Sunday, 6 March 2011

Christwire, satire and anal bleach

This is a story of great complexity, riddled with conundrums and addled by a satirical saviour who strives to save your soul while tickling your funny bone. Now, if that introductory line isn't enough to pique your curiosity, let me add how I am going to first discuss a cosmetic procedure called anal bleaching. I will now pause for a moment to allow you sufficient time to scratch your head or stare perplexed at the ceiling or quietly mutter, "WTF?" Heck, why not do all three?

When I first discovered this term, I thought it was a joke. But who needs jokes when there are so many wild and wacky things in the world? My goodness, Wikipedia actually has an article on this:

Anal bleaching is the process of lightening the color of the skin around the anus. It is done for cosmetic purposes, to make the anus more uniform with the surrounding area.
Procedure
Some treatments are applied in an office by a technician and others are sold as cream that can be applied in the privacy of your own home. Many people have started to lean towards treatments that can be done at home for privacy reasons and for the fact that most at home anal lightening creams do not contain the potentially cancerous ingredient hydroquinone. This ingredient is banned in many European countries but is still used in the USA at a potency of up to 2%.


Use
Anal bleaching was first used by adult film stars and exotic dancers to provide a less pigmented (lighter) appearance in that area. This got the attention of others who have discoloration in this area due to hormones causing the discoloration (such as after pregnancy) or other hereditary reasons.


Get outta town! Of course, not being an adult film star means I know absolutely nothing about this line of work. Who knew?

In Bed With Married Women
Jill Hamilton writes a blog called "In Bed With Married Women" with the tagline, "The blog that hops into your bed, staring rudely and taking notes." and describes herself as follows:

I am an excessively curious writer in Southern California. My work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Mad magazine, Time Out New York, Games, the Los Angeles Times, and the occasional boring reference book. My music column for the now-defunct Ann Arbor News won an award from The National Society of Newspaper Columnists. And this is kind of off-topic, but I once interviewed John Cusack and can report that his breath was minty.

In a sidebar on the blog she writes:

What the hell is going on here?
In Bed With Married Women is a place to talk about sex in all its funny, weird, boring, smokin' hot glory. Knowledge = power and all that.


On Jul 7, 2010, she posted "Is Your Anus Looking Its Whitest?" and went through a comedic explanation of this supposedly serious procedure. She refers to a web site called "Bleach Bum" which offers information about how to bleach your anus, what products to use to do so, and tips to follow to "keep your backside looking young". Jill is funny and it seems that Bleach Bum is not a joke, it is legitimate. One Keesha Myas, who seems to be in the business of bachelorette parties, is the creator of Bleach Bum but I'm not sure why she branched out and why in this direction. If you're going to shoot for the moon, you might as well shoot for Uranus? - I'm sorry; it just had to be said.

Jill reminded me of Jon Stewart of the Daily Show. Mr. Stewart will sometimes present a segment on something out of the news which is so bizarre, it is difficult in the beginning to figure out if it's a joke or not. At some point, Stewart leans into the camera and says quietly, "I'm not making this up, folks." Or sometimes he comments, after a particularly bizarre and funny story, that he doesn't have to say a joke, meaning the story is funny enough as is. Such was the case with Jill's posting "Is Your Anus Looking Its Whitest?". You don't need a joke, "anal bleaching" is funny enough on its own. Enter one Christwire.Org

Satire
I paraphrase Wikipedia here:
Satire is a type of comedic writing where vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement. While it is meant to be funny, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon.

To best understand this idea, how about some examples of contemporary satire? The Colbert Report comes to mind. Mr. Colbert plays a character, a mishmash of right wing religious fundamentalist Conservative extremists (read loony tunes), who satirizes (read criticizes) America and all her extremist glory. The Onion "satire" news organisation is another example.

What's interesting about satire is that you have to be knowledgeable about the subject matter to "get it". You have to be up on current events; you have to be well read; you have to be educated to a certain degree as the authors of these satirical works certainly are. The news is fodder for their comedy. If you're not "plugged in", you're not going to understand what they are making fun of. I make note in the Wikipedia article on the Onion how on numerous occasions third parties have mistakenly cited The Onion as real news. One notable example is how Fred Phelps, pastor of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church posted The Onion article "'98 Homosexual-Recruitment Drive Nearing Goal" on his "God Hates Fags" website as "proof" that gay people were indeed actively trying to "recruit" others. However, legitimate news outlets like Reuters and MSNBC have also fallen into the trap.

The point is that satire sometimes looks so real, it is hard to figure out if the author is being serious or pulling your leg.

Christwire.Org
Jill Hamilton spoke of this on her web site, so I dropped over for a look. On Jul 13, 2010, Christwire published "Anal Bleaching, For the Sodomite Who Wants to Look His Best" by Stephenson Billings. The author takes a religious slant on the topic of anal bleaching and goes on to dissect Jill Hamilton's article while saying things like: "For those who practice sodomy, there is an implicit admission that they do not want to live a normal life of righteous wholesomeness." He refers to the procedure as "perverse medical science" and ends his article by saying that "the future will be a minefield of dark, explosive degeneracy."

What? Who is this author? What is Christwire? Am I reading some extremist religious rant? But somehow, that doesn't quite seem to be the case.

On July 17, Jill Hamilton replies with How I Became An "Anal Bleaching Expert" writing about how her article has led Christwire to cast her in the unfavourable light as being an expert on anal bleaching. Now how many do you know with that one on their curriculum vitae?

However, I believe Ms. Hamilton knew (or was really, really hoping) that this was all tongue in cheek as she referred to the web site as the: parody extremist Christian web site Christwire. (At least I certainly hope it's a fake site.)

The New York Times explains all
In the article "A Niche of the Unreal in a World of Credulity" by Mark Oppenheimer, the author reveals "Since 2008, Christwire.org has emerged as the leading Internet site for ultraconservative Christian news, commentary and weather reportage." and that the whole thing is a joke. The creators of the web site wanted to do something like The Onion but more focused on "God, gay people, and how both influence the weather". Keep in mind, this is satire. The authors are not serious; they are criticizing those who truly believe what the site is writing about.

Mr. Oppenheimer raises some funny examples of how some people, legitimate news people, have been taken in by Christwire the same way some are taken in by The Onion. I warn you though that sometimes getting buried in the satire and trying to find your way out especially if it's well done, can be a daunting task. It sounds so legitimate, it is next to impossible to figure out if the satirist is serious or making fun of your beliefs.

Oh yes, one curious thing. It turns out that Stephenson Billings doesn't exist. Apparently whoever writes under this name contributes anonymously to Christwire and supposedly the editors have no idea who this person is. They do add that his articles are extremely popular with the site's readership.

Serious or a joke?
Anal bleaching is legitimate. Okay, legitimate in the sense it's real and is not some made up medical procedure. Now when Christwire says that "the future will be a minefield of dark, explosive degeneracy", that's satire but you can see how somebody may take that a statement of fact. The NY Times says, "many of the columns are deft enough, just plausible enough, to fool the casual reader. Even — or perhaps especially — a reader whose beliefs are being mocked." It's a good point: Do we "get it"?

Like some of the bizarre stories Jon Stewart comes up with, so bizarre they don't even need a comedic treatment, Jill Hamilton's posting on anal bleaching was unto itself strange enough. Somehow writing about a procedure which certainly seems frivolous and totally unnecessary, at least to my private backside, is satire itself. Add on top of that the satire of Christwire and we've got a field day of satire piled on top of satire and good luck to anybody trying to see which way is up.

Extremism
If you'll bear with me, I'm going to say something serious for a moment. Christwire is criticizing, by their own words, those who accept but never question. They are satirizing the extremist elements of America in the hopes of bringing about change. If there is an idea I keep bringing up in my blog, it is that extremism, the us or them mentality, the sky is falling attitude is very much prevalent in today's culture. We are constantly bombarded with calls to action but with little thought as to what that action should be.

I have run across some pretty scary dudes while researching my blog. (see Freedom of Speech: Freedom to say anything?) While these people represent the fringe element; this is a very vocal minority which seems to have far too much sway over the political landscape. Hopefully Christwire will bring a critical eye to the table.

Final Word
I am constantly amazed at how much is going on the world. Anal bleaching? Who knew? Jill Hamilton? Some funny reading there. Christwire? Interesting, well done satire. All in all, it's hard to keep up but once in a while, in delving into these things when writing an article like this, I rediscover that there are a lot of intelligent, funny people on this planet. It renews my faith that in the long run, things are going to work out.


References

Wikipedia: Christwire
Christwire is a satirical website that publishes blog style articles that highlight perceived excesses of Christian conservatives. Like similar satire websites, Christwire's stories have sometimes erroneously been taken at face value.

Christwire.Org
Conservative values for an unsaved world

Wikipedia: Anal Bleaching

BleachBum.com: youthful appearance everywhere
BleachBum.com is your source for information about anal bleaching products and procedures. Anal bleaching is one more way holly wood celebrities try to stay younger. While rectal bleaching isn't for everyone, some people are interested in maintaining a youthful look...everywhere. For those people, we offer advice and information in a comfortable, private manner. So, relax and read about anal bleaching techniques in a private and professional manner here at BleachBum.com.

The Onion (video)
Justin Bieber Found To Be Cleverly Disguised 51-Year-Old Pedophile
This is an example of how the Onion puts together "television news" which looks so real, it's not surprising people get fooled. (I was rolling on the floor!) I quote from Wikipedia: "In September to October [2010], [The Phoenix], a Hong Kong TV channel, mistook the 'Justin Bieber Found To Be Cleverly Disguised 51-Year-Old Pedophile' as a serious thing. It fooled and shocked a massive amount of people."

The New York Times - Sep 3/2010
A Niche of the Unreal in a World of Credulity By Mark Oppenheimer
Since 2008, ChristWire.org has emerged as the leading Internet site for ultraconservative Christian news, commentary and weather reportage. ... Oh, by the way: ChristWire is all one big joke.

Christwire - Aug 4/2010
Is My Husband GAY? by Stephenson Billings  
This "joke" was picked up as legitimate by Huffington (see below). However, the Atlantic Wire points out that after getting duped, Huffington re-wrote their article.

The Atlantic Wire - Aug 19/2010
Satirical Christian Site Hoodwinks the Huffington Post By John Hudson
One of the Internet's best kept secrets is the satirical website ChristWire.org. Every day, its contributing writers publish articles condemning homosexuality, atheism, Hollywood or some other perceived threat to American culture. The writers pretend to be hard-right Christian conservatives and, occasionally, they succeed in tricking serious news organizations into believing them.

The Huffington Post - Aug 19/2010
9 Signs Your Husband Is GAY, According To ChristWire.org by Katla McGlynn
N.B. This is not the original article attacking Christwire; this has been modified.
We're not sure if this is a satire or not, but from the looks of things no one really knows. We picked 9 of our favorite "commonly accepted" signs and paired them with equally ridiculous stock photos to show our readers how silly this article really was.

The Atlantic Wire - Feb 01, 2011
Rachel Maddow and NBC Struggle With Satire By John Hudson
This is an amusing look at how RachelMaddow and NBC got hoodwinked by Christwire. As the author, Johyn Hudson writes, " C'mon people. Google searches! They're not that hard."

Christwire - May 9/2010
How To Spot A Masturbator by Stephenson Billings  
Wow. This article is really good in that I defy you to figure out if the author is serious or making fun of the whole we're-all-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket.

In Bed With Married Women - Jill Hamilton
Jill explains: In Bed With Married Women is a place to talk about sex in all its funny, weird, boring, smokin' hot glory. Knowledge = power and all that.

2011-03-06

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2 comments:

jill hamilton said...

wow, it's an opus, william quincy belle.
thanks for the shout-out and kind words.

jill, http://inbedwithmarriedwomen.blogspot.com

ps crud! i forgot to use an alias!

Molly @ Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce said...

WTF? That's all I can say.