On pornography, Russell Brand is right
The commodification of sex should never be celebrated
Media headlines have not been kind to Russell Brand this week. He has been “slammed” in the tabloids, “criticised” in the broadsheets, and accused of “mansplaining” by everyone from The Spectator to NME.
Unusually, the conservative Ben Shapiro and the Left-wing Russell Brand are in the doghouse for exactly the same offence. Both men have been critical of a new music video by the American rappers Cardi B and Megan Three Stallion titled ‘WAP’, a track that takes an already sexualised art form and ramps it to 11, so much so that it has been the subject of fevered worldwide media coverage since its release ten days ago.
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An incredulous Shapiro read out the lyrics during last week’s episode of his Daily Wire show (his rendition is available, if you prefer, as a remix), condemning the track as “vulgar” and insisting that it is representative of “what the feminist movement is all about”, which is to say, by Shapiro’s reckoning, nothing good.
Brand’s take was quite different, although just as unpopular with fans of WAP. He suggested that the track and video were in fact anti-feminist. Noting the longstanding obsession in hip hop with hyper-sexualised and often degrading depictions of women, Brand asked a pertinent question “do women achieve equality by aspiring to and replicating the values that have been established by males?”
The clip that went viral on Twitter was just a couple of minutes long and didn’t include the most interesting part of Brand’s argument, in which he made an anti-capitalist point that deserves far more consideration than it has so far received. “That’s a product, what we’re looking at there” he said of the WAP video, and he’s quite right — this is a product that is not only hyper-sexual, but also hyper-capitalist, a fact that has been ignored by the other Leftist commentators who have been naively praising what was described in The Guardian as “an unabashed celebration of female sexuality.”
A strange kind of celebration, I must say. Even if we assume that the repeated use of the word “whore” is to be taken figuratively, not literally, there is plenty else in the track to suggest a transactional attitude towards sex. The male object of lust described in the lyrics is assessed according to two standards: the size of his “king cobra” and the size of his bank balance. “Pay my tuition” pleads Megan to this imagined man, who must “make it rain” if he wants her sexual favours. “Ask for a car” during sex, “spit on his mic” to secure a record deal, “let me tell you how I got this ring” — the sexual generosity described is all in service, not of female pleasure, but material gain. And, as Brand rightly observes, the aesthetic of the video is lifted straight from porn, an industry in which all sex is necessarily transactional.
Porn is to sex as McDonald’s is to food. These two capitalist enterprises take our natural appetites, pluck out the most compulsive and addictive elements, strip away anything truly nutritious, and then encourage us to consume more and more, beyond what our minds and bodies can handle. But while public and government pressure has forced McDonald’s to improve conditions for its workers and animals, the porn industry is subject to no such pressure, and so continues to act with flagrant cruelty, profiting from videos depicting torture, rape, and child abuse. Meanwhile, as Sarah Ditum observed recently in these pages, the anti-capitalists who ought to be leading the charge against this most exploitative of industries are nowhere to be seen.
Russell Brand has been widely condemned as a hypocrite for his criticism of WAP, given his own history of womanising and porn addiction — now, he insists, behind him. But in fact it is the Leftists who defend the sex industry who are the true hypocrites. Whatever his personal history, on this point, the anti-capitalist Brand is at least consistent: the commodification of sex should never be celebrated.
Brand’s troubled personal history gives him more credibility on this, surely: he knows whereof he speaks.
The video is indeed entirely transactional in its ‘celebration’ of female sexuality. (Sargon of Akkad made exactly this point in a surprisingly good analysis video yesterday.) She sees her body, her titular P itself, only of value in pursuit of material gain.
Yet the tensions with the desire for true love exist even here, in this nadir of commodification. Even while defensively promoting her harlotry, Ms AlmÃ¡nzar talks about having got a [wedding] ring. Yes, she claims that it is because of her WAP rather than cooking or cleaning”this trinity is apparently all that women have to offer, in this “empowering” feminist vision”but why does she crave a ring at all?
I think it is because deep down, beneath the psychological damage that leads her to see herself only as a prostitute, defined by the money her body can bring her, she craves the stability and love that a good marriage can bring. That is her tragedy, and it is the tragedy of an entire generation indoctrinated to celebrate cultural norms of broken homes, and lumpenproletarian professions such as prostitution and drug dealing, by rappers and their ilk.
I agree – and very well put across Chris.
She really is just a shamelessly narcissistic, hyper-sexualized modern women who loves being slutty and loves the facts that she can get money doing it because men fall over themselves to lavish material things on these women.
If she wanted stability and marriage, she’d be singing about.
To be blunt – this video does women no favours at all. Anybody who thinks that it empowers women are caught up in the “chicks can do anything they want and it is a statement of feminism” narrative is a fool.
I think it’s about time we all started watching what comes out of America the same way we would some strange, twirling dance coming from the Kalihari – something of distant interest but not of any particular importance to daily life and civilization. This WAP video and to some degree Russel Brand himself are all symptoms of a peculiar type of reality that we are all being forced to accept as “normal” and I simply refuse. In all honesty I find the Brit fascination with all things American vaguely worrisome – you have a wonderfully deep and enduring culture so why do you care what happens in the children’s room as long as there’s no smell of burning? Russel Brand’s pontifications are only fascinating not for what he says but, like a Minah bird, you really don’t expect him to be able to talk.
And a lot of the insanity isn’t even broadcast. Portland is a zoo.
My fascination with current events in America is based on the fact that BLM/Antifa and their adherents in academia are pushing forms of madness that not even Robespierre and Pol Pot imagined. Throw in the fact that all that both parties can come up with in the ‘world’s greatest democracy’ is two men over the age of 70 and you have a gruesome yet fascinating spectacle.
I am an American and I see it exactly the same way. Yes, it looks the same from close up.
I certainly hope you do. Someone has to hold down the fort of Civilization, and it’s not us (the U.S.)
Believe it or not, I am watching the same twirling dance from within America and finding it just as foreign and incomprehensible.
As usual, no one asks the prostitutes what they think.
Well I suppose he had to be right about something, eventually.
I watched the video, it is revolting, it is nauseating, it is a parody of “music”, the language is primitive, repetitive, unimaginative, reflecting the most primitive uneducated incoherent illiterate levels of society, I am well aware of the symbolism of women and snakes – as would be anyone who has read the first pages of the bible, I can enjoy the beauty of women, and the flexibility of great women athletes and gymnasts, but there is nothing aesthetic to admire in their technical ability here. It takes a remarkably low level of cultural appreciation to enjoy or “celebrate” this garbage. And as for the degradation of sexuality to language that sounds like six-year olds suffering from Tourette’s syndrome!
Since my earlier post was moderated (I’ll admit it was poorly worded) I’ll try again. The music industry, especially in the US, is an example of the “racism of low expectations” in which many black artists (women in particular) feel they can succeed only by portraying a hypersexualised racial stereotype.
Snobbery is very dangerous these days, and is one of the driving forces of cancel culture. It is snobbery that is resulting in huge swathes of the UK being unfairly referred to as bigoted, thick, “gammons” etc. So yes, snobbery is very insidious and dangerous in it’s own way.
What has been shown here is that we have another quango not fit for purpose along with the civil service department. We need a bonfire of the quangos start with PHE, OFQUAL NHS Quangos, Ofgem, Ofcom, FCA etc get rid of the lot. Jobs for the boys many left wing appointments, a clear out is needed. Small government less civil service, less politicians no quangos.
We clearly need a new quango to deal with them all: Ofsod.
My experience of working with public servants is that the most serious problem is the lack of true accountability. It is in the nature of every bureaucracy that they gradually evolve from serving whatever purpose they were set for to serving themselves.
The first priority of self-preservation and self-service of the organisation is the preservation of the bureaucrats who constitute it, no matter how negligent or incompetent they are. That is why blunders, no matter how egregious, have no adverse effect on career progression in the civil service. It is in everyone’s interests that it should be thus because blunderers constitute the majority from top to bottom.
The first obstacle is getting blunders identified for what they are, which the organisation will resist with all of its might. That is why no review following even the most monumental and catastrophic balls-ups has ever concluded anything other than that it was nobody’s fault. To the extent that individual failings are identified, they are invariably placed in the context of other multiple and organisational failures, and so no single thing or person can ever truly be said to be responsible. The bureaucracy makes absolute certain of that.
Furthermore, any investigation is typically so long and tortuous (in order to be ‘fair’) that everyone involved has long moved on, again without their careers being affected in the slightest. And, of course, all is well now because despite fiercely resisting every attempt at scrutiny along the way, the organisation solemnly declares that it has ‘learned the lessons’ and has ‘moved on’. As everyone knows, this cannot possibly be true because in a consequence-free world people learn nothing.
Sadly, the public goes along with this under the direction of most politicians, the media, and the normal crew of the great and the good in our society, which ensures that even the suggestion that a government bureaucrat be fired is met by howls of outrage about the victimisation of noble, dedicated and self-sacrificing servants of the people.
And so at best new letterheads are designed and printed, desks are shuffled, job titles are tweaked, but in every sense that matters nothing is changed, and so as each person comes into the office each morning they are met by the reassuring sight of the same friendly and forgiving faces smiling back at them.
I think you misunderstand Ben Shapiro. He was being sarcastic .
One of the worst examples of this type of farce is car insurance based on post codes. I lived in a rural area, sparsely populated, extremely row crime rate, no accidents etc etc. We were lumped in a post code group with an infamous town around 30mins drive away, which aside from being in a different county, is also known as the area that spawned the phrase “TWOCcing” (Taking Without Owners Consent). Insurance costs were therefore massively higher than they should have been, based on facts and nothing arbitrary such as how the post office divide up their deliveries. Algorithms are a lazy way of “people” carrying out tasks without having to think.
The elephant in the room is the inaccuracy of predicted grades. If they could be relied upon, there would have been no need for a complex, statistical model with which to allocate grades.
Clearly, such predictions will never be perfect, or even close to perfect, but each year’s university admissions process reveals how appallingly bad they are. Last year, only 13% were correct, only 8% were underestimates. Yes, a full 79% were overestimated. No wonder universities overbook like Ryanair.
Can we hope that this debacle gives new impetus to the quest for a post-results entry system? Actually, it’s really very simple. Start the university year in January. (Some universities already offer this for some courses, particularly those aimed at mature or industry-sponsored students, so it is possible.) This could apply to all years of a degree course, or universities could run on eight 11 week terms instead of nine 10 week terms. Not difficult, if the will to adapt is there.
Rich black rappers are further up the Hierarchy of Oppression than women.
Let me offer another viewpoint: the real anti-feminist action is to deny that a woman’s only agency in this world is her sexuality/body. Feminists will have women believe if they adopt the mannerisms of males and work at doing things males do, they will display male-equivalent agency (which is different from actual male agency). The last 100 years have proven this to be a lie. A woman in 2020 might be better than me at driving a race car, but she will never be the best race car driver. There will always be a man out there who is better than her. The reason this is always true is that women enter the frame of an activity or social position that was invented by men. A female will never outcompete a male inside a male-created concept or activity, because it was not created with females in mind. The same is true in reverse, by the way. No male will ever outcompete a female in a female-created position or activity, such as motherhood, early child education, convalescent nursing, etc. Succeeding at a counter-sex role will permanently be unavailable, for both sexes.
The root of female anxiety in this world is a quiet understanding of this reality, juxtaposed with the feminist philosophy that it need not be so and women can, truly, become the best at things. The two ideas cannot coexist. Forcing them to coexist generates anxiety.
Females who accept that their only agency in a male-created world is their body will find some solace in leverage that agency to its greatest extent. The power of doing this will often outweigh the male’s power in nearly every male-dominated social position. If a female can fully leverage that power at the height of her sexual agency, she has the ability to secure (legally) enormous wealth and status. I actually disagree with guys when they say a “golddigger” does nothing to earn her wealth. I think women who own their beauty and sexuality and use it as a weapon are working just as hard as a coal miner.
And since women have swallowed the lie that there are women-invented roles out there (motherhood, early child education, etc) that women own and control and will give a female immense feelings of power and solace, “WAP” is probably best example of women acting with any agency in a feminist-dominated society.
you make some good points that you cancel out with extreme generalizations,
“no…can ever…no…” etc,
No man can bear children, or feed a baby from his own body, and in many sports, only the very best of women can compete with a second or third tier of men, not the very best of men,
those are biological differences that only true ignoramuses or bigots try to deny,
but in so many ordinary everyday activities in today’s world, men and women can participate at the same level – even while bringing different qualities to what ostensibly is the same work, e.g law, medicine, accounting, financial advice, etc.
What modern western societiers have been trying to do over the past few generations is reduce the barriers that prevented women even entering many fields or professions or sporting activities,
I have played co-ed soccer and it can be great fun, I can accept that at my age there are many younger women who can now run faster trhan me, and my daughter who is a professor of nursing has had male nursing students, as have two granddaughters who have recently completed nursing training, and my grandson has fenale dental students in his class as will his sister startiing dental school at a different university have male dental students in her class.
But this revolting video does absolutely nothing to encourage or promote those areas of greater balance and equality of oppportunity, and if women in the US aware of the huge number of young single black mothers because the male fathers refuse to take responsibility think that this video would do anything to enhance their situation – I don’t see it.
This debacle is a good example of an ecological fallacy – inferring that what fits a population also fits an individual.
The algorithm was better than fair to the population – they got slightly better results on average than they would have done if they sat exams. Within the population, however, is a great deal of individual variation. Both people hard done to and people who unfairly benefited.
One has also to consider that in real life, a significant proportion of people are unlucky and do not do as well in an exam as their previous work and ability should make them. Others get lucky – they just have a good day or the questions happen to favour them.
It simply isn’t possible to run a system like this (be it algorithm or teacher prediction) which both avoids too much grade inflation and avoids unfairly penalising certain individuals.
HMG should have worked this out months ago. Now they have just made themselves look like chumps. Plus there now is a growing mess over allocation of too many students to too few places to sort out. D minus I think and trying to put all the blame on Ofqual doesn’t cut it, just as replacing PHE isn’t an adequate response to the c**k-ups in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic.
Snobbery as elucidated by the Spiked team is a defence against the accusations of racism, bigotry and xenophobia by Remainiacs with their oft cited superior higher educational experiences along with the implicit self-reverence of their superior intellect.
Within this battle, the conservative working class were cast as dumb and reactionary and the liberal middle class as intelligent and progressive.
The truth is very different since the liberal middle class, despite the backing of the liberal intelligentsia, otherwise known as experts, did not sufficiently incorporate sustainability and ecological science in their reckoning. In fact they stopped short of the need for national resilience, national sufficiency and national sustainability because they knew significant knowledge gaps impeded the realisation of their post border world.
However, rather than admit the inadequacies of their ideology, they instead took to a vicious form of name calling as the main plank of their Remainiac offensive. This name calling was rebutted by accusations of ideological snobbery, so whilst class was utilised to reinforce this rebuttal, the main target was ideological superiority, not class.
The ubiquity of this ideological snobbery primarily emanated from the Liberal Establishment via the BBC (there is so many white people here and interviewing people who clearly did not have an articulate and cogent grasp of the finer Brexit arguments), Whitehall and their model manipulations, the Guardian with their exhortations about the rejection of liberal experts, left wing universities like the LSE.
In other words, ideological and intellectual snobbery was an orchestrated politically motivated attack fuelled by deeply aggressive expressions of EU grief. For Spiked, accusations of snobbery was the go to defence, so that mutual name calling became the basis of the next chapter of the culture war.
The irony is that Spiked were similarly unaware of the sustainability and ecological science that effectively won us the Brexit war. This has now been strongly vindicated by sars2 and the dire need to build up national resilience, national sufficiency and national sustainability along with a deep acknowledgement that the UK has a massive ecological debt which population growth only makes worse. This ecological dynamic increases our reliance on imports, especially regarding food, textiles, timber and fuel, with all requiring foreign land. Thus our imports as a result of an excessive population in relation to our ecological capacity results in land grabbing, forced evictions, deforestation, urban poverty and migration.
Essentially, the superior intellect of the liberal Progressives with their no borders ideology results in the social, environmental and ecological harms that they then protest about. Their superior ideology is the direct causation of climate change, biodiversity loss and ecological pollution via population growth and import dependancies.
Once this dynamic is pointed out to them, unsurprisingly, their ideological snobbery stops and consequently Brexit was allowed to proceed.
Then came Covid-19 and BLM but the ecological superiority of the Brexit argument still prevails.
Will the Progressive Alliance accept ecological realities which includes the fact that population growth within an ecological debtor country like the UK will increase competition and conflict between different ‘cultural’ groups as resource scarcity grows. Apparently not as they busy themselves with more aggressive forms of cultural relativism in order to protect positive discrimination, racial targets and diversity jobs.
The point being that racism or snobbery is not so much fuelled by prejudism but more fuelled by competition over growing resource scarcity. At least from an ecological science point of view.
So what is stopping people, especially Progressives, from adopting a more ecological point of view, probably because predominantly they wish to continue to colloquially deny homo sapiens are animals and thereby abstractly disassociate themselves from the Kingdom of Animalia.
As such, for these people, the realities of ecological science do not apply to themselves or humans like them which enables them to erase the interspecific interaction of competition and replace it with notions of prejudism and racism without clearly elucidating the ecological conditions by which prejudism and racism arise.
Why, probably because they want to hide or deny their own expressions of ecological competition rather than admit they are just animals like everyone else fighting over scarce resources such as territory, land, homes, jobs, grants, procurement contracts, eu funding, political capital and the governing levers of the State.
When they do accept their expressions of ecological competition and the ecological conditions that gives rise to ideological, class and race prejudisms, then they will see that at our present juncture of a nationally eroded economy, cultural relativism is simply fuel to the ecologically competitive fire when what is needed to douse the flames of prejudism is cultural fraternity and solidarity around notions of Britishness.
Until they do, they will not be elected to govern Britain. So the choice is very much theirs and why they have already lost this latest iteration of the culture war, which is why the more astute members of the Left, like Kier Starmer, Kenan Malik, Nesrine Malik and Afua Hursch are now only focused on attacking the government with occasional background skirmishes about racism. Because presently they have no pathway to the Centre from their ecologically redundant no borders Progressive ideology.
In other words, they are not really snobs, they are just resentful grief stricken losers who, as you rightfully point out, need to be incorporated into the heart felt concerns of the British population which I suppose means forgiving their name calling transgressions. Of course, this would be helped if they had the humanity and humility to apologise.
Just watched the video. Two females taking “control” of essentially a male dominated space – the black rapper trope with adoring big bootied female entourage and associated trappings of fast cars, penthouse apartments and other assorted bling. Male rappers have been pumping out these videos for yonks, so why the questions about this particular well shot, beautifully edited piece? Sexuality is being misused and mishandled by people day in day out.
I’ve just been reading Genesis and there is plenty of sex in there, prostitution, sex with relatives, seed spilling and more. So, misuse of sex has been going on a long time. Are these two females misusing their sexuality any more than the competing males who seek to exploit female sexuality to sell their music?
I would call it out as a misuse of our God given sexuality, but no more so than the way guys are using women in videos day in day out. To say otherwise is to be hypocritical in my view.
I wonder if the chattering classes would have found this video so “empowering” if the “artists” had been white.
And the four VPs who each went on to become president were: Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Bush Snr. Another just before close of WW2 in 1945 (Truman).
Brown may have stabilised the New Labour project in opposition but he did a lot to destabilise the Blair government once in power. The Great Sulk used his media contacts to undermine Blair for years and then forced him out in 2007. The unknown factor in this discussion is who would have been Chancellor instead of Brown and what would have been his or her economic policy. What is clear however is that Brown was the architect of the 2008 recession and the loser in the 2010 election. The next Labour leader was one of Brown’s proteges and responsible for allowing the party to return to its comfort zone dreamland.
One weak defense of WAP I’ve seen is comparing it to something like NIN’s “Closer”, and pointing out how, say, Trent Reznor isn’t held to the same cultural criticisms, so this is therefore a perfect example of female discrimination.
Except, perhaps there’s a difference between singing about wanting to f**k, versus crudely describing your reproductive organs being ready for action.
I challenge anyone to find a commercially successful song where a man describes his rock hard semen-primed b***r.
I’m sadly unable to contemplate the existence of Russell far kin Brand without immediately becoming very, very angry.
Contemplate this, on behalf of your blood pressure.
I suspect that Russell Brand is a good old fashioned manic-depressive, with a fairly sharp wit (his comeback at Bob geldof was priceless), but with the self control switch turned off, most of the time. He throws himself into stuff headlong.
Thus the youth, seeing the living it large bit think ‘I would love to be like him’, but they don’t see the flip side. That’s entertainment.
I suspect he’s grown up somewhat, and got his bipolar under control. This probably took a fair bit of self-reflection, and may have made him a better person. I’m no fan, but the world needs lunatics like him and Kanye West. Even if just to make us angry.
Points for brevity.
Here is the thing, women’s sexuality is not just defined by the men who enjoy it. To use the term objectification is oversimplifying it. Women were oppressed for so long, and in that oppression we learned shame, manipulation, and a unbalance of power. What do women have? What power do we really have in a patriarchal world? We have the power of our sexuality. I teach erotic dance and the work I do is so healing for so many. As women we have to drop down to our center and take our power back. It may look like objectification to some but I assure you it is much more than that.
It’s not up to males to define what works for us.
‘female sexuality’ is nothing without ‘male sexuality’ and vice versa. You can be as sexually potent as you like, but without a creative partner and a joint enterprise it’s worthless. Many feminists outwardly deny any need for a male partner which ultimately leaves them sexually (and emotionally) impotent -they invariably get old and wish they had met a man to be sexually creative with. Pornography is all about the appearance of potency; an idealisation of power – but ultimately meaningless- the seed and the egg never combine; nothing lasting is created -hence the addictive drive for more, and ever more varied manifestations of the same essentially unsatisfying feed. It’s not good for a person to w***e out their sexuality, believe it or not.
Stupid article. Beneath me.
There’s nothing wrong with valuing and investing in certain aspects of high culture more than others, especially if it takes more work, breadth and depth of knowledge to do so. Some aspects of culture genuinely are better, more edifying and rewarding than others. It’s not all just an interchangeable flux of equally facile ‘consumer choices.’
And the sort of high-minded sneering against Brexiters that has become fashionable is obviously not anything anyone is particularly worried about. It’s just plain irritating.
The two young ladies are very rich off the back of this line of products. I’m sure they are not complaining about the free PR these two male commentators are giving them. Once again a bunch of men critique the activities of independent women. Even I can tel the difference between this and exploitation, or rather, who is being exploited. Shapiro an outraged right winger and Brand an authoritarian leftie.
It’s not that’once again’ men are commenting on independent women. It’s that men always comment on anything that comes along. Casting it as typical sexism (ie. mansplaining) is itself sexist.
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