Piers Morgan is no stranger to controversy lately, where in his TV show’s dying days, he sought to turn Janet Mock’s life into infotainment, doing immense splash damage to trans folks in the process. It’s no wonder people are taking it upon themselves to shame him in innumerable ways.
Like with this very probably faked tweet, apparently taken as a photograph of a computer monitor with visible pixellation, posted by some rapper obviously looking to make a name for himself by inventing a “beef” as the kids say with a public figure:
— Elro (@ElroRaps) March 1, 2014
The image is ostensibly of Morgan’s Twitter stream, complete with his avatar and Twitter page background, tweeting a link to www.pornhub.com/asian .
Below the fold, I talk about pornography. Might not be safe for work.
My immediate reaction was to tweet that there are plenty of reasons to chastise Morgan for moral failings without resorting to shame him for consuming porn, like, for instance, mistaking Twitter for a web browser. However, the closer you look at this picture and the replies to it, the more obvious it is that it was faked and that Morgan wasn’t, in fact, off to have a wank and misplaced his cursor.
First, the “verified user” tick mark which Twitter uses to identify real celebrities, to distinguish them from the myriad faked accounts, didn’t show up on the tweet. Individual tweets don’t get the verified tick mark in a stream, but this tweet was formatted like it was in the blown-up individual tweet “details” view, where it SHOULD get that tick mark.
Second, Elro replies to someone questioning this fact by saying “that’s how it showed up on my tablet”, but there’s a very visible cursor on that screen, and it’s unlikely (though certainly not impossible) that his tablet, most of which have touch screens, has a mouse attached. And beyond that, there’s a lot of very visible dirt on that screen. If it’s really a tablet, that spot must never get touched — or else Elro often has shit all over his hands. Either clean your screen or wash your hands once in a while, Elro.
Third, and very importantly, pornhub.com/asian doesn’t exist. I’m not ashamed to admit that I tried going there to see what would happen, and I got an error page (file not found), and a bunch of generic (more on THAT later!) porn video thumbnails.
Fourth, I was able to do this with some facility:
— Jason Thibeault (@lousycanuck) March 1, 2014
That’s a picture of another faked tweet, taken with my phone camera of my monitor, this one saying “This isn’t a real tweet either! It’s from lemmetweetthatforyou.com .”
So, it’s pretty incontrovertible that this is very likely fake. I’m sure some confluence of events might have actually resulted in this being real, but there’s too much that’s questionable around the edges.
But something else merits discussion here: the use of sex as a shaming mechanism. Elro thought it was shame-worthy to fake that Morgan was apparently trying to get some porn starring southeast-Asian folks. There’s absolutely nothing shameful about watching or enjoying porn. Nor, in fact, about having erotic fantasies about certain races; nor in having erotic fantasies of any sort whatsoever, in their myriad possibilities.
I also don’t buy into the whole “porn is inherently violent against women” line, when I know so many feminist sex workers. I would argue very strongly, in fact, that all sex work should be legalized, so it can be unionized and regulated and made safe for the workers and the consumers alike.
In my estimation, the only dividing line between acceptable sex, and unacceptable immoral sex, is informed consent. Even in bondage and domination, the key is informed, ongoing consent, by parties legally capable of such — that is undeniably the line between sex and rape.
Imagine for a moment that the tweet had been real, though. Getting a peek into someone else’s fantasies doesn’t give you any actual insight about what they are like as people. Your knowing that a person fantasizes about, say, Asians, or bondage, or even something as undeniably immoral as pedophilia or rape, does not actually say anything about them as people. You can fantasize even about extraordinarily problematic things, like a lack of consent or sex with people who cannot consent, as long as you do not act on it. You are only engaging in immoral or illegal activities when you actually act on such impulses. I am reminded of a short story written by Stephanie Zvan wherein a doctor with pedophilic tendencies is allowed to indulge those tendencies through the use of virtual reality, keeping her as a productive member of society. The problem is not the fetishes themselves, it’s whether or not they’re acted upon.
There’s another complicated, nuanced problem here: the fetishization of Asians in general. Given the recent uprising on Twitter of Suey Park with the #notyourasiansidekick hashtag, where stereotypes are often played out in public in how people treat visibly-Asian folks — meaning, generally, people with the distinctly Oriental epicanthic fold — it’s entirely understandable if Asian folks might find it very troubling that Western Caucasians might find them attractive to the point of fetishizing them. If an Asian took offence at this, I wouldn’t have a problem with their saying so.
But then, many of the people going to a porn site and clicking on the Asian category might actually be looking for people who look like themselves. And a large number of Asians are going to be disappointed that the only demographic actually being served by that tag are people of Southeast-Asian descent. You’ll rarely find Polynesian or Indian folks categorized as such. Heavens forefend if you’re a Mauritian, whose lineage is distinctly Chinese-descent with a good deal of South African influence due to proximity; good luck finding someone in porn who looks like you.
To me, something really troubling is that this is another instance of the default being designed to be straight white male, even if that’s not necessarily who’s consuming the content. If you go to most porn sites, you’ll find they show by default heterosexual white couples, with every other video hidden under some potentially-damaging category label. Some sites are taking steps to categorize straight and gay videos such that you actually see all videos by default, regardless of category; some sites evidently think trans folks are fetishized and potentially disgusting to a large enough population that they’re not listed on that firehose by default. What’s worse is they’re often hidden under a category label that’s a slur, like “tranny”.
And if you click on the “gay” category, you’re going to largely only see male-on-male porn. The lesbian video demographic is, while consumed by lesbians, culturally accepted as another niche of straight porn to the point where half the actors in lesbian porn are apparently not interested at all in the act — they’re doing it purely mechanically, for the money. Not that there’s anything wrong with that either, but it sort of short-changes lesbians who are interested in seeing women who are actually into it, if you catch my meaning.
The fetishization of non-white, non-straight, non-male-interest sex is irritating to me. Especially since the “default” is probably a smaller demographic of porn-watcher than you’d expect. It actually grates at me when people consider certain “labels” as overrides of the default — even the assumption that you’re a theist unless you expressly list “atheist” on your profile is problematic, but it’s readily apparently when you go to any skeptic’s profile and the labels they list don’t include “white”, “male”, “hetero”, “cis”, “middle-class”. (My own included.)
The porn industry is, in my estimation, leaving so much money on the table by catering to the straight white male first. It makes me want to start up an intersectional porn site, honestly. One where forgotten demographics are the default. Perhaps where a random set of tags is considered the “front page” for every visit (e.g.: gay black bondage, religious straight white foot fetish, trans bisexual asian, etc) until you expressly drill down (heh, drill) to specific tags you’d like to see. And if there’s a set of tags that has no entries, well, Rule 34 should come into play then, right? Maybe cash bounties for uploading porn that fits all the tags of that otherwise random set. I think such a site could make all sorts of money.
That’s a lot of words I just wrote, and a lot of ideas and ground covered. Wow. It’s kind of funny to me that all of these issues were raised directly from a single fake tweet by a jerk trying to tar Piers Morgan as someone who enjoys pornography and, specifically, Asians.