Monday, May 30, 2005

What Can REALLY Make You Go Blind

Now comes word about reports of visual loss among users of Viagra and Cialis (see story here). I'm sure this news is getting a real workout on the late night comedy circuit, so I'll avoid the obvious jokes.

It's the less obvious, and somewhat grimmer joke that I hear in such reports. By a curious coincidence, I happened to write a little piece on Friday night for The Noyse Magazine, an online opinion and entertainment journal (make a note to visit their site on Wednesday, June 1, during their "hit-a-thon" to benefit "The One Campaign"). At the time I was writing it, I had not heard anything about the Viagra-blindness report (and I'm still astonished that these pharm companies continue to get off with nothing more painful than a label notation in consequence of their drugs' "unintended side effects"). I was actually writing about a certain well-known hamburger commercial that's recently hit the airwarves. But a mere glance at the title of this piece will help you to see the serendipity of a discussion of masturbation. Here it is—I called it Masturbation, Paris Hilton, and the Cult of Purity:

I really like to masturbate: it’s a great way to unwind, release tension, and get to know one’s own body. It’s good, healthy, relaxing fun, and it doesn’t cost a dime. In fact, I recommend it, although it seems I don’t have to.

Check this out: Dr. James Dobson (who in the name of the Devil and Dick Cheney gave him a degree?)—the same guy who is trying to help the right-wing neocon hegemony stack the courts of this land with wage-freezing, Bible-beating, union-busting, gay-hating, privacy-invading demagogues—is a friend of masturbation! I found the following comments at his “Focus on the Family” website (I just typed “masturbation” into his search engine):

We can say without fear of contradiction that there is no scientific evidence to indicate that this act is harmful to the body. Despite terrifying warnings given to young people historically, it does not cause blindness, weakness, mental retardation, or any other physical problem....Between 95 and 98 percent of all boys engage in this practice -- and the rest have been known to lie. It is as close to being a universal behavior as is likely to occur.

Very cool, Dr. D.: so why do you have such a problem with Paris Hilton doing it on a Bentley with a hamburger? But you’ve got a “Citizen Link Action Alert” out on your site, encouraging your followers to move heaven and earth to stop Carl Jr.’s from running an ad showing a blond in a swimsuit simulating the same kind of activity that you otherwise call “as close to being a universal behavior as is likely to occur.” (But thanks anyway for letting us know about the extended length version of the ad, viewable here).

“The ad is filled with enough innuendo to make Freud blush,” complains your hilarious excuse for a news report on the Paris ad. Then comes the great revelation, courtesy of Brent Bozell of the Parents Television Council: “This blatant, sexually charged ad has no place on the public airwaves, and especially when children are in the audience.”

Ah, now we understand: kids (some of them—gasp—girls) are going to see this ad on TV, and then what? Daniel Weiss, a media analyst at Focus on the Family, explains what: “recent studies [have] found [that] children who view sexual content on television are twice as likely to act out sexually as those who do not.”

Oh—you mean...they’re going to masturbate? While eating a cheeseburger? In the name of God and Janet Jackson’s right tit, somebody call the police! Thank heaven we can just change the channel over to good old FOX and watch “Stacked” with that gentle ivory-girl slice of cheesecake, Pam Anderson; or a wholesome episode of “Trading Spouses”!

But wouldn’t that leave me open to the charge of moral hypocrisy? As in, enjoying the spectacle of wife-swapping in Kansas or tit-swinging at a bookstore while at the same time I condemn an ad showing a woman fondling herself with a garden hose? Never mind—I’m going with Dr. Dobson’s original suggestion: I’m turning off the TV set entirely, going to my room, and then I’m gonna beat the bishop, shake hands with the general, massage Mr. One-Eye, pump my pomegranate, handle my hamburger.

I only wish I had a Bentley to do it on.

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