Sunday, September 10, 2017


Still from "The Deuce" new HBO series

My twitter feed today accidentally juxtaposed two things.  One was a threat to expose me as a person who watched porn on my computer (Usually mainstream Netflix movies which I agree are pornographic, not just because of “sex” meaning something related to genitals and their use, but even more so because of violence, and to make the most impact, usually a mixture of the two.)

The idea of this extortionist was that if I didn’t send him money, he would reveal clips of my internet feed that showed what I watch.  He doesn’t really know me, or he would realize that a) I don’t have any money and b) my true audience would not be at all surprised by this revelation and they probably have access to and watch much more socially disapproved images than I do.  They find me very conventional and conservative.

But part of the reason for living in a small rural town is that they are still easily shocked (which they sometimes enjoy) and don’t have a “high” philosophical background and vocabulary that would give them an interest in issues like “what is porn?” and “what is abuse?”  The kind of thinking I do is of no use to them.

At the same time, I got an advertisement from Home Box Office, which specializes in tales of violation, sex, and victimizing.  I’ve been thinking about going to some other streamer than Netflix.  I understand that I am a “Cord cutter,” a person who doesn’t watch broadcast or cable television, mostly because it is so limited — also expensive.  I can watch most things on You Tube, esp. old BBC procedural mysteries, before they plunged into pleasing teenaged girls with fantasy about gentry.  Where I’m out of sync is that I don’t use any mobile gadgets like tablets or smart phones.  That’s the other bucket the money-makers have pulled over their heads.

The advertising is about a new series called “The Deuce” which is about the wicked illegal world of Times Square in New York City and about how its assumptions and methods have expanded to dominating the thinking of the whole nation.  The actors, James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal, are well known for doing stuff out on the edge.

The idea of this is that it will make you smarter and give you insight the same way as “The Wire” did it because it’s the same author: David Simon.  Well, not author.  “Creator.”  Serieses on TV are team efforts, and (like brains, which I’ll explore in later posts) they depend on what has already been done.  Without “The Wire”, “The Deuce” would never have been written, much less funded for production.  George Pelicanos, has a long track record as a producer but was also a crime writer.  There’s bait all over the place — trailers, interviews, reviews, free viewing for the early parts.

This series will be competing with some very serious real stuff, like the removal of Trump, the recovery of the continent from almost inconceivable fire, drought, and hurricanes, and the returned danger of atomic war.  Inconceivable because so few want to believe in climate change, least of all the steady workers of wheat and livestock country who are already worried but denying it.

That’s the same way they think about sex.  It is a familiar commodity for livestock raisers who deal in flesh and gestation and genetics.  They are having a hard time with the change in gender roles: Dad who is a boss, Mom who is a consoler and fixer, and — unadaptively — descendants they have taught and educated to go live in the city and be high status “professionals.”  This has been such a success that the simple governmental resources of the counties and towns are collapsing from neglect and greed in spite of the best efforts of the now-aging earlier generations.  There are not enough plumbers and too many lawyers.

It is much more dangerous for me to say this than it would be for some little cyber-squirt to threaten me with revelations about what I read and watch.  I didn’t waste my time on “Fifty Shades of Gray” though I did find “A Billion Wicked Thoughts” pretty interesting.  It’s a study of what porn consumers will pay for.  Both surprising and thought-provoking, far more than a stupid girl involved with a sociopath, which evidently is an idea that seduces many who check out the library copy in Valier.  “A Billion Wicked Thoughts” is more like Russian hacking of American political preconceptions, which are not quite so startling as their porn obsessions.  

I wanted a ministry degree in part because I thought it would give me access to people’s deepest and most intense issues, but I soon discovered that everyone was determined to let clergy only know the most shallow and conventional facade they could present.  If they were diagnosed with terminal cancer, if their marriage was in trouble, if their child was on drugs — they hid it.  However, now these terrible things have become so common that people fail to bother to hide them.  In fact, some turn them into pity rackets, expecting advantages which they may or may not use.  (This is not true of everyone, of course.)  

I’m told (possibly to tease me) that it’s not worth the bother of indicting Trump et al, because ALL politicians are just as bad, that their bad behavior is what got them into office — and there’s no use to vote.  It doesn’t matter — not because the Russians hack the machines, but because democracy is an illusion, as corrupt as the monarchy that kills its princesses.  I don’t pass on my cynicism about the denomination I once considered “above” mediocre American culture, arrogant as such a view is.  

Just indicting bad behavior and unlawfulness is a fool’s preoccupation unless it leads to understanding and resolution.  I think many of the causes are not obvious at all, though overpopulation and climate change are certainly major tectonic shifts under our cultures.  But if a person needs a worthy cause to give life meaning, and even has a small chance of sharing that meaning, then it’s worth a life.  Threats of blackmail are meaningless.

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