scared people into submission with such tirades as his infamous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Edwards and his crew of patriarchs thumped their Bibles and ruled with fear. They set the stage that would infect American culture with a dominant ideology which propagates feverish paranoia, xenophobia, sexual repression, misogyny, and intolerance all bred from a culture of Self Hatred, and this dogma rings as true today as it did back in the 1600s during which this film was set. To quote John Trudell on Christianity’s dogma of self-hatred: “If you don’t love yourself, what the fuck good are you going to do for the rest of the world?” The answer is simple. None. Instead Americans have turned their self-hatred into an Imperialist regime of murder, racism, and sexism. Spreading Democracy in the name of God one bomb and bullet at a time. Or back in the days of the witch trials, one stone at a time.

(more…)

carrie-ew-cover
The Corruption of the Innocent
by KIM NICOLINI

I had (with notable doubt) high hopes for Kimberly Peirce’s remake of Stephen King’s Carrie. I know that taking on Brian De Palma, whose 1976 film starring Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie in iconic history-making performances, was no short order to fill. On the other hand, I thought maybe a woman director taking on a classic female body horror narrative would give it a fresh take. Carrie was originally written by a man in 1974 and filmed by a man in 1976; perhaps seeing Carrie through Peirce’s eyes would lend a fresh vision to the story. Kimberley Peirce’s other films – Boys Don’t Cry and Stop-Loss – are both very effective portrayals of class and otherness, two components which play in Carrie’s story.  So while it seemed like an impossible task to conquer a remake of a horror film that holds that holds such high theoretical, cinematographic and an acting import in the genre, I thought maybe, just maybe, Kimberley Peirce would be the girl who could do the job. I was wrong.

I read Stephen King’s novel and re-watched the De Palma film in preparation for the remake. While the King novel is written like crap, it does have nuggets that Peirce could have used to her advantage. Even when Stephen King’s writing is at its weakest, he is very good at describing environment and class. His books are very well crafted in the details of the characters’ lives. He is largely an author of place and the effect that place has on the people who occupy it.  (See The Shining for the most obvious example.) In the novel Carrie, King has many great descriptions of the environment that Carrie lives in – her house, the high school, the town in general including Sue’s house.

Most notable for grounding the book in place and class is the infamous trip to the pig farm where the villainous Chris and Billy slaughter a pig to get the blood to dump on Carrie in their great act of Prom Revenge. In the book, this is the scene in which King really exercises his chops, and we get a detailed scene of fucked-up working class suburban kids out for a blood thrill. De Palma handles this scene with the clean precision with which he handles the rest of his bloody masterpiece. Peirce turns it into a scene crafted more for shock value than social commentary, though her films generally lean toward the latter. In Peirce’s scene, we see a bunch of stick figure characters and watch as Chris ruthlessly cuts the pig’s throat. It is filmed more like “torture porn” than the American realism for which Peirce is known. Maybe Chris’s ruthless and gleeful killing of the pig is supposed to contain the heavy meaning of the film, which I guess is: “Look how bad and evil this rich girl is! She has no heart. All she has is privilege, envy, cruelty and greed.  She can cut a pig’s throat without flinching!”

 

carrie_shot1lSissy Spacek in Brian DePalma’s “Carrie.”

Yeah, girls are evil. That’s a large part of the subtext of the original book and movie. But some girls are lesser evil (the “outsider other”) even while seeming more evil (than the popular girls who run in packs). Carrie ultimately is a tale of the “other” as monster, and the other is largely female. The original book and film were released at a time when the market was glutted with stories about girls who come of age only to find themselves possessed by demons or supernatural powers (The Exorcist, Audrey Rose, Firestarter). In other words, female sexuality is the way to the devil. Carrie is a kind of “hysterical” narrative in the original sense of hysteria (the root of hysterectomy). Those female reproductive organs and the bloody mess they make sure can fuck things up and are scary. In relation to Carrie, I like to quote Sheila Ballantyne’s hilarious feminist treatise Norma Jean the Termite Queen in which she describes a caveman’s initial fear of women. When he discovers that she menstruates, he says, “She bleed all the time and never die.” (One of my favorite quotes ever.)

But Carrie isn’t just about female horror; it’s about other horrors as well: bad mommies, bullying, Christianity, and high school in general. All of these things should have given Kimberly Peirce something to dig her teeth into, and she tried, but she failed big time. The movie starts promisingly, on an entirely different note than the De Palma version giving it space to stand on its own. De Palma’s film opens in the infamous shower scene where Carrie gets her period and thinks that she’s bleeding to death. Peirce starts with the birth of Carrie (a scene which is in the book but not the 1976 film) and which is probably the best scene in the 2013 version of the movie. The camera closes in on an old house with a non-descript 1980s car parked in the driveway. We don’t know where we are in time.  Horrific howls come from the house. Surely a horrifying act of violence is being committed. The camera enters the house and follows a trail of blood until we find Julianne Moore lying on the bed screaming and giving birth all on her own. The scene is maternity at its most horrific. You’ve got the blood of the womb, the crazy mother, the baby being pushed from her vagina like some kind of abominable act, all covered with blood, blood and more blood. (“She bleed all the time and never die.”)  Julianne Moore raises a pair of scissors to murder her Devil Child, but at the last minute has a change of heart and decides to keep her baby. Which is good because then we have the story of Carrie.

From there, Peirce cuts to the shower scene. Here we see a different Carrie than DePalma’s. The girls in the shower room are skinny “Plastics” of the now. They wave their pink i-Phones in their hands, and waggle their bony asses in their Victoria’s Secret underwear. Carrie, on the other hand, is a voluptuous, curvy, sexpot of a freak played by Chloë Grace Moretz. Peirce has inverted the bodies of the original Carrie film in which Sissy Spacek is skinny as a rail and completely desexualized, but her tormentors, especially Chris and Sue, are curvy sexpots with boobs and hips. Peirce’s Carrie is somehow “other” because she is so overtly female (with a sexual fleshy unadorned body as opposed to the bulimic assless bitches in the locker room). This is interesting for sure, but Peirce doesn’t know where she’s going with it or how to get there. She piled on a sub-narrative where Sue is pregnant with Tommy’s baby  (who over course is a girl as Carrie points out at the end) trying to tie together the opening childbirth scene, Carrie’s sexuality, and Sue’s maternity, but it’s all very shallow and brushed over quickly because Peirce has to make room for all of the tedious special effects which weigh down and ruin the film.

carrie618x400Chloë Grace Moretz in Kimberly Pierce’s “Carrie.”

The shower scene is the last effective scene in Peirce’s movie. Carrie stands in the shower washing herself. She puts the soap between her legs. The soap comes out bloody and drops to the floor, and the image is terrific. The soap slowly falls to the drain with blood running off of it is cinematic poetry at its best. The dirty and the clean, the corruption of the innocent, all in one singular image.  It’s the last good powerful image in this film, and there are still 80 minutes or so left to go.

Peirce does allude to the idea that Carrie’s otherness stems from class as well as her mother’s religious fanaticism and her steaming uncontainted sexual power. Clearly her classmates are rich. Tommy shows up at Carrie’s house in a limo not a beat up pick-up truck like in De Palma’s film. Chris throws fuel on the fire of Carrie’s humiliation by posting a video of Carrie’s menstrual shaming on Youtube from her sprawling rich girl bedroom. Chris is kind of like the female equivalent of Mitt Romney and looks like a Kardashian knock-off. Tommy plays Lacrosse (the rich boy’s sport) not baseball like in the book or track like in the 1976 movie. In the meanwhile, Carrie’s mom slugs away hemming and ironing at the town dry cleaners, clearly a woman from the wrong side of the tracks. When Sue’s mom stops by to pick up a prom dress, the tension between the women is driven as much by class as by religious crackpotism.

Julianne Moore’s “Momma” is in some ways terrifying, and if Piper Laurie weren’t looming over her shoulder in every scene, perhaps Moore’s performance would be noteworthy. But because it’s impossible to watch “Momma” without the magnificent spectre of Piper Laurie (“They’ll all laugh at you!”) hovering close by, it’s hard to give Julianne Moore a place to breathe. The best scenes of her are when she says nothing – when she sits pounding her head on the wall, cuts herself with a seam ripper, or claws at her arms. Silence is Moore’s best ally in this film because every time she opens her mouth, we can’t help but think, “You’re no Piper Laurie.” This is a shame, because Julianne Moore is a great actor. She never should have taken on this role.

In fact, this film never should have been made. Peirce clearly wanted to do something interesting. She has the pieces – class disparity, female body images, religious fanaticism – but as soon as Carrie gets her period, the film is smothered with shitty special effects. Carrie does this ridiculous arm gesturing with goggling eyes every time she exercises her telekinetic powers (making books float in her room, lifting furniture off the floor, etc) This Carrie is actually kind of a snotty bitch getting her rocks off by exercising her superhuman brain power. She is not sympathetic, not Sissy Spacek’s confused woman-child. Chloë Grace Moretz’s Carrie is a total, though pretty, dud, and her pouty Carrie plays to the very teen audience that the movie and book supposedly critique. This Carrie is shallow and vengeful, ridiculously pretty without any tension to fuel the prettiness (e.g. overt expressions of jealousy from the bulimic crowd). She becomes a kind of special effects joke, and the real tragedy of the film is not her character but how badly she is depicted.

De Palma’s film is so clean and precise in what it’s doing. There is no extraneous anything. He very clearly knows exactly what he wants his camera to do and why. The changing “look” of DePalma’s film between Carrie’s house and the high school play in great contrast. Carrie’s house is a dark, grainy den of religious fanaticism whereas the high school is a super-crisp, uber-glossy place of artifice and social construction. De Palma masterfully manipulates POV as we actually occupy Carrie’s body, follow Carrie as she ascends stairs, and watch Carrie in horror as she slaughters us with her power. Peirce shows none of these nuances in perspective. The camera basically is a tool to show-off ludicrous prolonged unnecessary special effects. Do we need to see Chris’s face pushed through the windshield and still talking even when it’s sliced to bits? No, we don’t. Do we need to see Carrie reconfigure the pieces of the mirror after she breaks it with her powers? No, we don’t. These are devices used to sell tickets to high school kids who could care less if this adaptation of the film is any good or has interesting class, gender, and religion subtext.

The biggest thing that Peirce’s film is lacking is the complexity of its main character. In De Palma’s film, Carrie is both monster and heroine. We cheer for her even as we’re frightened of her. She is an innocent abused child (abused by her own mother and her classmates), and he is also a terrifying scary “other” girl. Certainly Sissy Spacek allows this effect to come through, but so does De Palma’s restrained though bloody filmmaking. In the prom scene, Sissy Spacek simply looking out of her eyes to wreak havoc is way more effective than Moretz’s twisted arm waving which looks like some kind of cheesy CGI overlay on her body.

Really, watching Peirce’s film only reinforces how great De Palma’s movie is. The sad thing is that the elements are in the film to make in interesting, but they fall flat and are smothered by an industry-produced FX extravaganza marketed to the teen market that the story attempts to critique. What a disaster.

 

Kim Nicolini is an artist, poet and cultural critic living in Tucson, Arizona. Her writing has appeared in Bad Subjects, Punk Planet, Souciant, La Furia Umana, and The Berkeley Poetry Review. She recently published her first book, Mapping the Inside Out, in conjunction with a solo gallery show by the same name. She can be reached at knicolini@gmail.com.

Miley-Cyrus-performance-at-MTV-VMA-2013-2223059

The Cognitive Gibberish of “Isms”

I probably shouldn’t bother and just get back to my own work, but each morning I tend to hunt around the alternative news sites.  Today, I waded into the battle between Sinead and Miley, hoping to find something amusing instead of just debilitating, oppressive cognitive dissonance.  The problem, as usual, stems from ideologies.  Once the dreaded three characters “ism” come out then it’s all opinion dressed up as fact and theory from there on in.  It’s a battle of opinions on what the “ism” truly is, and what it allegedly represents, and the list of characters and caricatures who don’t define the ism properly because the writer defines the ism better, and the purity of the ism is what they really have in mind, blah blah, fucking blah to the nth.

You guessed it.  Today it’s “feminism.”

To call out a concept so highly charged, so packed with emotionalism as is feminism you have to be off your meds these days.  Well, I am sober, if that counts.  I don’t have any problem with equality.  That’s not the question here.

45156_1

Feminism is a pseudo-philosophy that transmogrifies every time a new writer types it out.  Its meaning is undefinable, and therefore each “sister” takes a turn bitching out a list of others and standing up for somebody.  In this case the writer is Ruth Fowler, the victim is Miley Cyrus and the evildoer is Sinead O’Connor:

What singer Sinead O’Connor said, after she was obligated to respond to one of Miley Cyrus’ recent remarks citing her own work, was:

“It is in fact the case that you will obscure your talent by allowing yourself to be pimped, whether its [sic] the music business or yourself doing the pimping.”

Sinead expresses an informed opinion about distracting the public with sex and diminishing the impact of Miley’s own music.  Sounds like a reasonable idea.  The blitz of noise surrounding Miley Cyrus recently had nothing to do with her actual music.

“Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent.”

Not necessarily true in America, as the “harm” tends to pile up in bank accounts.  Talent is probably optional.  It is Sinead’s heartfelt opinion here that emphasizing sexual attraction over ability is a negative, and she may be completely correct on that front.  This is a larger conversation between men and women, and so how men respond to women who behave like that is quite relevant.  Like it or not impressionable young women will take cues from successful music stars and mimic them.  It isn’t all that irrational to comment on the implications.

Sinead

“None of the men ogling you give a shit about you either, do not be fooled. Many’s the woman mistook lust for love. If they want you sexually that doesn’t mean they give a fuck about you.”

That’s Sinead’s view.  She does not use the “f” word once, nor does she hide behind a tangled web of obfuscation.  The “feminism” card is supplied by Ruth Fowler, who uses it fourteen times in her response to Sinead O’Connor.

Fowler’s opinion of Sinead lacks fairness, at the least:

“…Sinead who, quite frankly, comes across as patriarchal, paternalistic, ragingly conservative and a bit of a cunt.”

Really?  Examining the implications of simulated sex on stage equals all those things?  Patriarchal?  Come on, you’ll have to provide better support than that for these accusations.

“I’m sure Amanda is just acting out of concern for Sinead’s mental health problems and severe decline after a once brilliant career…”

Sinead must be nuts to boot!

I really must be nuts too if I eventually press “Post” on this.  Fowler opened her vicious attack with an extended rant against open letters, that those who employ them should probably be sent to the camps.  I’m getting pretty darned terrified by now, but let’s look at what the hell version of “feminism” we can all disagree on … right after this line from Fowler, “…you probably deserve a kick up the vagina…”

“The problem is that Sinead’s attitude is simply regressive. There is no room in feminism for the judgment of other women based upon their attitudes towards sex and how they relate to sex sartorially, and with their bodies.”

The framing of this statement, “in feminism,” is what pops out.  These are the rules “in feminism” we are to accept.  Sounds a lot like, “shut up,” to me, only couched in an ideological shield, so that it doesn’t seem like “shut up,” when someone has disagreed about how images should really be put out there in the culture.  Sinead may get her “in feminism” card revoked, and a swift kick in the clit.

But this is all a bit over the top given Fowler’s own assessment of the Miley affair:

“I don’t like Miley’s ignorant and offensive appropriation of black culture and find her twerking rather pitiful and banal.”

I see.  It’s the “black culture” thing that matters most?  If we were to comment on black dancers pimping themselves out in rap videos, would we be allowed to do that?  Just why are there so many rules to abide by concerning sex and how we discuss it?

Fowler, insisting that her own perspectives safely fall within “feminism” can label Miley Cyrus as “pitiful and banal.”  Sinead O’Connor on the other hand becomes a patriarchal “cunt” in need of a vaginal assault if she does likewise.  Granted, Sinead’s opinion is probably more relevant and poignant, more on topic and potentially an awaking moment for Miley Cyrus (who is a fan of O’Connor).

It seems in this battle over twerking it’s 1 / nil in favor of Sinead.

Fowler continues:

“Shaming and trolling women for their choices, assuming those choices are dictated by men, is not only vicious, it perpetuates the divisions within feminism which lead young women to feel alienated from its ideals.”

Fowler just called Miley “pathetic and banal” in a previous paragraph.  There is certainly a cognitive dissonance at work here.  Her focus is that the victim in all this, the one suffering is “feminism,” not the young women who just don’t get it.  The divisions have weakened the ism, splintered it, fractured it and it suffers as a result.  This fictional collection of competing ideas loosely assembled into a set of rules has suffered, because not everyone agrees on what these rules should be.  If anything is “pathetic and banal” in this situation, this is surely it.

All isms suffer this fundamental weakness.  From communism to capitalism, a million monkeys bang out a million volumes telling us what the pure ism should look like and how their competitors have failed in their understandings of the one true ism.  Feminism is no different, another greenhouse gas.  To contort real people and their varied experiences into your ism of choice you must, by necessity, rail against the apostates and infidels.

I wouldn’t disparage Ruth Fowler for her opinions, but her grandiose assumptions are a bit much.  When the ism reigns supreme over the human beings, we have a problem.  Clinging to isms is what divides us, all of us, into little armed camps ready to kick one another in the pubes.  The ideological conditioning itself is the problem.  All ideologies have fundamental weaknesses, and using an ideology as your authority on real world events distorts the discussion, derails the train of reason.  This applies to pretty much all ideological blinkers.  To see things in terms of the dogma one must avoid the uncomfortable refutations.

“This new era of feminism is heading into shaky ground though, if it allows Sinead O’Connor to posit herself as a role model for female empowerment…”

Pass the Kool Aid.  Jesus.  So there’s this thing, “feminism,” and it has some authority on what it allows women to say?  So, in essence, the rule book (on Fowler’s laptop, almost completed) has authority here.  For Sinead to just type out her opinion and call it that is a code violation of sorts.

“…thus making herself the gatekeeper of who is or isn’t a suitable candidate to be a feminist.”

Pot, kettle, blacker than black: score Sinead 2 / Fowler zip.  Plus Sinead didn’t use the word “feminist” in her entire response.  She didn’t pretend to have an ideology worked out, just her own experiences in the music industry for decades.  Sinead didn’t say anything about “suitable candidate(s),” but did offer a warning about sexual exploitation.

Miley-Cyrus-and-Robin-Thicke

It’s possible that Fowler doesn’t accept the concept of sexual exploitation, and this is simply an area of disagreement.  As long as there is personal choice involved, anything goes.  That seems to be the point of contention here.  Fowler then brings the issue around the bend, in an unusual phrasing:

“…women out there, in the big wide world, are being raped, beaten, attacked, humiliated and exploited. These are women who were not born with Miley’s silver spoon in their mouth.”

How is that a valid response to what Sinead said?  It is the regular women who take cues from these sexualized pop stars that are of concern to O’Connor:

“Yes, I’m suggesting you don’t care for yourself. That has to change. You ought be protected as a precious young lady by anyone in your employ and anyone around you, including you. This is a dangerous world. We don’t encourage our daughters to walk around naked in it because it makes them prey for animals and less than animals … I’ve been in the business long enough to know that men are making more money than you are from you getting naked.  Its [sic] really not at all cool. And its [sic] sending dangerous signals to other young women.”

The two seem to be somewhere near the same page, so then why the hostility?  This is a dialogue between women, but also between men and women.  Communications theory takes all the unstated, indirect cues into consideration.  We communicate through body language, dress and style long before we open our mouths.  To take account of this communication, to better understand it and to use it can only be a positive development.  When girls communicate slutty images, when they deliberately dress like prostitutes, what is communicated to the men who see them?

Fowler ends her rant:

“These are women who are not wasting their lives judging other women, but probably waiting for a chance to escape, hoping that their feminist “sisters” might pay them a bit of attention, show them some solidarity, instead of squabbling over Miley Cyrus and her tongue.”

The isms throw all rational trains of thought into the bog.  For starters Ruth Fowler herself is “squabbling” at length about the Miley incident (score 3/0).  But this attacking style of hers just has to accuse O’Connor of “wasting” her life “judging other women,” something Fowler does here as well (already scored).  But the weirdest thing is this line about the “feminist sisters” who don’t pay regular women enough “solidarity?”  What is this supposed to even mean, and in what way is that a valid retort to Sinead O’Connor’s letter?

 

Prude-Woman

A subject near to my heart.   The commentary is full of banalities and cliches however.  Your mileage may vary.

sessionsposterfoxsearchlight

An unexpected tear jerker, I didn’t know what to think about this one beforehand.  It has such an uncomfortable premise, a turn off with an odd situation that maybe people won’t want to expose themselves to.

Turns out the situation isn’t so odd or unusual at all.  This true story is remarkably brought to life with so much humor and freshness that it shouldn’t be missed.  The actors are superb.

 

censorjpeg
 

This is an uncomfortable discussion.

 
Apparently Icelandic ministers are trying to ban pornography in the nation — an almost impossible task that opens up another can of worms, concerning how?

Gail Dines has been on a feminist Jihad to ban pornography for quite some time. She writes:

“Here was a politician who was unapologetically opposed to porn because it undermines women’s equality, and equally bold in his willingness to create legislation that limits Icelandic men and boy’s access to hard-core, cruel porn. He said this at dinner, repeated it two days later at a public conference on pornography and the law, and is saying it again in his efforts to draft a law that will be the first of its type anywhere in the world. Never before has a country tried to limit porn because it is seen as a violation of women and children’s civil rights.”

Slippery slope here we come. The American ACLU has long defended the rights of consenting adults to produce and choose to view sexual material. We should be clear that adult material is exactly what this law is seeking to ban, and it is unfortunately couched in the words “women and children’s civil rights” which may be completely irrelevant to the discussion.

The law described is not about child pornography, which is already banned pretty much worldwide — and not enough law enforcement is brought to bear on it, particularly in countries where it is most rampant. No, this is about adult material, which the internet is brimming with. Her argument is to try and qualify her target better with the words, “hard-core, cruel porn.” That is certain to scare off opposition, as no one wants to be seen as publicly endorsing such material.

Thus, governments would need to begin employing people to scrutinize what is “hard-core, cruel porn,” and what is not. Entire bureaucracies of censors would need to begin policing a near infinite amount of materials, which flow freely around the world in volumes unimaginable. The idea of creating bureaucracies to censor the internet is a terrible one in itself. It’s a monumental waste of resources, and the criteria for determining the banned vs. non-banned material would be a matter of opinion. This would legislate that people have opinions on what sorts of graphic materials should be permitted vs. which should not.

Frank Zappa once debated several pro-censorship establishment talking heads, concerning proposed government censorship, and he made some great points:


 

The government should not be in the business of censoring internet traffic, art or speech. This is for the public to decide.

If the practices of a small number of pornographers is the real concern, then those should be investigated for violations of the law. Is the “cruel” pornography consensual? Was an assault committed? These are matters for local law enforcement to police. If women are victimized, they are not on the other side of the world, and initiating censorship half a world away is not going to affect their lives in any way, shape or form.

Gail Dines continues:

Ministers and senior staff I met there understood their role in honoring the integrity of their culture and saw porn as a form of cultural imperialism, since the porn Icelandic men consume is churned out by a small group of producers in Los Angeles. So the question is this: If the government does not protect us from global corporations, then who will, since as individual citizens we are powerless in the face of their enormous economic, cultural, and political power?

This claim goes way beyond a straw man fallacy and into straight out lying. Pornography is not a giant corporation in Los Angeles. That is so absurd to be laughable. There is very little barrier to entry in the business. Anyone with a phone and the will to participate can start filming each another. Porn is produced globally, and by every strata and every type of person imaginable. There is no evil corporate oligarchy. This is a political maneuver by Dines to try and capitalize on the anti-corporate sentiment out there, when her target is simply not appropriate.

Numerous women produce their own material, quite voluntarily. Would Dines ban them too? Even if they need the revenue to survive? Would Dines decide for the whole world what is permitted and what isn’t?

I hope Iceland’s government doesn’t make this error and insert itself into people’s bedrooms, its internet viewing and its sexual preferences. Censorship may seem like a good idea at first, but it brings with it increased government power, surveillance and arbitrariness. It thus disempowers the people and creates a chilling climate where art, speech and ideas are no longer freely offered. This is the exact wrong way to go, despite some real problems with the pornography industry. The idea of censoring one’s way to a solution, however, ignores the reality of it and presents a false panacea, as well as an unworkable solution.

the-people-vs-larry-flynt-144526