I’ve been told one or twice over the years, certainly never more than two times in a 12-month period as far as I can recall, that I have a nice butt. This is not something I advertise or, really, am particularly proud of. I don’t do anything to maintain it, I never think about it because, quite frankly, I can’t see it, and certainly it hasn’t really gotten me much that I know of except a few compliments now and again. The latter has always puzzled me since I would think of all the wonderful things family, friends and the general public could flatter me about this would not be one of them.
Then again, I’m not complaining because as an ex of mine used to jokingly say – though I realized after two years of his bull that this was not really a joke – I accept all free-floating compliments.
No, this is not a piece about the world’s obsession with Kim Kardashian’s butt. Though certainly the provocative pictures of her very shiny and – since there’s no other way to say it I will – very large and very toned posterior that was designed to “Break the Internet” suggest that if it were I could probably increase my readership at least twenty thousand fold. Nevertheless, I am still choosing not to go there. This should not be surprising since I have also opted for so many decades to not do much of anything about the sporadic compliments I have gotten about my own behind.
At the end of the day all this really proves is not only do I know little about generating (m)ass appeal but that I am probably just about the worst person alive to market my own ass(ets).
Still, as a writer and college professor I am a pretty good provocateur and poser of questions. And while once again I will state this still is not a piece about KK – though she certainly has managed to dominate the proceedings so far, huh? – I can’t help but wonder out loud in print:
- Why something or someone gets attention in our world? OR
- If it’s ever possible to know other than by trial and error and personal taste just what the best subjects, persons and events are to either work on, research or let your eye or mind generally wander to? AND
- Once these things get stuck in your craw, which ones will you, not to mention the entire world, choose to indulge in briefly, sporadically, intermittently or endlessly? OH, AND — ONE LAST QUESTION
- Given the disposable nature of subject matter in our ever-evolving age of information, do any of these decisions or choices even matter?
This all came to mind this week because we people on Earth for the first time in, well, EVER – managed to land a spacecraft on a comet. Not the cleanser but a real live celestial object made of ice, dust and gas located 317 MILLION MILES AWAY. This alone might not seem exciting to non-science geeks except when we’re told that the constant stream of 24/7 photos from the surface of that non-cleanser just might answer the age-old questions of: how the World began, how Earth was first formed and if humans are the only intelligent beings in the universe.
While NASA/the US is usually in the lead on these types of things it is interesting to note that the achievement of the Rosetta Spacecraft was due to 10 years of perseverance by the European Space Agency. Not to mention those cheers and congrats of victory took place in Germany and were not in large part due to what we here in the US consider to be our greatest asset – American exceptionalism.
Oh, who cares about that and who says we’re not exceptional – we can still lay claim to Kardashian’s gluteus maximus! And who says we’re not into science the way we once were when we’re clearly leading in um… anatomy.
You might dismiss me as Mr. Sarcasmo. So many of my family and friends have over the years while still sporadically applauding me about my own tushy. But the facts speak for themselves. KK’s photo spread (no pun intended) on both the cover and inside the pages of a little known publication called Paper Magazine, is now close to getting 20,000,000 views. Have there been 20 million views of the comet’s surface or the space probe Rosetta? Well, perhaps. But are you willing to take that bet??? No, I didn’t think so. (Note: And for those who are willing, which of those images were you most excited to see first? Be honest).
Well, of course there is a time for science and a time for bottom feeding, right? Intellectual advancement for mankind does not depend on a majority of us viewing space photos – just on a select few understanding what they mean, interpreting them and advancing knowledge that will cause others to make discoveries for the betterment of mankind. Other discoveries made by NASA over the years are responsible for the science behind the MRI imaging tests that will likely prolong your life, the artificial limbs that allow those with disabilities to move about like never before, and the clear Invisalign braces that two years ago finally freed me from a lifetime of crooked teeth. And most of us don’t know how the heck any of them work or why. Or even care to understand them.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then why care about Rosetta’s photos since clearly there are others around more well-versed than ourselves to do the dirty work? Meanwhile we get to fantasize endlessly about oiled up derriere photos of… many people – as we simultaneously benefit as a people from the scientific findings of others.
Well, because in the US – as well as many other places in the world – we live in a free society where everyone gets to vote (okay, mostly everyone) and decide how much money goes to science in order to explore. We also all collectively decide by our voting of what is popular and trending just what the priorities of the world should be and how our time, money and attention will and should be allocated in the future. Some ancient societies were built by peasants and ruled by royalty who chose to construct up and out. Other civilizations were and are about survival and the worship of a God, Deity or Figurehead of choice with more of a focus on piety that can get you into the Afterlife rather than what benefits you in your present life. Some have even chosen to simply revel in the decadence of the day, pleasure seeking and partying their lives away with the most desirable among them – or at least available to them – as long as possible.
Several weeks ago there was an election in the U.S. with the lowest voter turnout in 72 years – meaning only 36% of eligible voters showed up at the polls. The age group with the lowest turnout figures was those 18-29 years old, accounting for only 21% of all total voters. When that is broken down to simply Democratic voters, the number drops down to 13%.
This will cause a shift away from issues heavily favored by young people – such as the preservation of the environment. The new Republican controlled Senate is touting a heavy shift towards oil drilling with a promised passage of the Keystone Pipeline. In simple terms, that means digging deeper into the Earth than ever before up into Canada in order to excavate as much oil as is inhumanely possible. It will also mean that the Senator who will be put in charge of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will be James Inhofe (R- Oklahoma), one of the leading climate change deniers in the country who authored the 2012 book: The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.
No, I don’t think the majority of young people were spending their time mooning at the backside of KK instead of voting. Her audience extends far beyond that, and in the case of those photos it could indeed skew a bit older and much more male. They are also not to blame for our shift away from science to social media. That’s Mark Zuckerberg’s fault and since he already turned 30 years old in May he’s clearly not so young anymore.
There instead seems to be a mass exit away from…. what shall we call it…. reality and a growing emphasis to a more short-term, pleasure driven, hedonistic – or at least egoistic culture that has ironically been fueled in part by our recent technological advancements. These toys allow us to watch the trending showdown between the surface of a heavenly body many millions of miles away and Kim Kardashian’s buttocks. We enjoy each together, alone and apart from the scrutiny of anyone else.
And we enjoy it at our own peril.