It Always Comes Back to Porn

Bloggified by Jake on Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tate Hemlock, the guy who works at a desk just outside my office and whom I was going to refer to as "the guy at work" until he found out I was writing this and asked that I mention him by name, controls the iTunes for our office. How this happened is mostly just by coincidence. iTunes was loaded on his computer before it even was "his" computer and when he took over the job from the previous guy, he inherited the role of Atomic Corporate Office DJ.

Unfortunately, Tate listens to a lot of music. He's the kind of guy who can listen to four seconds of a song by some obscure punk band and launch into a story about how it was recorded with a replacement bass player because the regular guy had to attend his little brother's swim meet that afternoon. Being such a music connoisseur, he might be expected to provide some of the greatest playlists you or anyone else can imagine, but--as you may have guess from the "unfortunately" above--that's not the case at all.

There are days I'm almost certain Tate is actively trying to find the worst music ever recorded. In fact, I feel safe declaring exactly that. He actively seeks out song poems and records by bands who recorded jingles for Ford in the 1960s. He's proud of the fact he's tracked down nine different variations of the "Bewitched" theme (and seven of "The Munsters"), but laments the three others he hasn't yet found. "There's this one they used when they'd come back from commercial in the third season that has more harp than when they came back from commercial in the second season," he'll sadly explain in response to your question of why you've never heard the They Might Be Giants albums you uploaded despite hearing Wesley Willis's "Vampire Bat" and "Oil Express" six times in four days.

But a few evenings ago, as I was putting away dishes with the ever-irritating, high-pitched shrieking "Bay-BEEEEE" of Frank Zappa's "Baby Snakes" echoing in my ears, it occurred to me that I was in no position to judge Tate for his taste in music. His decision to subject everyone else to his music maybe, but I could not fault him for listening to complete shit all day every day.

More and more I find myself dedicating my free time not to things I enjoy, but rather to things that "fascinate" me. Most of the television I watch, from "Brett Michaels: Rock of Love" to "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" to Paula Deen explaining the glory of God to Larry King is anything but enjoyable, yet I can't stop watching. I read plenty of good comics, but I whisper a prayer of thankgiving for the creators of .zip files every time Top Cow sends me a preview of the next issue of Witchblade Takeru Manga. And why the hell did I even open the cover of Spider-Man/Red Sonja?!?! Hell, this blog didn't really take off until I began nitpicking Silver Age Jimmy Olsen books.

It was an old episode of This American Life about artists that opened my eyes. Unlike most episodes, which I find thoroughly enjoyable, "Blame It on Art" pissed me off by focusing on artists, specifically people who churn out shit and blame others for not "getting it."

I came to see a parallel between those artists, music fans like Tate--and in turn comic book fans--and pornography, which isn't too surprising as I generally see a parallel between everything and pornography. I'd been at a loss to explain how someone could purposely seek 17-minute bongo solos or the slurring shouts of a schizophrenic drug addict over the synthesized beat of a Casio keyboard, but then I realized how I could say many of the same things about some of the fetish porn I... um... accidentally stumble across sometimes while innocently searching for bible verses and lyrics to Amy Grant songs.

How does someone reach a point where the only thing that can get him off is watching a girl shove her fist up a horse's butt? Or sitting on balloons and popping them? Or getting an enema and unleashing a shit tempest on a tile wall? The answer is shockingly the same for both porn and music.

Boredom and familiarity.

Most people have their first experience with pornography at a young age, when we're first titillated by the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Fit young women in very little clothing is enough to excite, but the more you look at those tiny pieces of fabric, the more you wonder what is underneath. To this day, I recall every frame of the Making of the Sports Illustrated 25th Anniversary Swimsuit Issue video in which Elle MacPherson was hit from behind by a wave while adjusting her top, exposing her nipples for half a second, as vividly, if not moreso, than I do the births of either of my children.

Further exposure comes with seeing an R-rated movie where some girl exposes her breasts--Animal House on Showtime when I was eight is my first recollection though I also remember the Showtime viewing guide had a page of "After Hours" movies every month which I knew simply as the movies where women showed their boobs--and/or coming across a Playboy that wasn't put away. You see boobs and you like them.

Eventually, topless pictorials wind up featuring one bottomless shot and another door is opened. Films that feature nudity imply sex and others eventually simulate it. That leads to movies where sex is explicit and with the familiarity of each level of porn, boredom will eventually set in and curiosity will be raised about what else is out there.

Now follow the same path with music. First you hear a song on the radio that you like. Eventually you find the album it's from and that leads you to buy other albums by the same artist and eventually albums by other artists of similar styles. The more you listen to, the more likely you are to get bored and seek out new things.

So, just as someone who looks at porn for six hours a day is less likely to find a single exposed breast as stimulating than someone who has a real job, someone who listens to music all day every day since high school is much less likely to go buy Kelly Clarkson's new album.

Thus, as the field of exposure broadens, the focus of interest narrows. The search for something unique takes precedence, and what may appear to be something completely unappealing to an outsider becomes a rare diamond for one aspect, whether it be the prefect way a drummer transitions from one beat to another regardless of how god awful the rest of the band sounds or the dimples on the small of a girl's back as she squats on a bowling pin.

Comic fans who read more and more books every month are more likely to latch onto some piece of crap indie they'll insist their friends read and just like the artists on This American Life, when those friends call the crap "crap," the reply will be an accusation of "not getting it."

Okay, maybe we don't get it. But that doesn't make us wrong. Maybe the reason we don't get it is because there is so little of substance to get. You've just positioned yourself so close to one tree, you can't even see the branches above your head, much less the forest. "Different" and "genius" are not interchangeable terms and just because Copernicus was considered a crackpot in his lifetime doesn't mean a song that features seven minutes of random electronic beeps and funny voices is going to be considered revolutionary in the decades to come.

In short, subjecting us to your crappy music, telling us about your crappy comic, and inviting us to your crappy gallery show are about as rude as setting someone's screen saver to photos from a gay old man orgy, so knock it off and enjoy your crap in peace.

Time for "The Pick-Up Artist"...

0 sarcastic replies:

Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)