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Digested week: Bigfoot porn, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s body fascism

Also this week, Americans left puzzled by EUs lack of AC, and some media schadenfreude

Monday

There havent been many frivolous summer stories to distract us from the impending end of the world. So it came as a welcome relief this week to learn about an exciting new fetish, a specific type of porn alleged to have been not only consumed but enthusiastically produced by Denver Riggleman, a Republican candidate for the US Congress in Virginia: Bigfoot erotica.

Rigglemans accuser, Leslie Cockburn, who coincidentally is the Democrat running against him, uploaded a sketch to Twitter that, she alleged, came from her honourable opponents collection and featured a large, hairy creature with well-developed abs and a blacked out mid-section censoring his considerable monster-hood. (She also accused Riggleman of associating with white supremacists, but no one was interested in that.)

It is important to point out that, of course, as long as Riggleman isnt standing on a platform of aggressive monsterphobia while browsing editions of Sasquatch Love behind closed doors, theres nothing wrong with his alleged proclivity; one doesnt want to yeti shame him.

In any case, the congressional hopeful said that Cockburn had misunderstood a long standing joke between friends and that, while like hundreds of thousands of Americans he is interested in Bigfoot, his interest isnt sexual. (It is anthropological.) The venerable internet pornographers Porn Hub, meanwhile, reported an 8,000% surge in searches on their site for the term Bigfoot erotica and it all seemed substantially less sordid than an average day in the West Wing.

Tuesday

Im still recovering from having slogged through the much talked-about New York Times profile of Gwyneth Paltrow, which surely took almost as long to read as to write. Taffy Brodesser-Akner, the author of the piece, is an excellent writer, and yet something about the way in which she juxtaposed descriptions of Paltrows physical perfection (she lay across a sofa like a poem), with her own jolly shortcomings (I thought of my big, disgusting size 11 feet, which are wide and flat and have the look of scuba flippers) settled on my patchily tanned and childbirth scarred midsection in a way that made me feel vaguely unwell.

Physical self-deprecation is a neat device for countering Paltrows body fascism while also reporting on the internal reckonings most women go through when asked to gaze upon the perfect form of dear Gwyneth.

And yet it also seemed, to me, to meet the woman on her own terms. Perhaps this is the only way to do it to fight fire with fire, exposing Paltrow for the humourless droid she is via comedic pride in ones own glorious imperfection. Still, a small part of me wept for the indignity of it all; the endless body wars between women; my hilarious descriptions of my feet versus your investment in your size zero. When will it ever be allowed to be about something else?

Wednesday

Other reading this week: reviews of Sacha Baron Cohens new show, Who Is America? Enthusiasm for Baron Cohen has waned over the years and, as it was pointed out by Emily Nussbaum in the New Yorker, while some of his gotcha-style sketches seem merely dated, others have aged even less well. (These days, you could get people to sing throw the Jew down the well without having to fake a Kazakh accent.)

Her review, which queried whether Baron Cohen is always strictly punching up, accused him of unwitting misogyny and a kind of joylessness that, even when the jokes land, somehow strip the experience of watching him of any enjoyment. The new characters are all straight white men, she writes. For all his heralded edginess, Baron Cohen clearly knows that cross-identity disguises wont fly and, as a result, his show is, by default, but without much self-awareness, about white masculinity.

For a higher hit rate and an approach stripped of Baron Cohens smug kind of cruelty, John Oliver is a much better bet.

Thursday

As the heatwave continued throughout Europe, Americans continued to look across the Atlantic with mild confusion. Why dont these people have air conditioners, they asked? And why is 30C so remarkable anyway? (The record high for New York state is 42C.)

I went for a routine checkup at my dermatologist recently and was advised to go for the full body-mapping service, conducted this week by a clinician with a camera that image-mapped every last inch of my body, all of it in need of emergency care from Goop. At one point she said, incredulously: Do people in England even know about skin cancer?

Um, they do, I said, but dermatology isnt something we really … Before I could finish she had gone to her computer and brought up skin cancer rates in Europe, which she declared shockingly high. Your government needs to take action, she said. I nodded meekly and said Id pass it on.

Friday

Conde Nast is flogging off three of its titles Brides, W magazine and Golf Digest after reporting losses of $120m. It is also, apparently, planning on leasing six floors of its premises at 1 World Trade Center, while Anna Wintour hangs on as Conde Nast artistic director.

I would have no particular response to this story, other than a brief surge of schadenfreude that a company so famously horrible to work for is in trouble, were it not for the small role it plays in the Paltrow story. For a while, according to the New York Times story, Goop published a magazine in collaboration with Conde Nast, but they had to part ways when it turned out that the media conglomerate, for all of its shortcomings, is a reality-based outfit, with fact checkers and editorial standards or as Paltrow put it, they do things in an old-school way. Needless to say this is not the Goop way. The beauty myth peddled by Vogue never looked so harmless and quaint.

Digested week, digested: Id rather date a yeti than a Trump voter.

Brighton
Its not climate change, its the 350m extra days of sunshine that separation from Brussels has unleashed on the UK. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/aug/03/digested-week-bigfoot-porn-gwyneth-paltrow-body-fascism

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