This was another case of “where is the line between art and decency?” and I can’t tell you how frustrated I get when it is suggested that there even exists a line in the first place. There is not one. The mere idea of decency recalls a protestant, repressed upbringing. Your idea of what’s socially acceptable is showing, like an unzipped fly with an unwashed nut hanging out. The first definition of decency in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary that is neither archaic nor self-referential is this:
Conformity to standards of taste, propriety or quality
which clearly gets us nowhere at all but is oddly reminiscent of the reason those Hollywood pinko commies in the 1950s got blacklisted. It also echoes this idea of “traditional family values” which is sort of a blanket statement that serves to embrace or reject just about whatever the user would like it to (it’s usually boo-boo-cray-cray-Christianity). That’s the problem with terms like decency, taste, propriety and quality–there is no concrete definition, no mark in the sand that says, ‘This right here, this meaning, this is what this word means.’ It’s all self-referential, cleverly avoiding commitment under the guise of being so obvious that there is no need to define your terms in the first place. I just want to take the fanatical users of these frivolous terms by their starched collared shirts and well-tied ties and SHAKE THEM SO HARD THEIR US FLAG LAPEL PINS GO FLYING INTO THE EYES OF THEIR SECOND OR THIRD SPOUSES. Because, as we all have surely noticed by now, these are the same do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do folks who brought you the FCC, Just Say No and one of the voice actors of Scruff McGruff, who bought weed from a friend of mine.
But in reality, what does more damage to a country, society or epoch? Is it the dubiously-offensive content corrupting the children, or is it the Whitebread Americans who censor art any time they decide to be offended? And the scary part is the bread has gotten organized. Just look to the American Values Network, who asks members to choose between Ayn Rand and Jesus, or invites the fellow faithful to witness a cartoon Jesus, surrounded on all sides by sequentially turning-away modern apostles in what is clearly an homage to one terrible action movie poster or another, preaching to the drawn likenesses of Palin, Gingrich and Santorum. It is difficult to decide whether it is satirical or serious. Look for yourself. Oh, and by the way, donations to the AVN are not tax deductible, so be sure to write that down on your income tax forms.
I don’t mean to pick on the conservative Christian right. Certainly there are others outside of the political spectrum who shy away from the uncomfortable. Life is uncomfortable. Awkward. Disconcerting. But what in life makes you think you’re supposed to be comfortable? Try getting off that La-Z-Boy and sit on the ground, cross-legged with your back straight. Or if that’s comfortable to you, go sit on a tack. You want to see discomfort, try making sustained eye contact with a mother nursing her child in public. Of course, you could very easily get the shit beat out of you for that, but do it anyway, in the name of science. Whatever. My point is that you will never in your adult life be as comfortable as this baby.
Rather than fight it, embrace what makes you uneasy. Explore it. Confront it. Self-protectionism, or in other terms, bliss through ignorance, is neither healthy nor is it even all that fun. A quote from a guy I used to work with: I come to disturb the comfortable and to comfort the disturbed.
So this whole thing has been my way of saying that I will not not post for the sake of decency, yours or anyone else’s. Now please imagine me with one hand on my junk and the other one flipping you off. Thank you for your time.