YESTERDAY at an inexplicably well-heated H&M on Washington St., while I waited for my wife to finish up in the dressing room, I heard Lady Gaga's “Born This Way” for the first time. I wrote on Twitter that I admired how “aggressively shitty it is.” I stand by that assessment. I admire the message, but it sounds like a relic from a bygone era—an era we left behind on purpose. I expected it to be followed by a Smashmouth song, but I think the Smashmouth song should have been the newer one.
Similarly, I just read an entire interview with Scott Caan, as in James's son, in Esquire, and I am kind of impressed at how insufferable he seems. In print, no less! That's tough to do. Part of that is certainly the editorial slant taken by the author—Peter Martin includes multiple questions in which Caan does not understand the reference (He has not heard of Outsourced or Robert Pattinson, which, okay) and thus doesn't really answer—but you can't do much with a guy who says “I fancy myself a tortured artist.”
On the same page as part of the interview (since Esquire is arranged like some kind of nightmare anthology of concrete poetry, text running upside-down and in forty different fonts and sizes) is an article about the lack of sex in modern literature. This, says Benjamin Alsup, is a problem:
Because if you're gonna commit all of yourself to reading a book, a writer has gotta give all in return. He's gotta use his hips. Maybe put a little back into it.
AHHHH we get it. Forgive the masculine pronouns, this is Esquire after all. They'll run an 800-word essay about Brooklyn Decker so long as it runs next to a giant photo of her bed-sheet-adorned tits. That doesn't bother me so much* as the Style section does, but I digress.
(*Also to its credit, Esquire has long been a champion of Ashley Greene, though she recently lost out in the “Sexiest Woman Alive” brackets—after beating Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis!—to Megan Fox, of all people. Megan Fox weirds me out, is that okay? Am I still allowed to be a straight white male?)
We're coming up on a chapter in Breaking Dawn with relatively explicit sex, and since we all just saw the leaked images from Breaking Dawn pt. 1, it's sort of funny that we're suddenly in this cultural moment where puritanical, deranged Twilight is being depicted in the main stream as a thousand pages of sexy fun. Obviously it is anything but that. At-large cultural depictions of Twilight always miss the mark, of course.
But just because S. Meyer is sort of writing about fucking even though J.S. Foer is scared to (Esquire posits that today's authors are better at writing about masturbation than sex, but you'll have to look to Twilight fan fiction for that sort of thing, S. Meyer won't touch it, so to speak) doesn't mean Alsup's criticism shouldn't apply to her. It should maybe apply to her even more. We've been reading for a long time, and S. Meyer is holding out on us. (All those gratuitous Pattinson back shots only underscore how little back she's been putting into this!) In the comments on the thread about the leaked production stills, Kim wondered if the gory scenes would be as gory as the sex scenes appear to be sexy. If they are not, that will be a sort of corrective justice: as we generally see in America today, the violence in Twilight is far more explicit than the sex. And in another unfortunate reflection of society, the sexual tension in Twilight builds and builds, not to banging but rather a whimpering, bloody child. Plus, it's a C-section! That's how far we stay away from vaginas! And don't get me started on where Jacob channels his own unresolved sexual tension.
Lady Gaga is one of the few great forces pushing against that kind of thing, right? She doesn't make sex about violence, she makes violence about sex. She makes everything about sex. Parents are terrified of her, when really they should be terrified of Twilight and The Jonas Brothers. One reason I had difficulty with the criticism of Sucker Punch was that the skimpy outfits worn during scenes of violence were more upsetting to people than the violence. (I know I made a crack at Esquire's sexism a few hundred words ago, but I still like skimpy outfits!) Discussions about sexism and rape culture are important ones to have—I mean, did you talk to ANYONE during the Lara Logan thing without wanting to sucker punch them? This is what everyone else started with “Well, maybe she...” AHHHHHHH! People are crazy stupid about this stuff, thank god no one asked Scott Caan—but conversations about lightening up about boobs are also important, I think.