Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Faith Works 9-15-07
Jeff Gill

The Pornification Of Just About Everything

If Britney Spears is news, I’m a network anchorman.

And my name is not Ron Burgundy.

If you watched the increasingly misnamed “morning news” programs last Monday, you were treated to seemingly endless footage of Ms. Spears, mother of two, pop star “musician,” on a stage at an award show, surrounded by skilled, professional, fully-clothed dancers.

Ms. Spears was none of the above.

Most disturbing in some ways was the way the commentary focused on how she is apparently considered “fat.” Look, I saw way more of her than I really want to, and I can say with assurance that for a woman with two kids, one born just months ago, obesity is the least of her worries. She looked more fit and in shape, from a purely physical angle, than eleven of the next ten people I’ll see down at the mall.

I was, and am, a little mystified by the general lack of comment on how she was clearly in a daze, stumbling around the stage, barely knowing the words to the song she was not even close to lip-synching.

She danced badly, you say? No, she looked like a captive in a kidnapping video, doing what her captors were making her do at gunpoint, with too little sleep and maybe some pharmaceutical enhancement.

Forget the fat, which wasn’t there. She was wearing underwear with some sequins justifying the label “clothing,” and she was vaguely simulating a stripper routine, alternating with what my high school principal called inappropriate contact with a dozen different guys (all of whom had to be thinking “eight years of lessons and a knee operation and I’m getting union scale, while this stumbling girl is . . .”).

And it was on every morning show, except for Nickelodeon, which is starting to look downright wholesome.

So clearly putting on weight is the one unforgiveable sin in American culture? That can’t be the point, if look down the sidewalk in any Licking County community is any guide. That, or we’re all unrepentant sinners – hmmmm. . . .

But I think the talk about fat was being used to hide from another issue, which is what dieticians and counselors tell us is what real fat is often about.

Britney Spears was acting out, all too well, the role of a stripper, a prostitute, a porn star. If there was one person, just one person in her life who cared about her as a person at all, they would have looked at her and said “fire me, cut my pay, delete me from your cell phone, but honey, you are in no condition to go out on a stage in front of your peers and a global TV audience, not even to read a cue card.”

But strip club owners, pimps, and pornographers tell their often drugged and intoxicated employees “C’mon, you can do it, just toss back another shot of this and get going.”

The numbers tell the story: Americans are consuming porn at incredible rates, and not just on-line. X-rated movies are said to do more business than the mainstream studios, and that’s the money they admit to, keeping in mind that no one disputes that the involvement of criminal figures in the porn industry is extensive. Print formats and pay-per-view XXX are booming at the same time, with in-room movies so lucrative even the J.W. Marriott company, a very “family values” based company in the past, from their Mormon heritage, feels they have to offer that “service.” (Industry reported average viewing time of in-room movies? Seven minutes, which means weary travelers are usually paying a buck or three a minute for the “service.”)

For a growing segment of the audience, a dazed and confused nearly nude woman constitutes entertainment, or the prelude to it. So why would we have much to say about Ms. Spears other than “sheesh, she’s put on, what? Five pounds? Maybe seven?”

Porn is so mainstream that “stripper-chic” is not a joke term, but a fashion label.

Underlying all this is the American mindset that stripping and prostitution and porn are “victimless crimes.” Yep, there’s those quote marks again.

Friends, I’ve spoken to more prostitutes than most of you, albeit in prison visiting areas and chapels. But don’t let anyone kid you about “victimless.” You just saw another victim of this evil system on stage if you saw TV last Monday (or watched the event, I guess, on Sunday).

She stood there, lost, without a friend, trying to move her body to please us, her audience. Libertarians and feminists and family should be her friends, and they apparently could care less.

Only people of faith, I fear, can see this for what it is: a crime, a tragedy, and a call to candor. Porn wounds and scars and kills, starting with women used and abused by men at every step in the process. It doesn’t need to be banned, it needs to go broke. It should be unprofitable and non-viable and utterly despised.

Some ideas next week; stay tuned.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher; contact him at

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