Now that football is over for the year, I have a lot more free time on my hands on days where I’m not working on music. (Mondays and Tuesdays are pretty rough) The rest of the week is going to be pretty lonely without having the NFL and their massive sociopolitical negligence to kick around, so there have been a lot of things on my mind that I have been trying to defragment to make some mental space for any of the brain furniture that will show up once the preseason starts. The empty space hurts, and idle minds can make for overworked keyboards.
Another reason I know that we won’t be dazzled with days of future concussion settlements at the expense of a three hour television program is the fact that Valentine’s Day is coming up. If you know me, you are aware of two things: 1) I am usually single making this a frustrating Hallmark holiday for myself; and 2) I watch way too much cable news. If you’ve ever seen a picture of what I actually look like in real life, the first one shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The second one I would welcome your open criticism and respect when you ask: Why would a person torture themselves with such stressful yet informative entertainment?
It’s a fantastic question, and no time of the year do I find myself asking myself the same thing more than the thirteen days that lead up to the holiday of Lover’s Lane. The late night comedy panel show that I watch (Red Eye, 3AM EST, Fox News Channel) has some pretty bizarre sponsors as one might assume. During this two week period they are getting paid very well by this company by the name of Vermont Teddy Bear to hawk teddy bears that you can give to your main squeeze.
Now, as you might have been able to pick up from some of the pictures on website, these aren’t just the small teddy bears that come with a dozen roses and that awkward plastic fork with a cardboard bee on it that says “be mine”. I’m talking about the bears who are so big that if they are being chased by California Highway Patrol, we now have four suspects who could be considered armed and dangerous. In the commercials, it even mentions that they have up to six foot tall bears that can lay down the law. They actually say on the commercial that the bear will keep her thinking of you while you’re not there.
What is our bizarre obsession with animals and how they represent such sexualization in modern day culture? Why might we be so enamored by the idea of this? Well, let’s take a look…
I was born in November of 1979, and don’t remember much good, clean entertainment from my childhood other than American Bandstand. From there we were shifted to two very strange worlds: Fraggle Rock, and wherever the Muppets were shooting a movie that year. So from a very young age the seed of some type of emotional connection with puppets dressed like animals had been planted, although we weren’t aware what that emotional connection was at that age. This continued for a couple of years, until we reached kindergarten. From there, things got really weird.
When I turned six I entered grade school at Garfield Elementary. While it would take us a couple of years to learn about Transformers, Thundercats, and whatever it was that you’d call Voltron – the Muppets were still a big hit. What was the biggest deal in the world to us during that time period? It wasn’t the Cold War, the Iran-Contra hearings, or the liberals trying to do everything in their power to oust Ronald Reagan… No, it was the fact that a pig was trying to do the nasty with a frog. Say what you will about the subplots of those programs, the producers were indirectly trying to get us to focus on a pig trying to get down with a frog that wanted nothing to do with her. Pretty startling stuff for a kid, huh? But what happened during this time period was the ground floor of this developing movement, so let’s simply refer to this time period as Level 1.
Towards the end of grade school and the beginning of Junior high, kids started developing a much more serious interest in the opposite sex. They would “go steady” or “go out”, as dating wasn’t really an option for someone whose primary method of transportation is a skateboard. During that portion of my youth, I would notice that these lucky souls would call each other things like “Huggie bear” and all of these other cutesy names which would make me wonder if half of the students at Wilson Middle School were in fact stuffed animals. Pet names and the like really took over the dating scene, just like the guy who sat three lockers away from me in gym class really took my Atlanta Falcons hat. I promise I won’t make some snide comment here about how “I won that one” because that kid is now in prison, so I’ll instead use this space to refer to Junior High and Middle School as Level 2.
When I got to high school, my sexual appetite had reached epic proportions. I had learned how to masturbate silently in any position in just about every region of my residence. But I struggled to maintain favorable relationships with members of the opposite sex, not surprising when you consider that my idea of a fun night was listening to Red House Painters’ “Down Colorful Hill” on repeat until I cried myself to sleep. When we started actually getting out and playing shows, the messages regarding sexual relations became even more confusing. This intensified in the summer of 1994, when Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” became the most popular rock song in America. Trent Reznor must have been having some of the same feelings that I did about the nation’s increasingly disturbing obsession with bestiality, and capitalized by hitting the top of the charts with a song whose chorus boasts “I want to fuck you like an animal”. The club we used to play at streamed the song constantly, doing its part to contribute to the country’s growing teenage pregnancy epidemic. When you combined this with the overtly sexual yet heavily religious-themed crossover Army of Lovers hit “Crucified” nobody had any idea whether they were supposed to be longing after the son of God or their neighbor’s German shepherd, so as you can imagine things were getting awfully confusing. This escalation resulted in the rise of bondage and BDSM culture as the spring of 1997 came to a close and while I was in my graduation gown receiving a diploma I probably didn’t deserve, people just a few years older than me were wearing ball gags, leather dog collars, and whipping each other while making noises no human being should ever make unless they are a bargaining chip in a hostage negotiation. Seems like a fitting end to Level 3.
In college, things got really weird. While I was making more of a temporary-yet-permanent-enough-to-keep-the-folks-at-the-Trojan-factory-in-business connection with those of the female persuasion, I was also faced with some of my friends who were returning from college after joining the Greek system. Several of my male friends who joined fraternities had steady partners, some of whom they had met through the Greek lifestyle. What I wasn’t aware of at the time was that a lot of the guys in these frats had what they called “little sisters” in the sororities that they were affiliated with. In about half of those cases, these “little sisters” ended up being those individuals whom my male partners were dating. Now usually I would say that any time you so much as accidentally mention the words “little sister” and “hook-up” in the same sentence that would raise a huge red flag there, even if it did happen by accident. When I would hear stories about these guys shacking up with their “little sisters”, that to me was raising several red flags which were stuck in piles of ashes from the burned remnants of factories which had only manufactured red flags for several hundred years. It was enough to make “I want to fuck you like an animal” look like an episode of Sesame Street compared to this incestuous analogy. It was at this point I had realized I was now right smack in the middle of Level 4 although I was not aware this was the fourth installment in the troublesome journey of my uber-confusing oversexualization. This continued for about another year and when I finally went “away” to college at Illinois State University I saw this big brother/big sister program in action, although it was not nearly as full of positive intentions as the charitable mentoring organization of the same name. Eventually I graduated, and I figured that some sense was to come after all of this confusion.
Holy living mother of hot monkey fuck was I wrong. With my departure from college came the almost meteoric rise of the accessibility of the internet. While 4G cell phone data was still years away, suddenly the general public had access to the what we considered to be high speed internet at the time. No longer did we have to load America Online and wait for Benjamin Franklin’s corpse to strike the poor graphic of that key with lightning – we had access to it all. But having access to it all meant seeing things that you can’t unsee, and reading things you can’t forget that you’ve read. While websites such as Portal of Evil and Ogrish reminded us that the internet can indeed be a very scary place, our common sense reminded us that the internet was merely digital snapshots of the real world which is hardly a walk in the park. This was where you read stories that they couldn’t print in your local newspaper. Welcome to Level 5, where you read the news that you can’t really use. You know how these stories are: A guy smokes bath salts and bangs a dead elk on the freeway, or something of that nature. Then afterwards, a bunch of people who act like life is exactly like Keeping Up With The Kardashians get online and say things like…
How did this happen?
Are you kidding me? After all that, you wonder why people end up in that predicament? I’ve never fought the urge to bang Bambi and I never wanted to lay down with Lassie, but after everything I’ve just put into context should anybody really be this surprised when something like this goes down? When you are raised with Miss Piggy trying to get deep dicked my a nerdy frog, “Huggie Bear” leads to “I wanna fuck you like an animal”, then you get to a higher educational learned institution and your friends are calling their partners their siblings, I can honestly say that even though he lived in the woods his whole life maybe that elk should have seen it coming. With all of this stuff constantly torturing our senses around every corner, all I have to really say is I never want to hear another anti-gay marriage rant for as long as I live.
I realize that this snapshot of our culture is coming out of left field. I also realize that the alliteration in this piece has been a little much, but stop being such a silly Sally and hear me out for a minute: We are essentially products of our own environment. In a world gone awry with political correctness, it never ceases to blow my mind at what does slip through the cracks at crucial moments in an individual’s personal development. This is a society which has consistently failed when it comes to teaching its people what is right and what is wrong. There’s absolutely no line anymore, and sex seems to be the power player in this crisis moment in world history. And with people becoming more and more untrustable with every passing day as a result of this crazy world we live in, I can’t be sure that if I do get a girlfriend she won’t bang that bear.
I guess my point is, it’s going to be a long time until football starts again. The first week of September is a long ways away.