A LOVE SUPREME

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Monday, June 04, 2007

McSex

Living in a porn-saturated culture naturally produces a larger proportion of addicts. It also, perhaps, produces quite the opposite - a general populace for whom porn is simply no big deal. Sexuality becomes akin to a desire for an afternoon snack or the need to sleep 6-8 hours in a night. Hence the following point:

Therefore, I don’t accept “the thesis of an increasingly pornographic logic of social relations and poltical conditions.” To the contrary: there is nothing exceptional, central, or privileged about pornography and the “pornographic” today. Pornography simply conforms to the same protocols and political conditions, the same commodity logic, as do all other forms of production, circulation, and consumption. Porn today isn’t the least bit different from cars, or mobile phones, or running shoes. It embodies a logic of indifferent equivalence, even as it holds out the thrilling promise of transgression and transcendence — a promise that, of course, it never actually fulfills. [from The Pinocchio Theory]

Getting online Porn is the equivalent today of getting a value meal at the drive through. Then comes along we Christians. We project the immorality of our culture through the megaphones and denounce and decry the degradation and depravity. But would we have just as much luck proposing the immorality of a trip through one's local McDonald's?

What is the latest count on the amount of customers served at McDonald's? And is this any longer a staple of its success? McDonald's used to use it's volume of customers served as a marketing tool. The number of customers served displayed prominently somewhere below the glowing golden arches. Anymore may regard the billions of people served as a badge of shame. And the folks at McDonald's marketing know it too. What's one of the first things you will see these days on the McDonald's website? A link to the page on corporate responsibility.

I have no moral objection to the McDonald's corporation, it's food, it's folks or it's fun. (Remember that old jingle, "Food, folks and fun. You know the one, its McDonald's. For food, folks and fun.") Heck, I worked at McDonald's for a whole year in high school. But while I don't renounce the corporation I do know that food was not meant to be McFood. You don't have to have a job at McD's to realize that the "fast food" at McDonald's is more "fast" and less "food." A steady diet will lead to an early grave, and there's a reason for it.

So, that brings us to McSex. Fast food, cyber-sex. Quick and easy. Get it on the go. These days you can even find it advertised for about the price of a value meal, and there's a meal-deal for every taste and appetite. This brings us back to the moral question. Whether we produce it or serve it or consume it we are now all a part of a McSex Machine, which either produces addiction or boredom. In this scenario mystery and beauty are gone. We know we ought to eat less junk food, but to break out of a fast food diet is greater than a diet, it is a complete counter-cultural change of lifestyle. This kind of a break is too either too radical, too inconvenient, or just too different. And even if we break out for a while we'll be back. Back to the same routine. Back to the familiar old drive through window.

19 comments:

Maxwell Murders said...

Well-said. It's always nice to see someone who cares about the dignity of mankind and still thinks that truth and goodness are things worth fighting for. Things that at least must be acknowledged as real and absolute and not simply a matter of opinion.

Dawn said...

I remember when I was a little tyke and MTV was just coming out. It changed everything.

I wonder how interlinked porn and music videos are...just think about it.

Back then Salt N Pepa had a popular song called "Push It" and it hinted at...whatever. As a little tyke I just liked the beat and the dancing in the video...and it didn't hint at what this "pushing" could be all about.

Now you turn on music videos and they're not only telling you what they mean...they show you!

I wonder if the video industry is feeling the heat from easy access to porn.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Yea, not too much left to the imagination, anymore. I was watching Ocean's Twelve this evening (in preparation for Ocean's Thirteen) and a guy makes a comment on the phone, "Sexy assistants are so cliche." He hangs up and then in walks his own, very sexy assistant, and he kind of does a little flirty thing and asks for a coffee. Kind of like our culture. We all recognize the banality of sex and how cliche it has all become, and yet we can't really break out of it. It used to be stimulating, and now it's just kind of there and sustains us or feeds cravings or it's just something to do.

samlcarr said...

The power of good marketing is to unnoticeably make you want what you do not need.

But marketing would not work at all unless we, our innards, gave it the handles to apply its silent leverage.

And where is this voice of conscience...

ktismatics said...

Good post. Addiction and boredom tend to go together. When I used to smoke cigarettes that first one of the day was always the best; after that it was just something to do. But try to stop? All of a sudden the thrill is back, and I'm rummaging through the trash looking for that half-a-pack I threw away earlier in the day.

At some point don't you have to object morally to McDonald's? Those commercials and golden arches aren't just giving you information; they're shining a spotlight on their food, trying to make you hungry even when you're not, as Sam observes. And the commercial images purposely make McDonald's into more than a place to get cheap food: it's a place to join in a happy experience, filled with cheerful music and fun characters. Otherwise why object morally to porn: the images aren't forcing you to do anything, are they? They too make you hungry even when you're not, offer a happy experience with fun characters, etc.

Jonathan Erdman said...

If one is going to attach a moral category to fast-food/porn then it would seem that we must introduce the element of "perversion." By "perversion" I mean the sense of twisting human nature and distorting it from the way it is suppossed to be. You would have to say that human beings were not made to eat the stuff that McDonald's serves and were not meant to consume too much of it - and all the while McD's keeps pushing us to eat more and more.

Same thing with porn. We would be critical of the industry that distorts sexuality into a commercialized project for consumption and over-feeds the appetite.

But then we would have to have a standard of what "humanness" is, right? The imago dei comes to mind....but now we are just sounding far too old fashioned.....

Jonathan Erdman said...

In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul ties in the issue of sex and food:

12"Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13"Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." 17But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Melody said...

Jon: But would we have just as much luck proposing the immorality of a trip through one's local McDonald's?

You'd have a lot more success convincing people Mickey D's is immoral.

Not taking care of yourself is the new adultery.

Jon: This kind of a break is too either too radical, too inconvenient, or just too different. And even if we break out for a while we'll be back. Back to the same routine.

[whisper] That's why humanism doesn't work. Broken people can't fix themselves. [/whisper]

Incidentally...I think you all are too hard on marketing (can you tell I work in advertising?). There's nothing wrong with shining a spotlight on your product and highlighting it's good points (quick, nice atmosphere...that's about all I got for McDonalds). It would be moraly objectionable for them to say that a big mac is nutritious but, like cigarettes, everyone knows they're not. Put a warning from the surgeon general on those arches...no one is going to care.

The objection to porn is a little bit stronger...because, at least from a judeo-christian perspective, lust itself is an infraction...you don't need the act to be in sin.

ktismatics said...

"But then we would have to have a standard of what "humanness" is, right? The imago dei comes to mind....but now we are just sounding far too old fashioned....."

I agree that objections to porn and McD would be based on moral, ethical, economic, or political concerns in which a judgment of right and wrong is required. Falwell allied with people he disagreed with religiously but agreed with politically -- so there's precedent for some sort of anti-capitalistic alliance.

With respect to imago dei, would you say that it includes sexuality? So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply...

ktismatics said...

"You'd have a lot more success convincing people Mickey D's is immoral. Not taking care of yourself is the new adultery."

That's very good.

Jason Hesiak said...

"Otherwise why object morally to porn: the images aren't forcing you to do anything, are they? They too make you hungry even when you're not, offer a happy experience with fun characters, etc." Despite my distaste for both McD's and Porn, that's funny.

In "The Big Labowsky," "Jackie Treehorn," the great porn producer, says, "Yes, so unfortunate. Supply and demand, Dude ["the Dude" is Jeffery Labowsky]. These days, I just can't afford to invest in such things as CHARACTER [making a passionate fist here] and STORY...Did you know, Dude, that the BRAIN is the biggest erogenous zone." Labowsky's cool and calm response, "On you, maybe." Anyway, from previous clips in the movie, the audience already knows that Jackie Treehorn DOES invest in "character" and "story"...just REALLY dumb characters and really poorly put together stories (to the point of blatant comedy on the part of the Cohen brothers, who made "The Big Labowsky").

As far as being old fashioned and believing in an imageo dei...I'm "way too" old fasioned. I'll take "way too" to be a reference to that funny time even before the Reformation.

"Incidentally...I think you all are too hard on marketing (can you tell I work in advertising?). There's nothing wrong with shining a spotlight..." That explains a lot in regard to our American Idol conversation.

"With respect to imago dei, would you say that it includes sexuality?" Its all about the relation/tension between Eros and Agape, dude man. It seems like sex for fertility/love is like dressing up at church. Its for us, but its because we are on holy ground.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Ktismatics:
With respect to imago dei, would you say that it includes sexuality? So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply...

Nobody really knows for sure what the imago dei (or ID) is, so that's tough to say. I prefer to think of ID in terms of our whole self mirroring God. I think we allegorically image God, that we are metaphoric images of God.

Personally I think the relational element is strong. And I would say that sexuality is perhaps the highest form of relational expression...perhaps...regardless of what you think of that, sexual metaphors are all over Scripture and are used to describe our relationship with the divine. Crf. Song of Songs, the prophetic oracles of adultery, and the Psalmists longing to know God and experience him in his temple.

So, yes, I do believe that sexuality is a part of ID, and perhaps a very central part. The body is described in the above cited 1 Corinthians passage as a "temple." The reason why it is difficult for us to think in these terms is that sexuality is primarily a physical thing in the minds of most of us in the comercialized west. "Food for the body, and the body for food." In the movie A beautiful mind John Nash says, "It's just the exchanging of bodily fluids." (Somehow this line works and he gets laid...)

Melody said...

(Somehow this line works and he gets laid...)

Have you watched the movie recently? I'm pretty sure he gets slapped.

Jason Hesiak said...

He gets slapped when he says what every dude wants to say in that situation but refrains: "Can we just skip all this introductory ritual stuff and go have sex." And he doesn't get laid in that instance. Lol, just kidding...EVERY guy doesn't want to say that in all those situations.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Yea, I guess it has been a while since I saw the movie. I guess I assumed the line worked b/c eventually he ends up with the girl.

Melody said...

A girl. Not that girl. That girl probably never spoke to him again and recounted the story in horrified tones to all her friends.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Ok. Fine. I am officially going to re-watch the movie.

Jason Hesiak said...

The "a girl" was beautiful and blonde, though. Although no competition to Jennifer Conneley. Uuhhh...

Melody said...

Your point being...?