The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0544 Monday, 20 March 2000.
Date: Friday, 17 Mar 2000 19:41:27 -0000
Subject: RE: Promotion of Pornography
[Editor's Note: Because I responded to Gabriel Egan's original posting
with an Editor's Note and a plan of action, I think it only fair to let
him respond to me in the following submission. However, I have decided,
supported by the private e-mails I have received, to continue posting
Richard Burt's submissions as cultural citations and let those who are
offended exercise their right to use the delete key. I never wanted this
subject to become a meta-topic and therefore I will post none of the
responses to Gabriel that I received nor will I even go into the "VOTE
COUNT." I hope that Gabriel and those who feel as he does will not
choose to unsubscribe. SHAKSPER is about diverse positions and
controversy, but I have made my decision on this matter. -Hardy]
Hardy Cook asks precisely the right questions:
>I ask does the citation of a cultural reference in an academic
>forum constitute promotion even if that citation be exploitive, racist,
>anti-Semitic, or in other ways unacceptable to some or many for one
>reason or another. Should I reject a posting about a pro-Nazi, Arian
>Nation production of Julius Caesar because I am anti-fascist? Should I
>not post a reference to a racist version of Romeo and Juliet (they die
>because people of different races should not date without their parents'
>permission, especially in small religious colleges in the South)?
I applaud these questions because Hardy is putting pornography into the
same category as another form of oppression: racism. It's incredible
that in some circles-even within academia-pornography is treated as a
bit of a giggle. Gender really is the last frontier, and some people
whose views on race and sexual orientation are 'right on' are
frighteningly blind to what the sex industry does to its workers, and to
the minds of its consumers.
Hardy's criteria are right. Suppose I posted this:
"Go see the National Party's production of The Merchant of Venice.
Shylock really gets it in this one--see that yid squirm!"
Hardy would, I think, refuse to post that as written because my review
fails to register an objection to the racism and because I've used,
without distancing quotation marks, a racist epithet. Had I written
this, however, I think it would get through:
"Listmembers might be interested to note that the National Party is
putting on a racist production of The Merchant of Venice, which
reinforces pernicious stereotypes about Jews."
If listmembers feel there is value is hearing about the Shakespeare
spinoffs made by pornographers, I think we should expect the distancing
marks and the overt judgement. Burt quoted from a flyer for a show:
"including your favorite ****LIVE GIRLS**** In a rendition of
The word "girls" infantilizes the women sex workers, and pornographers
do that because their consumers have difficulty dealing with adult
women. On Burt's website he casts himself as a director of pornography
with a naked woman (his putative wife) as the star-naturally he has to
be in control. Let's call this horrid pornography what it
is-oppression-and take a stand against promotion of it on SHAKSPER.