Poor Kim Kardashian’s butt. Can you imagine being such a butt? A butt with so much attention? It must be so weird. I’m sure my butt has only received attention for something negative. I almost never look back there and say, “Good job, butt.”
By now you’ve seen or read about Kim Kardashian’s bare-assed cover of Paper Mag with the headline, “Break the Internet.” The suggesting being, I suppose, that this photo will be downloaded and viewed by so many people as to somehow exhaust the very medium that transmits it. We’ll wake up tomorrow internet-less thanks to this malevolent butt. Would that be so bad?
Dream: Break the internet.
Goal: Unachievable. There’s no way to shut down the non-stop garbage parade on the information superhighway (remember when we called it that?). But maybe if we thought a little more critically about what we are constantly consuming, we wouldn’t have to break the internet in order to get it fixed. This topic is a big one, so I suggest we approach the tear down and rebuild of the internet in stages, and this is my first idea.
Plan: Let’s start by revising the definition of pornography, shall we?
Is this naked photoshoot of Kim Kardashian labelled “Break the Internet” meant to evoke the nude photo hacking that occurred a few weeks ago? Classy move, magazine. Is it a commentary on the event, or just capitalizing on the trend of naked ladies? So much ink has been spilled about this, I know I’m just adding to the noise but beyond the fact that making someone’s private photos readily accessible to a public audience is a violation and a sex crime, I still think it positions a woman’s body as currency in a really gross way. The idea that women with their clothes off will somehow create chaos and corrupt us absolutely is just wrong. Again, I haven’t seen a lot of the photos, but these aren’t women having sex, these are women who are nude. Why does Vanity Fair, in their recent cover story concerning Jennifer Lawrence, print her statement in full about her feelings of violation at the release of those photos, with an accompanying pictorial of her naked in a swimming pool (albeit strategically positioned to cover her nipples)? In other words, Vanity Fair prints that accessing naked pictures of Jennifer Lawrence is a violation (which it is), while splashing sexy pics inside their magazine to sell more copies (which they did).
Famously, a member of the United States Supreme Court, when ruling on whether or not a particular film qualified as obscene, couldn’t explain exactly what made something pornography or not said, “When it comes to [porn], I know it when I see it.” Is that true? Do we really know it when we see it anymore? A woman breastfeeding her child is not pornographic, but what if the child hasn’t latched on to the breast, and someone takes a picture of a bare-breasted woman about to but not in the act of feeding her child? Such distinctions are ridiculous, at least to me.
There’s a guy in this town that I fucking hate and I don’t even know his name. This guy, who goes by a ridiculous pseudonym and Twitter handle, is a bigot who couches his vitriol in the guise of right wing ideology. The only reason I know he exists is because his stupid blog is widely read (much more so than this one, I can assure you) and, in his review of a Fringe show called a particular performer, “A flaming Fringe faggot” (referring to the fact that this performer has been in several Fringe shows that are queer-positive, some are drag cabarets, etc.) Somebody got ahold of it, told local media, they ran with the story, there was requisite outrage, blah blah blah. I don’t know why, after reading some article about it, I was compelled to look further (the cyber equivalent of picking a scab), but I went to the writer’s blog and Twitter page. The rest of his Fringe Festival coverage was other play reviews, and then each “day” of the festival featured several pictures of women who were attending. Their heads were cut off in the pictures, so it was just the (fully-clothed) bodies of women walking around the Fringe grounds! This guy takes pictures of women clearly unaware they are being photographed covertly on his phone, then uploads them as “scenery.” As in, “There were many other great sights to see at the Fringe this year, heh heh heh!” followed by pictures of these women! From the “I know it when I see it” file, that’s ABSOLUTELY obscene to me. This disgusting man who doesn’t put his real name on anything is the type of person who the internet ought to break down on.
I guess we’re no closer to breaking the internet. Women’s bodies, the male gaze, and what constitutes pornography can’t be solved in a thinkpiece (even one as scattershot as this one). All I can control is what I watch which, for the moment, won’t be the famous butt that seems to be everywhere. I guess we can’t break something that’s already broken.