Two Muppets, One Cup, Two Girls

Kermit the FrogI’m sure that in the past, I have written about 2 Girls 1 Cup. But during my Thanksgiving trip, the subject came up, as I will discuss shortly. I have, for the first time, done a bit of research on the video. That is to say, I looked at the Wikipedia page on it, because that is about as close as I ever want to get to it. For those who may not know, it is a short film featuring two young women who apparently defecate into a cup (glass, actually), drink it, and vomit it back into the other’s mouth.

I was introduced to it by some young men I worked with at a startup. They really wanted to show it to me — as was quite common at the time (late 2007 — when it was still fairly new). I asked them, “Is it scatological?” That was said right as the video started. One of them said, “What is ‘scatological’?” At that point, one of the young women defecated into a glass. I immediately stood up and as I walked away, I said, “That is ‘scatological’!” So I only saw the first few seconds of it. The young men filled me in on the complete narrative later.

Hungry BitchesIt turns out that the video itself is just the trailer for an hour long Brazilian fetish porn film called, Hungry Bitches. There has been much discussion over the years as to exactly how “real” the whole thing is. One thing I noticed in my brief encounter with it was that the feces of the one woman was either fake or she was very ill indeed. The porn industry seems to have perfected the art of the enema, so I don’t actually have much difficulty seeing how the whole thing could be faked. Clearly doing any of that is something that would be truly disgusting for a normal person, but for a professional, well, whatever.

(It is worth noting that I know a few people who are what we might call connoisseurs of pornography in its many forms. When I asked them about the video, they were lackadaisical about it. 2 Girls 1 Cup is not at all a new thing. Similar films have been around since at least the early 90s. So this particular video becoming a big deal is due to the vagaries of society — most especially the recent proliferation of video streaming services.)

What I learned last week is that there is a genre of videos which record people’s reactions to 2 Girls 1 Cup. Clearly, there are people who find scatological material erotic. It’s a small percentage of the population, surely. But human sexuality is broad. And I am not one to judge when it comes to such matters. But clearly, the video did not go viral because people found it titillating; it went viral because people found it disgusting. So shooting people’s reactions to the video was quite normal. I haven’t actually seen any of them, because even that is too close to the original.

Hungry Bitches was released in January of 2007. According to Wikipedia, “Around mid-October 2007, video-sharing sites including YouTube were flooded with videos depicting others’ reactions to watching the video for the first time.” By mid-November, comedian Adam Ray came up with his own scripted version, Kermit the Frog Reacts to 2 Girls 1 Cup. I actually hate the idea. Kermit is a hero of mine. But I did check it out. (Note: it has some foul language.)

There are a number of things that impress me. One is that the puppetry is rather good. The voice isn’t bad, until it gets too loud and outraged. And Adam Ray is the kind of comic who pushes jokes too far. He doesn’t allow the joke to end with the appearance of the hand lotion. Instead, we get Kermit masturbating under the table. Is it pedantic of me to note that frogs do not have penises but rather cloacae? Probably so, but it is something of a matter of honor.

Following this two weeks later, Ray released, Kermit Shows Rowlf the Dog 2 Girls 1 Cup. It is the better of the two. (Note: it has some foul language.)

Again, I think Ray pushes the joke far past its breaking point. All he needs to do is note that Rowlf is, in fact, a dog. But it works. I think they both do, and they are creative. It’s all rather interesting. The producer of Hungry Bitches, Marco Antônio Fiorito, even said in an official declaration, “I have already made fetish movies with scat/feces using chocolate instead of feces. Many actors make scat films but they don’t agree to eat feces.” That’s a lot of creativity to create the fantasy that some people desire. I respect that. But I hope the subject never comes up again in my life.

There Are Different Ways to Destroy Freedom

Freedom of SpeechEvery time I hear someone saying it is okay for all of us to limit freedom of speech because it isn’t the government doing it, I have a problem. Sure, I don’t especially care if people boycott Rush Limbaugh’s advertisers. But a much more likely scenario is that some company is going to fire some woman for what she says on her personal blog. It happens all the time. And people usually don’t care because it doesn’t contradict the Constitution — as though every right that people ought to have is found that the two century old document.

I’ve made arguments along these lines many times before, but I always get the impression that people don’t really get it. It’s really simple. People have a right to life. We no longer have free land where people can just go out and make their own living by hunting and gathering — or by farming. Just try it some time. Go out to an unused field and start developing it. You’ll find very soon that even though the property is not being used for anything, you don’t have the right to farm it. You don’t own the land; someone else does. So if you can’t get a job, you don’t have a right to life. You have a right to beg and maybe a right to starve, but that’s about it.

This is a fact of the world that libertarians in particular do not understand. But it is a fact that is poorly understood by even quite liberal people. Most liberals I know just have a gut feeling about what is right and wrong. They don’t think too deeply about it. And that’s fine! One should have a gut feeling about justice. And I think that conservatives mostly have the same gut feeling. It’s just that they’ve managed to slice and dice the world up into those people who deserve this kind of justice.

But it isn’t just on an individual level that we find this. On Monday, I read a very interesting article by Glenn Greenwald, Court Ruling Against Chicago Sheriff Proves Thuggish Anti-WikiLeaks Blockade Was Unconstitutional. The ruling doesn’t have to do directly with WikiLeaks. It has to do with a classified ads site, Backpage. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart decided that he didn’t like the barely cloaked prostitution ads in Backpage, so he decided to shut it down.

Glenn GreenwaldNow before going forward, I should point out that Tom Dart is not a bad guy. He suspended foreclosures in Cook County, because he said (rightly) that renters were being evicted, based upon their landlords’ being behind in their payments. His legal reasoning was sound. He’s not some yahoo. He has a JD from Loyola University. But that doesn’t stop him from being wrong about other things. He first tried to shut down Craigslist. He did it by filing a lawsuit against the company for its offering of “erotic services.” He lost; the court found that Craigslist was an ISP and therefore not responsible for any illegal things that people using the service did.

So far, so good. But then Dart went over to the dark side. He knew he couldn’t take Backpage to court. So instead, he pressured Visa and MasterCard to not allow credit card transactions through the site. Brilliant, right?! And of course the credit card companies wouldn’t admit that they were doing this because of political pressure. It is, whether done by public or private entities, the perfect way to destroy just about anyone: don’t allow them to make money. The Constitution says nothing directly about that.

Well, the court didn’t buy it. It said that it was clear that Sheriff Dart had violated Backpage’s first amendment rights. But as Greenwald pointed out, back in 2010, this is exactly what Joe Lieberman did to WikiLeaks. And there it wasn’t just some overzealous sheriff with some sexual hangups; this was a sitting US Senator trying to destroy an explicitly political group using underhanded economic tactics because he knew that the First Amendment would never allow the important and legal work of WikiLeaks to be stopped directly. It’s not the government! It’s just a private sector!

Of course, even if the extension of this case to WikiLeaks is clear to Glenn Greenwald, it isn’t mentioned in the case. And you always have to wonder where the Supreme Court would come down on this. This is one of those cases where I actually think that Scalia would come out right. But Thomas and Alito, I feel certain would see things differently on this one. The truth is that we need a new Constitution. The Supreme Court has found far too many loopholes that have empowered the powerful and weakened the weak. This kind of financial extortion should be clearly illegal, and not left up to a bunch of people who owe their jobs to the power elite.

Morning Music: Baby Plays Around

Spike - Elvis CostelloToday in our adventures with Elvis Costello, I’m going to highlight what I think is the first CD I ever owned: Spike. It’s certainly the case that I originally had Blood & Chocolate on vinyl. And yes, I know, I’ve completely neglected the first three albums. I think that’s because of something James said. I assure you, I could do Elvis Costello songs for the next several months and manage to write 500 words about each one of them. I’m still not 100% and today we’re doing Spike so get over it!

The thing about Spike is that I don’t think it is a very good album. But it has some of my favorite songs on it. It has “Let Him Dangle” and “Tramp the Dirt Down.” But I already highlighted both of those songs (along with the exquisite “Shipbuilding”) a year ago, Three Elvis Costello Political Songs. In that article, I say I that I hadn’t actively sought out his music after this album, but that’s not true; I followed him closely through All This Useless Beauty. But it is probably true that Spike was the album that kind of ended the romance.

The real standout song on the album is “God’s Comic.” Maybe I say that simply because I get it, unlike so many other of his songs. For example, on the same album is “Veronica,” a little pop annoyance he wrote with Paul McCartney. I really tried to figure out what that song was about, but it was only after I read an interview with Costello that I found out. How the hell was anyone supposed to get that from the song? And given what the song is about, why is it such an upbeat tune?

On the other hand, in “God’s Comic,” I’m in on the joke. I even get the final line that turns everything on its head. And I think this is a wonderful bit of sly writing:

So there he [God] was on a water-bed
Drinking a cola of a mystery brand
Reading an airport novelette
Listening to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem
He said, before it had really begun
“I prefer the one about my son.”

Get it?! God is listening to Webber’s requiem mass, but God isn’t that into it. He prefers Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. In addition to everything else, God has base tastes. It’s a brilliant song with lots of other great lines like, “Sometimes you confuse me with Santa Claus; it’s the big white beard I suppose.” And I was going to feature it today, but this week, I’m feeling a little down. And so we’ll listen to another song I quite like from the album, “Baby Plays Around.” It was written with Cait O’Riordan, the woman who did a better job than anyone else at putting up with his crap.

Anniversary Post: King Charlemagne

CharlemagneOn this day in 771, Carloman I died. He was King of the Franks — for a couple of years anyway. He was the son of Pepin the Short, although I don’t know if that means he was actually short. Anyway, so Pepin was King of the Franks, and after he croaks, Carloman becomes King of the Franks, and after he croaks, his brother Charlemagne takes over. And Charlemagne is the great man who brought the Holy Roman Empire back together. Hooray!

Actually, I don’t really care. What I do care about is that Charlemagne, like most “great” leaders, was no kind of self-made man. They were almost all of them born into it. War was the family business just like farming was for the vast majority of other people. It’s the way with humans. Look at Hollywood. I’m a great admirer of George Clooney, but he was born into the business.

I don’t especially have anything against any of this. Genghis Khan’s daddy was a Mongol ruler. Fine! What I do have a problem with is this creepy cultural tendency — especially in America — to attribute success to some personal greatness. It just ain’t so. Let’s go back to actors again. I’ve noticed something about great old British actors like Laurence Olivier or Alec Guinness. Again: I admire them both greatly. Neither man was born into the business. But you could say they were born for the business. They were both very attractive young men. It wasn’t their acting talent that made them stars.

So hooray for King Charlemagne! I’m sure he did about as well as any other person put in his position.