Saturday 18 June 2011

The crotch shot: It's all about context

Mr. Anthony Weiner, exit stage right. Shame. Dishonour. Vilification of the highest magnitude. The villagers turn into an ugly, blood-thirsty mob demanding justice or maybe just more entertainment, wanting to see four teams of horses brought in to quarter the body in the public square. Pervert! Deviant! Lock up the children and protect the women!

Where is the mistake? Is it the crotch shot itself, or is it the context in which we find the crotch shot? Out of curiosity, I went to Google image search and typed in "crotch shot" with quotations marks. While examining the images returned by the intrepid search engine, I, like Alice, exclaimed, "Curiouser and curiouser." In the first batch of photos on display, there was not a single man present. Yes, every image was of a woman: Lady Gaga, Ashanti, Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton, Beyoncé, and of course, Britney Spears' most famous or infamous pantyless up-skirt photograph. I also note that some minor celebrity by the name of Tila Tequila likes to complain about the paparazzi but is not above strategically positioning herself so the cameras can provide solid evidence of her predilection to go out in public free from the constraint of tradition. Let's face it, celebrities and the paparazzi make for a symbiotic relation.

Here's the "curiouser and curiouser". A crotch shot can be, under certain circumstances, a desirable thing. It serves to advertise, attract attention, and provide a means of remaining in the mind's eye of the public. Apparently we the public somehow seem to expect it of those who seek the spotlight. It goes with the territory. A little flashing can do wonders for the ratings.

Anthony Weiner, on the other hand, as an elected representative seems to be representing the more staid segment of our population. Britney gets photographed and we shake our head while saying, "Tch. Tch. There's that Britney again." Anthony does it and we're going, "OMG!"

Utter the word "pornography" and what comes to mind? Something at the negative end of the spectrum? Jenna Jameson is described by Wikipedia as an American entrepreneur and former pornographic actress, who has been called the world's most famous adult-entertainment performer and, according to Anderson Cooper, "The Queen of Porn." Ms. Jameson has been a guest on Oprah and Ms. Winfrey's web site has both articles about Ms. Jameson and video interviews. This is a curious crossover from the, ah, non mainstream to the mainstream.

Your Online Reputation
Over the past few years, with the ubiquity of the Internet and the realisation we all have an "on-line presence"; there has been more talk of what goes online, stays online. Several years ago, it came to the forefront how the innocuous and innocent was becoming dangerous. People were posting pictures of themselves maybe wearing a lampshade at a drunken toga party only to discover their future employer had Googled their name for an on-line investigation and concluded that based on these pictures of someone doing an imitation of Zach Galifianakis from the movie Hangover (Parts 1 and 2), they might not be what the company was looking for in an employee.

On the other hand, there seems to be a lot of people who have never taken these lessons to heart or think these lessons aren't important to their specific situation or heck they just don't care. People are posting all sorts of crazy s**t without the slightest regard of who's going to see the stuff or not.

Go to Google and type in "rate my". Rate my teacher, rate my car, rate my puppy (cute), rate my parking, rate my mullet (what?), "normal" stuff, eh? How about rate my picture, rate my bottom, rate my chest, rate my rack, rate my body, and rate my ex-girlfriend? Who are these people? Who's posting the pictures? And more importantly, who's looking at them?

Google search: rate my

Let's kick it up a notch. TangoTime.Com which started several years ago as a fairly tame web site devoted to the posting and rating of normal pictures has grown into a site of everyday people posting sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves. Let me repeat "everyday people", not professional models or porn stars, just everyday people. Gosh, it could be your friends. Or it could be your neighbours or your co-workers. Do these people understand what they've done? - Anthony Weiner looks positively tame in comparison. - I repeat that anybody can see these photographs. If an employer could potentially be upset at finding a Facebook photo of somebody drunk at a party, just what are they going to think if they visit TangoTime.Com?

Pamela Madsen and Jack Layton
For those not in the know, let me briefly introduce these two people.

Pamela Madsen has been a fertility advocate for some time, but recently added sexuality coach to her résumé. She is the author of a book called Shameless in which she chronicles her personal quest for sexual fulfillment all while remaining in a committed marriage.

Jack Layton is a Canadian politician who is currently head of the National Democratic Party, the official opposition in Canada's federal government.

In Pamela's book - which I purchased and read cover to cover - the author recounts her sexual self-discovery which included events which are anything but of mainstream society. I say that not as a criticism but as an observation I've made frequently about how North American society tends towards the puritanical and seems to be very much hung up about its sexuality. The author's odyssey involved erotic massages (I mean massages which resulted in orgasm), visits to sexual shamans, and her personal admission to enjoying BDSM

Canada held a federal election on May 2, 2011. On April 29, 2011, a national newspaper broke a story which was interpreted as a deliberate attempt to smear Mr. Layton's name. Apparently in 1996, Mr. Layton went for a massage in an establishment he and his wife discovered on the Internet. It turned out the police were suspicious of illegal activities and raided the place finding Mr. Layton having a massage. He was doing nothing wrong; there was no sex for pay involved, but for a day or two the media was having a field day with guilt by association.

In my blog Pamela Madsen, Jack Layton, and an erotic massage I talked about a curious double standard I saw in the situation of these two people. Ms. Madsen is a woman. She is being lauded for her forthrightness and for helping women with their sexuality. She paid for an erotic massage which resulted in her having an orgasm. Jack Layton is a man. He is a politician. He had a massage but was being vilified for possibly paying for an "erotic massage" which would have resulted in him having an orgasm.

Larry Flynt wants to hire Anthony Weiner
In an open letter published in the Huffington Post on June 16, 2011, Larry Flynt - yes, that Larry Flynt - offered Mr. Weiner a job. This apparently was no joke. Citing his organisation's fight against hypocrisy within federal and state governments, Mr. Flynt felt Mr. Weiner's intensity and perseverance shown as a congressman would be a natural fit with Flynt Management Group. He recognised that Mr. Weiner's "unfortunate resignation is a prime example of unfounded political pressure and the hypocrisy that has invaded democracy in Washington D.C."

Uploaded by TheYoungTurks on Jun 16, 2011
Larry Flynt Offers Anthony Weiner A Job
Hustler magazine owner and free speech activist Larry Flynt wants newly resigned New York Congressman Anthony Weiner to come work for him. Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparian and Jayar Jackson discuss.

Time Magazine
On June 16, 2011, Time published an article entitled "No Picture, Please!" by Nancy Gibbs. The author takes us through a number of "scandals" including Nixon and Pentagon Papers, several politicians and their "sexcapades", and some dubious financial dealings. She points out that in the end, though, the Weiner case is about the pictures. He actually hasn't done anything illegal. We may question the morality of it, but that is more of a question between him and his wife as opposed to doing something which broke the law. The politicians mentioned in the article may have done something wrong, whether sexual or financial, but there were no photographs. The story of Nixon and the Pentagon papers bring up the burden of proof in that we have the incriminating tapes. Would he have survived Watergate if we had only read about it instead of being able to hear about it?

The Time article didn't mention Bill Clinton. Yes, there's this blue dress but there are no photos of Monica going down on Bill. Nixon didn't last because of the tapes. Would Clinton have been able to stay on if there was a photo on the frontpage?

Final Word
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying what Weiner did was right. What he did, if kept private, is none of my business and is strictly between him, his wife, and yes, these other women.

However, the issue of the crotch shot per se seems to be very much dependent on the context in which it happens. All sorts of celebrities are deliberately doing crotch shots; heck, they want the paparazzi to take their photo. Non celebrities are publishing all sorts of things which would make their mother blush but they're doing it more in the spirit of bragging about it; the raunchier the better. Of course they "get away with it" because they're non celebrities; they are out of the public eye.

Coupled with this is the issue of honesty. If you openly and honestly display your crotch, the public will accept you. If you do it secretively, you will eventually be outed and your dishonesty will be your undoing. If it is part of your job - you're an entertainer - nobody is going to blink an eye. Britney or any one of a number of public personalities does it and we're titillated. - Crotch shot? Hell, it's almost mandatory these days to have a sex tape! - Anthony or some other politician does it and we're scandalised.

Time magazine makes a good point. If we had only read about Anthony Weiner's wiener, he would still be a congressman. Because we have the photos, the talk wouldn't die down and he had to resign. But he didn't do anything illegal. - Weiner broke no laws. He didn’t abuse Congressional funds or take advantage of his Congressional power. He (technically) did not cheat on his wife. - In fact, it seems that Mr. Weiner was doing a good job as a congressman and was well respected. It's a shame. Anthony resigns but Lady Gaga sells more albums.

Will Anthony come back? Will Anthony ever be "rehabilitated"? A year? Two years? Three? Five? Bill Clinton is back. The Monica affair is gone, maybe not quite forgotten, but Bill is back. I can only conclude that someday, we may all be applauding a great speech by Anthony when we turn to our neighbour and ask, "Say, wasn't he the one who resigned because of...?" Our faulty memories are great for somebody's comeback.


Time Magazine - Jun 16/2011
No Pictures, Please! by Nancy Gibbs
The scandals that stick aren't always the worst. They're just the ones we can see

Could [Nixon] have survived Watergate if we had just read about his actions rather than heard them unfold in all their greasy glory? There's no way to know, but when it comes to Weiner, we can hazard a guess. A new Pew poll found that most respondents thought the recent rash of sex scandals reflects not lower standards among lawmakers, just higher scrutiny. Had we not seen the crotch shots and read the sexts but merely heard that Weiner was communicating inappropriately with his fans, it's hard to believe he would have been judged unfit for congressional service by his peers.

Wikipedia: Jenna Jameson
Jenna Jameson (born Jenna Marie Massoli; April 9, 1974) is an American entrepreneur and former pornographic actress, who has been called the world's most famous adult-entertainment performer and "The Queen of Porn." She started acting in erotic videos in 1993 after having worked as a stripper and glamour model. By 1996, she had won the "top newcomer" award from each of the three major adult movie organizations. She has since won more than 20 adult video awards, and has been inducted into both the X-Rated Critics Organization (XRCO) and Adult Video News (AVN) Halls of Fame.

Jameson founded the adult-entertainment company ClubJenna in 2000 with Jay Grdina, whom she later married and divorced. Initially a single website, this business expanded into managing similar websites of other stars and began producing sexually explicit videos in 2001. The first such movie, Briana Loves Jenna (with Briana Banks), was named at the 2003 AVN Awards as the best-selling and best-renting pornographic title for 2002. By 2005, ClubJenna had revenues of US$30 million with profits estimated at half that. Advertisements for her site and films, often bearing her picture, have towered on a 48-foot-tall billboard in New York City's Times Square. Playboy TV hosts her Jenna's American Sex Star reality show where aspiring porn stars compete for a Club Jenna contract.

Oprah - Nov 17/2009
Jenna Jameson: The World's Most Famous Porn Star
In 2004, Jenna co-wrote her autobiography, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale, with New York Times contributor Neil Strauss. This revealing memoir spent weeks on the best-seller list.

As she toured the country promoting her book, Jenna says she began to notice that more and more women were becoming interested in porn. "I looked out over the 5,000 people there for autographs," she says. "Three-quarters of them were women."

Jenna says many women used this opportunity to discuss intimate details of their sex lives. "You'd be really surprised how open women are with me," she says. "The very first [thing] out of their mouths is, 'You taught me how to give oral sex, and my husband thanks you.'"

Wikipedia: Reputation.Com (formerly ReputationDefender) is a company located in Redwood City, California that sells online reputation management (ORM) and internet privacy. Company CEO Michael Fertik has criticized review websites that don't monitor comments or require users to register. The company received publicity in the United States when it managed to remove death photographs of Nikki Catsouras from about 300 of some 400 Internet sites hosting them. The photos spread to new sites, and Fertik acknowledged their removal as "a virtually unwinnable battle".

my blog: Book Review: Shameless by Pamela Madsen

my blog: Pamela Madsen, Jack Layton, and an erotic massage

The Huffington Post - June 16/2011
My Job Offer to Anthony Weiner by Larry Flynt
After having learned of your sudden and compelled resignation from your Congressional post, I would like to make you an offer of employment at Flynt Management Group, LLC in our Internet group.
This offer is not made in jest.
While this employment opportunity is being offered in large part due to your qualifications and clear passion for making a change, I feel that your unfortunate resignation is a prime example of unfounded political pressure and the hypocrisy that has invaded democracy in Washington D.C. I hope you will sincerely consider this offer, and I look forward to your response.

my blog: Father's Day: The rehabilitation of a fallen man


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Unknown said...

you know what angers me about this guy? i actually BELIEVED him!!!

and i don't believe ANY politician.

how the hell did i fall for it!?!?!?!

Walker Thornton said...

You make an excellent point. It really is none of our business...though I do feel a bias against Weiner in light of the more recent 'allegations' as he seems to be exhibiting bad judgment and poor impulse control.

When you compare his boo-boo to the deliberate (and distasteful) new habit of showing off one's crotch or 'naughty bits' as the Brits say, it changes the perspective. I find the intentional stuff pretty distasteful but this is a 'free country' as we often say.