“What Kind of Porn Does YOUR Kid Like?” And Other Acceptable Public Discussions, Apparently.

child

Recently, W5, a Canadian current events program ran a story that focused on a growing pornography addiction trend that many young people are experiencing. Within the episode, “Generation XXX,” a twelve year old boy was interviewed, where he discussed his own personal struggle with this addiction and the consequences he is currently experiencing in his life. I am purposefully omitting the boy’s name, because I personally think that the producers of the show breached journalistic ethics in not keeping the boy’s identity anonymous. Within the program, the boy’s name, age, province and home were all shown. The family believes that sharing the boy’s experience will benefit other families, and alert parents to their own children’s Internet use, given that this boy was only eleven when he first discovered the adult content. I don’t think that the ‘shock value’ effect the producers and family were seeking justifies the permanence of having personal information available to the public for the rest of this boy’s life. I don’t believe that children are old enough to give consent to have their personal information released, because they are unable to understand the lifelong consequences, making the technicalities of consent for the release of information and achieving informed consent impossible.

There is always potential to breach ethics when performing interviews, and it seems that reasonable care taken to avoid possible harm to the interviewee is only as much as the law requires. Within the W5 interview, having a young boy discuss the type of pornography he watches could definitely cause stigmatization for himself within his peer group, which is a specific ethics breach regarding harm for the interviewee within interviewing ethics (“Unite for Sight,” n.d.). Producers of W5 no doubt explained to the boy and his family about the possible negative effects that the interview may bring, but I don’t believe that a child at twelve years old is fully capable of making a such a permanent decision. Besides having his personal history discussed, I believe that labelling a young person as having an addiction, when ‘sex-addiction’ and ‘porn-addiction’ are two fairly new topics with little research available may be problematic to his self-identity and self-worth in the future. Revealing this private information, as well as the label of an ‘addict’ will no doubt isolate him to some extent from his peers, as well as the potential for creating barriers for his future partners, or even employers to look past. This is where I believe that W5 has made a mistake in revealing the boy’s identity, because he will not have the opportunity to disclose this information to whom he chooses; his story is now, and will always be accessible to everyone.

Modern reality television serves as a modified, slightly more calculated interview as well, and I think that television today is doing a great disservice to children. I think that most, if not all personal information in regards to children should be confidential, and for it to certainly not available for the entertainment of viewers. The W5 episode is not the only program that I have watched that seems to have a shaky grasp on ethics. If children are deemed not capable to drive a car, vote, have sex, and drink alcohol, why are we assuming that they, along with their guardians, are intuitive enough to make a decision to review and understand all possible risks that come with releasing information to the public? One example that made me physically cringe was an episode of a reality television show that follows a young transgender girl’s life, I Am Jazz. Film crews were allowed access into Jazz’s doctor appointment, where her hormone levels and changing body were discussed. It seems that morality was left behind when this young child was shown discussing her developing breasts and future sexual activity to millions of viewers.

There are indispensable benefits of discussing and exploring the topics that people usually shy away from for our society to continue moving forward. I don’t object to the fact that Jazz has her own reality television show, or that a young boy wants to warn others about the dangers of the Internet. I object to the fact that private information is being treated as a commodity in our society, and that children seem to be bestowed with the rights of adults when it is convenient, and more often, profitable for us.

 

Advertisements

Stiller’s Female Viagra Ad: Sloppy Satire or Misogynistic?

stiller

They’ll call anything ‘comedy’ these days…

Ben Stiller’s spoof commercial that was recently shown on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon got big laughs from the audience members of the show. I’m discounting the laughter as my measure for any kind of comedic value of the commercial, since these were Jimmy Fallon fans. I actually can’t tell if the spoof was meant to poke fun at the old joke that men are inadequate lovers, and fail at deciphering female anatomy, or if it was meant to tear down the credibility of female sexual dysfunction issues and female sexuality in general.

I feel like the ‘comedy’ within the spoof is from another time, like, from the 80s or 90s. Whatever the intention of the commercial is, it isn’t funny. There is nothing new or clever that is said within the script, and I feel like it undermines the seriousness of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), which  is what the drug, ‘female Viagra’ (which is actually called flibanserin, or Addyi) is aiming to treat. The commercial brings up the same tired examples of old-fashioned ideas of female sexuality, in that women have sex out of duty and obligation. Now, this could be satirical, calling attention to the fact that women do and can enjoy sex, but if that’s the point, then it is done rather sloppily. My instinct is that Stiller is not a friend of the third and fourth-wave feminist, and that this commercial was produced simply to poke fun at the idea of women’s sexuality and the existence of a female equivalent to Viagra in general, which are perhaps ridiculous ideas to some.

Female hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is a medical disorder, and I don’t think that anyone would stand for a commercial that was making light of male erectile dysfunction by waving around a limp noodle for the entirety of the advertisement. Viagra, in all forms was simply created to help combat the sexual problems that both sexes can experience. For males, the problems are more often physical, but for females, stress and psychological issues can play a major part in decreased libido. The flibanserin pill is meant to balance different hormones within a female’s body to increase sexual desire, and early tests show that the pill can help to combat vaginal dryness and likewise,  increase blood flow and sensation in the genitals. So… I’m missing the joke here.

Even the script of the commercial is sloppily researched. One line reads, “even though 0% of women suffer from erectile dysfunction…” Right. So, women have erectile tissue within their genitals, and the myriads of reasons as to why there is low blood flow to the genitals could be described as some kind of erectile dysfunction. The rest of the line is, “… over 98% of women over 30 suffer from another condition, called ‘not being turned on by their husband anymore.'” The line is so reductive and noninclusive that it makes me think that there is meant to be some satire within the commercial… if only I could figure out the point of it all. Perhaps the joke is that Stiller’s character is the clueless ‘everyman,’ or perhaps they are attempting to support women’s rights. I’m kind of thinking that comedy only works if the audience can figure out the joke… so… good try? Or, maybe I’m over thinking this entire thing, and the commercial was produced with a much more universal, albeit, slightly more sinister agenda for a Hollywood actor; the commercial was most likely produced aiming for the lowest common denominator of a viewer, hoping to garnish some laughs and promotion for Stiller’s upcoming movie.

 

Playboy Re-brand Astonishes None

Playboy has released their first ‘non-nude’ issue of the magazine, as was promised last October, when Playboy’s marketing team announced they would be making changes to the brand in order to become more accessible to readers (see ‘Playboy Will Soon Be Nudity-Free‘ for all the whats and whys). Now, this description of ‘non-nude’ models is a misnomer for me. Alright, technically the models are wearing some clothes, but this is not anything different from what the models wore in the previous design of Playboy! Below, the picture of Miss March, model Dree Hemingway is wearing a sheer top…

02

… which seems like a very similar concept to a 2007 shoot of actress Garcelle Beauvais, shown below.

garcelle-beauvais-nilon

I’m failing to see the difference, other than the out-dated feel of this one. I know that Playboy was notorious for portraying models in a much more erotic manner, but trying to market themselves as ‘non-nude,’ when they still have this content is just misleading.

Playboy announced their change last year, apparently to become a more family friendly ‘entertainment’ magazine (as opposed to pornography), and therefore, become accessible to people because of the less offensive concepts they are designing. Perhaps the new shoots are more tame in comparison, but I say that the fact that their new magazine is boring will be the most offensive thing by far to their readers.

09

This image is a part of Hemingway’s photo-shoot. I don’t find anything about this photo visually interesting to look at. I would also argue that this contradicts Playboy’s -non-nude’ policy. She looks pretty nakie to me. Well… Ok. She’s wearing shoes. You win this round, Playboy.

I feel as if Playboy has missed their mark on their quest for a re-brand and increased revenue. They spend thousands of dollars on on concept teams, wardrobe and lighting, and the series that I have seen are all tired. Sheer tops and and underwear? Cheeky bedroom scenes?

c_limit,q_80,w_720-http---images-origin.playboy.com-ogz4nxetbde6-4oYwc8WQyckuCGyaUooQSM-de275284ae84d4c968a1a4085e5fdf04-11_March-cover

This has all been done before, and in fact, I think that I have have even seen more interesting photos on amateur models’ Instagram pages. From what I see, this change for Playboy has not been worth the hassle.

On Why I Can’t Stand Chelsea Handler (‘s Comedy)

racism
So, I have never been a fan of Chelsea Handler’s brand of ‘comedy;’ I don’t find shock-value comedy entertaining, and call me old-fashioned, but I think that comedians should find witty, unexpected, or dare I suggest, intelligent ways to recite their anecdotes. I also need to find something relatable in someone’s character, something likeable in a performer for me to root for their success. I have watched and read several of Handler’s works, and have found her to be lacking in all of the areas previously described. Recently, I watched her racism episode on her new Netflix series, Chelsea Does, and my opinions of her changed from a mild discontentment in regards to her brand of humor, to a general dislike of Handler as a person.

The Chelsea Does episode failed in so many ways for me; comedy can be used to address racism and discrimination when used appropriately ; satire would be my first (and possibly only) choice. The episode involved segments of multiple, well-known comedians to discuss racism within stand-up comedy and within the entertainment industry itself. This is not done well; hardly any of the comedians has anything of substance to say. I feel like there is no ‘real’ dialogue happening; each comedian is ‘on,’ constantly trying to one-up each other with their witticisms and shock value comments. I guess the lure of potential capital from their exposure on Netflix was too enticing to pass up for these comedians; they treat the time that they have on-camera as if there were an invisible brick wall behind them.

Another segment within the episode involves Handler discussing her comedy with a panel of academics and media-related personnel. I get the feeling that Chelsea was quite nervous to participate with the group, with good reason. A discriminatory comment against the Asian community is soon brought up, and Chelsea begins to laugh her own joke that was made in the past. Her laugh seems forced to me, like she is overcompensating, and attempting to defend her work by proving to the panel that she should be given permission to make these comments, because of how hilarious they are. Handler is later told: “[s]tereotypes are created for a purpose. They don’t fall from the sky. They always are attached to a political agenda. It’s about certain groups being able to dominate other groups,” which should be enough for most to reevaluate their standards. The only response that Handler can come up with is that African-Americans are known for being well-endowed;  therefore, stereotypes can’t be all bad, then… right? Her dim-witted remarks about genitalia are answered thoughtfully, and with more patience than what I would have been able to muster. Chelsea still doesn’t get it. Her general defense of her work is that she makes fun of ‘every group,’ so it must be OK.

I am really, really done with this chowderhead.

Attention Men Everywhere: Kanye Doesn’t Like His Butt Being Played with, and Neither Should You.

cave

Recently, Kanye West was in a sparring match on Twitter with his ex-girlfriend, Amber Rose, who revealed that she has done some spelunking in West’s cave in the past. Kanye has since denied this fact, saying that he’s “not into that shit.” Ok, I get that anyone’s first reaction to having their sexual preferences and details about their private lives would be denial, but this heterosexual (and homosexual, in certain circles) revulsion of anal penetration seems to be a deeper issue for people. Enthusiasts of the binary system will see relationships in terms of  ‘penetrator’ and ‘penetrated’ positions, where the penetrated are usually considered to be weak, passive, and feminine. When I see and hear this attitude in regards to penetration, I get the feeling that the person saying it believes women to be below them, at least on some level.

In other cultures, men who have sex with men doesn’t necessarily mean that both are considered to be homosexuals; it is only the penetrated party that is considered to be gay, and in general, they will receive less respect for it. A study done at Yale University gives evidence that some heterosexual people will treat LGBTQ members differently, depending on which position (top/bottom) they identify with. Of course, discrimination against gender and sexual orientation are not new concepts. When people discuss gender stereotypes, they often will talk about how damaging it is for women, but men get the short end of the stick, too. It’s damaging for all genders for there to be a societal idea of how one should behave. Perhaps violent behaviour from boys and young men has increased because some ‘go along’ with what society is telling them; aggression is normal, and is often encouraged. Males who express emotion, who are thoughtful, and who hug one another freely are not the norm, and there are consequences for anyone partaking in this behaviour.

I guess my disapproval stems from two things; that penetration is considered feminine, and ain’t nobody want that, as well as the fact that some men feel like they can’t/shouldn’t explore their own bodies in private because of what society tells them. What is interesting is that it is not butt stuff in general that people find offensive; comedian Russell Brand made a remark during his stand-up routine in regards to the pleasure he experienced as one women was working ‘the front,’ and at the same time, one working [the hole]. From what I understand, male prison systems also have a system of submission that involves rimming. So a tongue is A-Ok, but a finger or a phallus is objectionable, I guess?

A YouTube video attempted to break down this barrier by having a heterosexual man use a vibrator, designed to stimulate the prostate, on himself in order to encourage a public dialogue on the issue. An article titled Why More Straight Guys Should Be Playing With Their Butts referenced this video, and described the situation, writing that the young man enjoyed the vibration, but “perhaps a little too much.” What the butts does that mean? This was supposed to be an article to encourage men to leave behind any kind of shame and societal nay-saying and they have a comment like that? Would anyone ever say that a woman was enjoying her vibrator too much? I don’t think so. It seems borderline ridiculous that men and women wouldn’t explore their sexuality in private because of fear and embarrassment they feel from society. Who knows, maybe guys everywhere are sticking things up their butts in their free time… I hope they are, if that’s what they want to be doing. I just really hate the shaming that is put onto consenting adults that are just doing what they do (or what they want to be doin’).

Playboy Will Soon Be Nudity-Free

playboy

Get ready for a kinder, gentler Playboy. No more will the Bunnies be shaking and shimmying their mammary glands for the world to see…

Playboy was founded by Hugh Hefner, and first published in 1953 as one of the first mass-produced soft-core pornographic magazines. The magazine was once a huge seller, creating huge profits for the Playboy family by selling a lifestyle of leisure and beautiful women to its readers. The Playboy Bunny is arguably has one of the most recognizable logos in the world, but as technology has improved, the power of the Bunny hasn’t held up well in the face of (or other body part) more explicit material available to people for free.

Playboy began its modernization process in 2011, with the launch of its complete archives in the form of a web app. More was needed to boost popularity, as Cory Jones, one of the top Playboy editors realized. Jones is the innovator behind the new nudity-free Playboy, and hopes that popularity and subscriptions can be gained by losing the nudity, and therefore, the restrictions, and become a prominent member in the social media universe. The new, work-friendly version of Playboy that will be available next March, will continue to include lifestyle columns, celebrity interviews, as well as a new “sex-positive female” columnist.

Playboy will launch the new nudity-free version, with the hopes of gaining popularity again simply by increasing accessibility and visibility of the Playboy lifestyle will be enough to compete with the treasure trove of free explicit material found by those who seek it. The modernization process of Playboy seems to be decades overdue, with sales of the magazine plummeting in a negatively correlated relationship with more easily accessible pornography websites.

Come March, we will see if Hefner’s decision to steer Playboy in a more modest direction will have the desired effect on its prevalence, but the timing of the upcoming family-friendly experience seems suspicious when Mr Hefner is still trying to recuperate from the damage done to his character by his ex-girlfriend, Holly Madison. Madison details the years she spent living with Hefner at the Playboy mansion in her book Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny, where she depicts Hefner as an old-fashioned, abusive misogynist. Details of how Hefner scored the physical appeal of the women that entered the house, the drugs he offered his rotating female companions and their ‘bedroom routine,’ as Madison describes it in the book. Nothing of what she writes may be shocking to a reader when they realize they are reading about the life of a multi-millionaire that has made his money by publishing pornography, but Madison’s book has some illuminating things to say about the sponsorship and endorsement aspect of Playboy.

The Girls Next Door was a program on the E! network that followed the lives of Hefner’s girlfriends. Madison writes in her book that the network was always mindful to portray Hefner as a doting, romantic gentleman that just happened to have three young women as his girlfriends. This portrayal of Hefner made it feel safe for the viewer to watch the program, and Hefner kept his sales of Playboy by representing himself in a flattering way to his public. Time will tell if the revamping of the magazine that will take effect in March will be a permanent and lucrative change, or if it will be a change that causes the Playboy Bunnies to permanently hang up their tails.

Sex Sells, but Does it Convey Power for Women?

perry

Music Video Critique

California Gurls by Katy Perry is an upbeat, danceable pop song in which Perry has somewhat modelled the message of “California Girls” by The Beach Boys; the girls of California are all beautiful and perfect. Perry, however, includes hyper-sexualized notions of power in her song and video in regards to gender; women are powerful if they are sexually attractive, and likewise, can gain power from acting provocatively. With the rise of third-wave feminism, some female entertainers are becoming more sexually explicit in public. I argue that although sex is not shameful, providing people with explicit depictions of one’s body is a form of relinquishing power and only serves to reinforce negative stereotypes of women.

The video begins with a Candy Land- like game, with Snoop Dogg as the “Sugar Daddy,” who controls Perry’s moves as she moves through the game. The lyrics “warm, wet and wild” are accompanied with visuals of a dripping ice cream cone as well as Perry licking white frosting off a popsicle (subtle). Perry’s ascent to the clouds is when the video becomes increasingly sexual: Perry is nude except for a bit of cloud covering her backside. As the music video continues, there are lyrics that read: “sex on the beach,” where the word ‘sex’ is sung very breathy by Perry, possibly to draw attention to the word and also to possibly to induce images and sounds of sex for the listener. Speaking of sex sounds, Perry continuously makes ‘ugh!’ sounds and we see a three-dimensional popsicle quiver and then melt (oh so subtle). The finale of the video involves Perry ‘defeating’ Snoop Dogg with the help of her girlfriends, using two whipped cream bottles that appear to be ejaculating as Perry simulates manual sex (this video should really have a recommended age for it).

Perry seems to be trying to convey that women can use their sexuality as a strategy for gaining power in a man’s world. Being so ‘hot’ you can cause someone to reach climax is a must for women, apparently. Perry may view herself as a bargaining chip of some kind in the music industry; artists know that if they create a big enough buzz, they will command attention, which equals money in the entertainment industry.  Rogers writes in her 2013 article on The Guardian, that entertainers’ value is no longer solely attached to record sales, but from media sites, such as Twitter and music video hits. This new definition of popularity has changed the music industry enormously. More often, record companies are no longer interested in developing a performer based on musicianship; they build commodities, making the most amount of money possible. Female artists undressing, or being scantily-clad is not surprising anymore.

Perry is one of the many artists willing to undress to sell. She is hugely successful, but is perhaps not respected as a true musician. Some singer-songwriter females show that more women over men remove their clothing and act in provocative ways in the music industry, possibly to the detriment to the artist themselves. This may reinforce ideas that women are not ‘true’ musicians but simply marketing ploys, which reinforces the notion that when women build a career on their sexuality, the public does not necessarily take them seriously as genuine artists. Furthermore, removing one’s clothing in return for profit could be argued as a form of prostitution;  female artists presenting more and more outrageous things in order to maintain their relevancy serves as a negative stereotype that woman are not true musicians, that they are relying on sex appeal to sell records instead of musical talent. This sexualisation may also trap these females in a cycle, constantly having to ‘one-up’ each other to sell themselves. Contrary to what women may think, using one’s body and sex appeal does not appear to conduce power or respect. If one’s agenda is to solely gain money, though, this lack of legitimacy may not be worrying.