EdCone.com : Word Up
Updated: 7/1/2002; 11:52:27 AM.


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Friday, June 14, 2002

A Prescient Book

Today on the beach I read In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien. The parallels between the story of the book's anti-hero, John Wade, and the real life of former senator and presidential wannabe Bob Kerrey are amazing--both midwestern politicians hit hard by the revelation of their roles in a Vietnam massacre. The book predates Kerrey's confession by several years. Capsule review: The wife's character was a bit thin, and Wade was unlikable, but the novel has real style and substance.

I did not set out to read only books with "woods" in the title on this vacation--I mention Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods below--but that's how it worked out.

Home tomorrow, after dropping Elijah in Chapel Hill for basketball camp at UNC.

9:52:19 PM   comment []  

The Semiotics of Playboy

An interesting essay by Eric Raymond about the unerotic and disturbing nature of much or most online porn reminded me of my own experience browsing the Playboy archives last year while researching an article on porn for Wired.

The Playboy centerfolds from the '70s were pretty young women, airbrushed to be sure but with natural-looking bodies. They seemed real. Flash forward to the '90s, and the natural look is long gone, replaced by surgical jobs so orblike and protuberant that realism is clearly not a goal--volume seems to be an end to itself. Even the women without aftermarket boobs are shaved and teased and made up to look like porn stars.

What happened to the fantasy of the girl next door? Is this just an indication of the changing tastes of weird, Viagra-addled old Hugh Hefner? Or, as Raymond suggests, is it about meeting the demands of a marketplace of men who are insecure with real, pretty women? Is it a post-AIDS thing--were the '70s about sex as natural and fun, and now sex is clinical and controlled?

Finally, what is the relationship between idealized women in photographs and the establishment of a man's taste in women? I was a teenager in the '70s, and I like pretty, natural-looking women. Cause or effect? If I was 15 now, would I like women who look like porn stars, or would I just hate Playboy?

12:15:56 PM   comment []  

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