Pornography is Media too and it doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

A woman who has her reputation built in the pornography and sex industry has come out in support some troubling things. Jenna Jameson, who had earlier backed Trump, defended the KKK and spoke out about the “Muslim rape gangs overrunning Sweden” on Twitter.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with selling sex, pornography, or even prostitution in theory–but there seems to be a long history of people exploiting women rather than empowering them in these industries and in the case of porn, there’s a long history of racism, in fact there’s enough of it that it’s probably the only thing you can Google with the word “porn” in it and not find actual porn on the first page. Here’s another link for the sake of having it here.

 

No one should be saying that she doesn’t have the right to an opinion. I don’t believe in the argument against celebrities stepping into the limelight to voice their problem with something in the country. After all, they’re citizens the same way we are, the things that plague our country affect them and their children and families.

The issue I have with this is it all seems kind of odd what she’s defending. The KKK, the extremist wings of the Christian Right, the Alt-Right and their band of Neo-Nazis propped up by the likes of Breitbart are the same people who claim women don’t have a voice or claim that women are worthless. Remember that there was some claim that women voting was part of the problem when it looked to most people like Trump was going to lose.

I don’t think that it’s a hard line connecting the racism of the sex industry with the racism of one of it’s workers. Every person in an organization doesn’t have to subscribe to the tenants of where they work. But doesn’t it feel odd that one of the favorite insults of the Alt-Right Gamer Gate types has it’s roots in porn where a white man watches as his wife is taken and used by a black man (we’re talking about the word “cuck” here)? Doesn’t it feel like something is up when the men who label porn online can’t seem to stop referring to the women as sluts, whores, cunts, or whatever else long enough to write a title?

We talk about attitudes about race being affected by the entertainment we intake. Minorities being normalized by appearing in normal roles in television shows and movies and books. Movies still get blasted when they change the race of a character in a way that might be perceived as more “PC” or even when roles are written from scratch and cast with minorities in mind.

These things aren’t brought up in reference to pornography though. The advent of the internet brought with it the unexpected golden age of porn. Where someone fifteen years older than me grew up hiding crinkled images stolen from an old magazine in a lock box a teen in the early 2000s  could find a treasure trove of pictures just by typing a misspelled “pussie” into his search bar. There is already talk about what that does to a kid sexually, but what about what it adds to their view of other races and sex?

Look at the front page of a porn site’s long list of categories. Click through some even. It’s hard to find a video of someone black having sex where their blackness isn’t what the video uses as a selling point. The same can be said about other types of people too. Everyone is broken down by category. Blondes. Redheads. Chubby. MILF. But finding a black couple is like finding a four leafed clover and when your view of sex and relationships is shaped partially by porn from a young age (which it shouldn’t be in the first place) everything in porn is telling you “these people aren’t the norm”.

Now, does this shit doesn’t really matter? The good porn is on Tumblr or Reddit anyway and it’s made by regular people who are brave enough to put themselves out there, not an industry that’s breaking everyone down into categories…but then what about this generation? The one right now. People younger than thirty-five and in middle-class America grew up on this. Shaved genitals have become such a big thing that crabs are almost gone and that came about around the time the internet showed us that women are supposed to look like Barbie Dolls down there. Porn might even be changing how we feel about sex.

If it can do all that, why would we say it can’t have an affect on the kind of couples we see as normal? Why does it matter that a woman with more than 35 Adult Video Awards to her name is saying racist shit on Twitter? We don’t exist in a vacuum and, like it or not, the things we intake do have some effect on us. Did porn make Jenna Jameson racist? I can’t say one way or another. But being told that you’re more valuable than someone as a performer because of their color of your skin seems like it is the kind of thing that might start to sink in after a while.

Scared For The Future of My Country

I’ve been stressed. I stopped by Wendy’s earlier and couldn’t finish a medium meal, which is not normal for me. Sleep is hard to come by and in the mornings I’m awake but don’t want to get up.

I lay in bed on my phone talking to friends and trying to avoid the bad news on sites like Reddit or Facebook. I throw on the MBMBAM podcast, but part of the way through I realized I’ve zoned out and don’t know what they’re laughing at. I missed the entirety of the last goof.

Work is surprising in that it is calming. No one really brings up the outside issues there and not many people really talk to me. I kind of like it that way. But the fact of the matter is it’s an election year and the things coming out of this election are causing me to be really afraid for my country.

Think that a few years ago a statement about binders of women or a weird scream was enough to get you flack. I miss the days of Bush and Romney when I look at the candidate that people have chosen to support.

There’s such an undercurrent of hatred in this election and the odd thing is that the guy stirring it up is somehow saying he’s the victim. He’s calling Mexicans rapists and bragging about sexual assault. He’s saying he wants to bring back unconstitutional stop and frisk laws and that he wants to default on our debt (which puts the world economy at risk). He’s asking why we don’t use nukes more often.

Notice I didn’t cite any of that. Mostly because it doesn’t matter. I’m on a phone and I won’t waste my time making the buggy copy paste system work for people who either know all that already or refuse to believe it. Even though it’s fact. It’s recorded that Trump has said these things; we’ve become anti-fact.

And the thing is what he’s taken advantage of scares me as much as Trump, because it will continue win or lose. There’s not really a chance for a conversation with people who are threatening to commit acts of terror against foreigners or “grab their musket” if they don’t get their way.

I’m thinking maybe America isn’t the place for me and a lot of people seem to not want people like me here. I’m thinking maybe this doesn’t get better after this.

Since people question my personhood still of ponder the idea of women not being able to vote can we really even say that we tried?

Why Media Matters (but it’s really very little to do with media)

The typical nerd pursuits have seen their universes shaken up a lot over the last few years. It’s not all been bad, but there’s a lot of push back against the changes. The Hugo Awards drama has driven a world between the writing world. Video games have seen a virtual war between a more progressive side and a kind of old guard. Comic books have suffered numerous issues with the inclusion of minorities and women and the hiccups that these changes cause. Media in general has been shaken up when it comes to race, sexual orientation and gender.

Exhibit A: Captain America fucking up the day of some criminals while flying

These aren’t the most important subjects in the world.

Baltimore is has been the stage for riots for the last few days. There’s an election coming over the horizon. The Middle East is still on fire.

And yet I can’t stop coming back to these things because they’re in my life everyday. I’ve grown to appreciate comic books and I grew up with video games and fantasy fiction. They’re a part of who I am, but not who I am. For so many people these things are an integral part of their person and that’s why passionate fights come out of the changes.

This has been written about extensively from both sides of all issues. If your mind is already made up one way or another I’m not going to be able to change it, but I land firmly on the side of the progressive in every case. Companies have realized that appealing to a wider audience can get them the big bucks and doesn’t have to be hokey or pandering. What’s wrong with that?

I’ve been black my whole life. It’s not the kind of thing you can wake up one day and realize or suddenly become, but I haven’t always understood why women had issues with being seen in a sexual light or why gays deserved any rights. When you come from a state like Texas it’s easy to get inundated with the culture. It’s really in all American culture. You don’t understand why the poor don’t just “get a job and work harder” and maybe you think “sexual harassment is something cooked up by women to give them an excuse to get special treatment”.

These things are baked into the clay we’re molded from and it’s hard to chip away at that mindset. A kind of cognitive dissonance is at play too. Being black and thinking that I deserve to be afforded the same rights as anyone else while not thinking the same about women or gays requires a little bit of mental gymnastics. We think of ourselves ahead of others. We consider our own problems first.

We get mad at women because we feel like they owe us their bodies and their time simply because we exist and we’re asking for it. We feel like gays are different or without God and therefore should be looked at as subhuman.

It’s hard to remember when the switch clicked in my head. I remember the steps to get there: reading testimonials by women who had been looked at like juicy steaks their whole lives and felt up by men they trusted. Or getting so angry at a friend who I claimed to be in love with when she didn’t return my affection that I cut her out of my life. Or finding out how many women I cared about and knew for years had stories of sexual assault. Or getting to know gays as people and finding out people I knew were gay and there was nothing wrong with them. It didn’t make me feel any different about or around them.

I’d say it’s maturity and growing up, but then there are those twice my age with the mindset I had at sixteen. And it’s easy to slip back into the old habit of thinking badly about someone solely because they’re different than you.

The culture around us is built on a foundation of cultures from all over the world and attitudes and mores that are centuries old shape the world we live in. Even when you’ve realized the truth, you’re immersed in the lie and it’s hard to keep believing.

That’s where the comic books, video games and other media come in. Media is often our first interactions with some things. We see Asians on television and we figure they must all be like that; it’s easy to think that people are like the races in Lord of the Ring. Well, it’s easy to think that about people who aren’t like you. All blacks are athletic, love watermelon and crime. Asians are bad with women, but good at math and science. Hispanics are somehow both hard working and lazy. Liberals are degenerates who hate America. Conservatives are sexist bigots who love war. Gays are fashionable, nosey and annoying. Women are bad at math and emotional. Feminists are man hating lesbians.

I can go on like this all day.

For a long time we’ve seen these things played out in media. We’ve had them hammered into our heads in print and seen them run their course on the screen. The country has only started to come around from a lot of the older ones in the last one hundred years or so and it’s been a slow battle. The progressive attitude toward characterization of the “other” in media has got to grow up, because it’s where a lot of the kids being born now will get their first taste of the world out there and where a lot of us reinforce our worst fears and best realizations about people.

These groups aren’t homogenized. I know a woman who is a math genius. I know a Conservative guy who let me borrow gas money when I needed and has a teen daughter that he dotes on and used to bring to play Dungeons and Dragons with us. I know a really hood black guy that loves his comics and treats women with the utmost respect. I have a gay cousin that loves him some Jesus and I have women who are among my best friends…the whole point to this rant is that we don’t need to take what people are as who they are or all they are.

Bad people exist in every group, but there’s a lot of good out there and if we just stopped being so quick to judge we’d probably see more of it.

Now, I promise I haven’t smoked anything and I’m not drunk. I’m just as guilty as anyone else of making the mistake of pointing to a whole group as bad as anyone else. And to me this whole battle over media culture is bigger than the characters and fandoms housed inside of that culture. We need to all work for that.

I don’t think I’ll change any minds, but I hope I do.

No Right Answer

Politics at this point seems to be little more than an attempt to score points in a war, rather than a means to achieving actual goals. Criticism was aimed at the American President for not going overseas to what was basically a photo op in France. Never mind that we’ve stood by the French in basically every major war that they’ve needed us in for recent history or that we’re going to stand by them now. This is somehow our fault. The fact that terrorists attacked one of the world’s oldest cities and that we weren’t there to take pictures in the aftermath.

The thing that really bothers me about all of this is that if the President had gone one of two things would have happened—this would have been treated as a non-issue or something not worth his time or it would have erupted into a debate about how the President postures himself and shows up to take photos and look popular. We’ve been with this guy for seven years and it’s like he can’t win.

Gas prices are down, unemployment’s down, the world looks at us a lot better than they did when we were starting wars in any country where we saw too many guys with facial hair and turbans and yet some of the stuff that has happened on Obama’s watch has damaged the country. The release of the terror report, despite the fact that it needed to be done, didn’t make us look any better. The Snowden stuff a few years ago was similar, although the Snowden thing, I still maintain, can’t be blamed on the White House and shouldn’t have been allowed to happen. It crippled out intelligence agencies and the trust that we place in them, but now we’re looking at corpses in France, a dead police officer who was doing their job bravely and more criticism being leveled at the fall out from the Iraq War that has become the Arab Spring.

I don’t hate France. I don’t think they’re not our ally or that we don’t need to stand by them, I just think there’s more important things to worry about than photo ops and I think that if he had gone, people who are so critical of him now would have agreed with me. Twenty-four hour news channels have got a knack for inventing crisis. They’ve made it their work to turn everything into a scandal. The IRS thing a few years ago where despite all the whining by GOP related entities, more Democratic ones were flagged. The whole Benghazi thing, which anyone with half of a brain knew was nothing. The handling of Super Storm Sandy, which was a storm—we don’t have a weather machine.

I’m ranting now when I should be wrapping this up, but we’ve only got a year of this president left really and when that’s over I don’t know what’s going to happen to the next President. Maybe this is how we end where we just fall into an endless cycle of our leaders being unable to make changes or be respected—or maybe we end up in a position to realize that we can’t do that and we pick up after this and somewhere down the line in ten or twenty years there’s a reform of thought and education so that people understand what’s actually happening around them and don’t just bounce from crisis to crisis.

I doubt it though.

Internet Nostalgia

Has the wide spread of social media made us less social? It used to be that on the internet you could go into chat rooms and strike up a conversation with random people or join a forum and there would be thousands of other members posting nearly daily. These things are still somewhat possible, but it seems that since everyone you know has an email and Facebook account that people are less likely to seek out those that they don’t know and try to converse with them.

This just came to me the other day, but even with the advent of things like Twitter actual chat-like conversation with more than one person becomes difficult or even sluggish, it’s almost a regression from the chat rooms of old; the IRCs, MSN and Yahoo chats—most of which have died off.

Microsoft has traded the functionality, fun and customizable sleek look of their Windows Live Messenger client for the dismal look of Skype. Many of the features that we have enjoyed in Live Messenger and MSN Messenger before that are gone and replaced with a uniform look, un-customizable emoticons and fonts and more video chat features that not many people seem to use if there’s no need.

Surely these things died out because of a lack of use, Yahoo chat rooms a few years back seemed to be exclusively populated by ad bots. People used to go on them or AOL hoping to make connections (sometimes love connections), but there’s no need. Anyone you’ve ever known is probably on Facebook and people would rather try and reconnect with old friends than make new ones.

For a time even Facebook was a good way to meet new people, but this changed around the time they opened it to high school students and the public at large. There were no longer those random “let’s meet for coffee” messages because the site was much bigger than you campus and we weren’t always just connected through friends.

Now there are some things out there that pride themselves on meeting random people like Chat Roulette, but usually no permanent connections come from it. I have friends I’ve known over a decade that I’ve never met in person, people who live across the country or world who have actually shaped the things I’ve done and the choices I’ve made. One of the biggest was probably Juliet Singleton and her influence on my decision to write.

There used to be such an adventurous way about the internet, which is odd consider that in the late 90s people still seemed to consider the chat room surfer to be someone to be socially ostracized. Back then you didn’t have to have a perfect connection with someone to be friends, a lot of the time you learned that even without surface level things in common there’s still something there. And those kind of friends really make for the best discussion.

I doubt that the internet will ever swing back that way and I’m sure I’ll always miss it.