An Interview with a Harvard PhD About Why Christian Conservatives Like Online Porn so Much
(Ben Edelman, PhD, is an assistant professor of at Harvard Business School. Not the type you’d generally associate with pornography. But, well, Ben appears to be knee-deep in it – but from an academic perspective (sounds like the people who used to claim to read Playboy for the articles). Anyway, we digress. Ben just published a study in New Scientist about the online pornographic viewing habits of Americans. The results are either unsurprising or shocking depending on your political viewpoints. The most fascinating finding? It appears that Christian conservatives really like their porn. Here’s our recent interview with Ben).
DaRK PaRTY: You recently completed a study on the Web and pornography. Can you give us a birds eye view of the study and how you conducted it?
Ben: My article looks at all aspects of online adult entertainment – including where and how this material is produced and marketed, and also patterns in who tends to buy this material.
DP: How prevalent is the viewing of pornography online?
Ben: According to ComScore Media Metrix, 36 percent of web users browsed at least one adult web site per month. For certain age/gender combinations, the usage rate is as high as 45 percent. So online adult entertainment is quite prevalent -- used by a sizable minority of Internet users each month.
DP: One of the results from your study found that states that identified as more conservative and Christian had higher rates of pornography consumption. Why do you think that is?
Ben: It's hard to say for sure. One possibility is that despite the values commonly associated with these regions, residents of these regions actually disproportionately choose to partake in online adult entertainment.
Another possibility is that those who seek adult entertainment in these regions cannot readily find these materials locally -- for example, because local zoning rules or other restrictions make these materials hard to get locally. If so, those seeking these materials might need to get them online -- whereas people from less conservative regions could get what they wanted through more accessible, retail locations.
DP: Utah ranked first in pornography viewership online out of all 50 states. Can you give us a rundown of the top 10 and the bottom 10 what their numbers were and who they voted for in 2008 for president?
Ben: See Table 2 of my report. I favor using the third column of that table. That gives the state names, so you can cross-check with 2008 presidential outcomes (see graphic above).
DP: Has the stigma attached to viewing pornography online vanished? In other words, is pornography mainstream?
Ben: It's hard to say. For some groups, perhaps. For others, I doubt it. Adult entertainment remains disproportionately a private activity, and in many respects online access to adult entertainment further increases privacy -- no risk of seeing a colleague at a retail location.
The March sun rises over the cold Worcester hills And his heart holds its mysteries silent and still Grey as coal dust, this strange day breaks And with the soft light of dawn, a new soul it takes
High above the trees, staring out across the line Of the barren shade of beauty that still endures to shine In the days about to come, in the weeks of recent past The hope that has sustained me is ebbing now at last
For it’s the darkest shade of dawn that takes away the light When the deepest breath he took was just to last throughout the night But the dawn cannot turn around and reverse the fate of day And we cannot last beyond what is our determined stay
And so it marches steady and so it marches on The coal grey light of endings, this dismal Worcester dawn So go ahead, and take what’s yours, I see no other way And leave the rest of us to make it through this dismal Worcester day
(Josiah Bardsley lives in San Francisco where he spends way too much time hanging out in used bookstores and bars. He likes fog, small dogs and moonlit walks on the beach....really. This is his first submission to DaRK PaRTY)
An Interview with Jason Pinter, Author of the Henry Parker Novels
(Jason Pinter is one of those smart guy authors. You know the type: intelligent, has an IQ, has opinions and isn’t actually afraid to discuss them. It is hard to believe how rare that is these days, especially with the publishing world in such flux. Most authors are terrified to talk about what’s happening in their industry and to offer a point of view. But that’s just what Jason does. It’s a bonus that he also writes riveting mystery novels featuring journalist Henry Parker.)
DaRK PaRTY: You've been writing about Henry Parker through a series of three books now. Who is Henry Parker? Can you give us a composite?
Jason: Henry Parker is an ambitious young journalist in New York City. While trying to help clean the stain left on the industry by other, young publicity-hungry reporters, Henry, through his tenacity and remarkable ability to be in the wrong place at the wrong (or is it right?) time, has managed to break several major stories, and in the process become somewhat of a celebrity himself. Despite this, he stays grounded, trying to navigate the sordid underbelly of New York while maintaining a relationship with his girlfriend Amanda, who has saved his life both figuratively and literally.
DP: What is it about the mystery genre that so attracts you?
Jason: I think mysteries tend to be as much about time and place as any sort of writing, and most crimes written about in genre novels tend to be emblematic of what is going on in society at that time. It also allows for writers to push their characters to their limits: from the depths of despair to the heights of victory, the best mystery novels can work on a grand scale while keeping the human emotions very real.
DP: On your blog "The Man in Black," you've been exploring the problems of the publishing industry. Is book publishing broken? How?
Jason: I don't know that publishing is 'broken' per se, but I think like a lot of industries these days it had built up some bad habits that are now being cleansed. Unfortunately a lot of people have lost their jobs, many of whom I knew personally, and it is sad to see so many people who were passionate about books now out of the industry.
I do think publishing needs to do a better job of embracing technology, getting ahead of the curve rather than being forced to constantly play catch up. Because marketing and publicity dollars are limited, authors have become incredibly adept at maximizing their exposure while using as little capital as possible. Publishers could learn a lot from authors in that regard, especially when it comes to outside-the-box thinking rather than traditional "print galleys, buy one or two expensive ads, hope for the best" campaigns.
DP: What are some of the solutions to fixing book publishing?
Jason: Man, that's a question I'm not sure I'm totally qualified to answer, but I don't think publishing is 'broken'. I think devices like the Kindle can hopefully expand reading to newer, more technologically adept audiences, but I do think e-books will have trouble replacing printed books the way digital music seems to be replacing CDs. Music is an art that is just better formatted for digital consumption, and can be segmentedin the form of individual tracks the way books cannot.
Personally, I would love to see authors and publishers do a better job of luring younger readers in, as they're really the future of the business.
DP: Regular DaRK PaRTY contributor, Crime Writer Dave Zeltserman, thinks self-publishing is a form of literary suicide. What are your thoughts on the explosion of self-published eBooks?
Jason: Self publishing, to me, is always the last resort. If you want a career as an author, you're far better off honing your craft and suffering through one or two unpublished manuscripts in order to find the right one that can sell (I know I did, and so did most professional authors).
If you're simply looking for a printed book that you can give to friends and family as a memento, self-publishing is probably the way to go. But if you're looking for an actual career, if you're looking to perhaps make a living or even make any sort of income and have any real distribution, you're better off simply working and writing until you succeed. Self-publishing is easy. My three-month-old cousin can technically self publish. Mastering the craft of writing is hard, and unfortunately a lot of people choose that route.
Bonus Question: The fourth Henry Parker novel "The Fury" is coming in the spring. Can you give us a sneak peek?
Jason: Absolutely. Through three books Henry Parker has uncovered some of the greatest stories never told, but in “The Fury” (in stores October 2009) he uncovers the most devastating secret of all - his own. In “The Fury,” we learn much more about Henry's past, including one massive skeleton in his closet that threatens everything he cares about. Plus, “The Fury” is the first book in a two-part Parker epic that will conclude with “The Darkness” which will be out in December 2009.
Sometimes the Academy Awards Give the Prize to the Wrong Films
Time will tell if "Slumdog Millionaire" (2008) deserves to be added to our list (although we were happy that it won). Here is the DaRK PaRTY list of unworthy winners of the distinction of Best Motion Picture.
Titanic Year: 1997 Director: James Cameron
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Bill Paxton and Gloria Stuart
Plot: A free spirited, poverty stricken lad stows away on the Titanic and falls in love with a wealthy teenager promised to a powerful (and utterly evil) industrialist.
Why It Shouldn’t Have Won: “Titanic” at its essence is a gaudy melodrama disguised by its all-star cast and $200 million special effects extravaganza. But the biggest flaw in the film is the fact that 1990s sensibilities are transported back to 1912 – as if the doomed passenger ship fell into a time warp before being sunk by an iceberg. Kate Winslet is a liberated woman – at a time when there weren’t any (she even flips another character the bird). Then there’s the romance between Winslet and DeCaprio that is so corny that it could be the main ingredient in a cornbread recipe.
The Oscar Competition: “L.A. Confidential,” “As Good As It Gets,” “Good Will Hunting,” “The Full Monty”
Film That Should Have Won: “L.A. Confidential.”
Forrest Gump Year: 1994 Director: Rober Zemeckis Starring: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright Penn, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson and Sally Field
Plot: A dim-witted, Southern boy grows up in the latter half of the 20th century and is able to overcome his feebleness to become a Vietnam war hero and a successful shrimp fisherman – while participating in many historical events.. Why It Shouldn’t Have Won: These days it’s hard not to think about Robert Downey Jr.’s rant in “Tropic Thunder” (2008) about actors going “retard” to win an Oscar and not consider Tom Hank’s performance in “Forrest Gump.” Hanks plays Forrest as a slack-jawed moron with a heart of gold. His gravelly, clogged-nasal passages monotones may be the most irritating performance ever to win an Academy Award. The movie is pedestrian at best, but its real crime was snatching the best picture award from “Pulp Fiction,” a movie that continues to withstand the test of time and remains one of the most influential in the last three decades. The Oscar Competition: “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Quiz Show,” “The Shawshank Redemption.” Film That Should Have Won: “Pulp Fiction.”
Gladiator Year: 2000 Director: Ridley Scott Starring: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Djimon Housou, Derek Jacobi and Richard Harris. Plot: A Roman general in line to replace the ailing Emperor Marcus Aurelius is betrayed by the emperor’s son, Commodus. The general’s family is murdered and escapes execution, but only to be captured by slave traders. He becomes a gladiator and uses his battle skills to catapult himself to fame and to position himself as the new emperor of Rome. Why It Shouldn’t Have Won: “Joey, do you like gladiator movies?” Captain Oveur asks the little boy in “Airplane” (1980). Clearly, the answer should have been no. The artistic appeal of “Gladiator” remains a mystery – as its nothing more than a clichéd action adventure set in ancient Rome. It’s a depressing, cynical movie that has no heart – and no color (it looks as if it were filmed through dirty cotton). Joaquin Phoenix plays the nasty, cowardly Commodus like a petulant child channeling Nathan Lane numbed down on painkillers. It’s a painful experience to watch the overacting Russell in a series of pontificating speeches about fairness, justice, and blah, blah, blah. The Oscar Competition: “Chocolat,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Erin Brockovich” and “Traffic.” Film That Should Have Won: “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
Dances with Wolves Year: 1990 Director: Kevin Costner
Starring: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene, Rodney A. Grant, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Tantoo Cardinal and Jimmy Herman Plot: A burned-out Union soldier about to have his leg amputated tries to commit suicide, but instead ends up a hero. A general’s doctor saves his leg and the officer, John J. Dunbar, is transferred to the western wilderness. He meets a tribe of Sioux and drops out of white man’s society. Why It Shouldn’t Have Won: “Dances With Wolves” is like a wine you fell in love with at a trendy restaurant, bought a bottle of it, and then a couple of years later you pop it open it has turned to vinegar. And, of course, it surprises you. But try watching “Dances With Wolves” again and you’ll find that it’s heavy-handed and very preachy. It also treats its Native American subjects as children rather than a race of adults. And, of course, the white men are portrayed as despicable monsters. It’s all too simplified, black-and-white and as a result, the movie suffers for it. The Oscar Competition: “Awakenings,” “Ghost,” “The Godfather, Part III,” “Goodfellas.” Film That Should Have Won: “Goodfellas.”
Rain Man Year: 1988 Director: Barry Levinson Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise and Valeria Golino Plot: A young car dealer in need of money when he finds out his estranged father has died. Heading home to settle the estate, he discovers that he has an older brother who is an autistic savant and been institutionalized for most his life. In order to get more money out the estate, dealer kidnaps his brother and they travel together across country – bonding. Why It Shouldn’t Have Won: It’s difficult not to like “Rain Man.” But here is another actor (Dustin Hoffman) “going retard” to earn a best actor award. Hoffman manages to avoid the syrupy performance that plagued Tom Hanks in “Forrest Gump,” but the problem with “Rain Man” his character never transcend beyond Dustin Hoffman playing an autistic guy. In the end, “Rain Man” isn’t a bad movie – it just isn’t Oscar caliber and was only the third best movie nominated in 1988. The Oscar Competition: “The Accidental Tourist,” “Dangerous Liaisons,” “Mississippi Burning, “Working Girl.”
Film That Should Have Won: “Dangerous Liaisons.”
Oliver! Year: 1968
Director: Carol Reed Starring: Ron Moody, Shani Wallis, Oliver Reed, Harry Secombe, Mark Lester, Jack Wild and Hugh Griffith. Plot: An adaptation of the Dickens’ novel “Oliver Twist.” An orphan escapes a work school to become a pickpocket under the control of Fagin and Bill Sikes. A kindly and wealthy family later adopts him. Why It Shouldn’t Have Won: Amazingly, 1968 gave us “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” and “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and yet neither of these films were even nominated. Instead, we get a musical of one of Charles Dickens’ most damning novels of the British welfare system and class structure. One can only imagine how Dickens would have reacted to a group of destitute boys singing “Food Glorious Food” while dancing on streets of slop. The Oscar Competition: “Funny Girl,” “The Lion in Winter,” “Rachel, Rachel,” “Romeo and Juliet.”
Film That Should Have Won: “The Lion in Winter.”
The Greatest Show on Earth Year: 1952
Director: Cecil B. DeMille Starring: Betty Hutton, Cornel Wilde, Charlton Heston, Dorothy Lamour, Gloria Grahhame, Jimmy Stewart and Henry Wilcoxon, Plot: A struggling circus hires the Great Sebastien to pump some life into the show. His arrival displaces Holly from her spot on the trapeze and the two enter into a dangerous competition against each other while fighting off romantic entanglements outside of the Big Top. Why It Shouldn’t Have Won: This may be the worst picture to ever bring home the Oscar and in light of the superior competition (notably “High Noon” and “The Quiet Man”) one can only wonder if uber-Hollywood power broker Cecil B. DeMille called in some markers. Vapid, big budget movie making at its tacky worst with a only a flimsy plot and endless shot of real circus performers and kids reacting to it. The Oscar Competition: “High Noon,” “Ivanhoe,” “Moulin Rouge,” “The Quiet Man.” Film That Should Have Won: “High Noon.”
How Green Was My Valley Year: 1941 Director: John Ford Starring: Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O’Hara, Anna Lee, Donald Crisp and Roddy McDowall. Plot: The trials of ordinary people in a Welsh coal mining town. Why It Shouldn’t Have Won: An overly sentimental and romanticized pandering of the class that won the Academy Award because the United States was in the midst of World War II. The coal miners actually march home with picks on their shoulders singing loudly and happily as they exit the mines. The story is supposed to expose the harsh working conditions, but the movie’s kid-glove treatment of the miners dooms it. The Oscar Competition: “Blossoms in the Dust,” “Citizen Kane,” “Here Comes Mr. Jordan,” “Hold Back the Dawn,” “The Little Foxes,” “The Maltese Falcon,” “One Foot in Heaven,” “Sergeant York.” Film That Should Have Won: “Citizen Kane.”
Going My Way Year: 1944 Director: Leo McCarey Starring: Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald, Frank McHugh, James Brown, Gene Lockhart and Jean Heather. Plot: A singing and dancing priest brings joy and solutions to social problems to his parish. Why It Shouldn’t Have Won: Bing Crosby as a priest who will break out into song at any opportunity must have charmed the Academy weary of the bloodshed of World War II. Because there really isn’t another reason for this forgettable movie to even be considered among the best pictures of 1944 or any other year. If you put “Going My Way” in a cup of coffee, you’d return it for being too sweet. It was up against three films that were far superior – especially in hindsight. The Oscar Competition: “Double Indemnity,” “Gaslight,” “Since You Went Away,” “Wilson.”
Here’s the question: Is there anything Tim Green can’t do? He was a professional football player (first round draft pick for the Atlanta Falcons). After football, he was a football commentator for FOX Sports. He graduated from law school and became a lawyer. And now he’s a bestselling author.
Makes you want to smack the guy – except he’d probably kick your ass. On Monday, Green’s latest suspense novel “Above the Law” hits bookstores. It’s a hybrid – a legal drama that becomes a revenge thriller. Neither genre works well in “Above the Law,” yet somehow Green manages to put together a compelling piece of fiction that's fun to read despite its flaws.
Green returns to the character of attorney Casey Jordan (first introduced in his 2005 legal thriller “The Letter of the Law”). Jordan now operates a legal clinic for poor women in Texas. She becomes embroiled in helping to prevent a young Mexican mother from being deported after her husband’s accidental slaying.
U.S. Senator Chase, a conservative and staunch anti-immigration advocate, shot the husband during a turkey hunt at the senator’s ranch. But was the shooting an accident – or murder? Is the deportation of the victim’s wife a way to protect the senator?
Jordan, a plucky character with lots of legal smarts, enters into a sly game of legal one-upsmanship with the Senator and law enforcement officials – firmly entrenched in the senator’s camp. This is the best part of the novel. Green does an excellent job showcasing the legal angles and complications in the case.
But just as “Above the Law” starts shaping into what could have been a fascinating legal drama – Green suddenly shifts gears and turns “Above the Law” into an action adventure story – with revenge as the centerpiece. It’s disappointing to watch Jordan – clearly a brilliant lawyer – turn into a middle-aged Nancy Drew.
She’s partnered in this adventure by ex-cop and private eye Jose O’Brien. O’Brien muddles the story because he basically becomes more of a plot device than a well-rounded character. In other words, his actions are dictated by the plot – rather than by his character.
At this point, the story Green falls back on some rather tired stereotypes – especially around the Mexico mother, who has no personality and serves only as a damsel in distress to be saved over and over again by Jordan and O’Brien.
There’s also the clichés of the Mexican gangbanger in the form of the dead husband’s brother (who can take more punishment than the Terminator) and the angry, racist sheriff who takes the law into his own hands.
But it may be the character of the senator who falls furthest away from reality. Instead of creating a nuanced and complicated villain – Green pulls out no stops in making Chase the embodiment of evil – even having him beat to death several puppies.
Yet even though the story becomes bent on revenge, the ending lacks a satisfying red-meat comeuppance for the evil senator. It’s hard not to feel like Green missed an opportunity here.
Yet despite the flaws in the second half of the novel, “Above the Law” manages to be quite entertaining. The writing is breezy and Green sprinkles the book with interesting legal questions and observations about America’s shameful treatment of illegal immigrants. If you're looking for a solid thriller that reads like a movie - then you won't be disappointed.
This is the first novel I’ve read by Green – and even though it was flawed – I enjoyed it enough that I’ll be returning to Green’s other books. He’s no doubt that he's a good writer and just narrowly missed it on this one.
An Exclusive Interview with Kenny Harris, the drummer from Screaming Blue Messiahs
(DaRK PaRTY isn’t shy to admit that we rock. Seriously. That’s why we were into the Screaming Blue Messiahs back during the alternative 1980s. What’s not to love about a British post punk band that has a song called “Holiday Head”? If you've never had the pleasure of listening to the album "Gun Shy" then you don't know what you're missing. So we did what any self-respecting fan boy does – we looked up Kenny Harris, the drummer from Screaming Blue Messiahs, and asked him for an interview. Kenny is a man of few words (damn drummers) – but this is what we managed to yank out of him. We also tried to get a hold of Bill Carter, the lead singer, but apparently he’s a bit of recluse. Hey, Bill! Come on board! We promise not to take you down to the woods and play!)
DaRK PaRTY: Can you give us a brief origin story on Screaming Blue Messiahs? How did you meet and why the name Screaming Blue Messiahs?
Kenny: We first met through an advert in Melody Maker. They were advertising for a drummer for the Small Brothers their band before Motor Boys Motor.
DP: How would you describe the sound of the Screaming Blue Messiahs?
Kenny: Bit of a racket.
DP: You were once David Bowie's most popular band. Did you meet Bowie? Who are some of the other artists who you shared the stage and worked with?
Kenny: We met him (Bowie) briefly. He stuck his head into the dressing room to say hello. Other artists we have played with include Echo & The Bunnymen, The Cramps, The Ramones, The Sugarcubes, The Gun Club etc, etc.
DP: What are your three favorite Screaming Blue Messiah songs and why?
Kenny: I find it hard to name just three but I always had a soft spot for “I Want Up.” It was reasonably paced and it always gave me a chance to get my breath back before the next song.
DP: “I Wanna Be a Flintstone” was your biggest hit, but it also labeled the band as a novelty act. How did that song come about and do you ever regret releasing it?
Kenny: It was supposed to be a sort of updating of “Here Come The Flintstones” from the Motor Boys Motor album. It was made for our own amusement. We didn't think for a minute that it would be a single. That was a record company decision and perhaps with hindsight, not a particularly wise one.