Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sex, Deal with It

I missed the Adam Lambert mock fellatio on the American Music Awards.  I don't believe I have ever seen an animated image of Lambert or even heard his voice, since I have never watched three consecutive seconds of American Idol or, apparently, anything else he's been on.

I understand that he's gay, so the stunt is considerably less astounding to me than if John Mayer had done the same thing.  I understand also that he performed the simulation on a stage, where a good many things are simulated but not actually done, and it's not my understanding that Lambert intends to take this act to the school playground or Chuck E Cheese's.

I also understand that the outrage over the stunt (1,500 complaints, sheesh) is less than that over Elvis Presley's hip thrusting on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956 or Janet Jackson's Superbowl XXXVIII wardrobe malfunction in 2004.

What I don't understand is why it (any of it) matters.

Elizabeth Hasselbeck says, so goes a report I just read the headlines to, that Lambert is "sexually aggressive."  I know vaguely who Hasselbeck is.  My point is that any rock or pop performer worth half of his or her salt is sexually aggressive, even Miley Cyrus did a pole dance on this summer's Teen Choice Awards, and to make a fuss about it simply puts one into the category of losers who have made stars out of a few lucky entertainers by getting their panties in a knot over something that says less about the so-called erosion of values in our nation than underpaying hourly-wage workers does.

Of course, for people like Hasselbeck, I suspect the bad word here is "sexually."  "Religiously aggressive," "economically aggressive," "politically aggressive," or "athletically aggressive" would not be as stinging to their sensitive scruples.  Just like "sexual abuse" counts for more than the "abuse of the jobless," unless of course "sexual" is silently implied here.

For instance, "child abuse" only riles people up when "sex" is directly mentioned or strongly implied.  Teaching a child that he or she may be at risk of losing his or her soul and spending eternity in unquenchable flames with the devil and all his minions is, somehow, not really child abuse.  Even hitting a child is not necessarily child abuse, unless of course the child is being struck by a dildo or a rolled-up issue of the A+F Quarterly.  I suppose subjecting children to two and a half hours of the Ice Capades would not qualify either.

Sexuality is distasteful for a lot of people, particularly Americans, in ways that war, poverty, injustice, privilege, greed, and intolerance are not.  This is why a blowjob in the Oval Office can get a President impeached while lying about small potatoes, like the threat of renewed terrorist attacks with weapons of mass destruction, cannot.

You would think that the devil himself invented sex, and I don't doubt there are some simpletons who believe just that.  Almost certainly the devil invented masturbation and homosexuality, which would be reason enough to make him at long last a saint, given the millions whose lives have been enriched by hot sweaty man-on-man action over the course of human history.

Why are Americans so finicky over the question of sex?  Puritans, some people say.  But that doesn't explain why people in the nineteenth century (the goddamned "Victorian Era," for fuck's sake) were comparably more open about such things, with legal brothels in every town of any size across the whole USA, North, South, East, and West.  Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass is far racier than Allen Ginsberg's Howl, which was banned and tried in court as porn.  Whitman's poems did stir up a little bit of controversy back when they first appeared, but nothing compared to what they would have stirred had they debuted in the 1950s or, I'd wager, in the 2000s.

Besides, Andrew Marvell, a Puritan, wrote "To His Coy Mistress," in which he complains to his lady friend about her reluctance to do the nasty with him, during or just before the Interregnum, when Puritans controlled England and banned Christmas and sports on Sunday as too worldly, never dreaming that sex was anything but a gift from God.

I see the twentieth century's preoccupation with and condemnation of sex as an attempt to control people not through overt slavery or despotism but through guilt over their bodies.  It's an attack on the so-called pleasure principle, which works against the enforced workaholism of the factory system and the obsessive consumerism of our media- and credit-saturated society.

Sex is free, usually.  Even poor people can entertain themselves with sex.  But no corporation is enriched through sex, and sex is a distraction to keeping one's nose to the grindstone and shoulder to the wheel in order to fatten stockholders' portfolios.  Keep workers busy, not randy.

So Adam Lambert pretending to do something sexual on a stage is a bad bad thing, in a way that charging a $40 overdraft fee or denying coverage for pre-existing illnesses is not a bad thing at all.

So much for American values.

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