Saturday, May 31, 2014

Elliot Rodger and the Pornographic Imagination

Just when I think I am out they pull me back in...
We are doing some weekend palate cleansing on this thread in order to mentally reset from the ugliness that is the Elliot Rodger saga. 
As I wrote previously, there is so much left to discuss about Elliot Rodger. The American media has still not offered a serious discussion of the role that white supremacy and internalized racism played in his wicked deeds. 
While there has been a bit more of an intelligent conversation about sexism and misogyny, the narrative is focused--as often happens with racism--on some public whipping boy outlier (in this case the "Men's Rights Movement" and the "Pickup Artist" community) instead of looking at how Elliot Rodger learned the lessons of violent, hyper-aggressive masculinity from a range of sources in American culture.
American culture made Elliot Rodger. But, to admit such a thing is to force us to talk about gender as a system of power, rape culture, and the myriad ways that Elliot Rodger is an extreme version, the exaggerated case with the volume turned up to the max, lacking the restraints of "normal" impulse control, whose murder rampage was a channeling of the Id of American sexism, racism, gun culture, and misogyny. 
In many ways, Elliot Rodger is also a reflection and product of the "pornographic imagination", which is "thinking of women as being defined only through their sexuality and that sexuality to be at the service of men’s desires".

There are two resources which are helpful for understanding the pornographic imagination.

Sut Jhally's documentary series Dreamworlds examines its presence in music videos, and how they channel the pornographic imagination by offering up a (mis)representation of reality in which every woman is sexually available, young boys can have sex with grown adult women, women are objects for the pleasure of male use, and when women are not naked, having sex with any nearby man who asks, engaging in orgies and sex-play with other women for the entertainment of men, they are bored and unfulfilled. 
Dreamworlds can be watched here
The great site Women in Theology has offered up an essential essay titled "“Gay or Asian?” Race, Masculinity, and the UCSB Shooting" which I encourage readers to seek out.
In the comments on the piece, I discovered the following gem from Elliot Rodger's manifesto.
Elliot Rodger hated women. He was also a racist. And now we can add some serious issues with perhaps incest and maternal issues into the mix. 
The collective ugliness:
From pg. 129: “I visited my mother’s house quite often in the Autumn. To my extreme rage, I discovered that my sister now had a boyfriend, and that she had lost her virginity. She had casually “dated” boys in the past, but never to the serious extent that she did with this one. This one was a half White, half Mexican named Samuel, and I immediately took an intense disliking to him when I was first introduced to him. He seemed like the typical obnoxious slob that most young girls are sexually attracted to. Georgia invited him to my mother’s house all the time, and it angered me to watch him lurking about, eating my mother’s food and drinks, and making use of my mother’s house. He was freeloading off my mother, and she didn’t even realize it. 
I eventually grew to hate him after I heard him having sex with my sister. I arrived at the house one day, my mother being at work, and heard the sounds of Samuel plunging his penis into my sister’s vagina through her closed room door, along with my sister’s moans. I stood there and listened to it all. So my sister, who was four years younger than me, managed to lose her virginity before I did. It reminded me of how pathetic I was, that at the age of twenty-two, I was still a virgin. I hated her boyfriend as well. My sister said that he’s been with other girls before her, and I’m sure he lost his virginity at a much younger age. It is such an injustice. The slob doesn’t even have a car, and he is able to get girlfriends, while I drive a BMW and get no attention from any girls whatsoever.
My sister even showed me a picture of one of his ex-girlfriends, a pretty brunette white girl. My hatred towards him only intensified after that. I refused to speak to him whenever he came over, and I constantly pestered my mother to ban him from the house, but she refused to heed my demands. Even worse, she constantly talked about him admiringly. He reminded me of Leo Bubenheim, a typical obnoxious boy who has been able to experience a great sex life from a young age. An enemy had now infiltrated the household of my mother, the one place in the whole world where I’ve always sought refuge from injustice. Things were getting too out of hand.”
Violent, hyper-aggressive, (white) masculinity mixed with consumerist greed and entitlement is the story of American culture, history, and empire. 
The public retreats and turns away in horror at that fact, but to paraphrase Brother Malcolm X, when the Elliot Rodgers of the world act out, how can you ignore the roots of the tree? 

If mainstream media coverage of the Elliot Rodger's murder spree is any indication, the answer is "easily".


Chesty La Rue said...

I was one of the girls that rejected him.

My heart goes out to the family and his victims.

I feel so stupid I should have just taken one for the team, and said yes.
I can be so stuck-up sometimes, I should have just said "yes, I'll go out with you."

The whole experience probably would have only lasted 2-3 minutes anyway.

maybe he would even convince his dad to let me be an extra in the Hunger Games!

If he would have approached me Friday night at 1am after I left the Keg n bottle bar, he could have had me.

Oh well.. :/


Myshkin the Idiot said...

I thought when Wade Page killed all those people at the Sikh temple in Oak Park, Wisconsin the media was real quick to quit talking about it. And his racism was just an unfortunate detail, like no one wanted to talk about it, instead he was "crazy." Afterward, whenever people would bring up shootings they would skip over his name. "Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Columbine"

chauncey devega said...

predictable question. nature or nurture?

skilletblonde said...

So I went over to David Duke's website. I wanted to see what the racist would have to say about the racist Elliott Rodger. After all, Elliott believed in virtues of white supremacy. Surely Duke would find kinship with a man who thought blondness was the ultimate beauty and black was filth. Though Duke dyed his hair blond as a man to achieve the mythical Aryan ideal, Elliott's parents would do the same for him as a child. Duke had a nose job to further solidify his representation as Aryan. I've posted before, though I could be wrong, Elliot's aquiline nose look very much like rhinoplasty. want believe how Duke spun it. He theorized Jewish Supremacy was the culprit. Particularly, the Jewish Supremacist Control Media and the Jewish Supremacist Hollywood, who promotes now get this, the hatred of Europeans. He thinks Elliott has been given a pass because of his mixed race heritage. Here is the quote.

"In this way, the evil influence of the Jewish Supremacist controlled media can be clearly seen: imagine for a second if a European American had set off to kill people, and had put up
a “manifesto” online stating his hatred of black people or Jews. This same Jewish Supremacist-controlled media would be quoting from this manifesto ad infinitum, and screaming to the world about “white racism.” Yet, because in this case the perpetrator was of mixed race—half Chinese and half European—the media has chosen to “ignore” his racist rants against Europeans."
This kind of thinking makes my head hurt. A psychiatrist analysis is needed here, though I'm sure there are people on this very blog smart enough to give one. If you look at men like Elliott Rodger, David Duke or even George Zimmerman, they are pathological misogynists. And typically, the pathological misogynists are pathological racists. They are the Ying of each others Yang.

In Susan Griffins book titled "Pornography and Silence" she makes a comparison of the mind of the racist and the sexist, in an essay called the "Chauvinist Mind".


*Indeed, the association between pornographic thought and racist ideology is neither casual or coincidental. As Hannah Arendt points out, both (Gobineau and Houston Chamberlain anti-Semites ideologues who had a great influence on the Third Reich and on Hitler himself) were deeply influenced by the writings of the Marquis de Sade. Like de Sade they "elevated cruelty to a major virtue."

"We know that the sufferings women experience in a pornographic culture is different from the sufferings of black people in a racist society, or of Jewish people under antisemitism. (And we know that the hatred of homosexuality has again another effect on the lives of women and men outside traditional sexual roles) But if we look closely at the portrait which the racist draws of a man or women of color, or that the anti- Semite draws of a Jew, or that the pornographer draws of a woman, we began to see that these fantasized figures resemble one another. For they are the creations of one mind, a mind which projects all it fears in itself onto another: a mind which defines itself by what it hates."


Whatever darkness is lying at the base of the souls of the Rodgers, Dukes and Zimmerman''s a darkness "to them" that is so contemptuous, so odious, that it is too excruciating to confront. That is what is driving the obsession and the projection.

Now what is it?

joe manning said...

That's always a conundrum but considering the barrage of sexualized images that we're subjected to every day I think nurture holds the balance.

joe manning said...

Duke got way up in the right field cheap seats for that one. Othering born of personal degeneracy, I blame the system.

craig said...

There's a wonderful point of view by Thomas Moore in his Care of the Soul series that identifies the prevalence of pornography as a symptom of an un-erotic society. The antidote would be to make everything in our daily lives more erotic - that is more pleasing to our senses; colors and textures, forms, scents, the motion of our bodies, etc. Most of us (myself included) spend the whole day in office cublcles with very lttle tactile interaction. Eros, which can not be destroyed, becomes extreme - it's as if Aphrodite herself is desperatley screaming for our attention through pornography.

joe manning said...

Brecht's utopia picks up where More's leaves off. They're saying that aesthetic deprivation produces pent up energy that is expressed in aggression.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

That bit from David Duke does not surprise me one bit.

As for what is driving the projection, the obsession; entitlement. The idea that they define the world based on their notions of superiority, Christian, white, male. my guess.

Stephen Kearse said...

I finally watched Dreamworlds 3 after reading this a few weeks go. It was great. Thanks for sending it along. The footage from that day of rampant sexual harassment at Central Park in 2000 really brought everything together as far as how male entitlement plays out.

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there has been a bit more of an intelligent conversation about sexism
and misogyny, the narrative is focused--as often happens with racism--on
some public whipping boy outlier (in this case the "Men's Rights
Movement" and the "Pickup Artist" community) instead of looking at how
Elliot Rodger learned the lessons of violent, hyper-aggressive
masculinity from a range of sources in American culture.