Sunday, March 19, 2006

Remember James G. Poulos? As I told you last year, he's the right-wing commentator (The Washington Times, The American Spectator, etc.) who thinks our children's moral well-being is threatened by wacky typography and deliberate misspellings. Well, he's been watching TV, and he's freaking again:

A television commercial. A young male soaps himself up in the shower. He's using man body wash. The brand is Old Spice. At the sink, a woman -- wife? girlfriend? lover? -- attends to herself. She asks: "If you were going to be with one of my friends, who would it be?" Cut to face of male. Cue face of soapy confusion. "Don't worry," she soothes. "I won't get mad or anything." Soapy male clutches his chest. Voice over explains: not everything has to be this difficult. Buy Old Spice man body wash.

... Our psychocapitalists -- in both meanings of that word -- toy with the deaths and dangers that must be repressed and sell the erotic charge any way they can, in both directions, at every turn....

Boycott Old Spice and damn them, for breaking that which is not to be broken and making a comedy of the shattered smithereens. Damn the way in which a laugh is meant to distract, to create the diverting illusion of escape from the inescapable. Seeping from every pore of the hollow joke is a nausea that may have to be experienced first to be believed....

Oh. My. God.

But wait -- Poulos wasn't finished!

...It's open to interpretation that the Old Spice girl (be she wife, girlfriend, or neither) is really not interested in the twisted kick she's trying to coax out of her man. She may really be trying to trap him into confessing his own private fantasies, the better to know her foe with. But the tone of the commercial, and the poise of her whole performance, is one of deliberate, toying ambiguity, the sort that plows a trail of tears through our sexier generations who seek the sexual cognate of self-justification so desperately that they are willing to try anything, physically and psychologically. They peep over the abyss of fleshly possibility and tumble in paralyzed. Egging them on is a whole culture.

... there is a world of difference between the gay marriage and the hip/bi threesome style. The screaming index of our cultural soul-sickness is the relentless making public of that which is private....


That Old Spice ad? I got a mild squirm out of it. Poulos? He gives me the creeps.

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