Reading about the prosecution of a well-known fast food spokesperson has felt unnerving to me. In part because it’s always sad to hear about the type of activity he was convicted of. And in part because that particular well-known fast food spokesperson is featured in my (unpublished) book & is described in dialogue as being in possession of “this, like, absolutely monstrous pornography collection.”
Which seems like it would’ve been a totally reasonable detail to include if the book had been published earlier, but I’m worried that it’ll be distracting now. Even though it’s now more verifiably accurate.
I’d vacillated on using his real name — in one draft from 2013 those passages instead discuss a spokesperson named Garret who works for a fictional chain called Treats — but later that same year decided the connection to the real world was sufficiently important, and my information sufficiently accurate, that I should include the public figure. Especially because publicity itself was a minor theme of those passages. Myths come from somewhere, after all, and publicity is the first step toward myth-making. It’s interesting to look at the sort of actions that lead to publicity in the modern world versus the long-departed eras traditionally featured in epics. It seems unlikely that Homer would’ve versified over a man who had lost a lot of weight by eating food prepared by the same cook for every meal.
And the discussion of pornography is important for my work — my original impetus for the project was as a framework to write about violence against women. Providing an alternate perspective from Bolano’s masterful 2666, for instance. And hoping that, by making the story more accessible than his was (the police blotter portion of his book is pretty hard to get through for a lot of people), I could expand the audience for those ideas.
I subscribe to the school of feminism that believes pornography itself, i.e. explicit depictions of human sexuality, is okay — but there is plenty of pornography that is not. The biggest issue is that pornography and sex do not seem to be substitute goods. You might think they would be, that either would result in satiation and so people would not seek both, but most research I’ve seen suggests that pornography increases people’s desire to experience the depicted acts. With smiling footage between consenting adults, that’s fine. It’d be nice if more pornography depicted conversation — I don’t know of any wherein the actors ask “What do you want to do next?” or “Is this okay?” or the like… instead the actors mostly groan or shout Saxon-derived language about what should go where and how — but, still, if the participants look happy and the depicted acts are gentle, I don’t think there’s a problem.
But despite being a gung-ho free speech liberal, I really dislike the existence of violent pornography… and child pornography even more so. Even if pornography is simply stylized to look childish but used all consenting of-age actors I think it’s inappropriate. Our world is already rife with abuse. Anything that might increase demand for that sort of activity seems pretty evil.
Which I tried to express in my book… but now I’m worried I’ll have to rework those passages.