So back in the Jurassic Era my dear parents got to live the dream for at least one week during the Summer. It was the week my scout troop went to Summer Camp and my parents got to banish me off to the wilderness just like they spent fifty-one weeks of the year fervently wanting to. So out in the mosquito woods I would go, and peace and sanity would pleasantly waft down in my absence.
Meanwhile, out between the trees, a bunch of obnoxious young boys would wait for the adult leadership to go to sleep for the night and then re-stoke the embers of the campfire. Late into the night, we would show how ridiculous 13 year old boys can get when they are being manly. One common form of this was the old game of Grosser Than Gross.
This involved one guy asking “So what’s grosser than gross?” Each person then had to answer with a suitably disgusting replay or not be manly. It started out fairly lame. “Finding out your lemonade is dog-piss.” “The black flecks in your Wheaties are insect worms.” Then it would escalate until we were talking about the crying, homesick abortion crawling its way back up your mama’s leg.*
It was tacky and disgusting. So why do it? You do it for the same reason people do terrorism. It works like hell. This begs the question “Works like hell at what?” It confers a twisted form of status and power. If you can shock the crap out of people, you can get your way. We see this frequently in two places: entertainment and political activism.
In February of 1973, the rock group Alice Cooper pushed the Grosser than Gross Nuke Button. Their album Billion Doallar Babies truly attempted to exploit the disgusting to acquire attention. The Gibson Guitars website describes the game below.
Listening to Billion Dollar Babies today, itâ€™s hard to imagine that in their formative stages Alice Cooper were regarded by some as a mere novelty act. An intensely collaborative unit, the group quickly became adept at churning out radio-ready rock anthems and, in keeping with their shock-rock reputation, theatrical dirges. Songs such as â€œMore Mr. Nice Guy,â€ â€œElected,â€ and â€œRaped and Freezinâ€™â€ showcased Bruceâ€™s mastery of the elegantly simple guitar riff, while Buxton contributed an abundance of â€œangry hornetâ€ leads (Dunawayâ€™s words).
While the musicianship was excellent and the ear-pollution first rate, this wasn’t what sold the record. That happened via the culmination of what Alice Cooper did for attention. The track “I Love The Dead” would be banned throughout sane humanity. Therefore, the kids loved it and wanted the album for Christmas. This distilled and weaponized grossness, not having an absolute Bass Guitar Ninja playing musical Point Guard for their band, enabled them all to afford mansions up on Mulholland Drive.
Politics flows downstream from entertainment and culture. It also engineers after others pioneer. Grossness has been socially and politically weaponized so that utter mediocrities demand attention for their causes. Third Wave Feminism has added absolutely revolting exhibitionism to their toolbox of political activism. The execrable Lena Dunham predictably leads the way in this category. She campaigns against fat-shaming by doing nude sex scenes that are lied about below.
But the mere sight of all that flab swinging free as Hannah loafed pantsless around her apartment on a lazy Sunday afternoon, or as she heaved out of bed after sex twinged a visceral reaction deep within. Oh, and the sex. There was a lot of sex. Bad sex, good sexâ€¦but mostly bad sex, often featuring civilian bodies. It was wonderful to see. Why the reaction? Because it was me. It was all of us
It takes a special sort of porn stud to do a shoot with The Dunham Horror. Perhaps it requires the sort of porn stud who has to where bulletproof-thick glasses to his local DMV. Otherwise, he would never emerge from the bureaucratic coils with a legal privilege to operate a motor vehicle. And does he get the Purple Heart he deserves? Um, nope…
â€œJust the fact that so much of the sex was bad was revolutionary,â€ says executive producer Jenni Konner. â€œThat is just not something people do [on TV] and thatâ€™s something that young women feel all the time, so when we were shooting the pilot, having the sex be unsatisfying for Hannah felt relatable.â€ Her favourite excruciating scene? â€œI loved the way we opened the second episode of the show ever, which was Adam just pounding on Hannah. It was like a weird foreign film with bad sex.â€ Konner laughs. â€œAnd it really was shocking and weird and sheâ€™s kind of going, uhh uhh, like bad faking-it sounds.â€
And if bad sex doesn’t overwhelm your ability to exist, we have worse execrations than Lena Dunham. Yoga meets feminism meets….#Freebleeding. Do not shame the tampon. We have Yoga of The Red Dawn…
I am a woman, therefore, I bleed. It’s messy, it’s painful, it’s terrible, & it’s beautiful. And yet, you wouldn’t know. Because I hide it.
And once you concede that these people are Grosser Than Gross to the infinite power, you concede them the microphone unless standards get enforced in your area. Grossness has to be mocked. It has to be put to shame and killed with fire. It’s condign that the “Grosser Than Gross” winner at Scout Camp sometimes had to win a fist fight afterwards. Nobody should have to put up with that crap. Nobody should have to cede any sort of social cachet or power to the utterly revolting. Perhaps ironically, the true antidote to weaponized grossness is The Alice Cooper Solution.
* — Nothing expresses the scouting spirit like an All-American fist fight at camp.