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Chapter seven of child psychologist Fredric Wertham's infamous 1953 book Seduction of the Innocent is titled "I Want To Be a Sex Maniac: Comic Books and the Psycho Sexual Development of Children." Can you guess what it's about?

At the close of that chapter, after explaining how Batman and Robin "help fixate homoerotic tendencies" in young boys, he warns that young girls have similar examples.

The Lesbian counterpart of Batman may be found in the stories of Wonder Woman and Black Cat. The homosexual connotation of the Wonder Woman type of story is psychologically unmistakable. (pg 192)

To drive home his point, Wertham specifically calls out this panel from "Mr. Zero and the Juvenile Delinquent" in Black Cat #27, 1951:

What boy would want a girl in lingerie in his bedroom?

If I squint hard enough, I guess I can see where he was coming from. What girl would want to sleep with child abusing premature ejaculators named "Crowface"?

Wertham goes on to complain about another page in the same issue headlined "Black Cat Shows You How To Do Judo Tricks," a step-by-step guide to self-defense tips in the unusually specific case when "a gunman should surprise you from the rear and you don't feel the gun muzzle against you." Look out, girls! If you act in self-defense against gunmen, you might be a lesbian!

Even if I was inclined to believe that reading stories about Batman hanging out in a cave with his young ward encouraged little boys to love Dick — that's a Robin joke! — I remain unconvinced that empowering young girls to fight back against gangsters is the first step on the slippery slope towards tribadism.

I'm not going to say that Wertham was wrong about everything. He makes a good case that American superhero comics books were (and still are) incredibly, perhaps irredeemably, violent. However, in hindsight, it's hard to take anyone's word that comics are destroying society when he's overlooking panels like this, also from "Mr. Zero and the Juvenile Delinquent":

Me cringee!

Clearly, in Wertham's 1953 America, homosexuality was bad but racism was just fine. The more things change....

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"Lets get directly to point," started the email.

"Let me tell you, I setup a malware on the X videos (sexually graphic) web-site and you know what, you visited this site to experience fun (you know what I mean). When you were viewing video clips, your internet browser initiated operating as a Remote Desktop with a key logger which gave me accessibility to your display screen and also web camera. Immediately after that, my software program gathered your entire contacts from your Messenger, Facebook, and emailaccount. After that I made a video. 1st part displays the video you were watching (you have a good taste lmao), and second part displays the recording of your web cam, and its u."

X Videos sure is a "sexually graphic" website. And I am me. So that checks out. Now that it has my attention — sexually graphic videos will do that — the email continues by giving me some choices:

"First choice is to just ignore this e mail. As a result, I will send your actual video clip to each of your your personal contacts and also just consider concerning the shame you experience. Or in case you are in a romantic relationship, exactly how it will certainly affect?"

Romantic relationship? Shame? Got me there. Yes, my hand is going to be extremely upset to see itself spread across the web. How insidious!

"Next choice should be to pay me $7000. We will refer to it as a donation. As a result, I will quickly erase your video. You could go on daily life like this never occurred and you never will hear back again from me."

Actually, I'm kind of flattered that anyone would think I was worth extorting for seven thousand dollars. I'm not flattered enough to pay it, but flattered nonetheless.

"Should you are planning on going to the authorities, look, this email cannot be traced back to me. I have covered my moves. I am also not looking to charge you a huge amount, I simply prefer to be compensated. You have one day in order to pay. I have a specific pixel in this email message, and at this moment I know that you have read this email message."

"Specific pixels" are probably unnecessary when I'm posting the whole email on my blog, but I have to admire the thorough approach. Any extortion worth doing is worth doing right.

"If I don't receive the BitCoins, I will, no doubt send your video recording to all of your contacts including family members, co-workers, etc. Nonetheless, if I receive the payment, I'll erase the recording immediately. It is a nonnegotiable offer, therefore please don't waste my time & yours by responding to this mail. If you really want proof, reply Yea! then I will send your video recording to your 15 friends."

If you're one of my fifteen friends, considered yourself forewarned. You could find a video in your inbox of me "experiencing fun." Enjoy! Consider it a gift from everyone's best friend, Mr. Internet Spam.

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Sex sells everything. Including Jeep replacement parts.

I want the canvas top on page 22, but two rear tires from page 173 are probably more important.

Disclaimer: you cannot order those legs from this catalog.

In fact, this cover doesn't fill me with confidence about anything in this catalog. It's all fake. You can tell from the shadows that the Jeep and the landscape are two separate images that were edited together. Given the weird way the sun is hitting that dog, it must have been cropped in from a third source. And that totally unnecessary lens flare is straight-up a Photoshop filter (Render > Lens Flare > 50-300mm Zoom).

The inside is a little more honest. It's mostly replacement top hardware, electrical wiring, and light bars. Though there is a $29.99 "Cabana Multi Stripe Beach Towel with Jeep® Logo" on page 286 that probably just exists as an excuse to put a model in a bikini. Seems legit to me.

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DC Comics has declared tomorrow, September 23, 2017, to be Batman Day 2017. (In 2016, Batman Day was September 17. In 2015, it was September 26. Seriously, DC, can we settle on one date already?)

This year, DC is cross promoting the event with Harley Quinn, a character celebrating her 25th anniversary. Harley was introduced in Batman: The Animated Series in 1992 as a comedic Joker henchwoman with romantic delusions. These days, she appears in comics and movies (but not television) as a psychopathic mass murderer who dresses like a stripper. Hooray for progress? (Thanks, feminism!)

It's probably not a coincidence that DC is combining the celebration of these two characters now considering that the company released a direct-to-video movie titled Batman & Harley Quinn late last month. Despite being made by the same people responsible for the all-ages Batman: The Animated Series, B&HQ is adults-only material. At one point, after mistaking him for a homosexual, Harley seduces Batman's adopted sidekick, Robin Nightwing. Personally, I don't need that much sex in my cartoons. That's why I have the Internet.

Anyway, if you go to your Local Comic Shop tomorrow, you can get your own free copy of Batman Day 2017 Special Edition #1. It's mostly reprints, but a free comic is a free comic.

And if that's not enough Bat-fun for you, you can download the official Batman Day Kit (including mazes, games, and sweet, sweet Terry Dodson and Jose Garcia-Lopez coloring pages) from dccomics.com. At least there's no creepy hero-on-villain sex in there. I promise.

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I was traveling through space with a little blue alien in pigtails when I was awakened by a telephone call telling me I had won a free cruise. A few hundred years ago, I could claim to be a prophet. In 2016, someone would have to be an idiot to believe that either scenario, interstellar spaceflight or free ocean voyage, was real.

Even though I grew up in the pre-cellular age, I've never been a big fan of telephone conversations. Back in my day, landline connections (which we just called "phones") delivered vastly superior audio quality (or perhaps my young ears just heard better), but even then each conversation was made of awkward pauses as each party guessed when the other was done speaking. About the only time I've ever enjoyed being on the phone for longer than 15 minutes was while engaging in phone sex in high school. Like real sex, the thrill wore off about the same time as my tongue got tired.

Now that my telephone has morphed into a personal assistant that I have nearby 24-hours a day, the telephone part of it has become less appealing than ever. I rarely feel the need to call anyone, and the only calls I get anymore are scams, like the aforementioned cruise I "won." (I only have to pay a "nominal" fee of a few hundred dollars to claim my prize: a ticket for a cruise with a face value of a few hundred dollars.) In college, I took my phone off the hook if I wanted to have sex. Now I turn my phone off just so I can sleep through the spam.

I'm beginning to think that the solution to spam telephone calls is to start charging for long-distance again. Robocalls existed in the age of analog telephones, but they weren't abused like this until technology made long-distance charges obsolete. If you made these spammers pay to place their calls, they'd stop. How many grandmothers do you have to bilk out of $9,000 to pay for a thousand telephone calls an hour?

A change in long distance rates might send us back to the days of the Sprint "Friends and Family" plans, where you got a discount on a limited number of numbers. That wouldn't bother me. I don't want to talk to anyone anyway. I gave up phone sex in the 20th century, and I haven't looked back.

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I just caught an episode of Baywatch on Cozi TV. ("Beauty and the Beast," season 6 (1996), episode 12: The lifeguards compete for a spot in Inside Sports magazine's annual swimsuit issue while the events of Jaws play out on California's Venice beach.) It's even more sexist and exploitative than I remembered. What a good show.

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I spent my Mother's Day people watching with Mom at the Georgia Renaissance Festival today. Although it was her suggestion to go, I think Mom was initially lukewarm on the idea. She warmed up after we got to the park and she started people watching. There sure are a lot of people who enjoy dressing in the fashions of 16th-century Europe. Lots of fellows wore codpieces, and there were more moms than I would have guessed who enjoy the opportunity to push a stroller while wearing hide corsets and leather bras.

My kind of fair

Mom spent most of the day browsing through vendors' tents filled with bronze water fountains, incense, parasols, swords, and jewelry. However, more than anything else, I think what Mom was most excited about was the pointed plastic ears that so many children and cosplayers were wearing. The quality of the pointed Elf ears available at the festival were a cut above the cheap Mr. Spock ears I've seen on Star Trek fans in years past. If I didn't know better, I would have thought that some of them were real Vulcans.

Mom and I watched a joust, a singing duo, and a fire-juggling balancing act, but the real highlight of the day was the birds of prey demonstration by Steve Hoddy of EarthQuest. According to their website, Hoddy's organization will be making an appearance at the Coweta County Fair in September. Mom has already put that on her event calendar.

Despite Mom's interest in the raptor show, I think she spent more time watching the super-fit gentleman charged with pushing the dragon swing. There seemed to be a steady line of women interested in taking a ride (for their children's sake, of course). Mom and I giggled like school children when two particularly large women paid for a ride. Poor guy, although I guess he didn't build all those muscles by pushing kids around.

By the way, I was tickled pink to see that the festival still offers "The King's Wiener," a foot-long hot dog I first saw at the festival 7 years ago. I still didn't eat one, mind you. I just like to look.

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Watching Saturday Night Live reruns on Comedy Central at 4AM, I was bombarded by commercials for sex toy retailer Adam & Eve. I guess sexually adventurous insomniacs have to be watching something at 4AM, but I would have thought that there would be better shows to advertise during than SNL. I can only speak for myself, but laughing at sketch comedy shows does not make me horny.

After I thought about it — and yes, these are the sorts of things I think about — I realized that Adam & Eve must be hoping to catch an audience in a good mood. It's clear that their advertisements are designed to introduce their brand to new audiences, so perhaps Comedy Central is a good partner. If you're not enjoying yourself when you think about sex, you're doing it wrong.

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Among the other things my aunt dropped off while housecleaning last week was a copy of The Literary Digest Vol. 55 No. 14 cover dated October 6, 1917. Much as the Newsweek would be familiar to modern readers, so too this magazine's warnings about the dangers posed by illegal aliens (in this case German agents), military chaos in Russia (in this case the result of two Russian Revolutions), and the failure of the public at large to respect its soldiers (in this case resulting from a lack of patriotic songs). If you think shit in the world is bad now, be glad you weren't living in 1917.

The most familiar aspects of this magazine are the advertisements. Covering everything from handsaws to night shirts, most of the advertisements are — unsurprisingly in a "literary" publication — for books. Mail away and you can teach yourself electrical engineering, learn how to raise rabbits for fun and profit, and speak French in time for your deployment to the front. But the most intriguing ad might be this:

Knowledge dirty old men should have, too

A "wholesome" guide to everything I need to know about sex in 1917? Must be a short book. Thanks to the magic of the Information Age, we no longer need to mail $2 to Philadelphia to find out what Knowledge a Young Man Should Have. All 232 pages of Sexology by William H. Walling (including its 2 illustrations!) are available for free on Google Books.

First of all, the book was 13 years old by 1917, so some of its medical advice was probably outdated. But that wouldn't have been an issue for Professor Walling. Most of his teachings were based on tradition, anecdote, or religion that would have been more at home in Ripley's Believe It or Not. Chapter IV, "Masturbation, Male," opens with the incrimination, "viewing the world over, this shameful and criminal act is the most frequent, as well as the most fatal, of all vices." Is that so? I don't think there are many episodes of Law and Order where the coroners has listed "jerking off" as the cause of death.

"Dr. Doussin Deubreuil relates the case of a child who contracted the habit spontaneously at the age of five years, who, in spite of all that could be done, died at sixteen having lost his reason at eleven."

The book gives no guide to what sorts of cures could be used to prevent the inevitable "loss of memory and intelligence" inflicted upon even the occasional masturbator. Just know that if you do it, you're gonna lose your marbles and die. I suspect this is the prototypical case of the cure being worse than the disease.

This sort of drivel takes up 8 pages. A further 7 pages are devoted to the equal dangers of "Masturbation, Female" ("Alas, that such a term is possible!"). There's also guidance on the physical and moral dangers of abortion and incest and an accompanying medical explanation that the "softer and less voluminous" brains of women make them easily confused and stupid. You can't argue with science, ladies!

But the good doctor isn't a monster. His book advises strongly against rape (even by married men of their wives) and does its best to dispel myths about marriage, pregnancy, and childbirth. (He's a big fan of breast over bottle.) "A husband is generally the architect of his own misfortunes," is the first bit of wisdom listed in his final chapter. Of course the same chapter ends with "The only recipe for permanent happiness in wedlock: Christianity" does go a few steps too far.

In the 21st century, we've gotten use to misinformation and bad science disseminated through blog posts and cable news. Isn't it nice to know that the self-proclaimed experts of a century ago and their mail-order instructional manuals were just as bad?

(Footnote: If you want to read about how the motion picture industry is actually becoming — gasp! — big business in 1917 America, you can also read that copy of The Literary Digest online here.)

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The following teaser trailers for porn videos are all completely safe to watch at work. That's part of what's so weirdly compelling about them.

2011:

2012:

2013:

2015:

That's right: four pornographic "parody" videos made by Axel Braun, the self-proclaimed "undisputed King of Parody," in the past four years. And they all star the same man ("Ryan Driller," who — I shit you not — has been nominated for two Adult Video News Best Actor Awards for his performances in two of the above movies). DC hasn't managed anything close to that production schedule (or awards recognition) in decades.

I'm not going to pretend that I understand how drawing a diagonal line through the "S" on his chest makes it okay to make rip-off Superman movies, but I have to admit that these look just as good as anything running on the CW. However, if Bruan can churn these disposable flicks out on a regular basis with production values this good, maybe DC should look into hiring him to make a real Superman movie.

It can't possibly be any worse than Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.

Just sayin'.

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To be continued...

 

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