Anthony Weiner’s penis has dominated the news longer now than the death of Osama bin Laden in a media world more transfixed by texting antics of a horny Congressman than the demise of a mass murderer who changed the world.
When I was teaching journalism, that would have been unthinkable. In those benighted days, sex scandals lasted a few days and headline writers went back from sniggering to serious issues. Unsophisticated as we were, subjects like the national debt, Medicare and wars would have retaken the headlines. But not now.
“President Obama was trying hard to get his economic message out on Wednesday. But thanks to Anthony Weiner, he really had no chance,” reports a New York Times blog.
“Even as Mr. Obama was talking about his efforts to ‘rebuild the middle class,’ more graphic pictures of Mr. Weiner were popping up online. Cable news channels picked apart the scandal throughout the day, virtually ignoring Mr. Obama’s remarks...”
In an era when explicit sex is so available on TV and in movies, why this grade-school fascination with a subject that no longer has any mysteries for anyone on the planet past puberty?
It seems that, behind all of today’s pseudo-sophistication, is the same schoolyard entrancement that overcame me at an early age when a classmate enlightened a gaggle of us about “the facts of life.”
One day, a boy told us he had seen “it” by spying on an older brother and his girlfriend. After sketchily detailing the kind of gyrations we had all heard rumors about, he paused.
“When they finished, my brother made sure she wouldn’t have a kid.”
Now we were hooked. This was surely something that could come in handy later in our lives.
“How did he do that?”
Shaking his head at our ignorance, he imparted the secret of birth control: “He punched her in the stomach--hard.”
It took years to overcome that unnerving image about what grownups do in private but apparently, in the collective unconscious even today, there is still a bottomless curiosity about the subject, and the media will keep on reporting Weiner’s travails and punching us in the stomach--hard.