Saturday, March 10, 2007

In another show of the many ways in which I am becoming my parents...

By the time I get the whole way through the Sunday New York Times (which I get delivered so as to keep tabs on what is going on in the world, or at least read the latest Modern Love column), I usually have the next Sunday's paper in hand. It's not an intentional way to savor three dollars spent over a week. It's just what happens.

Which leads to me FINALLY reading the Alexandra Jacobs article called Campus Exposure from March 4th's NY Times Magazine on "a new crop of college sex magazines shows students baring it all. In the age of MySpace and confessional blogs, is this the ultimate in self-revelation?"

The rags run the gamut of scale, size, sexiness, and school sanction. Jacobs writes on the essential nature of the phenomena of printed college sex mags:

Considering that a smorgasbord of Internet porn is but a mouse click away for most college students, there’s something valiant, even quaint, about the attempt to organize and consider sex in a printed magazine. It’s as if, though curious to exp the possibly frightening boundlessness of adult eroticism, they also wish to keep it at arm’s length, contained within the safety of the campus. The students involved display a host of contradictory qualities: cheekiness and earnestness, progressive politics and retro sensibilities, salacity and sensitivity. They aren’t so much answering the question of what is and what isn’t porn — or what those categories might even mean today — as artfully, disarmingly and sometimes deliberately skirting it.

I generally agree that there are certain levels of success and failure in this sort of publication, but I think when it comes down to it, my generation grew up with the Lewinski scandal and pornography a click away. For every sensitive and insightful MTV documentary or public service campaign (Rock The Vote, anyone?), there's a new episode of Jackass to placate the glamourized ignorant male masses. There's a real sense of people just trying to find common ground and comfort in a society that's so fast-paced and complex that one can easily feel divorced or alienated from those around them. I think that's a reason sub-cultures exist, that there are very specific fashions, styles, rules. In the end, it may be harder to try to be an individual, at the same time as someone of mass media and culture, than it is to sort of characterize one's self in the guise of a clique or group.


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