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Friday, September 30, 2005

American Idiot

Finally got around to watching Kinsey the other night. About all I'd heard about the movie was that there was a love scene between Liam Neeson and Peter Sarsgaard. This was not exactly a selling point for me, as much of a fan of Sarsgaard's work as I am.

But knowing how American culture and media function (or rather, dysfunction), I had a sneaking suspicion that this sort of idiotic sensationalism was beside the entire point of the movie. And, of course, I was absolutely right. The scene in question was but a minute or so, and not gratuitously oogy to my resolutely zero (on the Kinsey scale) sensibilities. No surprise there; this country's cultural buttons are nothing if not entirely predictable and utterly mundane.

Now, I have no doubt that more culturally astute viewers have voluminous screeds in mind regarding the sexual politics and murky interpersonal relationships described in the movie. And if that is what interests you, I encourage you to seek out such critiques. For I have a political critique in mind, but not necessarily the sexual one that some might assume.

There is a scene, fairly early in the movie, in which Kinsey counsels a young couple with marital difficulties. The wife thinks she's "frigid". The husband seems to agree. Kinsey, in his bloodless, clinical fashion, asks if they've tried cunnilingus in the course of their bedroom frivolities.

After the requisite blushing and harrumphing, both husband and wife assert the notion that such an activity would cause problems with the wife's ability to conceive. Kinsey naturally assures them that that's nonsense. The husband reflexively disagrees, by way of forcing Kinsey into the position of proving a negative. ("How do you know it's not true?")

Kinsey could (and should) have quite easily replied that he himself had three children, and a rambunctious (by the standards of the day) sex life. Why he did not, I have no idea. But that's beside the point.

The point is that there is a clear line to draw here, from the puritanical misconceptions of the day over sexual mores, to the current ridiculous crap permeating Americans' understanding of even the most basic tenets of science and scientific method. Some things never change, and one of the primary things in that category is the ability of a politically-motivated elite to cynically use people's ignorance, to hornswoggle them into endorsing whatever bullshit they've chosen to foist on them at a given point in time.

Currently that bullshit is "intelligent design"; or more precisely, the notion that "both sides should be taught". There is an inherent tautology in that seemingly innocuous phrase, as if there really were two and only two sides to "the story" at hand. Such a notion completely discards centuries of established scientific inquiry and method, in the name of open-ended nonsense being presented as some sort of legitimate scholarship.

The people pushing this boobism nowadays, as well as the boobs mindlessly following it, are the same creatures who couldn't stand that Kinsey could innocently, scientifically, take the guilt -- and thus, the primary means of control -- out of sex. As such, "intelligent design" is merely a similar means to the same stupid end -- to corral a preponderance of Americans into an intellectual dead end, while the rest of the world rubbernecks at our cultural head-on collision with reality, with a combination of bemusement, pity, and contempt, while passing us by all the same.

The rest of the world already knows what we're about to find out the hard way -- the big fat dumb kid can only run so fast.

88 comments:

Craig Heath said...

Heywood, you sly dog you. I had trouble at first making the leap from cunnilingus to intelligent design, but this fat kid caught up after awhile. Or so I think - check me:

The hubby in your example had no desire to "go downtown", no matter how "good" it might end up for both he and wifey. Something bothered him even by the mere thought. All those creepy - and unscientific - notions about things pudental start swirling around in the adipose tissue he calls a brain, and he just doesn't wanna. So he invents - or picks up from others - "reasons" he can use to get what he wants - or rather avoid what he doesn't want.

He declares without backup that it would be HARMFUL to wifey - he could interfere with her receptivity to conception, so he plants his feet and dares the scientist to prove the opposite, negative assertion. The scientist could argue for hours, prove every statement with tons of background material, etc. But in the final analysis, hubby just ain't gonna lick it, science (and wifey's libido) be damned.

Likewise, those who fight tooth and nail against the science of evolution do not want to entertain a very basic notion - that maybe, just MAYBE, "meaning" is something we do with our lives instead of it being a gift from On High, and MAYBE at the end of it all you just die and don't get a big Golden Parachute reward of eternity under the patronizing gaze of the Cosmic Grand Dad. It sucks the life out of them to think that meaning is something you DO, not something you GET.

So they dig in their heels and they just AIN'T GONNA, so they ask "Mr. Science" to prove the negative (prove that my hair-brained, childish story is not true! Go ahead! I dare ya!), and no matter what evidence is presented, they just ain't gonna lick it. 'Cause they don't wanna. 'Cause it creeps them out. 'Cause it's all dark and sticky down there, and maybe it won't taste good, and nasty stuff comes out of it, and that's just not what God had in mind when he DESIGNED the vagina in the first place!

Man - if they only knew how much good is created by a thorough clit-washing now and again...

Heywood J. said...

Craig:

Yeah, there was a whiff of that disdain in the scene, that the guy might really just be coming up with an excuse to get out of something he wasn't really into anyway. And the social mores of the time dictated that the wife had to just deal with that.

But my point was more general, as to how Americans have this inherent contempt of intellectuals and intellectualism, which handsomely complements their shameless affection for hucksters and boobism.

In Kinsey's day, it was annoying and unfair. To maintain such an outlook nowadays is a sure path to national failure. The stakes are exponentially higher.

Heywood J. said...

By the way, Craig, I'm 100% with you on the therapeutic benefits of yodeling in the valley. If it smells like the shithouse door on a tuna boat, then shower it up, grab some strawberry jam, and get to mowin'!

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