For the past year and a half I’ve been fighting the Orland Park Public Library, trying to get them to stop allowing men to access porn — and even child porn — on library computers (they even permit public masturbation!). To date, not one man has come forward at a board meeting or in the press to say, “I want porn in the library! Don’t take my favorite pastime from me!” The reason is clear. No one thinks it’s okay to watch porn in the library, including the guys who do it. Still, libraries across the country continue to allow it and men continue to watch porn at public libraries. Since I’ve never been afforded the opportunity to talk to one of these creeps, I thought maybe I could get some of them to respond to an open letter of sorts. Here are 7 questions I have for guys who watch porn at the library:
1. What do you think this is? An adult bookstore?
One of my all time favorite Cleveland reporters, Carl Monday, loves to sneak up on guys watching porn in the public library and shout at them, “Where do you think you are? An adult bookstore?” Honestly, the question needs to be asked. There are places designated for guys to go and watch porn — and even to masturbate. They’re called porn shops and adult theaters. (Actually, I think they arrest guys caught masturbating there…so what does it say when porn shops call the cops on fondlers but a library refuses to do so?) On what planet is it okay to watch X- rated material — out in the open — in a public area where children are present and then to take your penis out and play with it? Seriously, I ask you … WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? Have you no sense of shame?
2. Does your mother know you do this?
Everyone has a mother, even the library pervert. Does she know you do this? Better yet, what’s her name because I want to look her up and have a conversation with her about what you are doing. Do you know you are shaming your mother? Do you care?
What do you think of selfies? Wholly negative? Wholly positive? A mix of good and bad? A recent article tell us:
Earlier this year, a pair of researchers at The Ohio State University published their investigation into the relationship between taking selfies and the undesirable psychological traits of narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism, or a penchant for manipulation. The study analyzed the social media habits and personalities of 1,000 men between the ages of 18 and 40.
The results were what you might have expected: the study demonstrated a relationship between posting lots of selfies and psychopathic and narcissistic traits. Not all selfie-posters are narcissists, but the latter are prone to using selfies as a tool of their self-obsessed personalities. Yawn. I suppose, for the sake of thoroughness, some things just have to be formalized in studies, even though we can already figure out the answers a priori.
Selfie supporters don’t deny that the practice can be self-indulgent, but they highlight how the photographs increase the likelihood for personal connection in an age where social interactions predominantly occur online, as reporter Jenna Wortham did in a piece for The New York Times.
“It’s far too simplistic to write off the selfie phenomenon,” she wrote. “Receiving a photo of the face of the person you’re talking to brings back the human element of the interaction, which is easily misplaced if the interaction is primarily text-based.”
Selfies did not cause the phenomenon of the purely Internet-based relationship. Those were around before selfies became common. (I believe such relationships started during the age of AOL Instant Messenger and got worse from there.) In my experience, most selfies are not sent to an interlocutor directly, but posted passively on social media profiles. When the recipient is a specific somebody, selfies can enhance the humanness and intimacy of an online encounter. When the recipient is “everyone,” however, I think this is where the narcissism comes into play.
In the second season premiere of HBO’s pro-guy, pro-small business, pro-capitalist genius of a counterculture conservative comedy Silicon Valley, the guys once again incorporate a sexual metaphor into their business strategy: negging. Negging is a method by which you insult someone in order to get your sexual desires fulfilled. Twisted? Yes. A functional strategy in a certain sphere of sexual culture? Absolutely.
And it works on the Internet as well.
Before you dismiss those who neg as perverts, keep in mind that negative, provocative, reactionary content drives the majority of clicks on the Internet. Case in point, my colleague Robert Wargas’s latest commentary: How Long Does America Have? His primary evidence that we’re in self-destruct? Baltimore riots, yet another media-fed frenzy that would die down if mothers like this one were more connected to their children than they are to the endless stream of panic-consciousness coming through mainstream and social media outlets.
Those riots, like the ones that turned Ferguson into Gaza, thrive off negging (what Ed Driscoll ironically refers to as “riot porn“). As does Wargas’s second piece of evidence involving Christian bakers, the gay mafia and a crowdsourcing site who my colleague Paula Boylard referred to as “jackbooted fascists” who “won’t be happy until all Christians are in ghettos.” So, a crowdfunding site cut off a fundraiser for someone you support. Whatever happened to bypassing the website and sending them a check directly? But the point of the thing isn’t to give the couple financial support, it’s the negging, feeding the idea that someone hates someone else and therefore the country is obviously going down in flames.
Why are Millennials “the poorest generation in 25 years”? Because their parents neg them, of course. According to S.E. Smith, “everyone loves to hate on millennials” and they have the Internet quotes to prove it. Millennials aren’t just despised on the Internet, they’re despised because of their attachment to the Internet. When analysts aren’t ragging on websites, parents are ragging on their Millennial kids for wasting too much time online. So much for the value of social networking.
Thanks to the relentless negging on the Internet there are entire movements devoted to disconnecting from virtual reality. Often referred to as “slow” movements (i.e. slow food, slow fashion) they’re usually dismissed as hippie garbage until they’re given more scientific twists, as in the new Positive Psychology, or spiritual ones as in the case of the mindfulness movement. Apps have been created to help you join in the social media detox craze.
Think they’re crazy? The rates of ADHD diagnoses among children ages 4-17 have gone up a steady 5% every year from 2003 to 2011. A full 20% of the US college population now has ADHD. The simple math tells you that these kids were born into the Internet age, and its more than the speed that boggles their minds. “Impulsivity” and “depression” plague them as well. Surfing the net at fiber optic speeds, it’s easy to figure out why: Even the most popular kitty is a grumpy one.
According to Urban Dictionary, negging consists of “low-grade insults meant to undermine the self-confidence of a woman so she might be more vulnerable to your advances.” In other words, work hard enough to make someone feel worthless and eventually they’ll not only believe you, they’ll become dependent upon you for emotional support. Key word being “dependent,” a.k.a. everything a Constitution-loving, Declaration of Independence-touting American should work at great lengths to avoid. The “distended orgy” of which Wargas writes does exist …on the Internet. And gleefully so! The question is, if we stop feeding the beast will it cease to be a threat to our civilization? That would require the opposite of disconnect. It would mean connecting for a cause greater than negging one another on. And perhaps that is our greatest challenge of all.
Actor Rob James-Collier plays the evil butler Thomas on Downton Abbey, but in real life he must be quite the sweetie. He wrote and shot an entire Downton/Star Wars mashup on his iPhone in order to raise money for MS research. Episode One is available for free, but to watch more you have to donate to his cause at evilbutler.com.
What makes the idea so genius, apart from it being a mash-up of two mega-hits produced by a big star? Quite frankly, it’s funny. It’s also a bit nostalgic for us Gen-X/Millennial crossovers who spent their weekends making camcorder movies with friends. To his credit, James-Collier made the most of his pocket digital technology, even being sure to hold the camera correctly to avoid that awful Apple-trademarked rectangle framing that drives any film aficionado mad. Be sure to watch for the occasional boom mic or PA dropping into frame. The off-camera giggles are a great reminder that Thomas is really a fun guy after all. And, in the end, it’s quite the cute handcrafted production, offering fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the sets and the actors spoofing a beloved pop culture sensation, just like one of us.
Across the pond, my friend Damian Thompson asks in the Daily Mail whether the world’s obsession with Twitter is waning:
The once invincible Twitter doesn’t want to face up to the truth. It’s not just teens and hipsters who are fed up with tweeting. So are middle-class, middle-aged folk who, five years ago, were constantly checking their Twitter feeds during dinner parties.
Why? The novelty has worn off, as you’d expect. Also, Twitter is becoming seriously annoying. For lots of reasons.
Although Twitter is no longer cool, it’s infested with people who think they are.
You know of whom he speaks: the snarky children, the self-proclaimed experts, the slander-mongers, the faceless hacks, flaks, and partisans. In other words, Twitter.
Even more galling, Damian writes, is that Twitter is a perpetual outrage machine that can and has had devastating effects on people’s personal lives:
First, there’s that unpleasant plague of anonymous and cowardly people who use Twitter to malevolently troll their enemies.
Such abuse can be deeply distressing — carried out in a way that the troll wouldn’t do in their everyday ‘real’ lives. Indeed, in some, rare cases, it can lead to self-harm or suicide — particularly if children are targeted.
The tendency toward cruelty and abuse, what I like to call “Internet-induced psychopathy,” is a function of several things. One is that the increasingly totalitarian nature of “social” media forces people to become witch-hunters. Since the masses have proved that they can use “social” media to destroy lives, people are always on the offensive to throw the mob’s attention away from themselves and onto other people. Hence the ceaseless accusations of “racism,” “sexism,” etc.: people are constantly trying to “prove” themselves worthy of acceptance into Polite Society so that they won’t be cast off into the hinterlands.
Twitter turns people’s lives into a constant game of electronic asymmetric warfare. Uttering an unapproved opinion on Twitter can lead to mob-induced unemployment, among other things. Is it worth it? Not to me. It’s fun to chat a bit and debate and to advertise your own writing and such, but I hope we will eventually move away from this tool of real-time social destruction.
Jerry Seinfeld recently called YouTube “a giant garbage can [...] for user-generated content.”
I can’t fault him for saying this. In this narcissistic age, YouTube is just one of the many receptacles of vanity available to the demos.
That said, Seinfeld’s comment is ultimately inaccurate. I think it’s useful to think of YouTube not as a garbage can but as a flea market. Flea markets are full of junk whose owners think it worthwhile enough to attempt to sell to the general public. Most of the stuff is worth only a quick glance and a shrug or a scoff. But there are also little treasures to be found—things that are available quite literally nowhere else on the planet.
Consider all the things you’ve searched for, and found, on YouTube. Now consider where else you would have been able to find them absent YouTube. Nowhere. Well, perhaps somewhere, but not without onerous searching, waiting, and probably paying.
Old debates? Documentaries? Tutorials on fly fishing? Old episodes of Miami Vice? That boxing match from 1992? That cartoon you watched as a kid? Winston Churchill speeches? Phil Collins singing at Live Aid? You found it all on YouTube.
Now play the same game, but with the Internet in general. I’ll wait….
Andrew Sullivan, of whose posturing and pettiness I’ve been critical in the past, retired from blogging in January, citing burnout and health problems.
In a recent interview, Sullivan described in starker detail how constant blogging (up to 40 posts a day) destroyed his health and personal life:
“The truth is, I had to stop primarily because it was killing me,” Sullivan said Sunday night at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan. “I used to joke that if blogging does kill someone, I would be the first to find out.”
Sullivan also described the “dehumanizing” aspect of ceaseless online commentary:
“I spent a decade of my life, spending around seven hours a day in intimate conversation with around 70,000 to 100,000 people every day,” Sullivan said. “And inevitably, for those seven hours or more, I was not spending time with any actual human being, with a face and a body and a mind and a soul.”
I don’t blame the guy for leaving, and I wish him well in a life away from the often soul-wrending glow of the computer screen.
What Sullivan is describing is something all of us in 2015 face to some degree: with our lives increasingly synced and integrated with electronic online devices, there is a constant need to be “on,” in the moment, all the time… but not with any real people. This is exhausting, in a way that interaction with actual humans is not.
When I first read the Sullivan interview, I laughed a bit when he said that blogging was killing him. After some reflection, I do think it could happen.
Being somewhat of a foodie of the kosher variety, I find the online review service Yelp indispensable when choosing where to eat. To be fair to restaurants, Jews can be somewhat discerning (read: picky and somewhat cranky); thus no restaurant I’ve ever read the reviews of totally came off smelling like roses. The best reviews on these kosher restaurants, though, are not from Jews, but from non-Jews who accidentally stumble upon kosher restaurants and all of their quirks. To keep kosher means to abide by certain rules of the Jewish faith. For the purpose of this post, it’s only necessary to lay out those which apply in restaurants:
Milk and meat are separate: In reality, this means in a kosher restaurant they only serve meat or dairy, never both. If you order a cheeseburger in a kosher restaurant, one of the items is a “fake” — either the burger is made of vegetables or the cheese is made of soy.
No pork or shellfish: If you’re looking for a shrimp scampi or bacon, you’ve come to the wrong place if you’ve chosen to eat in a kosher restaurant.
There are a lot of Jews: You would think this goes without saying, but in a kosher restaurant, you will find yourself among a lot of religious Jews. Observant Jews are only able to eat in kosher restaurants, which are not nearly as numerous as non-kosher; thus, when choosing a place to eat, Orthodox Jews tend to come in groups as there are few options to choose from.
1. House of Dog in Boca Raton, Florida
It’s somewhat incredible that someone can live among so many Orthodox Jews in Boca Raton and be completely ignorant of what Orthodox Judaism is, and what it entails, but this woman has managed the impossible. I recently visited House of Dog and the menu now has small notes on it to indicate that the bacon isn’t really bacon and that the cheese isn’t really cheese. I shared this review with my husband and we laughed, wondering if the menu was altered because of people like this woman. Outside of what appears to be some latent anti-Semitism on her part, I was also confused when I first saw the House of Dog menu, wondering if it was actually kosher because cheese and bacon were listed without any clarification.
A few weeks ago, the potty-mouthed princesses came to the Internet. The pro-LGBT equality, anti-racism and anti-sexism advocacy group FCKH8 used the young girls to shock us out of our supposed reverie over our hateful ways. The little girls used the sassy black women stereotype (watch their body language, head bobs and all. I was surprised the cultural-appropriation guardians didn’t denounce it for that reason alone) and dropped f-bombs among repeatedly debunked facts.
As Julie Borowski asked in a parody video, “What’s more offensive? Having little girls drop f-bombs for shock value or using the same debunked facts over and over?”
The potty-mouth princesses have returned, this time to drop f-bombs on domestic violence. This new video is even more offensive than the first video, both for makeup and its stereotyping of men.
Monday, November 17th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
This past week a group of scientists from the European Space Agency landed a spaceship on a comet. Contemporary feminists commented on the happening, but not for the reason you’d think. Screw science. One of the guys on the team talked about the major breakthrough in an on-the-spot interview while wearing a shirt with barely-clad, busty women brandishing guns. Social media chaos ensued. The scientist cried out an apology over the Internet. Apparently the rather clever hashtag #shirtstorm is the real reason why Obama cancelled the space program.
And you wonder why Lana Del Rey would rather spend her time talking about Space-X and Tesla instead of associating herself with the pioneering movement for women that has turned into a forum for Dunham-lovingyuppie nags. Celebrities are distancing themselves from the f-word because so-called feminists think the greatest thing they can do for womankind is to complain about a scientist’s tacky shirt. I’m sure that really inspired a teenage girl out there to forego joining ISIS and join in the fight against… dudes bearing busty broads?
Most things are not public policy issues, yet get turned into such. Obama’s letter is purely about taking a thriving enterprise — our wild and wonderful Internet — and turning it into a public utility (the legalistic details behind the scenes involve a “reclassification” of up-until-now free Internet services as a public utility).
Google, Yahoo, and the world of media are synergistic with service providers, and each is moving into the other’s territory in ways that foretell that none will escape this new regulatory regime. ISPs will holler today, but they’d all best beware.
It is irksome when politicians take credit for the creations of others, and set “rules” for the future that assure political involvement in what should be liberalized, non-politicized industries.
Microsoft spent the ’90s being proud of the fact that they never “paid to play” with Washington — and got whacked with an antitrust suit from which the company never recovered.
Some of you were probably too busy voting Democrats out of office to notice that a terrific new trailer for the Haunting Melissasequel came out on YouTube last week. HM was director Neal Edelstein’s innovative ghost-movie-in-an-app that climbed the App Store bestseller list in 2013. The script to that film was by your humble correspondent as is the script to the sequel, Dark Hearts: The Secret of Haunting Melissa, which is due out later this month:
Adam Sandler has had his ups and downs, but in his early films his lost little kid act was inspired. The way the title character makes the world around him adapt to his skills (he’s a hockey player whose slap-shot style makes him a strangely gifted golfer, and he needs to win a tournament to save his grandma’s house) neatly jibes with how Sandler nudged Hollywood comedy to accommodate his peculiar persona. And who else would have been willing to fistfight Bob Barker?
I was very shocked at just how effective, funny and likable this sitcom was. Starring Zooey Deschanel as a perky, klutzy young woman moving in with three guys, the show has a sense of lightness and Deschanel is immensely sympathetic and entertaining. I don’t really watch sitcoms these days, but New Girl is done so well and is so consistently funny episode-to-episode that it’s worth checking out.
I suppose in one sense, Netflix serves the same purpose as Facebook: perpetual high school reunion and never-ending nostalgia fests, reminders of a time before adulthood and the weight of responsibilities.
Nowadays when I go back and watch some film that was fun or memorable from childhood or adolescence I tend to see it more from the parents’ perspective, relating to those characters, rather than the kids. I wonder how Honey, I Shrunk the Kids will hold up when rewatching it. Rather than experiencing it as a child wandering through the grass and inner-tubing in a cheerio, I’ll consider it as the father searching for his lost children…
I think it’s with Amish Mafia that the “reality TV” trend jumped the shark. It was at this point that premises for shows had to start becoming so outlandish and ridiculous that viewers could no longer be expected to put up with the charade that they’re watching something “real.” With Amish Mafia the show has to be upfront about the fact that the footage is all actually “reenactments.” It’s the TV version of non-alcoholic beer.
The show’s amusing novelty — hearing the Pennsylvania Dutch spoken by some Amish subtitled and saying thuggish things — wears off quick.
Actually, the debate should be whether PJ Media has “jumped the shark” by giving Mr. Swindle the opportunity to post cute dog photos. What’s next–PJ LOL Cats?
Ask and you shall receive. We’re now taking suggestions for any other PJ Lifestyle ____ bylines in the style of Music at Midnight, Cartoon at Noon, Sunshine and our Cute Animal Videos to start organizing the best of internet memes and viral videos by categories.
Thursday, May 29th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates!
In partnership with the new fiction publishing platform Liberty Island, PJ Lifestyle is going to begin promoting and co-hosting a series of debates and discussions about popular culture. The goal is to figure out what works and what doesn’t so that in the future we can promote and create better fiction and culture of our own. These are public brainstorming sessions for writers and culture advocates interested in developing a more vibrant popular culture. You’re invited to submit your answers to any of these questions — or a related one of your own! — that interests you:
Networks are adjusting to the changed world of how people watch their programs: hours or weeks later on DVR, online or on-demand. But the industry’s financial structure hasn’t caught up yet, so viewers who watch when a program is first aired – once the only way to watch – are considered more valuable.
That’s why Fox is putting on a live production of “Grease” and NBC is remaking “The Music Man.” Fox is recreating an Evel Knievel motorcycle jump. ABC touts its Oscars telecast and other awards shows. NBC locked up Olympics rights through 2032, and CBS won a bidding war to show NFL football on Thursday night.
Sports usually gets little or no attention in network sales pitches to advertisers. Not this year. ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox all gave sports a starring role. Why? Very few people DVR sports events.
ABC made the point explicit with a message on a wide video screen: “Your DVR can’t handle live.”
“We’re obsessed with trying to eventize everything we can – even episodes of our scripted shows,” said Robert Greenblatt, NBC’s entertainment chief.
“It’s about the urgency to view,” said Fox’s Kevin Reilly.
When Lucy and Desi went live to tape in the 1950s, the audience revolved around the celebrity’s schedule. Now, with the power of recording in the hands of the viewers, the networks are scrambling to get their celebrities ready for something TV actors haven’t needed to do in a long time: Go live.
Reality TV changed the way networks styled television in the early 2000s. Now, social media is changing the way networks market their product. Being a part of the “cultural conversation” is paramount; unfortunately, it also means a steady diet of imitation and near-naked chicks, as Bauder’s quick quiz illustrates:
Which of the following lines was NOT uttered at a network presentation last week:
A) “A lot of people called `Battlestar Galactica’ one of the best shows ever.”
B) “This series is `Game of Thrones’ meets `The Borgias’ meets `The Bible.’”
C) “We have two hours of bloody, sexy drama.”
D) “Some of our new shows will disappear before you even realize they’re on the air.”
If you answered anything other than D, then you have something to learn about the atmosphere of hype and hope that accompanies this week every year.
Can the Big Three really compete with streaming services like Netflix who are willing to invest in original programming and dish it out in an a la carte fashion? Or, will the thrill and nostalgia of live television force even the most radical of new service providers to push the Internet to its streaming capacity?
Recent surveys highlight the fact that seniors lag behind the younger generation in the adoption and usage of technology. Based on interviews with more than 1500 adults age 65 and over, Pew researchers found they could roughly divide senior citizens into two groups. The first group is “younger, more highly educated, or more affluent.” They are far more technologically connected and demonstrate more positive attitudes toward the benefits of the modern digital world. In fact, this group uses the internet at rates approaching — or even exceeding — the general population. The second group is “older, less affluent, often with significant challenges with health or disability.” They are less connected and more wary of the Brave New World of digital platforms. Internet use drops off dramatically after age 75.
Here are some other facts about seniors and technology use:
1. 59% of Seniors Use the Internet
In 2012, 59% of seniors were internet users, up six percentage points from the previous year. In 2014, 47% of seniors have a high-speed broadband connection at home and 77% have a cell phone (up from 69% in 2012). According to the Brookings Institute, seniors spend most of their time online communicating with friends, shopping, and searching for health information.
Comparing watching television to reading a book sounds ridiculous. Especially to those of us raised in a world where TV watchers are derided as couch potatoes and reading is deemed an enlightened activity. So I’m prepared for bibliophiles and even casual readers will take issue with the title of this post. But technology advancements and the improved sophistication and structure in television programming has turned watching TV into an experience very similar to reading a novel.
As an avid reader and author, it took me a while to fully appreciate this new phenomenon, though I’ve fully embraced it now as a regular video content consumer (see, Justified and Breaking Bad). In other words, I have, finally given into binge watching – the practice of consuming numerous episodes of a TV show in a short period of time. An activity that was once ridiculed, binge watching is now a social norm.
There are four primary factors for the rapid change in the consumption and format of TV programming that led to it resembling a live action novel. Each occurred independently, but combined, created the conditions necessary to set in motion the evolution:
(1) high speed internet made the distribution of large video files relatively easy;
(2) services like Netflix secured licensing deals for TV programs and then efficiently and conveniently allowed users to access the content on their schedule, for their chosen duration and at their preferred location;
(3) an increase in the sophistication of TV programs, which has created a “golden age of television” that is supplanting film as the preferred visual entertainment for adults; and
(4) TV shows transitioning to a chapter format more similar to a novel where individual shows need to be watched in order
These factors have combined to make watching TV an experience increasingly similar to reading a novel. TV viewers no longer need to wait weeks or months to watch the next installment of their favorite program. They can continue onto the next episode (i.e. a chapter) at their leisure and convenience. “Binge reading” is a luxury that readers have enjoyed for centuries. Technology now enables TV viewers to do the same.
Taking this transition to the next level was the switch to a chapter format for TV programming, which is almost the norm in today’s most acclaimed dramas and even some comedies. Consider the contrast with Law & Order, or one of my favorite shows, Magnum PI. Those types of shows were designed for episodes to be watched in isolation and out of order without affecting the viewers experience. Each installment is effectively a short story. That’s not the case with much of today’s programming, which are structured like novels, with each episode in a season equivalent to an individual chapter. You can’t watch Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones out of order. Even the Sopranos would be difficult as each season has a running theme that infiltrates each episode. Just as picking up a copy of The Firm and reading random chapters wouldn’t make sense, the same applies to shows like Breaking Bad.
Editor’s Note: Spend your Valentine’s Day with Frank Underwood! Catch up on Netflix’s House of Cards with this collection of articles Washington D.C.-based Becky Graebner wrote analyzing the first season, concluding with her predictions of the highly-anticipated season 2 that becomes available on February 14.
Here’s a table of contents for the nine articles Becky wrote last summer and her season 2 preview from January; jump to the ones that interest you or just dive in from the beginning in this 9000-word collection: