It is sad to think that the first few people on earth needed no books, movies, games or music to inspire cold-blooded murder. The day that Cain bashed his brother Abel's brains in, the only motivation he needed was his own human disposition to violence. Whether you interpret the Bible as literature or as the final word of whatever God may be, Christianity has given us an image of death and sexuality that we have based our culture around. A half-naked dead man hangs in most homes and around our necks, and we have just taken that for granted all our lives. Is it a symbol of hope or hopelessness? The world's most famous murder-suicide was also the birth of the death icon – the blueprint for celebrity. Unfortunately, for all of their inspiring morality, nowhere in the Gospels is intelligence praised as a virtue.
While celebrities take on the tabloid photographers who follow them around, the movie and television industry is giving us depictions of venal reporters and scheming entertainment conglomerates, which pull no punches when it comes to revealing how amoral our culture industry has become.
It remains one of China’s favorite dining styles: hot pot (火锅), also known as Chinese fondue – a dish that never seems to go out of fashion. Why are so many Chinese celebrities opening up their own hot pot restaurants?
I don't know him at all. Maybe if his people had let me talk to him, he'd have bitten and struck me and told me to leave my fucking brats at home, and I could transcend these feelings. As it is, I'm left listening to "Patience" again. I don't know how it is where you are, but down south where I live, they still play it all the time. And I whistle along and wait for that voice, toward the end, when he goes, Ooooooo, I need you. OOOOOOO, I need you. And on the first Ooooooo, he finds a note so tissue-shredding it conjures the image of someone peeling his own scalp back, like the skin of a grape. I have to be careful not to attempt to sing along with this part, because it makes me, like, sort of throw up a little bit. And on the second OOOOOOO, you picture just a naked glowing green skull that hangs there vibrating gape-mouthed in a hyperbaric chamber.
I don't know where this new situation is headed. Velvet Revolver? Are they any good? Seriously, I'm asking. Everybody I know who's heard the leaked Chinese Democracy tracks says the album sounds like a bummer. Shouldn't the band just get back together? Don't they know how huge that'd be? But Dana Gregory told me Slash and Izzy will never play full-time with Axl again: "They know him too well."
Sex has remained a topic of interest. However, the media industry has brought it to a new level, turning it into an idealism that many people try to match. Sex in the media is mostly used for products or for the promotion of celebrities; this is a consumerist approach that implies that sex may be either a mean of achieving goals, or a service that can be easily purchased. Teenagers and children are especially vulnerable to media influences, as they have a lack of personal experience to base their perception on. Affected by distorted images in media, they develop incorrect conceptions about sexuality, gender roles, and sex itself. Moreover, even adults fall into this trap, trying to match idealistic (and often unrealistic) criteria, imposed by media. Inability to meet such requirements can have serious psychological and physical consequences.
The district where they played is called Kobetamendi. It's high up, and from there you could see the city, the river, the spires, the flashing titanium scales of the museum. When it got dark, you could see the lights. When there aren't stages set up at Kobetamendi, it's just a large empty field with a road and, across the road, some modest farmhouses. As I reached the crest of the hill, a rap-rock band was playing. I don't "get," as they say, rap-rock, and I'm a person who's cultivated a taste for some fairly awful music. The justification for rap-rock seems to be that if you take really bad rock and put really bad rap over it, the result is somehow good, provided the raps are being barked by an overweight white guy with short hair and forearm tattoos. The women from those few little farmhouses had gathered at their fence; they leaned and mumbled and dangled their canes. One of them was one of the oldest-looking old people I have ever seen, with stiff white hair and that face, like the inside of a walnut shell, that only truly ancient women get. She and her friends were actually listening to the rap-rock, and part of me wanted to run over to them and assure them that after they died, there would still be people left in the world who knew how horrifying this music was, and that these people would transmit their knowledge to carefully chosen members of future generations, but the ladies did not appear worried. They were even laughing. I'm sure they remembered Gypsy circuses in that field in eighteen ninety something, and what was the difference, really?
Brad had a real mustache already. He'd always been an early bloomer. When we knew him well, he was constantly exposing himself. Once I watched him run around the perimeter of a campsite with his underpants at his ankles going, "Does this look like the penis of an 11-year-old?" And it did not. Brad used to plead with his mom to sing "Birmingham Sunday" for us, which she'd do, a cappella, in the kitchen. Now he was all nigger this, nigger that. Trent was dating a black girl in Louisville at the time. Neither of us knew how to behave. Brad must have noticed us squirming, because he looked at me at one point and said, "Ah, y'all probably got some good niggers in Ohio." That's where I was living. "We're fixin' to have a race war with the ones we got here," he said. He had dropped out of high school before they had a chance to expel him. It had been only four years since we'd been sleeping over at his house, doing séances and shit, and now we had no way to reach one another. A gulf had appeared. It opened the first day of seventh grade when some of us went into the "accelerated" program and others went into the "standard" program. By sheerest coincidence, I'm sure, this division ran perfectly parallel to the one between our respective parents' income brackets. God, if I could I'd drop lit waterproof M-80s down every "tracking" program in the country. I remember Ricky and I running into each other in the hallway the first day of seventh grade and with an awkwardness that we were far too young to handle, both being like, "Why aren't you in any of my classes?" When I think about it, I never saw those boys again, not after that day.
Real sex is necessarily consensual—otherwise, it becomes a crime resulting in legal consequences. Be it passionate or dull, it still remains an act on which both individuals agree. For couples with healthy relationships, sex does not serve as a means to influence a significant other—otherwise, it becomes exploitative. In its turn, sex in media is almost necessarily exploitative, one way or another. The entertainment industry uses sensual images of both genders to promote products; celebrities use sexual images to gain more popularity; filmmakers and writers may overuse sexual scenes to maintain audiences’ interest, and so on. This leads to a binary idea that sex can be either used to achieve goals, or can be purchased in exchange for money or other stimuli (MSRStudies). Adults are believed to be able to distinguish between truth and lies; younger generations, however, often take media images at face value.
I remember the scared, ecstatic freedom of those hours in the woods. When Trent and I found Ricky, he was sitting alone in a darkened room watching a porn movie of a woman doing herself with a peeled banana. He said, "What the fuck is that thing on your head?" I was in a bandanna-wearing phase. This one was yellow. He said, "When I saw you get out of the car, I thought, Who the fuck is that? I 'bout shot you for a faggot." We asked him what was going on. He said he'd just been expelled from school, for trying to destroy one of the boys' restrooms by flushing lit waterproof M-80s down the toilets. Also, he'd just been in a bad jeep accident; his shoulder was messed up somehow. All scabbed over, maybe? This entire conversation unfolded as the woman with the banana worked away. Ricky's dad was asleep in the next room. Retired now. We told him we were headed over to Brad's next. He said, "I haven't seen Brad in a while. Did you hear he dorked a spook?" That's what he said: "dorked a spook."