Florida Foreclosed

Foreclosure, Naples, FL / Photo credit: Susannah Breslin

Foreclosure, Naples, FL / Photo credit: Susannah Breslin

What's more interesting than the subdivisions of affordable suburban tract homes in Florida that went to apocalyptic hell in the wake of the Great Recession are the mega-mansions worth many millions that to this day sit in a state of lush green decay like concrete block Miss Havishams. Once upon a time, you can see by their Zestimates, they were worth $1M, $2M, $3M and more. In dated photos on listings that have long since expired, before banks came along and foreclosed on them, you can see them at their thousands of square feet glory: the many-tiered tray ceilings with custom lighting, the acres of travertine set on the diagonal, the luxury showers that accommodate three at a time. Today, they are worth half their previous values or less than that. Tucked between neighboring homeowners that wish they didn't exist, their filmy windows gaze blankly at those who bother to peek over their dilapidated gates. Inside, you wade through the flooded swamps that were their manicured lawns, peer inside at their ceilings falling from leaks that make puddles on their granite counter tops, gaze into the putrid vats that used to be their swimming pools with spas and wonder where, when, and how it all went so wrong. The families aren't totally gone: the aluminum baseball bat left on the greening lanai, the stuffed yellow duck forgotten in the dust, the box of letters filled with unpaid bills from banks looking to collect and Happy Father's Day cards addressed to a head of household who must have found, to his surprise, his American Dream had fell to rot, and who, not knowing what to do, simply left.

The Pornography of Violence

Imaginary Enemy, The Used

Imaginary Enemy, The Used

"Today, films that promise spectacle, intensity, and, above all, whore-bashing are not the totality of the pornographic universe. But they are the primary thing that millions of heterosexual men flock to when they are alone at their computers (check out the popular titles at http://business.avn.com/charts/.) Author David Foster Wallace (2006) spent some time with Max Hardcore at the AVN Awards in 1998 and left convinced that the snuff film was the apotheosis of porn -- the 'horizon' towards which the industry was traveling (28). More recently, journalist Susannah Breslin (2009) left a movie set of director Jim Powers with a similar impression: 'The products that Jim produces are videotaped vivisections, studies in which homo sapiens lie upon the operating table, the director is the doctor, the camera is the scalpel, and the only question worth asking is, How far will we go if we are pushed to our limits?" Breslin suggests an answer in the ambiguous title of her essay: 'They Shoot Porn Stars, Don't They?'
There is good reason why critics entertain visions of lethal violence when they consider pornographers' commitment to the intense and extreme, to the hostile and aggressive. But there is less reason to believe we stand on the precipice of something else altogether new and more threatening than what came before. The apocalyptic visions of Breslin and Wallace are not unique in the twenty-first-century. For instance, pornography and pop culture in the 1980s left David Cronenberg with a vision as ominous as Breslin's and Wallace's: The sleazy pornographers of the fictional Videodrome (1983) promised to bring snuff to the hungry masses on their home televisions. And decades earlier -- well before the dawn of pornography's Golden Age -- George Bataille (1962) believed that murder was the essence and the end of pornography, that sex and death were ever fused in human minds and bodies. Bataille's work, like that of the Marquis de Sade before him, shows that sexual violence has long been a staple in the pornographic -- and the popular -- imaginary (Moore 1990).
What changes with time is the form our most violent desires take, how extensively they dominate our sexual imaginations, how we choose to express them, and, perhaps, how far we are willing to go in exploring and satisfying them. The power of violence to captivate a wide audience is far from new, but the warnings of pop culture's soothsayers should not go unheeded. We must consider what is born when we so readily fuse arousal with contempt, sex with fury." -- Violence and the Pornographic Imaginary: The Politics of Sex, Gender, and Aggression in Hardcore Pornography, Natalie Purcell