American journalism has a beginner's complex when it comes to fucking. Gawking instead of touching, overthinking instead of cozying up, giving tips instead of giving tip. One in five Americans view porn, and between a quarter and a third of all global Web searches are for porn. Yet magazines and newspapers keep sex at a gigantic arm’s length. For an industry stuck at second base (specifically, side boob), there’s finally a foreshadowing of journalism’s sexy coming of age. Thanks to foreigners, porn and women. But mostly porn, in the hands of women.
The foreigners are key. Relentless, fast, dismissive of America’s tormented sex drive. Canadian-born, New York-based Vice investigates Swiss brothels, tests out homemade sex toys and runs an entire Not Safe For Work section next to Travel and Tech. Gawker Media, founded by a British-Hungarian, launched, ran and released Fleshbot, a blog with more ass-fucking than “Before Night Falls.” Its Jezebel site is always talking sex and publishes gems like the “March Madness Sex vs. Chocolate” competition, a clever play on the annual month-long U.S. college basketball tournament. (Blow jobs easily beat hangnail fingerbang in the first round.) Ten years ago, Vice and Gawker were considered journalism backwaters. Now they’re valued at $1 billion.
Sex should already be everywhere in American journalism. The media are part of a sensual family of artists, singers, musicians, novelists, writers, filmmakers and poets. Every song is about foreplay, fucking or fallout; “Fifty Shades of Grey” is the latest bestseller and a painter’s raison d’etre is the nude. I remember in Dorothy Allison’s “Bastard Out of Carolina,” the leading lady, Bone, masturbates against a tree limb at 12 or 13. That’s honesty you’ll never read in a newspaper, which is ironic, because papers are supposed to reflect the public’s interests. Journalism’s always been tied down by two prude dudes: America, who decided that political gossip and violence stories are more acceptable than naked booties. And advertising, who always bows to political heat or gets up in arms when an ad is placed too close to sex. As if a Chevy is more sacred than fucking. Scram, guy!
Then the Internet came, tsunami-style, to rearrange the madness. Conservative as an ism is suddenly floating upside down in a bottomless sea of everyone. Every second, another voice, another layer, another site, a billion times over. The Internet unmoored civilization’s three deepest anchors: Money’s no good here, everything’s free; assault is impossible; and property doesn’t exist. The Web is generally a very kind place: LOL cats conquered the world without displacing a soul. We get a much more beautiful equilibrium between masculine and feminine tastes, especially when it comes to sex.
By 2010, one in every two-and-a-half Web pages was porn. Two years later, hard core is giving way to more sensual porn, women are taking over the director’s chair and sites like Viv Thomas, X-Art and Hegre refine the pace.
Via Christopher Bowness