42nd Street: Tits!

23 Sep

It’s my birthday today, so I decided to take a 3-hour break from reading about esoterica and take a walk. I wandered through Central Park and snickered at the faux-hawked tourists and then ended up in Times Square somehow. I always avoid Times Square because it’s packed from left to right with Texans with too much make-up on who are trying to blend in by dressing like they’re in an episode of Friends and with those weird Midtown office workers, but I fucked up and wandered too far down Seventh Avenue before I noticed what I was doing. Maybe I was distracted by the Drive Like Jehu (or was it Scandal?) I was listening to. Anyway, I noticed a few things along the way that have made me question the general public’s appraisal of today’s Times Square. 

Even people who don’t live here have heard the story of what Rudy Giuliani “did for” Times Square. He’s supposed to be a big hero because he “cleaned up” 42nd Street and made the area safe for people who wear buttpacks with no hint of sarcasm to hang around in. I cannot count the number of times I’ve read self-indulgent little bits of doggerel about the former glory of the Deuce in local publications in which some (invariably old, white, boring, male) writer will pine away for the glory days of 42nd Street when the entire area consisted of nothing but peep shows, strip clubs, massage parlors, and random crime. You can almost hear the tiny violins playing when you read these guys’ lamentations over the “Disnification” of the area that has taken place over the last decade or so.

Now, I’m just as bummed as anyone when an area with its own character and style turns into yet another Starbucks-American Apparel-T Mobile-Chase Bank-Jamba Juice-Chipotle-Gap strip mall, but I don’t know that 42nd Street’s past is anything to mourn, or that it’s even changed all that much. Only a maudlin, entitled weenie could whine about the loss of a bunch of shithole exploitation emporiums, but we all know there is no shortage of those, especially in the New York print media. 

As of now, Times Square is dominated by chain restaurants that are basically souped-up, double-priced incarnations of the kinds of places people eat at on Friday nights in Marietta, Georgia: Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Chevy’s, TGI Friday’s, Chili’s, Applebee’s, and Hooters. (I don’t know that they’re all represented, but you get the point.) It’s basically a giant mall, billed as “family-friendly” because it’s got an MTV store, a Disney store, and a Hurley outlet (ugh). 

Things have changed. One really has to make ten seconds’-worth of an effort these days to find, tucked away between the t-shirt shops and gray-market electronics outlets, the little doorways that lead to second-floor strip clubs and massage parlors (AKA sex-trafficking depots, AKA rape rooms). It’s just such a shame to see the area lose its gloriously exploitive past. 

Or has it? I don’t see the recent history of Times Square as a story of seediness’s supplantation by generic middle-American consumer culture, but rather one of generic middle-American consumer culture incorporating, co-opting, and corporatizing phenomena that were formerly deemed unfit for women, children, and “good” family men.  Times Square has gone from a shitheap of independently owned sex trade establishments to a shitheap of corporate exploitation and objectification depots. The sleaze has gone mainstream in the form of two Hooters franchises, a Hawaiian Tropic restaurant (where the waitstaff wears bikinis, even in January — in New York), and Club Jenna, a nightclub owned by porn indsutry poster-girl Jenna Jameson (equipped with a 40-foot billboard with Jenna’s face and boobs on it, with a little nipple exposed on each), and who knows what else (I couldn’t stand to wander around there for too long). 

So yeah, Times Square does suck more now than it used to, but these windbag writers (who ought to be sent out to pasture so I can take over their jobs and tell the public what’s really up) have no clue as to why. Times Square sucks now more than it used to not because its bordellos have lost their uniqueness, not because it’s safe to walk around in at 4 AM, not because it’s full of places that sell drinks with names like the Wallaby Darned and the El Nino Margarita, but because it’s a glaringly obvious manifestation of the mainstreaming of porn culture.

A family vacation in New York now includes a look at a 20-foot wide close-up of a porn star’s tits, a good look at a few waitresses’ tits, and a souvenir t-shirt based on the Hello Kitty brand that (oh, so cleverly) says “Hello Titty” on it and turns the former kid’s toy brand logo into — that’s right — a pair of tits. 

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23 Responses to “42nd Street: Tits!”

  1. Catwings September 24, 2008 at 1:58 AM #

    Happy Birthday!
    Bikinis in the winter huh? The tips must be grrrreat, I can’t imagine it being worth that though. I mean atleast Hooters has a sweatshirt as part of their uniform (much to the dismay of the patrons.)
    I’ve been giving alot of thought to this mainstreaming of pornification and I’m not even really sure what would fix it?
    Perhaps if the media glorified the opposite, but what is their motive if their current propoganda is productive and lucrative for that matter? Does the opposite of sex “sell?”

  2. Jenn September 24, 2008 at 4:07 AM #

    Happy birthday, but too bad the world still sucks. Bummer on living in New York though, I’d want to kill myself daily with the influx of noise and commercialism. Although Phoenix isn’t much better, although the bikini-thing would be more practical.

    Let me guess, none of the waitresses at the titty restaurant fall outside of the heteronormative definition of “fuckable” right? When it’s hot as shit outside (thanks Phoenix), it might be cool to come to work in a bikini. Not because I enjoy people oogling my boobies, but because I generally like not wearing clothing–for myself, not for anyone else. Of course, I’d violate public decency laws with my pale untoned stretch-marked tummy.

    Titties for pay = commercialism. Titties for myself because it’s hot as fuck = go to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

    Yay exploitation!

  3. isme September 24, 2008 at 5:03 AM #

    “Perhaps if the media glorified the opposite, but what is their motive if their current propoganda is productive and lucrative for that matter? Does the opposite of sex “sell?””

    What is the opposite of sex, though?

  4. Brad September 24, 2008 at 1:10 PM #

    Ugh. National chains are close to being the bane of my existance. I’d rather have a bunch of crappy restaurants than them all be chains. In my hometown there is a shoping/eating area that sadly the national chains have started taking over.

    Suburbia pretty much is all chains. Go to any suburb and you’ll find the same thing. No identity what so ever.

    Really a shame that the chains have taken over New York. That’s more than enough for me, not even accounting for the objectification.

  5. Nine Deuce September 24, 2008 at 1:43 PM #

    Luckily the chain takeover is still somewhat limited here. Outside of Times Square neighborhoods are pretty resistant to chains. Still, it’s noticeable in a lot of places, especially Soho and the Upper West Side.

  6. syndicalist702 September 24, 2008 at 4:19 PM #

    nine deuce – Happy Birthday.

    All – I never had much desire to visit NYC. Reading this post put my desire to visit in the negative column. *sigh*

    Jenn – Interesting how nothing is acceptable in this damn country unless somebody (usually a man) can box it up and sell it. Consumerism/commercialism are a disease so prevalent that no one can help but get a little on them.

  7. Nine Deuce September 24, 2008 at 4:39 PM #

    Times Square isn’t New York. Don’t let it deter you. I actually like New York better than anyplace in the country except San Francisco.

  8. Sis September 25, 2008 at 12:01 AM #

    Happy Birthday Ms. Deuce.

  9. Eibhear September 25, 2008 at 1:21 AM #

    Sto lat, Nine deuce!
    Hope you got lots of nice, new toys. I know this isn’t relevant to this particular post, but as it is germane to those previous, I thought you might be interested. In W ednesday, 24/09/08’s edition of “The Guardian” (U.K. national paper), there is an interesting article concerning “family annihilation”. I’m afraid I’m a bit too long in tooth to be able to “tag”, or “link”, or suchlike, but I’m hoping that with your superior skills, you might manage it.

  10. crankosaur September 25, 2008 at 1:15 PM #

    I hope you had a happy birthday, in spite of your little jaunt through Times Square.

  11. witchywoo September 25, 2008 at 8:31 PM #

    I hope it was a good one too :)

  12. Catwings September 26, 2008 at 3:21 AM #

    isme, For lack of a better way to put it, I suppose I was wondering what would happen if people like the Hawaiian Tropic restaurant or Hooters were to say, allow their waitstaff to wear whatever they felt comfortable in, be it turtle neck sweaters or perhaps longs pants. Where is their motivation for promoting an image that is not the media’s current idea of sexy? If bikinis bring in patrons, why would they change the dress code?

  13. syndicalist702 September 27, 2008 at 1:36 AM #

    UNRELATED:

    Full gulp pull tonight. I’m going to take a swig every time McCain says something like “My friends,” or “defense,” or “offshore drilling.”

    I’ll probably have a buzz that would make Vinnie Paul blush.

    Cheers, folks.

  14. Nine Deuce September 27, 2008 at 1:46 AM #

    I’m doing the FGP every time he says “veterans” or “cut spending.” I’m already wasted.

  15. sam September 30, 2008 at 5:09 AM #

    Terrific summation. I used to live in NYC and going back lately depresses me because the hyper-objectification of women was always bad but it actually managed to get worse since I moved away.

  16. James October 2, 2008 at 8:35 PM #

    You’ve probably heard of this film – but look at the image on the homepage: http://www.thepriceofpleasure.com/

    Also, not related to your post, but I found both these links today. Wondered what you thought: http://www.climaterush.co.uk/

    Hooray for people DOING good things.

  17. Konservo October 3, 2008 at 1:03 AM #

    Hi, James.

    Since you did not specify to whom “you” refers, I’ll assume you meant me. Just kidding. But anyway, here’s some unsolicited opinionation from an opinionated person.

    RE: the movie

    It probably sucks, but I looked over the “clips” and saw His Royal Highness Noam Chomsky. I think it’s funny that he did an interview with Hustler and later claimed that he “had never heard of The Hustler.” :lol:

    RE: climaterush

    Lame. Human rights and lack there of are one thing, and although we may debate how big the problem is today, there’s no question that it was much bigger in the U.S. and U.K. 100 years ago.

    Climate change, on the other hand, is a merely a rally cry for the paranoid and angst-filled left. Does the climate change, yes, of course. Does climate change call for activism akin to the women’s suffrage movement? Not even close.

  18. James October 4, 2008 at 3:00 AM #

    Konservo,

    Why should I assume you know anything about any women’s movements of today or 100 years ago if you think a (fairly balanced it seems) documentary about porn “sucks” for no apparent reason? And why should I assume your understanding of climate science is any different? Or your understanding of how environmental destruction hurts women far more than men?

    I suppose you think bringing up Noam Chomsky is supposed to fire me up, along with all my lefty friends. He’s all about cleaning up your own house first, which means he talks about the bad things my country does only in passing. So I’m not really that interested in him. And I worship no “Royal Highness” – ever think about the kind of person you’re trying to condescend when you type?

  19. Konservo October 5, 2008 at 9:49 PM #

    Why should I assume you know anything about any women’s movements of today or 100 years ago if you think a (fairly balanced it seems) documentary about porn “sucks” for no apparent reason? And why should I assume your understanding of climate science is any different? Or your understanding of how environmental destruction hurts women far more than men?

    I’ll have you know that my impressive list of credentials includes commenting anonymously on blogs and running “a right-wing anti-‘Islamofascism’ type blog” of my own (also anonymously).

    I suppose you think bringing up Noam Chomsky is supposed to fire me up, along with all my lefty friends. He’s all about cleaning up your own house first, which means he talks about the bad things my country does only in passing. So I’m not really that interested in him. And I worship no “Royal Highness” – ever think about the kind of person you’re trying to condescend when you type?

    No, I don’t. In fact, I didn’t think that you’d get “fired up” over the Chomsky comment. I was just being honest. His was, I think, the only recognizable face so it stood out. I wasn’t thinking about how you’d react at all. I don’t take the sort of thing into consideration. There’s a word… it describes someone who doesn’t care how others will react because he or she is speaking from the heart about what he or she believes to be truth… what is that word… oh yeah, honesty.

  20. James October 6, 2008 at 4:14 AM #

    God you’re annoying. And absolutely full of shit.

  21. Nine Deuce October 6, 2008 at 4:17 AM #

    Ha! James – I thought your comment was directed at me at first. If I didn’t recognize the URL I would have deleted it (I do get a few like that).

  22. James October 6, 2008 at 4:19 AM #

    Whoops, thanks, I’ll be more careful in future! Haha.

  23. Imaginary October 26, 2009 at 5:57 PM #

    What the fuck??!?!?! What the fuck did they do to Hello Kitty?!?! She never did anything to you?!?!? POOR KITTY!

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