Sex sells. Is that a problem?
April 16th, 2010
There’s an interesting minor dust-up taking place over on the Bilerico Project. Publisher Bil Browning published a post about “Hot Mormon missionary boys masturbating” and that led one of his contributors, David Badash, to quit the site.Badash explains his reasons this way (while helpfully providing links to the content he objects to):
I recognize the need to “pay the bills,” and sadly, I understand that “Prince William’s penis pictures,” “First all Israeli gay porn movie,” and even “Top 10 Stores to Pick Up Gay Men” (three of the top-ten most popular posts on The Bilerico Project) may serve that purpose, but as a journalist, I have to believe that these are the easy way out, and, just as I wouldn’t expect to see that type of content coming from a think tank, or mainstream journalism site, I don’t expect to see it coming from what I thought Bilerico was. And perhaps that was my mistake.
Browning counters that the Bilerico Project is sex positive, and his editorial decisions go beyond merely figuring out how to “pay the bills.” He denies that any of the posts amounts to porn, and besides that, he posits that such criticisms stem from the desire to maintain a facade of respectability which he calls “the losing strategy behind the closet”:
The reason we have been ostracized for centuries from “normal” society is because we don’t conform to the community expectations about penises and vaginas. We need not neuter our sexuality to advance the cause. The best way to press our movement onward is not by trying to convince the public that we’re “just like them.” We’re not. We do not need to assimilate to gain acceptance; respect is not won by submission and false exteriors.
I would have to agree with Bil’s reasoning. And I’d also add that defining and maintaining a particular tone on a web site is both the Publisher’s responsibility and prerogative. And yes, we do need to pay the bills; that’s why you see advertising on this site as well. And I believe we do see ourselves as sex-positive, but that kind of judgment is always in the eye of the beholder. We certainly don’t avoid topics touching on sexuality, but we tend to approach those topics with a certain seriousness. That’s probably because BTB sees itself as an oh-so-serious web site that resists stooping to the lowest common denominator of base sexuality to promote our site. Are we too serious? Maybe. Personally, I’m a big consumer of what could be described as lowest common denominator-type stuff, and I can’t say I have any qualms about it whatsoever. But our readership doubles in size every nine months quite dependably simply by providing you with what you’ve come to expect: news, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric.
And speaking of news and analysis, the world welcomed singer Ricky Martin as he publicly declared that he was no longer in the closet. Which brings up an interesting question: when a performer comes out of the closet, it’s natural to speculate on how it will affect that performer’s art. After all, if sexuality is something that all people see as one of their core traits, it would seem that escaping the closet would be a freeing experience and that this experience would be reflected in the artist’s work. So in an attempt to provide further data to this artistic theory, we present Ricky Martin’s very first promotional video since coming out and let you be the judge.
Update: The promotional video isn’t exactly new. It was filmed in 2007, but Martin tweeted it to his followers this week. Featuring tatood messages like “find yourself” and “change your life,” Martin said, “It’s all about positive affirmations.”