Category Archives: Media

Trump vs. Porn

Trump Love Doll.jpg

Pipedream’s Donald Chump Love Doll, available at Amazon.com for $17

Pornographers love Donald Trump. There are already over two dozen erotic e-books, three porn parodies, a blow-up doll, and a butt plug. The ever-growing Trump pornographic oeuvre has been widely ignored in the media, and when it has been noted, it is dismissed as a mere curiosity. It shouldn’t be. Porn may be the only media that can take down Trump. Political satire through sexual means can be a shockingly effective antidote to demagoguery.

To be sure, Trump isn’t the only presidential nominee getting enshrined in sex memorabilia. Hillary Clinton’s likeness has also been placed on butt plugs and blow-up dolls. Sadly, Bernie has only garnered a “Feel the Bern” condom. Trump wins this contest hands down. There is far more pornographic merchandise devoted to Trump than to Clinton, a reflection both of Trump’s oversize personality and the outrage generated by his xenophobic policies.

Using sex to parody politicians is neither new nor uniquely American. Political pornography played a part in the French revolution, helping delegitimize king Louis XV by depicting him with a limp dick. According to historian Robert Darnton, portrayals of Louis XV as impotent “drained him of his charisma and emptied the power from the symbolic apparatus of the monarchy…. Instead of a divine monarch, they spread the idea of a ‘feeble tyrant.’” (165)

While virility was a mark of political strength in France, in America it is the opposite: a sign of weakness. We want our politicians happily married and monogamous. Bill Clinton’s wandering penis got him impeached. Trump’s pride in his sexual conquests and his bragging about the size of his penis are seen as prime evidence that he is unsuitable for the Oval Office. But mainstream media critiques of Trump’s sexual braggadocio have fallen flat. Attacking Trump’s sexual persona requires more suitable media, media as crass, unapologetic and id-driven as he is: the worlds of pornography and novelty sex toys.

So instead of portraying Trump with a flaccid penis the Donald Chump Love Doll  portrays him as perpetually erect. His vinyl penis, although of average size, seems at odds with the doll’s nude, hairless, feminine body. Yet somehow the mismatch seems appropriate, as Trump is made both virile and emasculated at the same time.

But the sex doll is merely an empty vessel for its packaging, where the true political critique occurs. Emblazoned on the box are a series of Trump endorsements from the likes of A. Hitler (“He’s mein kind of guy”) and David Duke. Smaller print lists Stalin, Mussolini and the Ku Klux Klan as Trump supporters. A wall cut-out spray-painted with “No Immigrants” adorns the back of the package. The parody is neither subtle nor sophisticated, but neither is Trump. He is the only presidential candidate whose policies can be fully explained on the back of a blow-up doll package.

Yet only in porn can Trump’s persona be fully taken down. Trump’s xenophobia and misogyny are not cloaked in euphemism, which makes his prejudices perfectly suited for a parody. And in these porn parodies, at least in their trailers, the political critique is front and center, the sex secondary. Consider the trailer for Hustler’s The Donald, which first shows Trump fully clothed, reading Mein Kampf for Dummies. Even when his half-naked female advisors appear, the policy critique continues. Trump proclaims that he is going to “destroy the middle class” by “fucking it hard.” Similarly, Donald Tramp: A XXX Parody focuses more on Trump’s misogyny than the sex, with Trump spouting lines like “I love women—just not the fat and ugly ones.” Even when sex is front and center, the political message is inextricably intertwined with the sex, as in the female-directed Make America Gape Again. In the Gape trailer, the director intersperses footage of Trump’s vitriolic campaign speeches with the key scene of the film: a woman clad in an American flag being gangbanged by five men in Donald Trump masks. The porn may turn you on, but you will never forget it’s a metaphor for Trump’s danger to America.

Although the satire may be crass, the political message is serious. The director of Make America Gape, Maitresse Madeline Marlowe, told adult industry website XBIZ, “We didn’t want to show Trump as a comic figure; we wanted to show him how we see him — as a powerful but frightening force…Of course, the truly scary thing has been his rise to power. Even a five-person gangbang can’t compete with that. At least a gangbang is consensual.” And the producer of The Donald is Hustler founder and free-speech activist Larry Flynt, who has compared Trump to Mussolini.

Pornography can be a more effective media to critique Trump than a “serious” news source. Like Trump, pornography is assertive, loud, and appeals unapologetically to basic human drives. His policies are driven by emotion, not logic. They are grounded in our base emotions: fear and a desire for safety. This is why serious critiques that wonkily parse Trump’s policies fall flat. They can only be properly critiqued in a format that is also based in reptilian emotions: pornography. You may not like pornography, but it may be the only thing standing between us and Trump for president. Thank God the First Amendment protects this form of speech. That’s what really makes America great.

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Terrorist Porn

Time magazine's Boston Marathon coverage shown above. http://nation.time.com/2013/04/15/boston-marathon-explosion-gallery/

Time magazine’s Boston Marathon coverage shown above. http://nation.time.com/2013/04/15/boston-marathon-explosion-gallery/

“Warning- Horrific Images From Boston Marathon Blast” screams just one of the 1.6 million results from a routine YouTube search on the Boston Marathon attacks. Graphic. Disturbing. Chilling. Bloody. These words pepper the coverage of the bombing, enticing our reptilian brains that are wired to respond to sex and death. Gruesome photos of runners with legs blown off and tendons dangling like jellyfish are all over news sites, along with photos of victims lying in pools of blood as bystanders helplessly look on. While publishing some horrific images is necessary to convey the magnitude of this tragedy, these photos aren’t just serving to inform the public or to bring the community together. They are fulfilling our sadistic urges.

This disaster coverage frequently devolves into “terrorist porn,” as On The Media referred to it in their most recent podcast. Terrorist porn is news that is stops informing and instead fills our screens with never-ending loops of destruction.  It happened after 9/11 with repeated images of planes slamming into buildings, and also during the tsunami, with TV news obsessively airing the crashing waves. But unlike run-of-the-mill pornography, terrorist porn is splashed across the front pages of CNN, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post, under the rubric of informing the public. This sadistic impulse is sanctioned by American culture, becoming so routine as to be quotidian, which begs the question: why are we so comfortable displaying unjustified images of death and violence in our news media and so uncomfortable with sexual imagery?

The phrase “terrorist porn” is apt, because the similarities to sexual porn are numerous. Both are disseminated and consumed in a similar way. The images frequently consist of decontextualized, graphic close-ups of body parts covered in bodily fluids, which are shown in endless loops. There’s usually no narrative, or if there is one, it’s merely an afterthought, a means to delay satisfaction, to increase the payoff when the desired images are finally shown. The CNN Slideshow: Deadly Attack at Boston is a prime example, as it intersperses wide shots of the explosions with close-ups of things like people’s feet covered in blood. Continue reading

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Why We Need Taboos

taboo
In almost every news story about sex, someone declares that we’ve “broken down the taboo of” a sexual practice or sexual device. Breaking down a taboo is always assumed to be a social good. The implication is that once we break down all the taboos we’ll live in peace and harmony in a mesmerizing sexual utopia. However, not all taboos should be destroyed. Some taboos are needed for our imagined sexual utopia. The problem with our discussion of taboo is our failure to distinguish between types of taboos. We conflate social taboos with sexual taboos. The former needs to be destroyed; the latter needs to be savored.

A social taboo involves shunning those people whose consensual sexual or relationship practices differ from the norm (whatever that happens to be at the time). Social taboos affect groups as wide-ranging as gays and lesbians, the BDSM community, plushophiles, and the happily non-married. This type of taboo can and should be destroyed. Historically, non-procreative sex has always raised suspicion, but we should be enlightened enough in the 21st century not to ostracize people for engaging in sexual acts that make us uncomfortable. What people do with their genitals should be irrelevant to their social status. We’re making a lot of progress on this front. That nine states have legalized gay marriage is a start, but we need to stop thinking in terms of having gays and lesbians conform to heterosexual ideals and actually allow them to make their own space.

In contrast to the social taboo, the sexual taboo should always remain. The sexual taboo is the I’m-doing-something-wrong-and-it-turns-me-on taboo that leads to the eroticism of such practices as anal sex, double penetration, and rim jobs. Because it heightens sexual pleasure, the sexual taboo should never be destroyed. There’s something erotic about violating rules. Sex is dangerous, and there’s no reason we should pretend that it isn’t.  The possible complications of sex are serious, from the physical—unwanted pregnancies and STDs—to the emotional—soul-crushing blows to self-esteem and unshakeable heartbreak.  Of course the possible benefits outweigh the risks: sex can bring you the most acute pleasure that the human body is capable of. And, there’s a particular euphoria between two people that can only come from a sexual relationship. The taboo that says that sex is dirty needs to stay. It is this taboo that brings us love and happiness. Continue reading

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