Society Gone Wild

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If you have ever found yourself up late at night staring at the television, you’ll likely be familiar with Joe Francis’s work. Joe Francis is the brains (?) behind “Girls Gone Wild,” that lovely, $40 million a year series of videotapes or DVDs that provide a historical record of the varieties of undergarments worn and removed by mostly drunken old girls and young women of the early twenty-first century.

If you have ever found yourself up late at night staring at the television, you’ll likely be familiar with Joe Francis’s work. Joe Francis is the brains (?) behind “Girls Gone Wild,” that lovely, $40 million a year series of videotapes or DVDs that provide a historical record of the varieties of undergarments worn and removed by mostly drunken old girls and young women of the early twenty-first century.

A great recent article in the Los Angeles Times provides a wealth of information about Mr. Francis. We learn about his arrest on charges of racketeering, drug trafficking and promoting the sexual performance of a child; about his fondness for physically bullying women; about his philosophical insights into human nature (for instance, “only the guys with the greatest sexual appetites are the ones who are the most driven and most successful” – is that pre-Socratic? I forget); his business’s code ("Push That Porn!!!"); his pitiable life of being so gosh-darned famous ("It's fun for everybody else but me. I just get hounded by kids. It was more fun not being famous on spring break."); and even his gift for turning phrases ("I've been anally raped over and over by the media."). What a guy!
But Mr. Francis isn’t the story. There’s nothing new in men profiting from sex, nor in what people used to call men profiting from the exploitation of women. What’s new, instead, is that it’s almost impossible anymore to call the eager dropping of one’s drawers in return for a T-shirt exploitative.
 
The article’s author, Claire Hoffman, describes the many unclad girls who throw themselves at Mr. Francis – the same Mr. Francis who pinned Ms. Hoffman against a car while twisting her arm – and who beg and plead to be filmed pulling up their shirts to show off how Daddy spends some of his investment returns while they tongue kiss their new girlfriends. According to Ms. Hoffman, “Spring Break 2005” chronicles “women in bikinis [who] giggle as they stare into the camera and explain just how wild their vacations are getting: group showers, oral sex in bars with strangers, topless dancing. One girl, surrounded by her friends, explains, ‘I'm ready and willing, and I'm a dirty slut.’” Can’t you feel her parents’ pride?
 
Let’s be clear about what we’re seeing. This is nothing less than the whoring of America’s youth. Joe Francis is not setting this trend, he’s capturing it on video. And these girls typically are not exposing themselves because they are drunk, though they are very drunk, but because that’s what they know. There are too many articles and too much testimony about the girls’ willing embrace (and guys’ eager consumption) of a culture of sex once reserved for prostitutes and porn stars. The girl who describes herself as a “slut”, a word in the past that would merit a punch in the face, does so proudly because being a slut – being willing to go all the way whichever way and with whichever sex – is esteemed.
 
The choir I’m preaching to knows and is outraged by all this; that I understand. And, usually, we’ll reassure ourselves by pointing out that there are good kids amidst this debris, and that many of these girls and boys will eventually learn their lessons the hard way. Yes there are good kids, but society has tipped over when girls willingly refer to themselves as whores and sluts, when they allow themselves to be passed around from guy to girl to guy, and when guys show no qualms about treating their classmates like call girls. The hard lessons of bad decisions will not be forthcoming in a society turned on its head. Instead, the good decisions become harder and their beneficiaries fewer.

Joseph Capizzi is Fellow in Religion for the Culture of Life Foundation and Associate Professor of Religion at Catholic University of America.

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