“The size of her cunt. The disproportion was astonishing to me. Kotex and Tampax. For all I knew, she used the Kotex inside. I did know it. I conceived of her smallness now as the result of her largeness. It was as if her largeness there sapped size from the rest of her body, or that by some incredible compensation, her petiteness lent dimension elsewhere. I don’t know. It was all I could think of.”
-Stanley Elkin, The Dick Gibson Show
I happened upon my teens during the vogue of shock pornography and misleading links, my friends testing the depravity of their imaginations against the internet’s seething id, penetrating its darkest message boards to see where or if they’d bottom out, sending back field reports with rather detached clinical titles like “Dude, you gotta see this!”
By the tender age of 18, I’d seen tubgirls enough where they didn’t seem dirty, regarded the Lemon Party with little more interest than had they been running candidates for office, and meatspun til the nausea corresponded to the rotoresque spinning and not the meat. Lazy by temperament, it hardly seemed worth imagining the sorts of depravity that decorate the walls of the adolescent mind like so many punk rock posters. I could crowdsource the id to my AOL Instant Messenger account. I did.
Then the Rick Roll came along. The Rick Roll was actually a sign the internet had matured and become respectable. A couple years earlier, the thing you were clicking would’ve gone to a fat chick covered in feces. The cat that kept insisting on crawling in our laps had been declawed. No longer the wild west but an amusement park where the staff wore cowboy hats. The net had grown up or bottomed out, to glass half-full or half-empty it. The viral made a splash in the op-eds, the celebrity gossip column of ideas and things. Rick Roll was seen at baseball game. Like it was Spike Lee. Or Christ Christie. And there were pictures to prove it.
In the new environment your folks are the last to know. The oldsters’ll complain the kids now lack the pluck and enthusiasm they had in their day. They’ll revel away their retirement money (the ones endowed with such luxuries anyhow) in empty ridiculous spectacles; they’ll dance the ghost dance to the youth that escaped them before they could escape it. Somebody’s going on these Carnival Cruises, someone’s propping up the infantilized resort culture. They use the position afforded by the money to make proclamations about this and that. They know the way someone knows David Crosby because they went to Rock n Roll fantasy camp. And they won’t hesitate to slip it into a conversation that wasn’t asking for it. They’re just not as good at doing that as Rick Roll is. And goddamn they’re jealous.
The kids know. The kids reallly know. They’re not much better off for it. Underemployment’s not a statistic now so much as a shared neurosis. The kids are embarrassed you don’t know. After the internet the kids are tasked with tamping down the bullshit. They have to scold you for having fun wrong. And they’re not wrong. They left for the weekend and got back before you had a chance to clean up those plastic cups tossed all over the place and that kegger you spilled all over the Gulf.
And so the kids these days grasp tightly onto the elusive watersnake of proclamations beginning with “the kids these days” as much as the old folks. The reflective surfaces to stare past and ponder one’s fantasies are on call more readily than nurses. We see how the news reflects the statue cobbled together from ABC gum that we call the self. And this reflection doesn’t look different enough from the flickers between the frames in pornography, where the real obscenity happens. So the serious news gets more serious and in a mad scramble all sectors calls out everything else as pornography, all the more confused for not being entirely wrong, while the folks making the sex films just keep on fucking.
And so an arms race of the serious and profound begins. The journalists want the prestige of profundity given the academics and the academics want the prestige of truth given the journalists and everyone making anything wants the audience of the folks that trot out their unmentionables for the camera. And in the hot awkward and sweaty scramble to grab at each others’ terminologies the prose stumbles over the other proses’ toes while they all sit at the bottom of a hill unsure whether they’re on the side where you start climbing or the side that’s over it. Maybe it is all pornography. Maybe pornography isn’t actually pornography. And the folks supposed-to-be-serious can dream about getting that kinda traffic, but the only other thing getting that kinda traffic is a Rick Roll.
And all the while the folks making the sex films just keep on fucking.