Earl Kemp was an American publisher, science fiction editor and critic.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Earl Kemp was involved in publishing erotic paperbacks through a company, Greenleaf Publishing, where he was employed by William Hamling. In an example of détournement, in 1970 Kemp published an Illustrated edition of the Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography. According to Pornography and Sexual Representation: A Reference Guide, the book was “replete with the sort of photographs the commission examined.” Kemp eventually was sentenced to a one-year prison sentence for distributing the book (as was Hamling). However, both served only the federal minimum of three months and one day. The story of their arrest and prison time was covered in Gay Talese’s Thy Neighbor’s Wife (1981).
In my universe, Plummer played parts in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The Man Who Would Be King and Harrison Bergeron, an admirable adaptation of the wonderful short story by Vonnegut.
In Harrison Bergeron, Plummer is John Klaxon. Klaxon is the benevolent tyrant of the intelligent elite that gives the masses the illusion that they rule.
There seem to be quite a lot of differences with the short story, but I have not had time to check them out.
Update: I re-read the short story, which is only 6 to 7 pages long so there is barely opportunity to compare. In the short story the parents of Harrison are watching television, their son having been arrested some time before. The parents are watching television. All of a sudden the son is seen on television interrupting a ballet performance. The son speaks to the people, imploring them to free themselves from their handicaps. He ‘marries’ a ballerina and is subsequently and tragically shot.
The 2009 short film 2081 follows the short story faithfully.
The film version, with Harrison becoming part of the elite, is reminiscent of V for Vendetta, one of the best films of the 21st century.
Unlike Shere Hite, who passed away last September and became known worldwide after her 1976 “Hite Report”, few outside the United States knew the witty Betty Dodson.
Hite became known for assuring women worldwide that penetrative sex is not the way to orgasm for women. Before Hite, many women faked their orgasms. After Hite there was a little less faking. However, it was Dodson who taught American women how to masturbate.
Dodson started out as an artist, she debuted in the late 1960s with drawings of couples making love. That went well. For a second exhibition she decided to invite friends to her studio to masturbate and draw them. That exhibition was a flop and also marked the end of her career as an artist.
Dodson went on to become an orgasm evangelizer, working with the likes of Annie Sprinkle, and writing a number of top-selling books. She looked very young in old age. Perhaps because of all the masturbation she so passionately promoted? She loved the Hitachi Magic Wand, an vibrator called the Rolls-Royce of sex toys. She organized group sessions for ladies to masturbate together. Each with such a Hitachi (I read somewhere that these sessions were sometimes broadcast live on TV). Her dream was to orchestrate a simultaneous group orgasm, but it was precisely in that orchestration role that she saw objections.
Anyone in Europe who was a little curious – and you know what Zappa said about being curious: “the mainstream comes to you, but you have to go to the underground” – saw Betty Dodson in the 1971 film WR: Mysteries of the Organism (1971) about the influence of Willem ‘orgasmatron’ Reich (1897-1957) on the hippie world. There she talked about her erotic drawings.
Betty Dodson belongs to a movement within feminism called sex-positive feminism. It is a movement that I became familiar with via the work of Camille Paglia, an American academic who made the world a smarter place in 1990 with her book Sexual Personae.
Sex-positive thinkers have a positive attitude towards, for example, porn, sex work and sexting.
In that sense I am also sex positive.
If you fully agree that sex is a good thing, you can only decide, as some feminists do, that rape is not about sex, for example.
They reason for this is, and I quote, The Evolution of Human Sexuality (1979) by Donald Symons, a fantastic book:
“The notion that rape is not sexually motivated” [may be due to the fact that] “part of the modernization of sex is the belief that sex is a good thing; yet almost everyone agrees that rape is a bad thing, and one way of eliminating the threat of cognitive dissonance is to deny that rape is sex.”
Sex can be a very beautiful thing indeed. But sex can also be very ugly.
Most of all, sex is often a bit disruptive. And having come to this point in a discourse like this, I like to say it with Schopenhauer who famously said that “sex is a malevolent demon.”
In my universe, he has a minor role in Death Watch (1980) a film which caught my attention at a young age. It tells the story of a woman with an incurable disease who will be filmed 24/7 until her death.
Its theme is still my theme: technology, reality television and its impact on society.
Von Sydow has but a minor part in this film.
Speaking of reality television. The most underrated film with reality television as a trope is Paul Bartel’s The Secret Cinema (1968).
His anti-pornography essay “Night Words” (1965) was the first of his writings which came to my attention in my capacity as pornosopher in the early 2000s.
Although I did not agree with them, his points were well-written and intellectually interesting.
“My true quarrel with the Olympia Reader and the genre it embodies is not that so much of the stuff should be boring and abjectly written. It is that these books leave a man less free, less himself, than they found him; that they leave language poorer, less endowed with a capacity for fresh discrimination and excitement. It is not a new freedom that they bring, but a new servitude. In the name of human privacy, enough!”
But then again, he also found the pearls and showed an appreciation for Diderot, Crebillon fils, Verlaine, Swinburne and Apollinaire. Pornography as such is just not very interesting, it is only interesting where it intersects with other genres or with other domains of interest in meaningful ways. In that sense, it is very similar to other art forms.
I happened to read In Bluebeard’s Castle (1971) during last summer. I had discovered the work when researching the notion of Western guilt. The book features the much quoted dictum:
“And it is true also that the very posture of self-indictment, of remorse in which much of educated Western sensibility now finds itself is again a culturally specific phenomenon. What other races have turned in penitence to those whom they once enslaved, what other civilizations have morally indicted the brilliance of their own past? The reflex of self-scrutiny in the name of ethical absolutes is, once more, a characteristically Western, post-Voltairian act.”